Record gas prices come to town

High demand and the invasion of Ukraine are causing record-high prices at the pump, getting as high as $2/litre over the weekend, with no relief in sight.

Robert Hiltz
09 May

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Good morning!

I’ve got a very upset cat on my hands. Winston is not happy we’ve put the netting up on our balcony. Despite this meaning he can go outside, it also means he can’t escape/fall to certain doom. He’s the sort of cat who just does not accept limits. George, meanwhile, is happy to roll around in the open sun.

Many thanks to reader William Beddoe who has identified the bird in last Friday’s top photo: “Your bird of prey is a Merlin (falco columbarius), one of three falcon species that can be found in this area. It's bigger than the diminutive Kestrel, but smaller than the Peregrine Falcon.” Thanks, William!

Onward, it’s newsletter time.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Monday: 23 🌡️ 5 | ☀️

Tuesday: 25 🌡️ 5 | ☀️

Wednesday: 28 🌡️ 11 | ☀️

Feeling The Crunch From Sky-High Gas Prices

New record: Gas prices around the city reached a record high this weekend. Prices went at least as high as 199.99 cents/litre on Sunday. The average across the city was about 195 cents/litre, according to CBC

Drivers filling up at the Nepean Costco, where prices are typically cheaper said to CBC they were making different choices. One driver said they will take public transit when their tank hits empty, after only putting in $13 worth of gas.

Effects on businesses: One of the owners of Palermos Pizzeria told CTV they’re no longer able to offer free delivery to customers. Between the explosion in gas prices, and inflation pushing food prices higher, they’re hurting.

  • “We can’t take it anymore because it’s affecting the driver a lot. We had to give them a raise and put that delivery charge so they can make up for the losses with the prices of the gas,” said Houssam Hachem said to the broadcaster.

Ottawa By The Numbers

  • $34.6 million: Major Ottawa rental company Minto Apartment REIT posted this much in profit for the first quarter of the year. [OBJ]
  • 15: The size of a forest fire, in American football fields, that was put out by fire crews in western Quebec. [CBC]
  • 35: The number of unclaimed items like generators and barbeques from the convoy that were seized by police. [CBC]

OCDSB To Close Findlay Creek School To New Residents

Locking out new students? Vimy Ridge Public School might be closed to new students moving into the neighbourhood next year. The school, which opened five years ago, is already 500 students over capacity, CTV reports. There are 1,081 students, but it was only designed for 674. 

The OCDSB will vote Tuesday on whether it will bar new students to let pressure off Vimy Ridge. Students would have to go more than seven kilometres north to Robert Bateman Public School, or Roberta Bondar Public School.

Splitting the student: Board staff say closing Vimy to new students is a compromise that wouldn’t disrupt current students. The overcrowded school needs 17 portables to keep up with enrolment. 

Another school was approved for construction earlier this year, but won’t be built for another two years. That school will have room for another 674 students from the Findlay Creek area.

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Plug’n Drive is providing informative webinars and hosting test drive opportunities for drivers on the Uber platform to learn about benefits and the cost of owning an EV. Shell Recharge is bringing more charging stations to B.C. Wallbox and FLO are offering discounts on home charging solutions. General Motors is giving discounts to drivers on the Chevrolet Bolt EV. And drivers of fully electric vehicles are eligible for Uber’s Zero Emissions incentive, which lets them earn an extra $1 on every trip with Uber up to $4,000. 

These monumental changes won’t come easy. Or fast. But we have a plan to get there, and we need you to come along for the ride. 

Jobs Around Town

  1. Accounting Manager/Supervisor at Robert Half
  2. Human Resources Director at TechInsights
  3. Strategic Procurement Advisor at the House of Commons
  4. Enterprise Risk Management Analyist at the Bank of Canada
  5. Cultural Developer at the City of Ottawa 

Want to reach 22,000 Ottawa residents with your job? Reply to this email and a member of our team will get in touch.

Lansdowne 2.0 Takes First Step Forward, Excludes The Public

No consultation for you: Not a single member of the city’s finance committee wanted to open up the planned redevelopment to public consultation before giving it early approval. Coun. Shawn Menard, who represents the ward with Lansdowne in it, is not a member of the committee, but asked that a member — any member — move a motion to vote on whether the public should have input into the project early on. None would.

  • “The motion would have ensured that finance committee wouldn’t be locking us in to a plan but would have allowed residents a voice,” Menard tweeted.

Long-time CBC city hall reporter Joanne Chianello said, “I find the fact that not a single member of [the finance committee] would table a motion from their colleague Shawn Menard is shocking.”

Initial approval: The committee instead approved early parts of the plan, CBC reported. It allows for $8 million to begin the rezoning process to allow for new apartment towers, seek bids for those towers, and conduct traffic and heritage studies..

What it means: Final approval for the project will be up to the next council, after the fall election. But the city was given a single plan for the project, and is now rushing through the early stages. Not voting even a motion for public consultation at this stage is a bad sign the plan is not in the public’s best interest. It suggests (perhaps unfairly!) this is being rushed through for the benefit of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. 

  • It’s not clear how much of the project will be locked in at these early stages, but it’s not hard to imagine a worst-case scenario where the next council is handed a flawed and unpopular redevelopment plan they either have to vote up or down.

Provincial Election Update

Liberal leader first to come to region: Steven Del Duca became the first provincial leader to head to eastern Ontario. This end of the province tends to be neglected by provincial politicians, as its urban areas are generally more Liberal, with the odd sprinkling of NDP seats, and the rural ridings are more Progressive Conservative. [CBC] 

COVID vaccines mandatory in schools: The Liberals promise to put the COVID vaccine on the list of vaccinations students need to attend public school. Currently, students must be immunized for whooping cough, chickenpox, meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella. [Ottawa Citizen]

Autism protests target PC candidate: Parents of children with autism protested the campaign launch of Ottawa — West Nepean Progressive Conservative candidate Jeremy Roberts. Some 53,000 families are on a waiting list for autism services in a program that has accepted fewer than 650 children. Many parents have been waiting years for services. [Ottawa Citizen]

PCs promise to improve northern roads: Doug Ford promised to improve roads in northern Ontario. Ford promised to bring the return of the Northlander rail service, a promise the NDP and Liberals said he had made last election and never fulfilled. [Canadian Press]

Stories You Might Have Missed

Good news in the job market: The Ottawa-Gatineau job market is strong. Unemployment dropped 0.3 percentage points to 4.6 percent in April from last month, according to Statistics Canada. And at the same time, the labour force grew 1.2 percent from April last year to 833,600 people, which pushed the participation rate up to 67.8 percent.

Nearby early warning: Seismic sensors were installed in Ottawa by Natural Resources Canada to give a three- to 10-second warning of an earthquake. It’s intended to send out mobile alerts to give people a few seconds’ warning to brace themselves for a tremblor. The system should be fully operational by 2024. [CTV]

Typhoid fever in town: Ottawa Public Health wants doctors to watch out for typhoid fever after an unusual uptick in cases in the area. These cases seem to be from abroad, and are typically caused by inadequate sewage and water treatment. Public health stressed this wasn’t something to alarm the general public. [CTV]

Community Highlights

  • Think you’ve got a great garden? Apartment613 has more than $1,000 in prizes for their #BestGarden613 contest.
  • Local Reddit users shared their favourite picnic spots in and around town, with highlights like: Mooney’s Bay, Strathcona Park, Andrew Haydon Park, and the Aylmer Marina Beach.
  • Several roads through Gatineau Park are staying closed to traffic from spring through fall, after a pilot program opened them up for cycling and running. [CBC]
  • Once a ghost kitchen, now an eat-in spot, you’re going to want to check out Viet Fresh’s restaurant on Dalhousie! [Apt613]
  • Mango season is here, and Thali and Coconut Lagoon chef Joe Thottungal is thrilled. This time of year he recommends the alphonso variety from India. [CBC]
  • There’s nothing quite like a quick paddle through the woods, and Reddit users recommend heading to Papineau Labelle, North Frontenac parklands, and even Achray in Algonquin park for quick day trips near(ish) to the city. 
  • A camp for Ukrainian children outside the city needs your help to do needed repairs: supplies of paint, pillows, and tables are all among what they need. Email the camp at [email protected] for more info and where to donate.

Today's Top Photo

A bridge near Dow's Lake
Sylvie Faulkner/Ottawa Lookout Reader

Ah, spring. It’s nice to get out to all those spots around the city you might have avoided during the colder months. Reader Sylvie Faulkner sends us this lovely shot near Dow’s Lake.

See a nice vista while you’re out and about? How about a beautiful sunset? Send us a photo! We’re always looking to run photos in and around the city.

Daily COVID Stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 1,243 (+109)
  • Deaths: 784 (+1)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 22
  • Ottawans In ICU: 3
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 98% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 69% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 16%

Previous Lookout Editions

  • Is the housing market cooling off? Just maybe - read more
  • The city should slow down before approving Lansdowne 2.0 - read more
  • The motorcycle protest comes to town - read more
  • Where to find Ottawa’s best Pho - read more

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