New zoning bylaw draft unveiled

The city’s unveiled the full draft of its zoning regulations. Plus more details on the LRT disagreement between contractors.

Good morning!

Yet another busy weekend around Lookout headquarters. After months on waiting lists, we’ve started the process of visiting some daycares for the boy. It’s a bit daunting, because you start to get a sense of how, like so many other services, how stretched thin it is.

It’s also a little surprising how many daycares treat the city’s waiting list as little more than a backup for the real internal list. Fun times. I think, in the end, we’ll be fine. But the uncertainty in the meantime is more than a little unpleasant. 

Anyway, plenty of non-daycare things to get to today.

So let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor


Monday: 28 🌡️ 15 | 🌤

Tuesday: 29 🌡️ 18 | 🌤

Wednesday: 28 🌡️ 18 | 🌦


Zoning bylaw draft released, consultations open up

What happened: After rolling out the broad strokes of its revamped zoning bylaw, the city published the full text last week. The law would make large-scale changes to how homes in the city are built, allowing for more units per lot and reducing requirements on the number of parking spaces in many buildings.

Parking changes: One of the major differences with the new rules is the elimination of parking requirements for many developments. This means that developers no longer need to provide extra spaces in areas where there is limited demand for parking.

  • This doesn’t mean buildings can’t build parking. But there are certain limits. On new construction along designated transit corridors, parking maximums are being reduced to encourage more of those residents to take transit, CBC reported. Downtown, buildings within 600 m of a transit station would only need one spot per unit. Further out from the core, the limit would be 1.25 spots per unit. 

One big change: Because of ongoing issues with the LRT, and the reluctance of any level of government to commit to the Stage 3 extension to Kanata and Barrhaven, the city only considers an area near a transit hub if a station is scheduled for construction in the next 10 years. This means those rules wouldn’t apply to the proposed LRT stations in the southern and western suburbs.

Zoning map: The city has created a map showing the current zoning and the proposed zoning side by side. The part of the map to the left of the slider is the current rules, while the new rules are on the right. You can move the slider back and forth to get a sense of what’s changing, and what isn’t.

With the full text of the new zoning bylaw out, the city is looking for public comments. You can read the text, and find contact information here at the city’s website.

Want to know more about the proposed zoning changes, and the history of restrictive zoning? We dug deep into the issue in a recent edition of the City Hall Insider.

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🤑 $70 million: Someone in the city is this much richer. A winning Lotto Max ticket was sold in Ottawa for Saturday’s big draw. [CTV]

🏢 $1.72 million: The Ottawa Community Land Trust is hoping to raise this much through a bond sale to expand its portfolio of apartments to offer more affordable housing. [Ottawa Citizen] 


Disagreement between LRT contractors could leave system slow indefinitely

What happened: While the private consortium that handles the LRT and its train-maker subcontractor disagree on the root cause of what makes the trains break, there’s little the city can do to compel the two sides to move ahead with a solution. And now at least one councillor worries that the two sides may find it cheaper to do nothing at all and run the trains as they are, CBC reported.

Once thought to be the saviour of the system, design work on a proposed revamping of the wheel hub assemblies has come to a halt. Alstom, who make the trains, believe the problems lie with the tracks, while Rideau Transit Group which maintains the tracks and trains, thinks the problem lies with the trains’ design.

  • Want to know more about the underlying issues? We went deep in last Wednesday’s edition. You can find it here.

The do-nothing option: The city is not paying RTG the full monthly amount to operate the trains while they are running at slower speeds through the curvier parts of the system in the east. Coun. Shawn Menard told reporters he worried that even with this reduced payout, the city might never see a fixed system.

  • “I'm concerned about our authority to be able to compel them to get these fixes, and whether they'll just stick with the losses that come with breaking” an agreement with the city to fix the issues, “versus making the fix, which could be expensive,” he said according to CBC.

In camera: During Friday’s meeting, the committee went behind closed doors to deliberate in secret while they got legal advice on the settlement agreement the city and RTG signed to end litigation between the two sides. 

Not as it seems? Sources told CTV and CBC a similar story. Alstom had only paused work, and had stopped further progress because RTG didn’t give them permission to go further.

CBC reported that RTG said Alstom stopped on their own accord. But, according to CTV, RTG’s CEO said they’re in favour of redesigning the troublesome axle hubs. But it’s still not clear exactly why some fail quickly, while others seem almost unaffected.

  • A presentation RTG gave to council said that some axles start to fail at about 70,000 km of mileage, while others can make it to 400,000 km. The presentation poses the question: “How can two cartridge bearing assemblies on both ends of a same axle not exhibit the same wear patterns?”

Absent Alstom: Alstom doesn't work for the city, it's a subcontractor of RTG. So Ottawa has very little it can do to compel the train maker into action. But it manifests in other ways as well. At last Friday’s meeting, RTG decided not to bring any Alstom representatives along, so council only heard RTG officials summarizing Alstom’s findings. 

Possible opening date: The north south Trillium Line won’t open any earlier than mid-August, and that’s if everything goes well with the final stages of construction and testing, CTV reported. The pedestrian bridge between Carleton and Vincent Massey Park will finally open June 15.

The Lookout’s view: The possibility we might end up with slower train service because the corporate entities that control the system’s maintenance believe it's cheaper than fixing the problem is…not great. As usual with the O-Train, the needs of the public seem to be far down the list when compared to the commercial needs of the players we’re stuck with. 

  • The frustration of city officials is all well and good, but it’s not worth much as Line 1 continues to suffer from serious defects five years into service.

Monthly performance

Ridership still down: OC Transpo’s ridership is still below expected levels. In April, there were 5.9 million trips across buses and the O-Train, 10.6% below the forecast 6.6 million trips. For the year so far, the city is some 7% below forecasted bus and train trips.

  • Ridership continues to fall well short of pre-pandemic levels, with April’s ridership 29.6% below 2019 levels. 

ParaTranspo: Meanwhile, the city’s ParaTranspo service has continued high demand. There were 71,700 trips in April, above the 60,000 trips expected in city forecasts.

Some useful charts on OC Transpo’s performance:

City of Ottawa

City of Ottawa

City of Ottawa


Check out the new open positions in Ottawa.

  1. Administrative assistant at Belleisle Psychology Clinic

  2. Research officer at the Public Service Alliance of Canada

  3. Employee services representative at The Ottawa Hospital

  4. Legal assistant at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada

  5. Economic and political affairs assistant at the Embassy of the United States

Local jobs are selected by the Lookout team and are not paid ads, unless specifically noted.


🚨 Five people, including two small children, were taken to hospital with serious injuries after a head-on crash on the 417 near Carp Road. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but an eastbound vehicle crossed the median and into the westbound lanes. [CTV]

⚖️ A former educational assistant who worked at both the English public and Catholic school boards as a casual employee, had 40 new sexual assault-related charges added. There are 14 more victims, both boys and men. The man had been arrested in January, and at the time police said more charges were likely. [CBC]

🏳️‍🌈 The town of Merrickville will raise the Pride flag for the month of June at a community flag pole in the centre of town. It’s a compromise after council voted against flying the flag at city hall. [CTV]

🪖 The Department of National Defence will move about 1,000 staff out of a Lowertown office building at Cumberland near Rideau to their headquarters on Colonel By over safety concerns. It’s not clear what the federal government will do with the building once it’s vacated. [CTV] 

💐 A 37-year-old in Brockville was killed after being hit by a VIA Rail train. Police ruled out foul play, but the cause was under investigation. [CTV]

🚒 A burnt out fluorescent light was the source of smoke that caused Billings Bridge Mall to be evacuated Saturday. Fire crews arrived, but the smoke stopped on its own, along the mall to reopen after 15-30 minutes. [CTV]


What to do this week

📕 Norman’s Conquest Book Launch, Monday 7 pm: Local author Don Butler launches his second novel, a fast-paced mystery novel, Norman’s Conquest. At Perfect Books, 258A Elgin St. Free!

🪵 Introduction to Working a Lathe, Thursday 6 pm: Learn how to use a lathe and turn your own wooden implements. Make a spurtle, a wooden Scottish tool used to stir porridge and soups. At the Ottawa Tool Library 877A  Boyd Ave. Tickets $97.

🍷 Unique, Artisan Italian Wines, Friday 7 pm: As part of Italian Week, a five-wine tasting event to learn about some small, hands-on wine producers from Italy. At Sala San Marco Event & Conference Centre, 215 Preston St. Tickets $108.

🌮 Ottawa Food Festival, Saturday and Sunday: Plenty of local food trucks and vendors are out, with all-day entertainment and events for kids. At Tanger Outlets, 8555 Campeau Dr. Tickets start at $5.

🏈 Ed Laverty Legacy Sports Fund Skills and Drills, Sunday 11 am: A day of football skills and drills for kids aged 6-18 looking to get into football or hone their skills with help from pro and amateur coaches. With photographers, pizza and plenty more. At Algonquin Sports Field, 570 Wàbisheshi Pvt., Building Z. Tickets $40.

🚲 Cargo Bikes & Movie at the Mayfair - MOTHERLOAD, Sunday 11:30 am: A screening of a film about a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of modern life, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote. All to raise money for Ottawa Community Housing Foundation Hop On Bikes program. Supervised bike parking on the next block. At the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St. Tickets by donation

🧩 Ottawa Puzzle Swap, Sunday 1 pm: Attention puzzlers! Come out to buy, sell, and trade puzzles. With free parking onsite. At Trinity United Church, 1099 Maitland Ave. Free to attend, but donations accepted.

🕯️ Candle Making Workshop, Sunday 4 pm: Learn how to create your very own candles and scents in this guided class. Materials provided. At La Serene, 35 Stafford Rd. Tickets $76.

🎼 Fauré and Dubois in the Last Century, Sunday 7 pm: Playing Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and Théodore Dubois’ Messe Solennelle de St-Remi, Michel Brousseau of the Société philharmonique du Nouveau Monde will also offer a few surprises. At Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 355 Cooper St. Tickets $39.

Capital EatsHelping you discover the best restaurants, food and drinks in Ottawa and the Capital Region. From the team at Ottawa Lookout. Read by 18,000+ locals.
  • Sens legend Daniel Alfredsson is leaning toward joining the coaching staff as an assistant under new head coach Travis Green. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Four years ago Sophie Leblond Robert was paralyzed by a stroke, this weekend she was able to jump off her cottage dock after years of determined progress. [CTV]

  • Bruce Cockburn returned to his hometown (that’s here!) and wowed the NAC audience, just days after his 79th birthday. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • Take a tour through historic Laurier House open all summer long. [CTV]

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Congrats to everyone who got last week’s Ottawa Wordle, the answer was GUILT, because of, well, you know...

For this week’s Ottawa Quiz we want to know…

How far below is ridership from what OC Transpo projected?

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