Rural affairs committee cuts back tree protections

The rural affairs committee voted to weaken tree protections outside the urban core.

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Good morning!

Today’s the day council will vote on whether to approve the draft 2024 city budget. It will likely pass relatively smoothly, but expect some fights over the transit budget in particular. Will we see a transit fare freeze for the year? It’s certainly possible, if perhaps unlikely. Only time will tell.

You’ll be able to watch all the, uh, fun on the city’s YouTube channel.

We’ll have plenty of coverage on the final votes in Friday’s issue, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we’ve got a newsletter to get to.

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Council committee limits tree protections

What happened: Rideau-Jock Coun. David Brown led a successful weakening of land and tree protections in the city, CBC reported. City staff had recommended the city expand its tree protection bylaw, but a motion at the rural affairs and agricultural committee by Brown overrode that advice and narrowed the scope of the rules to include less land.

  • The bylaw is only five years old and is up for its first review. Staff had recommended expanding the rules to cover rural properties after the city was blindsided by a massive clear cutting of land near the proposed Tewin development in the city’s far east. 

Loophole? The concern was landowners could use the exception for agricultural uses to clear land, then turn around and sell it to developers. The stronger rules would only have required landowners about to clear land within two kilometres of the city’s urban boundary to notify the city of their plans.

The changes: The amended rules would mean trees are only protected on agricultural land within one kilometre of the city’s urban boundary — half of the two-kilometre proposal by staff. The biggest change could be a six-month limit on investigations by the city following a complaint.

  • Because of the time limit, staff may not be able to verify claims that land will be used for harvest if the growing season comes after the six-month limit. There would be no recourse for the city if the land wasn’t used for agriculture outside of six months.

The reasoning: Councillors at the committee said the burden of a phone call to the city would be too much for farmers, adding what they said would be an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy for them to deal with.

The numbers: In the five years the bylaw has been active, 98 percent of complaints have been cleared because the tree removal was within the rules, CBC reported. One case has led to charges and fines of more than $80,000 after agricultural land was clear cut and then sold for development soon after.

In need of trees: The city is struggling to increase tree canopy coverage inside the city’s urban boundary. It is also trying to limit the removal of trees outside the boundary without a clear and necessary purpose. Recent years of severe storms have set that plan back, but the city hopes to increase the city’s urban tree canopy from its current 31 percent coverage to 40 percent by about 2050 when the city hopes to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.


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🚲 $71,050: The approximate value of 56 stolen bikes recovered by police in the ByWard Market from May to October. Police have been able to reunite 32 of the bikes with their owners. [CTV]

😷 79: The number of COVID hospitalizations in the city as of Nov. 30, almost triple the number of people (27) who were in hospital with the virus last year. [CTV] 

🍿 91: The city’s best cinema, the Mayfair Theatre, celebrated its 91st birthday yesterday. Here’s to 91 more! [Twitter]


🤧 There’s been a possible exposure of tuberculosis at Sacred Heart High School in Stittsville. The exposure happened between November 2022 and October of this year. [CTV]

❄️ Some residents of Hawkesbury and Vankleek Hill have been possibly defrauded out of snow removal deposits of several hundred dollars. A person has allegedly been running a scam offering plowing services that don’t exist. [CTV]

🏢 A Kingston landlord company, Homestead Land Holdings, is being accused of ignoring serious issues with a new rental building in West Ottawa, including poor and dangerous build quality, and bad maintenance issues. [CBC]

🚨 The OPP searched a Sharbot Lake property of a man charged with first-degree murder in the case of a missing Central Frontenac man. Police announced they found the body of a missing man, but did not say where they found his body. [CBC]

🪫 A public meeting over a proposed power storage facility in Elizabethtown-Kitley turned so ugly that police needed to be called. Public opposition was so fierce the company has decided to abandon its plan to build the large battery facility. [CBC]


More Appletree patients surprised to find they have a family doctor

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What happened: More patients have come forward to CBC with stories of being assigned a family doctor without their knowledge after signing up for an account at Appletree Medical Clinics. Several patients told the broadcaster how they were surprised to find they had been assigned a family doctor with the clinics, which operate in Ottawa and elsewhere in Ontario.

  • Some patients report being delisted from the provincial Healthcare Connect list after signing up for an online account. Another said they were taken off the waiting list for a family doctor after signing in for an appointment at an on-site kiosk. One told CBC he was looking for a family doctor from the clinics, but never told he was assigned one. One patient was told in an email, “we do not inform patients when they have been rostered.”

Ministry response: The provincial health ministry told CBC it responds to complaints. There is a Ministry of Health form that needs to be signed as well. “If it turns out that the patients are being listed as enrolled without having signed the ministry form, the ministry will follow up with Appletree,” the broadcaster was told.

Appletree’s response: A vice-president with the company told the broadcaster that registering for services with the clinics will mean prospective patients are registered with Appletree, and removed from the Healthcare Connect list. But the official said the terms were all clearly laid out on the company’s website. Appletree did not directly respond to CBC’s questions about the confusion many felt about being assigned a doctor.

Payments: The provincial health system pays clinics in part based on the number of rostered patients they have. The Appletree vice-president told CBC its doctors receive most of their pay from services to clients, but said about 10 percent of doctors’ bonuses are tied to the number of patients they have.

Editor’s disclosure: After signing up for some services for our newborn son, my wife was also surprised to find she had been assigned an Appletree doctor and been removed from the provincial waiting list. To register for the boy, she also had to make her own account with the clinic chain, though she was not looking for any services for herself. We haven’t decided what, if anything, we’ll do about it.


When we called, our community answered

Perley Health Foundation is proud to announce the successful completion of its Answering the Call fundraising campaign. This represents a significant milestone in supporting innovation and excellence in Seniors and Veterans care.

Support of the Answering the Call Campaign will go toward areas needed to transform care.

  1. Applied Research & Innovation

  2. Education and knowledge sharing

  3. Exceptional Care

You can still support transforming for Seniors and Veterans by making a donation today.


Today’s house is a neat multi-generational home tucked into Old Ottawa East. The three-bed, two-bath home has an in-law suite with one bath and its own entrance. And, despite the central location, includes a sizable backyard.

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team. 


👮‍♂️ Ottawa police continue to struggle with a wave of car thefts in the city, as another 40 vehicles were stolen in the final week of November. Police have only recovered about one quarter of the vehicles stolen this year. [CTV]

🚂 LRT service in the west end was down to one track for about 90 minutes between Lyon and Bayview stations because of a stopped train Tuesday. More of the system had to be stopped when a passenger on the stopped train forced open the doors and walked down the tracks. [Ottawa Citizen]

😷 Ottawa Public Health will return to its pre-pandemic levels of staffing by the spring as provincial COVID funding winds down. The agency will be back to about 500 employees, after growing to more than 4,400 at the height of the pandemic when it ran large immunization clinics. [CBC]

📦 An Ottawa man was surprised to find an Amazon product he’d returned, along with its shipping label with all his personal information, was at a Toronto-area liquidation store. Shipping labels with the information of dozens of people were found at the store. [CBC]

🐶 The provincial government introduced a bill to ban puppy mills and institute record-keeping rules so dogs can be tracked. The bill would introduce minimum penalties for operating a puppy mill, and may lead to further regulation of the dog breeding industry down the road. [The Canadian Press]


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  • Budget airline Lynx Air will soon run flights to Ottawa from Calgary and Vancouver. [CBC]

  • When the LRT is packed, it sure is packed. [Reddit]

  • The Sens beat the Rangers 6-2 at home. The win brings them to .500 on the year, but they still sit last in the Atlantic Division with a 10-10-0 record. [Twitter]

  • Reddit users are sharing some of the local businesses they’re trying to give a boost to this holiday season. [Reddit]

  • Clear your cars, folks! You’re endangering everyone around you. [Reddit]

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  • New Opera Lyra presents... “Scrooge's Christmas” by Andrew Ager. A classic tale with a twist!  Fully staged, with instrumental ensemble! Dec. 9 at 7pm at Rideau Park United Church.

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