The city needs to prioritize transportation and housing through investment

Manor Park Community Association (MPCA) President Natalie Belovic's overview of community issues

By Manor Park Chronicle

The first day of summer isn’t until June 21, but a couple of days in mid-April offered distinctly summery vibes. Manor Parkers put on their shorts and tanks and hit the parks in shorts with their baseball gloves and spikeball sets. Some felt it was even warm enough for a quick puddle-run. Photo: Doug Banks
The first day of summer isn’t until June 21, but a couple of days in mid-April offered distinctly summery vibes. Manor Parkers put on their shorts and tanks and hit the parks in shorts with their baseball gloves and spikeball sets. Some felt it was even warm enough for a quick puddle-run. Photo: Doug Banks

There’s a big elephant in the room!

The City of Ottawa has been busy redoing their big policy guidelines for infrastructure, transportation, climate, and waste collection. While the policy papers read well and are aspirational and somewhat forward-thinking, there is no discussion on how it might be possible to implement any of it.

What no one wants to talk about is the that dastardly “T” word!

The stinginess of our former mayor and his desire to look like a good guy and not raise our taxes, has left us with a real deficit to fund anything in a meaningful way.

We got the cheapest version of bike lanes the consultants came up with; we got the cheapest (but now becoming the most expensive) light rail transit (LRT) system. If we want to make, for instance, active transportation a priority, then money must be spent on improving the frequency, reliability and routes of city buses and trains. Money must be spent on better and enhanced cycling lanes.

If we want to make Ottawa a green city and reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we need to plant more trees and maintain the ones we do have.

If we want to make sure that everyone is housed, the city must invest in building truly affordable housing.

The sad reality is that we just don’t have the money and there doesn’t seem to be a political will (yet) at city hall to find additional forms of revenue.

Ottawa rate-payers do pay very high taxes because we don’t have a lot of industry contributing its share and our transfer payments received from federal building is inadequate as the funding model is outdated.

The future is looking a little bleak in my opinion. We need to start having the difficult conversations about what it actually costs to run the city we want and need as opposed to what we are receiving in revenue now.

I urge you to give this some thought because it will impact us all in different and similar ways:

  • higher property taxes for homeowners and landlords and
  • reduced services if we must start cutting things out or, creating more barriers to services by raising their prices.

Transportation in Ottawa

I won’t go on about the fiasco that is public transit in this city but I did want to say that I attended the Transportation Master Plan workshop put on by the Federation of Citizens’ Association of Ottawa (FCA) and spent the day with other community leaders going through the city’s plan item by item.

The FCA made a submission to the city regarding some “tweaks” in their approach to weighting criteria when prioritizing projects. There is still a lot of weight being given to creating new roads for cars as opposed to new transit nodes and links.

There were some excellent exchanges at the workshop and of course it was clear that different communities have different transportation preferences but at the end of the day, to save our environment and live healthier, we need to get people out of their car dependency and be okay with using a public transportation system.

It is not inherently in our culture here in North America and we must work to shift that paradigm. The only way, though, to make residents happy about taking public transportation is to ensure it’s practical and works well.

The other driver to transit is making parking so expensive that it also forces the hands of drivers to make a different choice. Tolls on downtown streets or to cross bridges were also discussed as a deterrent to cars. The added revenue could help offset some of the additional costs…

What we are seeing though, is the cutting back of service from OC Transpo, who claim low ridership and budget constraints. It’s a chicken and egg problem–we must improve the service before we get the buy-in. The city must take some risks and they are not good at that!


Some small progress on the housing issue is being made because discussions are happening in all sectors of the city. I attended the Ottawa Board of Trade City Building Workshop April 25 and was pleased to see that the Ottawa business community is starting to realize that an important component of economic development for the region is having a city that workers want to live in, can afford to live in and that takes care of those less fortunate.

Although there weren’t many immediate action items that came out of this symposium, I believe that the message is starting to filter through to some of the ears that need to hear this and who could do something about it. The disappointment at the time of writing this is the fact that the provincial government is only giving Ottawa a measly sum of their $569 million 2023-24 budget to go toward supportive housing–a ‘whopping’ $848,000.

This will not get us far in helping those in need and providing better alternatives to what currently exists.

There was some “noise” on the Manor Park listserve recently pointing fingers at “likely” culprits of the thefts form vehicles and in parking garages of nearby condo towers. People with addiction and mental health issues could as easily be your kids and family members.

Most of the thefts from cars occur when the vehicle has been left unlocked and/or have something irresistible to take from them. I think that we can say that rarely is a car vandalized to gain access to it. Cars stolen outright are a different matter. Those are stolen by highly sophisticated criminal organizations. With respect to access to high-rise buildings, residents in those buildings must be reminded of the importance of being vigilant upon entering and leaving and making sure that no “strangers” gain access.

Be engaged. Fill out the surveys. Write to your elected officials. Volunteer on a committee.

We all need to keep up the pressure and try to achieve the best outcome for our communities.