Column: December 17, 2018

My Christmas Food Drive – It’s the final week of my Christmas Food Drive for the West Carleton Food Access Centre. You have until December 21 to drop off non-perishable items to the ward office (5670 Carp Rd.), Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Items needed are canned fruit, canned stew, tomato paste, dish soap, laundry soap and packaged chocolate chip cookies. Please, no expired products. I am also collecting new socks and new underwear (must be packaged) for Savvy Seconds. Residents can drop off donations of all sizes to my ward office.

Blue Christmas Service – St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 1118 Thomas A. Dolan Parkway, is holding a Blue Christmas Service on Thursday, December 20 at 8pm. St. Paul’s is holding the service for anyone who might not be in the Christmas spirit this year because of the tornado but who may still want to mark the season. It will be a somber observance of hope in this midst of distress. All are welcome to attend. Quyon Ferry – This is a reminder to residents that the Quyon Ferry’s last day of operation for the season is Friday, December 21, and will run until 8pm.

City Council has approved cannabis retail stores in Ottawa – At a special City Council meeting held on December 13, Council as a whole approved cannabis retails stores in Ottawa. City of Ottawa will permit retail cannabis stores beginning April 1, 2019. Council heard presentations from nine members of the public. This is in addition to 23,000 responses to an online survey conducted earlier this fall. The responses to the online survey and a random sample telephone survey generally supported permitted retail cannabis stores in Ottawa. Public input indicates that residents want stores with appropriate controls and protections to minimize the impacts on the community.

The General Manager of the Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department will develop the City’s formal responses to store applications made to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. Responses will require the agreement of the Ward Councillor. Mayor Watson will advocate with the Ontario government for greater municipal planning authority over retail cannabis stores, including for the right to increase the distance between stores and to regulate and license private cannabis retail stores. City staff will report on the impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis on City services in late 2019.

As new issues emerge, the City will consult with residents and provide additional reports and recommendations to Council as required.Permitting retail cannabis stores will help reduce the black market and provide consumers access to safer products in a highly regulated environment. The City will spend less resources shutting down illegal sellers, and receive additional funding from the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund to offset the costs related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Cannabis retailers will also create economic and employment opportunities in the city, including spinoff benefits for other sectors.

2019 budget directions approved – City Council has approved guidelines for the development of the 2019 draft City of Ottawa budget. The City’s 2019 draft operating and capital budgets will be tabled at Council on February 6, 2019, with public meetings to follow. Detailed information, including dates of all standing committee meetings and public consultations, will be available on ottawa.ca in the near future.