Ottawa’s City Budget Fails to Reflect Our Policy Goals

­ We are a growing city. Our population is projected to grow 40% over the coming decades. The new Official Plan attempts to address how to accommodate that growth in a sustainable way. But we’re challenged when investment decisions at the budget table are in stark contrast to the objectives we set. In 2020, the …

Why the New Civic Hospital Site Is the Wrong Choice for Ottawa

This text summarizes a presentation MPP Joel Harden asked me to provide in a townhall session he and Councilors McKenny and Menard organized regarding the site of the new Ottawa Civic Hospital. It stems from my own concerns about the site selection process and, of course, the challenges of a P3 (Public Private Partnership). Image: …

Improving Procurement For Architectural Services

It’s time to change procurement practices for public sector architecture projects in Canada. The current procurement process favours larger firms that can devote more resources toward what is often a costly, months-long process. Unfair procurement practices, which focus on fees rather than quality, stifle innovation and harm small businesses. Small Ontario firms rarely participate in …

Infrastructure should be more than functional. It should be beautiful.

When we build physical infrastructure, we expect that it is going to last for decades, even generations. With the federal government poised to invest billions of dollars in transit, bridges, roads and cycling networks, it is more important than ever that we get it right. That means more than just making it functional. The three …

Reducing our carbon footprint by investing in architecture.

The recent news that Ottawa is looking to spend a billion dollars on a fleet of electric buses is welcome news. The urban built environment is responsible for about 75% of annual GHG emissions, with buildings accounting for 39% of the total emissions. Converting our public transit system to a zero GHG emissions target is …

Ottawa’s Porsche dealership debacle shows there’s a better way to incentivize desirable urban developments.

“The city should encourage investment in our communities,” writes Architects DCA president Toon Dreessen.  It is easy to lambaste the city council for approving a $2.9 million tax break to a luxury car dealership in one of Ottawa’s poorest communities.   Awarded through a program aimed at incentivizing development in target areas including Vanier, the move …

Letter to the Editor: Contract Fairness

We need to eliminate procurement contract conditions that are unfair and get back to public contracts that are fair and balanced. The basis of a contract is that there is a fair exchange. Usually, this is money for a service or product. When you order a coffee at your local coffee shop, there is an …

Permission for Fun

Ottawa has long held a reputation as a place that fun forgot. People who live here know that there is a lot to love about the city: its history, the Rideau Canal, proximity to parks and rivers, excellent museums and galleries, all of which make Ottawa a great place. More spontaneous fun things are harder …

Putting Ottawa’s Public Properties To Better Use

With a little creativity, government-owned land can help increase affordable housing and enhance our community. In January 2020, the City of Ottawa declared a housing emergency. Tackling this complex problem requires a range of initiatives. But one of the most accessible strategies involves rethinking how publicly owned land can be used to maximize its value to …