Tag Archives: Mayor Jim Watson

Watson turns the page, others haven’t

img_20190712_08532388552276995742126098.jpg
Jim Watson has turned the page and has moved on from the fiasco that is all about the design of an addition that the owners of the Chateau Laurier what to pop on the site of the torn down parking garage.  Jim Watson has moved on, he’s moved onto to his LRT to the City of Ottawa gets the keys to the trains the middle of August from Rideau Transit Group.  He is getting the keys more than a year late and several missed deadlines later.

Jim Watson and 12 other councillors have moved on since Thursday July 11th when reconsideration of Councillor Fleury’s  motion to deny Larco, the owners of the Chateau Laurier their permit to build an addition.  Ten Ottawa City Councillors led by Mathieu Fleury, Heritage Ottawa and thousands of Ottawa voters that have signed petitions haven’t moved on, rather they’ve firmly planted themselves in a position that they hope will block backhoes from starting construction.

This story goes back years, the major sticking point is that City Council passed a heritage permit. The owners of the Chateau have presented five designs, all of which have been panned by the public, but have met the guidelines set out in the heritage permit.    The application has a few minor steps before ground can be broken and construction can begin on a design that has been called a car radiator.  City Council has the right to deny a permit to build if it doesn’t like the design, but in this case they didn’t, fearing a costly lawsuit.

It appears that a majority, maybe all of council does not like the design the owners are determined to build, but 14 voted to deny Fleury his opportunity, one last time, to have the permit revoked.  Mayor Watson must have let out a big sigh before he slid out the back door of council chambers to begin his vacation when the final vote tally was counted.
img_20180405_1541418638794165793251928.jpgI think the problem the public (and few public figures) has with the design is that the architects haven’t really veered far from design number one.  The fourth reiteration of the original drawing is still basically a box being stapled to a castle.  I’ve seen more imagination in the design of a building on a beach.

While Larco dreams of Bob the Builder, Councillors Fleury, Meehan, Deans, and others along with Heritage Ottawa and the Friends of the Chateau Laurier will be spending the time the Mayor is away looking to stop those dreams.  While all this planning takes place will the Mayor actually has a peaceful vacation with nothing on his mind?

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Advertisements

Meehan vs. The Mayor

  jim watson

A couple of weeks back Carol Anne Meehan, the rookie Gloucester – South Nepean Councillor made waves because she questioned the Mayor’s decision NOT to allow her to bring a staff person into a one-on-one budget discussion that Mayor Watson was having with her as part of his pre-budget discussions. These are, I imagine, largely informal discussions where the Mayor expects to hear the 3 or so budget concerns from each ward.

Ms. Meehan is a new councillor and very likely she’s still getting up to speed on the many ways Ottawa City Council operates, the committees, procedures and governance as the ward representative.

I don’t know how long these meetings are meant to last, what expectations the councillor should have of the Mayor in the meetings.  There might even be a bit of confidentiality to the meetings.  One person that might know is Mike Patton,  he worked in the Mayors’s office when Larry O’Brien was Mayor of Ottawa and now Mike is working for Councillor Meahan.  Patton is going to be of great assistance to Meahan as he’ll be able guide her through the machinery of City Hall.  But does that make her more comfortable in her role? 

Councillor Meehan had a request, have a staff person join her in the meeting to take notes.  Meehan will not be the elected official to have a staff person take notes in meeting but this is not one meeting she will be able to. Ottawa, a city that has 338 elected officials around the corner on Parliament Hill is all about notes being taken in a meeting by staff.  An elected official bringing a staff person to take notes in a meeting is not a strange occurance, it happens all the time, everyday.

There could be more than meets the eye on this; the Mayor may be posturing a bit.  I doubt that the Mayor and Mike Patton get along that well.  Patton, who worked for the previous Mayor of Ottawa is now working for a new Councillor. Patton up until the Ottawa elections posted a daily video challenging the mayor on issues facing City Hall.  If it would be Patton coming into the meetings, Jim Watson would not be so happy.

A few people have commented online that if Meehan doesn’t know the top three issues from her ward she doesn’t deserve to be there.  Meehan has not had the smoothest start of the rookie Councillors, but her calling out the Mayor for not allowing her to have someone take notes for her seems fair. Next year she may not need that staff person there but this is her first budget in her first year of her four year term. I find nothing wrong with her making sure she has the information she needs to do her job however she needs to get it.

If this is any indication, this could be first of a few flaming arrows that Meehan will be firing in the direction of the Mayor.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker&  @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Your new Ottawa Council (as I see it)

Andy Hayden Room

After weeks of intensive campaigning, debates and countless news coverage here’s what I think our City Council will look like by the counting is done. My predicted winners are in bold, I read profiles, news articles and questionnaires and I watched recorded debates. It was in no way scientific, all considerations were as if I were voting in the ward.

Ward 1 – Orleans

I watched and read about this race closely. The winner will get less than 18% of the vote, I think that will be Catherine Kitts.  UPDATE: I was wrong, Matthew Luloff was elected

Ward 2 – Innes

I hear a lot of talk about Laura Dudas, but when I watched the debate I found her to be pushy and ‘had’ to get her word in. A slight advantage might go to Tammy Lynch over Danna Leith-Gudbranson. UPDATE: Wrong again, Laura Dudas was elected.

Ward 3 – Barrhaven

Jan Harder, that’s it.

Ward 4 – Kanata North

This is tough to call, a Jim Watson loyalist and a Marianne Wilkinson endorsed candidate are squaring off. No one told 3rd time candidate Matt Muirhead he didn’t belong. The 3rd time will be the charm for Muirhead. UPDATE: Oops, Jenna Sudds is the new councillor in Kanata North.

Ward 5 – West Carleton March

Eli El-Chantiry has held the seat at council since 2003; he will still be the councillor for West Carleton – March after Monday’s election.

Ward 6 – Stittsville

Like his neighbour Eli El-Chantiry, Shad Qadri has held the ward for 15 years since being elected in 2003. In 2018 he is facing his toughest challenger in Glen Gower. But unlike his neighbour, Qadri will not be re-elected.

Ward 7 – Bay

The battle of political spouses; Theresa Kavanagh is political in her own right and Alex Cullen never sent a robocall out on her behalf.

Ward 8 – College

First elected to Nepean city council 30 years ago, Rick Chiarelli defies all challengers. He’ll do it again Monday.

Ward 9 – Knoxdale- Merivale

I can’t see or hear any reason that has given the voters not to give Keith Egli a 3rd term.

Ward 10 – Gloucester Southgate

It could be close with Diana Deans over Robert Swaita. This ward needed a good one on one contest to see any change.

Ward 11 – Beacon Hill – Cyrville

This ward had Tim Tierney’s name on it well before the last minute decision to avoid an acclamation.

Ward 12 – Rideau Vanier

Mathieu Fleury’s fight for Vanier over the Salvation Army will win over the voters. This election might make him a better councillor (and maybe candidate for Mayor).

Ward 13 – Rideau Rockcliffe

Toby Nussbaum is a tough one to knock off in a mano-a-mano battle.

Ward 14 – Somerset

I expect Catherine McKenney to return. There were no debates (other than the Rogers TV) in this ward and the only challenger I noticed was Jerry Kovacs. He ran a good campaign but his success will be in coming second.

Ward 15 – Kitchissippi

This is Jeff Leiper’s seat for another four years.

Ward 16 – River

Riley Brockington will not be re-elected; look for Fabien Kalala Cimankinda to carry his momentum, and Maria McCrae’s endorsement, through to the final ballot to council chambers. UPDATE:  This is one of two incorrect predictions I am happy with, Riley was re-elected.

Ward 17 – Capital

I could chicken out and call this too close to call. This is a Catherine McKenna MP Christine McAllister) vs Joel Harden MPP (Shawn Menard) battle of candidates with Anthony Carricato in the mix. With a recent provincial win, this will be a Team Harden victory for Shawn Menard.

Ward 18 – Alta Vista

Many challengers’ to Jean Cloutier’s position makes for an incumbent win.

Ward 19 – Cumberland

The challengers made this an easy win for Stephen Blais, welcome back Councillor.

Ward 20 – Osgoode

You would think ward would have been a really good race, it dod not turn out that way. George Darouze gets another term at council.

Ward 21 – Rideau Goulbourn

I like Scott Moffat, he’s done a good job but I hear far too much chatter about David Brown. I’ll take the chatter as the challenger’s advantage over the incumbent. UPDATE: The chatter was wrong, Moffat was re-elected, I am glad I was ‘inaccurate’ here as well.

Ward 22 – Gloucester South Nepean

With name, face and voice recognition, Carol Anne Meehan will make Michael Qaqish a one-term councillor. He will be back on the ballot in 2022 to challenge for the seat again.

Ward 23 – Kanata South

Another four years for Allan Hubley, though after that I don’t know – we’ll see how he does on council and if he increases his profile in the entire City

Mayor

Jim Watson will be re-elected. I am already looking forward the 2022 Municipal elections when there will be a real race for Mayor. Clive Doucet made it interesting. The big story coming out of this election is how the Jim Watson treats his public activities as a private citizen on a ‘personal’ Twitter.

UPDATE after the Votes were counted: I scored 18/23 Councillor races.  I was wrong in my selections in Orleans, Innes, Kanata North, River and Rideau Goulbourn. 

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Battle of Vanier: Land use vs. Building Use

21728878_10155836666179924_314559902443611242_o
Out of the most divisive issues comes unity.

Last week saw an unprecedented Planning Committee meeting, it lasted three days and on the third day the meeting it went late into the evening. At stake was either safe shelter for 350 or the future of Vanier and its financial growth. The heart of the matter revolved around the Salvation Army relocating to Montreal Rd in Vanier from their George Street location in the Byward Market.

In what has become a war of words over the future of Vanier, the Battle of Vanier is clearly between two ideals; land use versus building use. City staff is on the land use side while Rideau Vanier Mathieu Fleury is arguing the building use will have severe impacts on Vanier.

In the middle of summer the Salvation Army filed a proposal to build a new large 350 bed facility that would locate all its services in one location (the current Concord Hotel) on Montreal Rd, which is classified a “mainstreet” by the city’s official plan. Ottawa now prohibits shelters on its mainstreets. Mainstreets by definition are meant for commerce and community gathering and keeping people moving. For the Salvation Army, the official plan will need to be amended.

It gets confusing and bewildering because City staff support a proposal that clearly goes against the Official City Plan, which City Staff had a huge hand in writing. With its support, planning staff is saying that the needed amendment ‘won’t be a problem at all’.

If you have trouble understanding how the mainstreet argument works consider other Mainstreet and “Main” street locations across Ottawa as examples. How about a large shelter on Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven, or on Meadowlands Drive in Keith Egli’s ward. Try selling a huge 300-bed shelter to Stittsville residents on Hazeldean Drive and I doubt anyone would allow a shelter beside a shiny condo on Richmond Road or even putting a shelter at the corner of Bank and Somerset downtown instead of rebuilding Somerset House.

21728936_10155836665524924_8730297377643678157_o

Photos courtesy of Danno Saunt (Sideman Ottawa)

There was another aspect in the Battle of Vanier, one which could have been avoided – The Mayor. The ink on the proposal was barely dry when Mayor Jim Watson came out in support of the Salvation Army’s plans. He voiced his support before the proposal was looked at by staff, was debated at Planning Committee, before residents could have a say and before the full Council vote. The Mayor holds great sway in council. He’ll try to tell he is one of 24 votes, honestly though, his “yeah or nay” will sway about a quarter of council seats. Coming out early on this forced Councillor Fleury to publically fight against the Mayor and most of council.

Whether the Mayor intentionally or accidently played his cards, he should have stayed quiet. I expect that he will lose votes in the fall, as SOS Vanier will make sure Rideau Vanier voters don’t forget who supported them and that the Mayor did not. By stating his support early in the process, the Mayor muted Councillor Fleury and virtually snubbed the 100+ residents and businesses that went to committee and stated their reasons for objecting to the proposal.

Clearly the Salvation Army did not expect such uproar. They almost admitted it, but could not find the right words when the Salvation Army spokesperson appeared on CBC Radio Ottawa Morning after the Council vote of 23-7 (Rick Chiarelli claimed a conflict). They admitted they had a lot of fence mending to do, but could not commit to saying they did not know the community well enough to foresee the outrage against the plans.

It was clear from the moment that SOS Vanier was formed by Vanier business owner Drew Dobson that who ever came up short in the vote at council would be appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board. Depending on the OMB outcome there could a lawsuit, which all means that it could be years before the wrecking ball comes down on the Concord Motel, which sits on the proposed Salvation Army building.

Speaking of the Concord Motel, there is a complication. The City of Ottawa is very tight for space for families that need emergency shelter, for days weeks or months. Guess where some families are put up, paid for by the City of Ottawa? The Concord Motel. Where will the City find the rooms lost with the demo of the Concord for the families that need the space? Good Question. The City better home the new Federal National Housing Plan works, and fast!

There is some good that comes out of the Battle of Vanier. The community has come together, again. The last time that happened was with the proposed closure of the Montfort Hospital. The Ontario government stood down from that because the community banded together. The Salvation Army shelter plan was the spark that brought Vanier back to its feet; I hope they don’t underestimate the community as Mike Harris did. SOS Vanier is here for a while and plan on keeping this issue alive.

Secondly, Councillor Fleury stood on his head defended his residents; I have not seen a councillor do that in some time. It was an “All-Star Performance” in the defense of Vanier and preserving Montreal Road. At worst he has almost secured a re-election with his efforts to protect his community with something he saw as being a bad fit.

The leaders of SOS Vanier have publically declared they will appeal the decision at the OMB, the Battle was won – the war wages on.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net