Returning to Ottawa City Hall will be able to afford to consider legal battle, e-scooter program and duty as capital

The council meeting could end with a new municipal tax.

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A meaty agenda awaits a city council in Ottawa that is hungry to govern personally.

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Wednesday’s meeting will be the first to allow members to attend either chambers at Ottawa City Hall or via Zoom.

It is also the first time in two years that councilors, apart from Mayor Jim Watson and occasionally other councilors chairing committees, have been invited back to the chambers for a regular meeting. COVID-19 has forced almost all municipal policies to happen through video conferencing.

Here is what will be served.

Proposed $ 100,000 contribution would help fight Quebec Law 21

Councilors Diane Deans and Rawlson King will seek support to spend $ 100,000 in property tax money to help fund a legal challenge to Quebec Bill 21.

The law, passed in June 2019, prevents public servants in Quebec in positions of authority from wearing visible religious symbols, such as a cross, hijab, turban or kippah.

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Other Canadian municipalities, including several in Ontario, have provided funding for an ongoing legal challenge from the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the World Sikh Organization of Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Mayor Jim Watson has said he opposes the proposal because he does not support the use of the City of Ottawa’s tax dollars to fight another level of government.

The proposal was originally scheduled to be debated on February 9, but the “Freedom Convoy” occupation dominated the city’s attention, and the debate was sent to the first council meeting after the state of emergency was lifted.

The e-scooter program is recommended to continue in 2022

A third e-scooter season could get an easy ride from the municipality.

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Earlier this month, an overwhelming majority in the Transport Committee approved another year of rentable e-scooters during an ongoing pilot program despite hearing concerns from advocates for accessibility.

If the municipality decides to continue with the program in 2022, the city will only select two companies to offer a total of up to 900 rental e-scooters in the central area. That would be a drop from 2021, when three companies deployed 1,200 e-scooters.

The Transport Committee recommended that e-scooter geofencing – the boundaries of operation based on GPS coordinates – ensure that e-scooters do not operate on sidewalks, beyond the usual areas, such as land owned by the National Capital Commission.

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New property tax would strengthen the rental market, raise housing funds

The council meeting could end with a new municipal tax.

The proposed tax on vacant housing is designed to keep units available in the Ottawa rental market and to raise revenue to fund housing programs.

As of 2023, property owners with up to six units on a plot of land must state whether a unit was vacant for more than 184 days in the previous year. In these cases, there will be an additional property tax of one percent.

The city estimates that about 330,000 property owners will need to fill out declarations.

Annual net revenue from the new tax would be $ 5 million, according to city estimates.

The city will also allow exemptions in connection with property sales and for property owners who receive treatment at health facilities. The tax would also not apply to main residences.

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The role of City Hall in Canada’s capital is being questioned by occupation declines

The truck occupation is over, but the political downturn continues.

grev. Mathieu Fleury wants the council to ask the federal government to beat a working group of politicians from all three levels of government and other agencies. He wants to “modernize the needs and responsibilities of Ottawa’s jurisdiction as the capital.”

Fleury aims to reduce the financial burden on City Hall in managing events of a national scale while defining the responsibilities and powers of the municipal government.

The occupation revealed a jurisdictional swamp in which the city and municipal police were responsible for dealing with a disturbance that was largely directed at the upper levels of government.

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Debate potentials: E-bus audit, housing response force response, road widening and police board extension

A host of other reports and anticipated proposals could spur debates.

An audit report recommends the city downscale a planned purchase of 74 battery-powered buses so staff can wait for the full results of an ongoing pilot project.

The city has a proposal in response to the provincial housing task force’s 55 recommendations to build 1.5 million more homes over 10 years in Ontario. The city fears losing the local planning authority.

The Transportation Committee has recommended the city ask the National Capital Commission to enter into a 100-day debate on the city-preferred route to extend Brian Coburn Boulevard at the east end.

And the council still needs to appoint another member to sit on the Ottawa Police Services Board, which lacks a member to legally conduct business. The next police board meeting is Monday. The province has not announced its own nominees for the renewed board.

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