River Ward City Councillor Maria McRae's Report to Hunt Club Community Organization 9 January 2006

Happy New Year!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Hunt Club families a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

City of Ottawa 2006 Budget

For the first time the budget for the following fiscal year has been approved at the end of the previous year. For me, and several of my councillor colleagues, the hard work started long before the Draft 2006 City Budget was tabled at City Council on November 9, 2005. As reported previously, I am a member of the Taxfighters, a group of seven City Councillors who first created a Community Budget Advisory Team (cBAT) in 2004. cBAT is an independent advisory body made up of a diverse group of community members from across the City who provide advice and input on the City budget and create a direct link between residents and elected officials.

The Taxfighters actually started working on the 2006 budget in August 2005. The final budget deliberations began on December 5, 2005 and after a lot of hard work and deliberation, it was finally approved on December 22, 2005. The budget includes operating expenditures of just over $2.1 billion and capital expenditures on projects totalling $1.17 billion. The 2006 budget improves several city services in ways that everyone who lives and works in Ottawa will notice, including the addition of:

During five days of deliberation, Council cut $41 million from the draft budget and directed City Management to find savings in this amount from both service delivery improvements and reductions to overtime budgets. I am pleased to report that one of my motions that Council approved contributed to more than $8 million in savings.

The City Manager will report back to City Council in late February or early March 2006 with recommendations of ways to achieve the savings directed by Council. I do not support cutting any core services in order for staff to carry out Council's directive to meet the savings of $41 million. I will be in a better position to report back to you about specific Ward projects once the City Manager presents his report.

Public Consultations for New Central Library

As you are aware, the Ottawa Public Library, under the New Central Library Building Committee, has been investigating the location for a new Central Library. The new Central Library is envisioned in the following context:

As a civic showcase, the Central Library will be the cornerstone of the Ottawa Public Library system and serve as a gateway to global knowledge and resources for all citizens of Ottawa. It will be the foundation of the Library service delivery framework, supporting district and community branches, mobile and virtual library services. The Central Library will also play a vital role as a community branch within its own neighbourhood.

The Central Library will have multiple service points to meet the needs of all its users, and will use technology, when appropriate, to deliver services efficiently, e.g. self check-out machines, online interactive reference services.

Recently, DCR/Phoenix Development Corporation, a developer in the City of Ottawa, presented an unsolicited private-public partnership proposal for a library/condominium complex on the Bayview site.

To give the citizens of Ottawa an opportunity to input on the new Central Library, six public consultations have been organized for January 2006. These sessions will give Ottawa residents and opportunity to express their vision for a new Central Library and where it should be located. I encourage residents in Riverside Park to participate as this is a very important Capital expense for the City.

Those attending will be asked to participate in small group discussions aimed at maximizing participation and drawing opinion from everyone. To allow organizers to extract the highest quality information from the sessions, attendees are encouraged to stay for the entire 3-hour session.

Light refreshments and sandwiches will be available one half hour before each session. Participants are requested to register. Registration begins on January 9, 2005 and is on a first come, first served basis.

If you wish to participate, or have questions, please contact Susan Belanger at telephone 580-2424, X42343 or via email at susan.belanger@library.ottawa.on.ca.

Community Safety and Crime Prevention

Community safety continues to be a top priority for me. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to be a part of the Neighbourhood Watch Program. Last summer, I hosted a Neighbourhood Watch & BBQ Sign-up for the Centralla neighbourhood. Over 30 households signed up to join the Twyford/Cahill/Erin Watch Program and more have joined since then.

Recently, there has been a rash of break-and enters with thefts in the Centralla area. The captains for the Twyford/Erin/Centralla area are active in keeping Neighbourhood Watch members informed in this instance. I am extremely grateful to them, not only for their diligence as Watch captains, but also for their willingness to give of their time to help keep our communities safe throughout the year.

The members of the Twyford/Erin/Centralla Neighbourhood Watch have been receiving updates provided by the Police as well as observations from other Watch members, information on what to watch for, along with reminders to increase the security of their own homes. I strongly encourage all Hunt Club residents who have not already done so to sign up for an existing program in their area. I can attest personally to the fact that the program works. If there is no existing program, I encourage residents to contact my office at 580-2486 and I would be pleased to assist with getting a Watch started, or to put you in touch with captains for existing Watches.

I continue to work closely with the Ottawa Police in regard to this recent series of home break-and-enters. I requested extra Police presence in the neighbourhood and this was done. I can assure you that the Police are doing everything they can to deal with this issue.

I can advise that I will be holding another Town Hall Meeting on Community Safety and Crime Prevention in the coming months, similar to the ones that I have previously held in the Ward. These forums, which provide an opportunity for a face-to-face exchange of information between River Ward residents, the Police and others involved in keeping our communities safe and secure, have proven to be a very valuable tool.

In addition, I will be the Guest Speaker at the Ottawa South Neighbourhood Watch Community Association meeting on February 1, 2006 at the Multi-Service Centre, 1480 Heron Road, 7:00 p.m.

Following is the Media Release from the Police in regard to the break-and-enters:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 3, 2006 1:00 p.m.

South End Residential Break and Enters/Thefts

(Ottawa) - The Ottawa Police are advising south end residents of a recent series of home break and enters which are occurring in the Blossom Park, Hunt Club Woods, Western Community, and Windsor Park neighbourhoods.

The break and enters are occurring predominately during the afternoon, although some have been reported during the early evening. In all instances, the homeowners were not at home. Entry is gained through forcing rear basement windows and jewellery is being targeted.

Police are asking residents to be particularly aware of persons going door to door (usually knocking loudly to ensure no one is home) or persons seen in yards. If suspicious activity is observed, residents are asked to call the police right away at 230-6211 so a patrol unit can be sent to investigate.

Should anyone have information about those break and enters, they are asked to contact East District Investigations at 236-1222 ext. 3566. Contact: S/Sgt. Chris Renwick East Division Investigations Tel: 236-1222 ext: 3342

Phone Crime Stoppers at 233-TTPS (233-8477) or toll free at 1-800-222-8477.

Cross Country Skiing at Mooney's Bay

There are 5KM of groomed, lighted trails available for public use, starting at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Pick up your day pass at the Ski Centre Office located at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. A daily pass costs $2.25, and seasonal passes are available at $28.75. The facility is open 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the weekends.

Cross country skiing lessons for 1) families, 2) children aged 6-13 years and 3) adults are being offered starting in January. You may register online at ottawa.ca, click in the 123 Go Register logo or by touchtone phone at 580-2588 using Visa or MasterCard.

For more information on the cross country ski programs, please call the Terry Fox Athletic Facility at 247-4883.

Smoking Cessation Programs

Quitting smoking is a process that takes practice. A.C.E.S.S. (Accessible Chances for Everyone to Stop Smoking) Smoking Cessation programs, where you can find help to quit in a relaxed and informal group atmosphere, are being offered throughout the City in January. The cession programs, which are free, run for eight weeks. The program is being offered at the Hunt Club Riverside Community Services Centre, 3310 McCarthy Road.

Time: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Start date: January 18,2006
Information: 613-247-1600
Note: Pre-registration required

For more information on all programs, visit smokefreeottawa.com, or call Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744.