Tag Archives: Ottawa City Hall

Ottawa Election Primer: The New Council

Ottawa FlagThe new Ottawa City Council will be sworn in December 1st.   The 23 councillors that will sit around the table made promises, set priorities and declared a platform. After the counting was done I looked at the winning candidates websites and noted each of their top action items for their wards (and the city).

I was unable to get priorities from two councillors as their campaign websites were taken down.  One other councillor also had a campaign website did not promise anything – except more of the same.  No word on taxes, infrastructure transit – nothing – it was really a message of “you liked me for four years, vote for me for more”.  What follows are the key planks from 20 City Councillors.  These priorities will likely define how the next four years will go.  I purposely have left out any promises that were made by Mayor Watson.

To look at how it breaks down I tallied issues for Rural (3 Councillors), Urban (4 Councillors) and Suburban Wards (16 Councillors).  Of the 3 Rural Councillors I found priorities for 2/3 winning candidates and of the 16 Suburban Councillors 2 had taken campaign websites down.  Only 14 wards are represented in the suburb issues.

What I discovered is that Transit/LRT was the biggest election issue, more importantly extending LRT and avoiding the pitfalls that were/are part of LRT phase one.. From there the rest of the issues are among an urban/rural/suburban divide.   Number two in top issues was Roads and Transportation, meaning maintaining current road and building new roads.  Rural and Suburban Councillors will be advocating this issue over the next four years. – it was not mentioned at all by members of the urban caucus.  Third issue is community infrastructure, which includes, parks, greenspace, community buildings and trees.  Support for these issues came from suburban ward candidates.

Surprising to me were the issues coming in after the top 3.  Fourth was taxes/fiscal responsibility, fifth – Policing and Safe communities, sixth – Housing and even though it takes a lot of airtime when a controversial decision is made, development came in seventh.

An issue that was talked about but never campaigned on was election reform and the size of council.  A study on ward boundaries and a reduction or expansion on council  will take place this term.  The report will come before the next election but will its recommendations take effect in 2022?  This council could push the changes (if there are any to the 2024 municipal election.

Here’s a breakdown of how the issues are divided between Urban/Rural and Suburban Councillors ranked top to bottom.

Urban Issues Rural Issues Suburban Issues
Affordable Housing Roads and Infrastructure Community Infrastructure
Development/Planning Economic Development Transit
Transit Planning Taxes
Environment Youth Roads
Seniors Emergency Services Economy/Jobs
City Services Fiscal Responsibility Policing
Businesses Rural Broadband Development
Election Reform Safety on the Roads Safe Streets
Fiscal Responsibility Seniors Seniors
Pedestrians Youth
Poverty Support Services
Safe City Emergency Services
Traffic Housing
Youth Short Term Rental
Term Limits

This analysis is very unscientific, but as you can see no one region was short on issues that were talked about at the doors, but look at the differences and diversity of issues across the three regions.  Surprisingly, Transit does not come up as a priority from our rural councillors.  The difference in priorities demonstrates the difficulty that will pop up when councillors are looking for support for budget items, new infrastructure and projects that are important to the different wards.  I expect that their will be more discussion about issue across the urban/rural/suburban divide, especially with new councillors coming into key ward that represent growth in Ottawa. There’s going to be strength coming from suburban councillors with 16 around the table. The urban caucus with 4 councillors and the 3 rural caucuses will have their work cut out for them in getting projects that affect their constituents approved.

The Mayor will have to balance what is regionally needed to make everyone happy, especially when the budget is drafted.  He will need to start with the naming of committee chairs, there will be some juggling here.  I am sure the campaigning for these positions has already started.

The Mayor campaigned that he could go as high as a 3% tax increase in the budget. When the Mayor presents the budget (written of course with consultation of the councillors) it will leave some happier than others and will force councillors to start looking for trade-offs on individual items.

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

Advertisements

Ottawa Election Primer: Breaking the Gender Barrier

Democracy is not easy 1There has been a lot of discussion on breaking the gender barrier at Ottawa City Hall with the results of the October 22ndelection.  Currently the council table has four female councillors.  With Marianne Wilkinson retiring the number of female councillors could drop to 3 if no others are elected.  This seems to be very unlikely as there are a number of wards where very strong female candidate are seeking a seat at the table.

Let’s address the one seat that in 2018 will not be filled by a woman, the Mayors chair.  Ottawa will have to wait four years to see if a woman will run for Mayor in 2022.  One name that continues to rise to the conversation is Diane Deans.  If Diane Deans wins re-election next week, 2022 might be the year she officially throws her hat in the ring to replace Jim Watson who I believe will not seek a fourth consecutive term as Ottawa’s Mayor.

In 2018 there is a good opportunity to double the count of women councillors to 8. Here is a run down of what could happen, this post will look at the 23 ward seats only.

The sure bets

Seats in Barrhaven, Somerset are a guaranteed win for incumbents Jan Harder and Catherine McKenney.  An almost sure bet is Diane Deans in Gloucester-Southgate. With these three the count is 3/3 for women councillors.

Guaranteed to have a man in the seat

The following wards will elect a male councillor (because there are no women candidates); Stittsville, Knoxdale-Merivale, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Vanier, Rideau Rockcliffe, Kitchissippi, Rideau Goulbourn and Kanata South.  The council table now has 3/11 women councillors around it.

Likely to elect a woman councillor

There are wards that will likely elect a woman. Here I am going to lean towards a positive outcome for the ladies in a tight race.  Innes Ward has three female candidates.  No offence to Francois Trepenier, the three other women candidates are much stronger than he is.  In Ward 22, Gloucester-South Nepean, I don’t see voters passing on Carol Anne Meehan, she should get elected.  We are now up to 5/13 seats having a female councillors.

Likely to elect a male councillor

There a few wards where I expect to have a man elected, where there are female candidates running.  The elected will come from West Carleton-March, Capital, Alta Vista, Cumberland and Osgoode Wards.  The ratio drops to 5/18 with 5 wards left to look at.

Expect to elect a male councillor here

Even with good female candidates running, a male will represent these wards; College and River with the incumbents being re-elected giving council a 5/20 female/male ratio.

I think woman will have a good chance to be elected in these three wards

In Orleans with 17 candidates running, Catherine Kitts is the top woman candidate and she would be a good selection for voters in that ward if the voters wanted a woman councillor.  Kanata North has a 3-way race for the seat; Jenna Suds has as good a chance as David Gourlay and Matt Muirhead to win there.  The final female councillor will come from Bay Ward where Theresa Kavanagh will win the seat her husband Alex Cullen held a few terms ago. With these three ladies, City Council will double the number of female candidates from 4/23 to 8/23 (I have not included the Mayors chair).

With more female candidates, I expect decisions to be made differently.  Committees will also have a different make up which will change how they operate as well. The 8/23 is not 50-50 but it is a good start to smashing the glass ceiling that has been at Ottawa City Council since amalgamation in 2001.

I’ll have one more pre-election blog post on the Ottawa election posted before October 22nd with my look at the new council and who I believe will be sitting around it.

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

A Municipal Writ Drop

Amazon.jpg
“Re-election for a winning candidate starts the day after the election”

“Incumbency is an advantage”

“You can’t stop the business of City Hall”

These statements all came out of one tweet.

It is time for municipal elections to have a 28 day writ period. Having the Mayor and Councillors conduct business while campaigning for re-election is a conflict. We have fixed election dates, why not a fixed “writ” period as well.

It’s the rule federally and provincially, there’s an official writ period – a time when MP’s and MPP’s/MLA’s/MNA’s are not “in office”.  But while there are technically no elected representatives, the ‘running’ of the government never stops – not even during an election.  During the writ period elected officials running for re-election do not perform ‘official’ activities. Typically a writ period is between 28 and 36 days. There have been some exceptions though; in the 2015 federal election then Prime Minister Harper invoked a 78-day writ period. The 2006 election that was required because of a non-confidence vote against the Paul Martin government in November 2005 required an 8 week election period to accommodate a two week Christmas and New Year break.  During the break no campaigning took place. Surprising all parties adhered to that!

While fixed election dates are relatively new in federal and provincial elections, municipal elections have had fixed dates for some time.  The fixed dates allow for planning of elections and the planning of keeping the wheels of government turning during the writ periods.  It makes sense that the idea of the writ period is extended to municipal elections.  What has become clear is that without a writ period, any Mayor or Councillor can and does campaign while working.  How does this seem NOT to be a conflict of interest?

The arguments given against a dedicated campaign period include the time development applications have to be addressed.  People also cite the need for representation at the most local level is available at all times and others believe that the city would stop working if there were a writ period.

The writ period would only be 28 days (or so) every four years; I think developers and others can work around that especially since the dates would be clearly noted by the city.  Like federal and provincial elections provisions are made to have at east one person working in the office of the representative. Here in Ottawa, or in any other municipality if you call a Councillors office tomorrow (during the election) someone will answer the phone.  Because the election is on it doesn’t stop the councillor’s or the mayor’s office from talking to residents. Business as usual.

Recent changes altered the registration period for candidates from January 1st to May 1st and subsequently increased the incumbent advantage.  There has to be a time where incumbents cannot use their position to smudge the line between campaign activities and elected official duties.

One only needs to look at the social media accounts of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, he tweets that he has meetings and will attend a gala event (as a Mayor) and have a campaign event (as the Candidate for Mayor) all in ONE tweet.   Jim Watson found in a conflict?

For him and others there is no distinguishing official duty from a campaign activity. In the current Ottawa elections, the mayor has been caught in a conflict where it was seen he was using his elected duties to publicize a campaign announcement and using his social media doing it.

A 28-day writ period will level the playing field for 4 weeks, there would be no openings for the Mayor or Councillor to attend and then share on Facebook.  No Community fairs that would be part of duties as the elected official – just as a candidate looking for votes.  The province short changed challengers with a shorter period for campaigning – reducing the time a Mayor acts as Mayor during the campaign is a tiny consolation.

We ask for transparency in our elected officials every day when they’re in office, for 28 days every four years transparency should be even greater when elected officials are campaigning for re-election. All I suggest is that a 28 day writ period is fair – it works for MP’s and MPP’s and I don’t hear those elected officials complaining.  It should work for Municpalities.

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

Ottawa Election Primer Part 2

July 31st I posted a look at 6 of the 24 election races that will be decided on October 22nd.   I looked at races in Orleans, College, Beacon Hill-Cyrville, Rideau Goulbourn and Gloucester-South Nepean Wards and the race for Mayor.  In part 2 of the Ottawa Election Primer series I look at Innes, Barrhaven, West Carleton-March and Stittsville wards.

Ottawa Vote October 22

Innes

I am including Innes Ward today as I was fortunate to be able to listen to CFRA’s Rob Snow have the four candidates vying to replace Jody Mitic on the air for my drive to Barrie.  The biggest surprise to me in this race is that there are not more people running, especially if I look at the race in Orleans with 17 candidates running for a vacant seat.

Innes has two candidates that have City Hall experience.  Tammy Lynch worked with Councillor Mitic since 2014 and Donna Leith-Gudbranson worked for the former Councillor Rainer Bloess, who has endorsed Leith-Gudbranson as has other area former representatives.  Laura Dudas and Francois Lepranier round out the race. Listening to the candidates speak, all seem to be supporting the same ideals; a 2% property tax ceiling, better roads, access to transit and maintaining services as they are.

The issue of the 2% tax ceiling for me is a non-issue, I would have liked to hear about capping rate increases for water and sewer taxes, this is the expense of taxpayers that is never addressed – it was a missed opportunity for one of the four to include a cap on these city taxes with the 2% property tax.

All except Trepanier have City Hall experience; Trepanier however does count the experience of his years of service in the Canadian Forces as his reason for asking for the support of the voters.

However each seems to have different views of what is needed for Innes, voters will need to really look in to each candidate and ask important questions to set them apart not only at the doors but in the debates.

All four would serve the community well, but it comes down to the machine behind the candidates and with that the edge goes to Lynch and Leith-Gudbranson.  Mitic was a loved councillor and sentimental vote may be what helps Lynch.

Barrhaven

The Mayor of Barrhaven is not going to be dethroned anytime soon.  Jan Harder won four years ago with 75% of the vote, that’s not going to change this year. A victory for her opponents would be that Jan Harder picks up on some good ideas from their campaigns and takes then back to City Hall with her in November.

West Carleton-March

The battle in Ward five just might be fought on the ward losing its rural voice and services that once were there, but are now gone.  Eli El-Chantiry has held this ward since 2003 where he won by 29 votes.  But now in his 4thre-election bid his will have to defend his representation of this rural ward against two would be councillors, James Parsons and Judy Varga-Toth.  Parsons has not launched his website, but Varga-Toth is aiming straight at El-Chantiry on letting down the rural voters with reduced services in the ward and not doing a good enough job of grassroots representation.  Reading between the lines, her assumption might be that his duties as the Chair of the Police Services board have taken him away from the ward far too often.  El-Chantiry has won by defeating some high profile campaigns in the past; will Varga-Toth work under the radar and win?

Stittsville

Four years ago, Shad Qadri won with 60% of the vote, he faced only one challenger.

In 2018, it is the same scenario, but in this election I believe there is a chance that voters may look for something new. The challenger this year is Glen Gower, he is heavily involved in the community and as a member of Heritage Ottawa he will have had to work with the City on heritage files.  Qadri is respected in city hall, is that enough to fight off another challenge? The outcome on this comes down to the work that Gower does reaching out and getting Stittsville voters to see him as he is advertising, that a fresh voice is needed.  Going against Gower is history, this year is the 4thelection in a row no more that one other resident in Stittsville has felt the need to challenge Qadri who won the seat in 2003 in another one vs. one vote off.  Does this underlay Qadri’s silent support in the ward? If there is a weakness to Qadri, I hope Gower has done his research and perhaps he has found it. Qadri seems unbeatable one on one.

I’ve now looked at 10/24 races, the next Ottawa Election Primer will put the spotlight on Kanata North, Bay, Knoxdale-Merivale and Rideau-Vanier wards.

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

131: Will the case for a Downtown Library borrow from the Civic Hospital lesson?

mckenny-mckenna

Ottawa is getting a new library (a partnership with the Library and Archives Canada) in a few years and like anything else in this city (read Post 129 Hospital Hopscotch: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/129-hospital-hopscotch/) ) there is controversy! That we know what other sites were being consdered was due to the Library Board previously deciding that the only site Ottawans needed to know about was the final site. Because of the brohaha created by Somerset Councillor Catherine McKenny, the Library board did agree to release the locations of all sites be cosidered.

We heard that the new Ottawa Central Library will be located about one kilometre west of the current Central Library location at Metcalfe and Laurier which currently  serves as the Downtown ‘local’ branch for tens of thousands that consider the downtown their home. By moving the Central Library into new spiffy digs on the edge of LeBretn Flats, will downtowners follow the LRT line down to the new location?

Two groups are fighting to keep a Centretown/Downtown location alive. Bookmark the Core and the Centretown Citizens Community Association (CCCA) have been busy working to keep the new location in the core. The announcement this week has the downtown users just on the edge of being able to call it downtown. The CCCA even sent Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna a letter hoping that she would do for Centertown and the library what she did for the Ottawa Civic Hospital, they use the words “…in admiration for what you achieved in ensuring transparency…”. MP McKenna has not said anything publicly (that have read anywhere) about the new proposed library site, and considering how her ‘input’ into the Civic hospital site decision (you really should read Post 129: Hospital Hopscotch) is being viewed she will likely stay out of this battle.

There is one thing that the City and the Ottawa Library Board needs to address, if what Library Chief Executive Danielle McDonald said was true and that the current central library location also serves as the downtown branch, where will the downtown branch considered to be? LeBreton Flats? Will Centertowners haul their book bag to the Old Ottawa South Sunnyside Branch or will they head to Sandy Hill?

There will be a need for a smaller Downtown branch to serve the people that not only live in the core, but work in the core. 25% of users of the current Central branch work or live in the downtown. But, will they walk the extra 1 kilometer west or hop on the LRT to the new location?

If there could be a new “local” downtown branch where could it be? It would have to be in a building currently owned by the City, with Ottawa spending perhaps $100M for a new Central Library there will be no money available to build a new downtown branch. There are very few locations that would be suitable. Perhaps a building currrently being used by the City that has an ice rink nearby would have some space for a small library to serve us Centretowners?

City Council votes on the proposed site in February and it is unlikely that lightening will strike twice and what happened in the case of the Ottawa Hospital will also take place with the Ottawa Central Library.

Before the vote at council, Somerset Councilor McKenny will be joined by the other members of the Ottawa Council Urban Caucus (Tobi Nussbaum, Jeff Lieper, Mathie Fleury and David Chernushenko) and host a public open house on the new Central Library on January 18, 2017 at City Hall starting at 6pm. To prepare for that meeting, read more on what McKenny and Nussbaum have to say in this piece written for the Ottawa Citizen, http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/mckenney-and-nussbaum-three-questions-about-the-central-librarys-proposed-site.

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 & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

Somerset Ward 2014, my vote goes to…

Ottawa Election 2014Since the end of the provincial election I have been asked to consider the possibility of submitting my name to run in Somerset for the fall Municipal Election. Like others that ran and did not win – and are Progressive Conservatives, there has been a call to arms to have us run for Ottawa City Council. In Ottawa, only one unsuccessful provincial candidate has decided to run, that being Alex Cullen in his old Bay Ward. Others I have spoken to have many reasons for not running. The two main reasons I hear are 1. “Two elections in one year? My boss would…me” and 2. “I am focused on finding a new Leader of the Ontario PC Party that will bring the change needed in Ontario for a better future for the province. As I stated in a previous post, I am committed to the Ontario PC Party, helping to select a Leader that can be elected as Premier in 2018.  Also, I have a third observation – there are currently 9 very good candidates and before September 12th there may well be a tenth, some have been canvassing for many months, many of the candidates I do not disagree with some of their positions.

As I consider who my vote goes to, I am looking for the candidate that will bring needed support to businesses in Somerset Ward.  For far too many years Somerset has not had a business friendly Councillor, this has to change. To keep the ward a vibrant and lively place to live work and shop, local small businesses must have a friend in the Council Chambers.

I find that though it is a mixed field of candidates in the ward, all are talking Transit, Sustainability, Transportation, Eco-district and keeping the community vibrant as the right development continues come into the area. So for me there was no way to find a difference among them using those campaign promises and platforms.  I needed more.

I asked one candidate about taxes, their response was they did not have a position on the tax rate. I have also spoken to others who say that at least 4 candidates will be exactly the same as we have now – and I agree.  Somerset needs change, not just changing the name of the councilor.  A change in how the Councillor works for ALL of Somerset Ward constituents is needed.

I am looking for a fresh approach to working with the community, a new approach to supporting business and calm sensible approach to development in Centretown and Somerset Ward.

On October 27th, my vote in Somerset Ward is going to Thomas McVeigh.

I have worked with Thom in the Centretown Citizens Community Association on the Board and on the CCCA Planning Committee. As a member of the Wellington West BIA Thom is managing a business in that community and he has worked on several community boards in Ontario and BC. Thom has demonstrated to me a calm and sensible way of doing business. He has demonstrated an excellent knowledge of the issues in Somerset Ward and Ottawa as a whole. He has a very good grasp of how to work with others and how to sensibly – without dreaming too large – accomplish goals. Working alongside Thom in the CCCA we have the same thoughts on smart and sensible development in the ward. We should not be afraid of developers, but it doesn’t mean we give away anything either. When I talk to Thom I hear and feel that he talks from his heart, he cares about our community and wants so much to make it better and brighter.

As a Red Tory, I support Thom in his drive to help the vulnerable, to ensure all are looked after BUT he sees, as I do, a real need for fiscal responsibility in Ottawa at the Council Chambers. I am going to vote for Thom, I see Thom as being the choice that can carry on some of Diane Holmes’ community and social work. With Thom I see that he brings to businesses a friend and a voice for the concerns of shops, restaurants and other businesses on Elgin, Bank, Sparks, Somerset, Preston and every other street in Somerset Ward at City Council.

I encourage those that supported me in June and feel as I do about doing all we can do help others and at the same time making sure we watch how are dollars are raised and spent, to support and vote for Thomas McVeigh on October 27th, he will be a fantastic Councillor for all residents, businesses and services that call Somerset Ward home.

October 27th, VOTE for Thomas McVeigh in Somerset. Please take the time to visit his website www.thomasmcveigh.com to learn more about Thom, his family and his ideas. 

Thom McVeigh

I invite you to share your ideas by commenting to this post or any post on my blog. You can also email me directly at robdekkeroc@gmail.com.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.