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Some Uber Tickets Might Be More Complicated Than Others

- March 26th, 2015

Uber tickets continue to crawl through the courts and you would think the cases are cut and dry, but not all of them are.

Brian McGregor is one Uber driver charged under the bylaw with not having taxi permits. He was ticketed last October but his lawyer still hasn’t received the discovery — that is, the city’s evidence against him.

According to McGregor, a bylaw officer entered his car and started writing the ticket. The fare hadn’t been charged at that point, he said. The way Uber works, the fare is charged to credit cards after the passenger arrives at his/her destination.

I’m no lawyer, but perhaps that’s a defence. It’s not based on the philosophical argument of whether or not Uber should be allowed to operate outside of the taxi bylaw. The city has said that some tickets take longer to issue because bylaw is waiting for credit cards to be charged by Uber. McGregor’s ticket came early in the city’s enforcement campaign, so maybe bylaw was getting used to applying the rules to Uber.

Other Uber drivers have pleaded guilty and paid their fines. Some have had their tickets ripped up because (oddly) there were no officer signatures.

There’s a story with every ticket.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at

Union Rep Follows Up With Letter After Scolding Councillors

- March 25th, 2015

A rep from CUPE Local 503, the city’s largest union, came into a committee meeting this week throwing fireballs at councillors on community and protective services over the defective social assistance management system (SAMS).

The city has been bashing the province over the poor rollout of the computer program, but councillors were knocked on their heels Monday by Clarence Dungey, the media officer for the union, who accused the city for not taking care of staff who are apparently burning out over the new system.

Dungey attends most council and committee meetings but almost never signs up to be a delegate to speak on an issue. He felt compelled to speak up this time and he definitely got councillors’ attention.

He must have sensed his speech rattled politicians. Councillors on the committee received this letter in their inboxes Tuesday night.

To the Community and Protective Services Committee

Dear Committee Members:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you, for the your time and thoughtful questions, following my somewhat spontaneous decision to speak from my heart. As you know from my attendance at committee meetings, I am content to sit and take in the content of the topic of the presentation and very seldom speak out in the manner that I did at your meeting yesterday.

That said, I want to share with you that the President of Local 503 Brian Madden and his staff, since SAMS came on stream, have been preoccupied with assisting his members — your employees — in finding a reasonable solution by working with senior staff for some considerable time. These times and efforts have involved interviewing staff and meeting with MPPs and provincial Cabinet Members.

As stated in my presentation to you, CUPE has a membership of almost 800,000 and we are very much aware of the negative impacts that stress has on social workers across this country. It has had dreadful results for some Canadian workers, including suicide, an end result, I am certain, that we can all say must not happen in any municipality and, in particular, Ottawa.

In conclusion, and on behalf of Brian Madden, I want to extend sincere appreciation to each of the Committee Members for taking the time and effort to pick up the challenge to decipher the complexities of SAMS in its present state and to improve upon the delivery of its programs and services. I also want to express how important it is to the community as a whole to have a Committee who understands the stressful situation that has brought us together and we look forward to your increased interest to find a solution to this dilemma.


Clarence S. Dungey
Media Officer, CUPE 503

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at

Four Things At Council Wednesday

- March 24th, 2015

Deputy Mayor Bob Monette is expected to be in the Big Chair with Mayor Jim Watson still on the mend after his snowmobile injury.

Audits: AG Ken Hughes tabled his annual report recently. I think the general belief is there’s no barnburner, but some interesting discoveries nonetheless.

Broadview Public School: The planning committee is recommending council give the “tower” part of the school heritage designation to protect the outer structure. The school board, which will construct a new school on the same site, doesn’t like the heritage proposal. There’s no plan for the old building.

McArthur Ave. service centre: A classic planning conundrum on McArthur Ave. The company that owns the Toyota and Lexus dealerships at the corner of May St. wants to build a Lexus service centre at the corner. The city’s planning vision says no. A majority of the planning committee says yes. Will council back Coun. Tobi Nussbaum and the planning policy, or side with the committee?

Shooting bylaw: Council will be asked to amend the firearm discharge prohibitions to include a larger area of Barrhaven in response to an incident in February.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at

Amended Gun Discharge Bylaw Goes To Council

- March 21st, 2015

The city has acted fast to update its bylaw that regulates where a gun can be shot in Ottawa.

A bullet was shot into a Barrhaven home last month, believed to be from a hunter’s gun. If you look at the map of Barrhaven included in the bylaw, the Nutgrove Ave. home is actually in an area where firearm discharges aren’t restricted, but as the story says, the bylaw includes a 450-metre buffer between residential developments.

A proposed bylaw amendment is going to council Wednesday to make sure the 13-year-old bylaw is updated to include parts of Barrhaven that have been developed. The various safety nets in the existing bylaw pretty much protect the homes already, but the bylaw department knows that people rely on the map and it has created a replacement version for approval.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at

311 Calls For February

- March 13th, 2015

Usually we wait until the semi-annual (formerly quarterly) performance reports come out to see what’s driving 311 calls. However, the city’s open data site posts the stats after each month.

I just took a quick run through the 12,246 calls for February and this is what I have learned.

A property in River ward really tried to extend the festive season. That’s where one call came in about Christmas trees and garbage collection.

There were 25 smoking complaints, with many in College ward. The only “outdoor space” smoking complaint was in Stittsville. Maybe we should expect those numbers to increase with new rules on e-cigarettes.

College ward was also home to one call about fireworks.

There were 66 bylaw-related calls about taxis. Reasons? Unknown.

Two people called about discarded needles in Rideau-Vanier ward. Expect more of these calls to come in the warmer months.

There were several calls about graffiti with different classifications. Graffiti “vandalism” was attributed to 10 calls, while just “graffiti” had seven calls. There were three “offensive” graffiti cases (Somerset, Gloucester-South Nepean and Capital wards) and three considered “hate” graffiti (all in River).

The rural and suburban areas made 37 calls about coyotes.

There were thousands of calls related to noise, property standards, animals, garbage, roads and parking.

In the calls about parking tickets, there were 109 logged as “wrong person charged.” Another 34 calls related to the “tourist courtesy policy,” which apparently provides a degree of leniency for visitors who don’t know about the parking rules here.

And finally, there was one keener in Somerset ward who simply called with a comment on the budget.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling, on Instagram at @JonathanWilling and at