Overbrook made tremendous strides in the past year on the socioeconomic front in 2015.
We successfully held our Annual Garage Sale and Clean-Up Event on 9 May, where we had a positive impact on both the environment and the beauty of our neighbourhood. Our community also became home to the Ottawa Champions, a new professional baseball team that created over 100 part-time positions at the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park baseball stadium on Coventry Road this summer. Also, we welcomed a new technology firm, Lixar, to our neighbourhood. The firm sponsored two little league baseball teams, organized by the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, that played in our neighbourhood. Committed to a strong ethic of corporate social responsibility, Lixar recognizes that providing young people with structured recreational and educational opportunities greatly enhances their chance for success.
In that vein, we are extremely pleased that a youth strategy was recently unveiled by the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre for our neighbourhood. Working in partnership with with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), the Conseil des ecoles publiques de l’Est de I’Ontario, Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) and the Boys and Girls Club, along with your Community Association, the strategy outlines better solutions to engage youth in Overbrook and throughout Ward 13. The Association wholeheartedly endorses the efforts of Dr. Monjur Chowdhury to bring after school homework sessions to the Overbrook Community Centre and the Twice Upon a Time initiative that is bringing free books to the Community Centre every Saturday. The Association has also been working with OCH and the City of Ottawa’s Forestry Service to ensure that 50 new trees are planted in our neighbourhood over the next year and a half. The Community Association has been strongly encouraging OCH to make improvements to their rental properties in order to enhance the quality of life of residents. We were therefore quite pleased to hear that the housing agency will commit $30.5 million to improve its housing portfolio. 225 Donald Street will receive extensive plumbing upgrades in this round of funding. Overbrook has a large proportion of social housing that is in desperate need of repair and we continue to look forward to more repairs.
Crime in the neighbourhood continues to fall. Between 2013-2014, Overbrook had a 17 percent reduction in police calls, along with a 31 percent decrease in residential break and enters and a 50 percent decrease in car theft. While crime can never be completely eliminated, the community is working on a “post-incident neighbourhood protocol” to address violent criminal activity, such as the home robbery that occurred on King George Street in June.
Despite these gains, the Community Association still has hard work to do on a number of planning and development files. In 2014, our neighbourhood won Council’s support to have City staff establish a pilot project in Overbrook, whereby residents could purchase abuting laneways. Over the last 100 years, these lanes have not been properly maintained by the City or used as active thoroughfares. We recently reaffirmed our “desire to pursue closure and purchase of City-owned urban lanes” within our community in a position paper submitted to Ward 13 City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum. Despite the huge benefits presented by resident purchase, which includes removing liability and increasing the tax base, City staff have slowed the pilot process through numerous delays, which has led to the extension of the process. The Association is fully committed to work through the City’s mandated process in order to repatriate the land to residents at a reasonable cost.
The Association also continues to oppose “spot planning” that directly violates zoning policies outlined in the City’s Official Plan. We believe that land use should be consistent and in conformity with existing City policy, because the more clearer the policies, the more fairer and transparent the planning process. Consequently, the Community Association supports the creation of a new Community Development Plan for Overbrook. Early this year, the Association reiterated its request to Councillor Nussbaum that the City Planning and Growth Management Department include Overbrook among those communities for which a City-led Community Development Plan is created in 2015. With high levels of intensification and development occurring in Overbrook, we believe that such a plan is essential to guide future development in our community, especially since such a study has not been conducted since 1979. Hence we are very excited to have the Association’s Planning and Development Committee lead a OCA Board meeting in September that will deal specifically with development issues. City of Ottawa urban planner Alain Miguelez is scheduled to present. The community association is also very proud that Sheila Perry, past President of the Overbrook Community Association and its predecessor, the Community Council of Overbrook, was recently appointed vice president of the Federation of Citizens' Associations of Ottawa. She will oversee an issue portfolio that includes development and intensification issues. The Association applauds her work and looks forward to hosting the Federation's December meeting.