Province promises half a billion to Ottawa

The Ontario government will give Ottawa nearly half a billion dollars…but there’s a catch.

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Good morning!

I hope everyone has a lovely Easter weekend. The Lookout will be on a holiday hiatus, coming back to you as normal on Wednesday. I’ve got a giant croissant lined up from Tartelette that I’m very much looking forward to for a Saturday family brunch.

We’ve got a whole bunch to get to today, including details on a “new deal” for Ottawa from the province, events, and a whole lot more.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Friday: +8 🌡️ -3 | 🌤

Saturday: +8 🌡️ -2 | ☀️

Sunday: +9 🌡️ -4 | ☀️

Monday: +10 🌡️ -1 | ☀️


Province promises new money for Ottawa in ‘new deal’

Doug Ford/Twitter

What happened: Premier Doug Ford came to Ottawa to announce a “new deal” for Ottawa, providing some $543 million in operating and capital funding, the bulk of which is earmarked for roads, according to a joint announcement from the province and city.

Breaking it down: Here’s how the promised money breaks down, separated into operation and capital funding.  

Operational funding - $197 million over three years

  • A conditional payment of up to $120 million for shelters and homelessness supports;

  • As much as $48 million for policing. An unspecified portion of that money is contingent on the federal government giving the city more money to police protests (the city and province have asked for $60 million);

  • Up to $20 million for downtown revitalization, including money for Invest Ottawa;

  • Up to $9 million for Highway 174 maintenance. 

Capital funding - $346 million over 10 years

  • As much as $181 million in funding for roads across the city. There is  an emphasis on a new interchange for the 416 at Barnsdale, renewal of connecting roads, the extension of the Kanata north Transitway, and “upgrading rural roads and related infrastructure outside of Ottawa’s city centre;”

  • Up to $47 million for improvements to Highway 174, and a three-stage plan to upload the highway back into provincial hands;

  • And up to $118 million in housing funding, contingent on the city making progress on its housing targets.

The strings: The bulk of the promised $197 million in operating funding comes with a catch. The province said it will give the city $120 million for shelter for the homeless and asylum seekers, but that money is “conditional on federal support for refugees and asylum seekers.” Elsewhere in the provincial announcement, both the city and the province are asking for “$228 million for refugee and asylum-seeker support,” nearly double what the province is (contingently) providing.

What about transit? There’s not much here for struggling OC Transpo. The province will provide money for the extension of the Kanata north Transitway, and called on the federal government to provide $80 million in matching funds.

  • The city has spent the last several years hoping some other level of government will help fill the transit agency’s budget hole. When Toronto recently got its “new deal” from the province, it received a $300-million payment to “build back ridership through more frequent service as well as the affordable, convenient, efficient and safe operation of the subway system.” 

Nothing comparable was announced for Ottawa. The best the premier could offer was to demand the federal government send public service workers back into the office. “What it does is it's a real massive boost to the transit ridership, it's huge, and the downtown economy,” Ford said, according to CTV.

  • In his speech, Ford said workers should come back “even a few days,” something the federal government instituted last year.

Promises, promises: In return for the funding, the city has made a few commitments to the province. These include submitting a plan to beef up policing downtown and on transit; assisting the Ottawa Hospital in building a long-term care home; opening up municipal land for housing; and moving the city’s reserve funds to a third-party money manager like the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario.

  • In addition to the promised money, the province will also help the city find ways to lower debt financing costs; partner with the Building Ontario Fund to build infrastructure; limit third-party zoning appeals; and grant the ability to build taller buildings along certain corridors and near transit.

What it means: On the one hand, this solves a major problem for the city. Uploading Highway 174 back to the province takes a major piece of infrastructure off Ottawa’s hands that it probably never should have been responsible for. But, with little operational help for OC Transpo, it does leave one of the biggest budgetary problems facing the city still open to fester. 

  • The city has long asked for another level of government to step in and help. Ontario was to take back responsibility for the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto in exchange for transit funding. Why isn’t the province doing the same for Ottawa? Is it because the provincial government didn’t want to, or is it because the city government didn’t push for it?

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💰 5,494: The total number of city employees on the annual provincial Sunshine List of people who make more than $100,000 in the public sector. Forty-nine percent of the employees on the list are first responders. [CTV]

🪙 $17.20: Oct. 1, the province will raise the minimum wage to this, from its current $16.55. [CTV]


Feds promise renter protections

Harjit Sajjan/Twitter

What happened: The federal government is promising to enact a “renters bill of rights” and other measures to help people who don’t own their homes get ahead. The announcement comes as part of a tour of pre-budget announcements ahead of the tabling of the federal fiscal plan next month.

The plan comes in three main prongs

  • A $15-million fund to support legal aid for tenants, and tenant rights’ groups.

  • The proposed bill of rights would require landlords to disclose what they charged previous tenants; “crack down on renovictions” (where a landlord forces out current tenants to make upgrades and allow them to charge higher rent); and create a national standard lease agreement.

  • Asking banks to consider rent payment history as part of credit scores aimed at renters looking to buy their first home.

The problem of provinces: Much of what the federal government is proposing requires buy-in and cooperation from the provinces. One housing advocate from Quebec told CTV he expected any implementation to be a “battle” and wasn’t sure what is being proposed is even within federal jurisdiction. Likewise, the government is asking banks — not mandating — to take rental payments into account when deciding whether someone qualifies for a mortgage.

  • As we’ve seen with the difficult and uneven roll out of the subsidized daycare program, there’s a lot that can go wrong when multiple levels of government — often with different political constituencies — are pushed into running a program by the feds. The federal government has vast ability to spend money, but the on-the-ground-work is left to others to sort out.

Unintended consequences: While rent counting toward a credit score could have positive effects for some renters, those who fall behind on rent could find themselves facing further financial obstacles. 

A city of renters? Last year, the construction of rentals in Ottawa reached levels not seen since the 1970s. About one-third of all new units started in 2023 were rentals, while in previous years rental and condo construction combined made up less than 40 percent of all construction. Overall, construction dropped by about 20 percent, CTV reported, but the number of rentals stayed steady from 2022.


🚙 Insurance companies have begun charging drivers a $400 surcharge if they don’t install a specific kind of car tracker. Companies are sending letters to owners of some of the most sought-after vehicles by thieves. [CTV]

🔥 Police are investigating the weekend fire at the Glebe Apothecary as a possible arson. Police didn’t provide details of the investigation, saying it was too early in the process to comment further. [CTV]

📵 The Ottawa Carleton District School Board, along with several Toronto-area boards, launched a lawsuit against the parent companies of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. The boards are looking for $4.5 billion because of the harms they say the social media platforms have caused to children. The Toronto law firm that took the case is only asking for fees in the event it wins a judgment. [CTV]

🦌 Ottawa and cities across Canada could see major changes in the fauna living in their regions as the climate warms. The city could see hundreds of new species make their home here. [CBC]

🚨 OPP stopped an allegedly drunk driver on the 417 going the wrong way on the highway. Police said the 27 year old was at twice the legal alcohol limit. [Twitter]

🍻 Would opening up parks to alcohol use unleash chaos in Ottawa? The experience of other cities suggests not. [CBC]

⚖️ The mass killing prosecution of Febrio De-Zoya could take years to wind its way through the court system. [Ottawa Citizen]


🎼 Faure Requiem, Friday 7:30 pm: A night of music as musicians and vocalists bring Faure’s Requiem to life. AT St John the Evangelist Anglican Church, 154 Somerset St. Tickets $23.

🎸 An evening with Big Sugar, Friday 7:30 pm: The band continues their Five Hundred Pounds deluxe vinyl release tour in an all-ages show. At Meridian Theatres Centrepointe, 101 Centrepointe Dr. Tickets start at $43.

✌️ Anime Ottawa, Friday to Sunday: Ottawa’s newest anime festival, with plenty of guests including voice actors Daman Mills and Chris Hackney. At the EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr. Ticket prices vary by day.

🐰 Easter at the Bunker, Saturday starting at 10 am: Decorate an egg, take a photo at a photo booth, take part in a scavenger hunt and plenty more. Plus treats will be given out in goodie bags at the end of the visit. At the Diefenbunker museum, 3929 Carp Rd. Tickets $12.

🚌 Centrepointe Pokemon Go Bus - Mewtwo Returns, Saturday 10 am: A special group day for Pokemon Go players, hunt down Mewtwo on a bus with a route plotted to maximize your chances. Prizes and rewards for great catched along the way. Pickup and dropoff at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr. Tickets $10.

🫖 Spring into Wellness High Tea, Saturday 2:30 pm: High tea including light refreshments, an acoustic performance, and a farm to table masterclass. At 2650 Queensview Dr. #170. Tickets $87.

🌷 Sounds of Spring, an Easter Concert, Sunday 1 pm: A performance from 4 young vocalists backed up by a brass quintet from uOttawa. The concert follows Easter service and a light luncheon. At Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St. Tickets via donation.

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  • Here’s what city services are open and closed for Easter weekend. [City of Ottawa]

  • Searching for a small, bilingual school for your child(ren)? Learn more about and register for Académie Westboro Academy's upcoming Open House on Monday, April 8th here. [Sponsored]

  • Looking to help pick up trash this spring? The Cleaning the Capital program is looking for volunteers. [City of Ottawa] 

  • Dave Smart, who spent 18 seasons coaching the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team, is off to coach Pacific in NCAA’s Division I, after a year as an assistant at Texas Tech. [The Canadian Press]

  • You can now go to your Ottawa Public Library branch or bookmobile to get two pairs of solar eclipse glasses to view the phenomenon April 8. [Ottawa Public Library]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


What happened this week in food

🥧 At the Ottawa Home and Garden Show, our food editor found plenty of great products from local producers.

🍗 Who makes the city’s best chicken sandwich? The only way to find out is to hit the streets for a Chicken Sandwich Safari. (Insiders)

🍷 Looking for a nicely balanced wine for spring? You can’t go wrong with this German Siegerrebe. (Insiders)


Congrats to Marty, who knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was on Leitrim Road, just outside of Findlay Creek.

Think you can solve this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.