Fewer than a quarter can afford a house

Less than a quarter of the households in the country can afford to buy a house. Only about half can afford a condo.

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Good morning!

We did it, we made it through the year. Thank you all so much for coming along for the ride. It’s been a long but interesting year for the city.

Never fear Insiders, as promised you’ll be getting a look back at the year that was for the mayor, through the eyes of his social media. It’s just taken a little longer to put the finishing touches (and rein in some of my lengthy asides) than I’d expected. Fear not, it’s coming soon!

There won’t be any newsletters next week, but we’ll be back Jan. 3.

I want to thank so many of you for the wonderful messages for the holidays, and all through the year. You, the readers, make it a special privilege to write the Lookout. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and we will see you all in the New Year!

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

Consider forwarding this to your friends so they can discover the Lookout. New to the Lookout? Sign-up for free.


Friday: -6 🌡️ -12 | ☀️

Saturday: 0 🌡️ -1 | ☁️

🎅🏻 Sunday: +2 🌡️ 0 | ☁️

🎄 Monday: +5 🌡️ 0 | ☁️


Homes increasingly unaffordable, large rental developments in jeopardy

What happened: Affordability in the province is at its worst-ever level, with fewer than half of households in Ontario making enough money to afford a condo. The numbers are worse for single-family homes, with only about 22 percent of households having enough income to buy one, according to a RBC report.

  • Ontario is less affordable than the rest of the country. The national average is 26 percent of households.

“A better balance between demand and supply should keep future price gains subdued. The flip side of this, however, is it won’t fast-track the restoration of affordability,” the report said.

Rental danger: In the midst of many levels of government getting serious about building more housing, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) issued a stark warning about the decline in potential rental construction in the coming years suggesting that many projects may never be built, Glacier Media reported.

Federal dollars: Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said a deal between the city and the federal government for the city’s slice of a $4-billion fund is nearing the end, CBC reported.

“It's not a negotiation around what the City of Ottawa needs to do anymore.… It's more just putting the finishing touches on the agreement itself and how we'll use the funds and how much we'll receive in funding,” he told the broadcaster.

What they’re calling the “perfect storm” of problems — financing, rising construction costs and fees — are making many projects unviable. The reported noted nine out of 10 housing developers said their projects were no longer financially feasible. 

Federal response: The government’s big policy action to increase rental construction was to end the GST on new rental construction, according to Global, a move that was lauded by the industry. It should be noted this report was commissioned before the GST was removed. 

A report from RBC noted that developers preferred to build market condos over rental units because they weren’t as profitable. 

Looking ahead: The RBC report on GST noted that there was no quick solution, and any changes will take a while to be felt with lower rents. With rents rising above $2,100 for a one-bedroom, Ottawa and most major Canadian cities will continue to deal with this problem for the foreseeable future. 

Interested in Active Breathwork?

Breathwork is a powerful way of moving stuck energy and emotion within the body. It's also a way to move beyond our busy thoughts and to connect more deeply with our internal experience 🙏🏼

Join Psychotherapist & Yoga Teacher Jeff Shepherd in the new year, and use the code lookout for $20 off the $40 registration fee.


🛬 71: The number of people who will lose their jobs when the Arnprior Aerospace plant shuts down for good in March. [CBC]

💸 185: The number of Canada Revenue Agency employees fired so far for inappropriately claiming pandemic CERB benefits. [CBC]


Green boxed rapid COVID tests not as reliable as sold

What happened: The supplier of the ubiquitous light green rapid test kits, BTNX, deleted data from a study of its effectiveness when it applied to Health Canada for supply contracts, Global News reported.

The story, reported over the course of a year, reveals that the rapid tests many across the country relied upon were not as accurate as advertised, and are prone to giving false negative tests. Researchers told Global that the altered study results made the test kits seem more reliable and more sensitive than they really were.

Company origins: Before the pandemic, Markham-based BTNX was mostly known for test kits that enabled drug users to test for fentanyl contamination. The federal government gave the company multiple contracts to procure the rapid test kits, worth some $2 billion.

How they did it: Global found the original study from the supplier, based in China, from a distributor in Germany, and compared it to the study submitted to Health Canada by BTNX when it discovered the missing data.

Company’s response: In a statement to the broadcaster, a lawyer representing BTNX said “We have at all times operated with integrity and transparency, and have manufactured and distributed our COVID-19 rapid tests in accordance with Health Canada and international standards,”

Stay as informed about the world as you are about Ottawa!

While we keep you updated on Ottawa, International Intrigue keeps you informed about the world. Their 5-minute daily briefing, curated by former diplomats, ensures you're up-to-date on geopolitics, economics, and global affairs.  Be the friend who's always in the know about international issues.


🚰 Residents of Chelsea were under a boil-water advisory, as the town had to make emergency repairs to its water system. Residents were asked to boil water for at least one minute before using it. [CTV]

📚 Recently sanctioned OCDSB trustee Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth has requested a leave of absence from the board. It’s not clear whether trustees can be granted leaves of absence after sanctions have been imposed by the board. [CTV]

⚖️ The 15-year-old boy facing several terrorism charges for allegedly plotting to bomb Jewish people appeared in court. His bail hearing was set for Jan. 15. [CBC]

🚒 One person was injured and taken to hospital after a serious fire in a Bronson apartment on Wednesday. The cause of the fire is unknown. [CTV]

🚨 A driver still on their G2 licence was found with four times the legal blood alcohol limit (for fully licenced drivers) after crashing into a ditch on the 417. [CTV] 

🛴 Rental electric scooter company Bird has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company is one of several who have taken part in the city’s electric scooter pilot project over recent summers. [The Associated Press]

💐 One person was killed in a crash on the 417 near Vankleek Hill. Three other people in the vehicle were injured, one critically. [CBC]


Just like newspapers, we’ve got our own classified ads that help fund our journalism. See what organizations and businesses are up to around the city:


Less than 10 days to hit our critical crowdfunding goal

"In a time where we don't find the news, but the news finds us, I've grown to hate it. There's too much, all the time. The Lookout is that breath of fresh air. The news is local and relevant. I don't need to know every single thing that's happening in the world or the country, and The Lookout cuts through that clutter." - Aadil

Join Aadil and our growing community of readers who value concise, local news. Be part of our mission to uncover hidden gems, explore city hall, and navigate the news landscape together. 

With the year coming to an end, so is our fundraising campaign. We’re still 94 members away from our goal, and every membership counts. Oh, and don’t forget our 21% discount ends Dec. 31st!


Your upcoming events guide


🦁 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, until Dec. 23: The 9th Hour Theatre Company brings the classic C.S. Lewis novel to the stage. Tickets going fast! At Meridian Theatres, 101 Centrepointe Dr. Tickets start at $29.

🍽️ A Festive Four-Course Gourmet Experience, Dec. 22: The executive chef of Signatures Restaurant, along with the instructors at Le Cordon Bleu are putting on a four-course meal for the holidays. At 453 Laurier Ave. E. Tickets $149.

👨‍🍳 French Macarons Class, Dec. 23: Learn how to make macarons from scratch, filling and all. Everything you’ll need is provided, and you can take home what you make. At  728 Reverie Pvt. Tickets $113.

🦃 Christmas dinner and brunch at the Château Laurier, Dec. 25: A Christmas buffet for either brunch or dinner at the ballroom of the Château Laurier on Christmas Day, various times available. Prices include gratuity. Brunch is $136 and dinner is $150.

🗝️ Outerbridge Magic - Mysteries of the Keyhole House, Dec. 26-31: A magic and illusion show from Ted and Marion Outerbridge for the whole family. At the Ottawa Little Theatre, 400 King Edward Ave. Tickets start at $26.

  • Santa and his elves made a special visit to CHEO, as firefighters in costume rappelled down the side of the hospital. [CTV]

  • We’re suckers for old photos of the city, and this one of Rideau is no exception. [Reddit]

  • The kids at South Grenville High School brought a full Christmas lunch to the neighbouring elementary school for students and staff. [CTV]

  • Do you love Rothko or hate him? Folks are a bit riled up about The Voice of Fire. (It’s great). [Reddit]

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


The end of the year in food

🍲 The city said farewell to nearly five decades of Won Ton House, and our food editor was there for one last meal.

🇪🇸 Still hard up for gift ideas? Here’s a great Spanish food importer where you’ll find some off-the-beaten-path gifts. (And a 10% off discount!)

To wrap up the year, our food editor Ralf put together lists of his favourites from 2023. All of these are Insiders-only. You’ve still got a chance to subscribe before the year is done! Upgrade now.

🥳 The best new restaurant openings in Ottawa in 2023. New tastes and a few surprises from around the city.

🍜 The best reviewed noodle spots in Ottawa in 2023. With great noodles from pasta to pho, there’s something here for everyone.

🥪 Ottawa's best sandwiches in 2023. A burger is a sandwich, a banh mi is a sandwich. You know a sandwich when you see one, and these are the city’s best.

🍷 The best Ottawa beer, wine and drinks in 2023. With finds from local producers to great buys at the LCBO, this list has can’t-miss choices to quench your thirst.

🍽️ Ottawa's top values, small bites and go-to restaurants in 2023. Looking to become a regular somewhere new? Perhaps you’re just looking for some great value at mealtime. None of these choices will disappoint the regular visitor.


Congrats to Sylvie, Michele, Jordan, Joanne, and Jennifer who knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of Iris Street near the Ikea.

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