Tag Archives: Ottawa

Living the Dream (part II)

QP

This weekend marks the end of a chapter. I am in Toronto to pass on my keys, ID and Blackberry that I had used since May 2015 when I joined the staff in Patrick Brown’s office in Queens Park. Not only do I hand over these items at Queens Park, but I am also closing up the 225 sq. feet that was home since last July last year. It was an important part of my #LivingtheDream (See the post “Transitioning to the Dream” June 6 2015) and the growth I have had in the past year. As odd as it seems that I mention growth, but it is true that growth happens at any age – old dogs do learn new tricks.

In the past year I learned that something I thought I loved doing was really something I really did love doing. To be able to turn an interest into a career is something everyone should be able to experience at least once. I am lucky to be able to say I have done that twice. The first occasion happened back in 1984 when I signed on to work in Stratford at CJCS 1240 first as a swing announcer before leaving in ’90 as the Afternoon Drive Announcer. Those 4.5 years produced friendships I maintain today.

It seems the jobs where the hours are as endless and the money does not always equal the energy are the ones we cherish the most.

The past year has allowed me to be closer to my parents and family and to enjoy many family occasions. I think back to Friday BBQ’s when I stayed in Burlington for a month, Christmas music service at the Church I attended as a youth, birthdays and chance to reconnect with high school friends.

PH

Now on to Dream #2, the reason(s) I am back on Ottawa – Parliament Hill and looking at opportunities that first led me to Queens Park a year ago. But being back home also means that some challenges re-emerge, staying connected with my parents through distance and making the trips back to the GTA more often to see my family. I also think of challenges of being back home: NOT working 12-13 hours a day getting home alone because there is someone special there with you, being able to sleep in and choose not to do chores until the next day because it is only you.

There are things being left behind (besides family I talk about above): great restaurants, Liz coming to Toronto for a ‘tourist’ weekend and the very talented people at Queens Park that taught me what I know today. To be able to work with these smart young people gave this old dog some new tricks to take back to Ottawa – all these things will stay with me. Those that are able to work in government in legislative buildings all make the same comments – they are magical places to work and the honour and history of these buildings is felt every single day in every hallway you walk down.

But it is yet another transition, who is to say I won’t be back at Queens Park and write about Dream #3.

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

Advertisements

Ah, the sounds and sights of spri…swish ding ding

The budding of new leaves in the trees, the sprouting of crocuses and tulips after a winter of waiting to be encouraged to grow with warm spring sun is something I look forward to. I love the actions of nature signalling the coming of the new season and all that it means for us on two legs.

For many it means the breakout of runners, bikes, chariots, rollerblades and skateboards – all those fun activities.

It also means the breakout of runners, bikes, chariots, rollerblades and skateboards – all those activities that might scare the faint of heart pedestrians. It’s the coming of the bell rings, shouts of “on your left” and the swish of cyclists speeding by ‘owning’ the multi use paths across the city.

The NCC recently announced $57 Million for improvements in the Rideau Canal infrastructure. Outside of new paddle access points along the canal no specific improvements have been announced, I bet many pedestrians would be very happy if a portion on that would be spent on widening the paths along the canal and giving the paths a width that could make them accessible for ‘multiple use’.

In the same manner the increased year-long use of cyclists in the city has caused concern for drivers who are on the lookout for the unexpected cyclist , walkers along the pathway facilities are also on the lookout for a speeding cyclists along with increased use by e-bikes/scooters. It was not too long ago that wider urban sidewalks were part of new planning in our city and are now part of what we expect.  We should expect the same for our multiuser paths.

The City of Toronto has created wide ‘real’ multi use paths along it waterfront that provide space for cyclists, pedestrians and all would be marathoners. Such paths would be a great benefit to Ottawans and visitors that come to our great city, especially for Canada 150 next year.

Toronto Pathways

Wider paths will provide a sense of relief for cyclists who do not have to use the roads if they chose to, but the wider paths will also give a sense of calm to pedestrians that jump at sound of the bells or a cyclist whizzing by – probably in the same manner that a cyclist fears the driver who is not paying attention and sharing the road with them.

We will have to wait for the intentions of the NCC and how the $57 million will be allocated – to the canal, to summer ‘animation’ of the canal or the improvement of the aging walking/running/cycling infrastructure along the Rideau Canal.

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

Transitioning to ‘the Dream’

I have been transitioning the past three weeks. I recently moved from Ottawa to Toronto to take a position in Queens Park with the Ontario PC Party. It has been a whirlwind three weeks that included a trip back to Ottawa for a weekend. Within three weeks there has been a Constituency week followed by two weeks of bills being passed in anticipation of the House adjourning for the summer. On Thursday of this week the House adjourned and will come back in to session on September 14th.

IMG_20150604_081732[2]

I am now living the dream, or at least 75% of it – working in Ontario’s legislature. The dream is worth the move to Toronto, the home of the Blue Jays and Argos. I don’t mention the Leafs, but anticipate the onslaught of #TMLTalk (Toronto Maple Leafs Talk for those living outside the dome) will drive me crazy!

For the past three weeks it’s been a learning curve of procedures, legislative processes, committee hearings, bills and media scrums. I’ve been sitting in the House during question period and was in the House when our Lt-Gov., the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell gave Royal Assent to the bills passed in the last two weeks before we adjourned for the summer. It’s a privilege for me to be there, one I will not take for granted.

What an amazing three weeks! It’s really been three weeks? That was fast! Fast BUT fun! I can’t thank the Ontario PC MPP’s, Staff and Patrick Brown for the warm and supporting welcome I have received.

I also need to mention a couple other Ottawans in Queens Park for helping out in the transitioning. I have run into Martin Canning, who I met years ago and have worked with as part of the Centretown Citizens Community Association, in the halls of the Legislature and we’ve had some good talks.   Yasir Naqvi, with whom I had a good relationship in and out of campaigns in Ottawa Centre, is always quick to ask how things going, and not always about the politics. Heck, I even got a “hey it’s Rob Dekker” from Mayor Jim Watson in Queens Park for “Ottawa Day” in my second week on the job!

Now that the House has adjourned and most everyone is gone back to his or her home ridings for the summer I look forward to research, working on Bills that have been introduced this week. I anticipate a few work trips, including the International Plowing Matches taking place in Eastern Ontario this September and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in Niagara Falls in August.

I could not have made this move without the support of Liz, my kids, and my family in Toronto and Burlington. For now Toronto is base camp, but Ottawa will always be home.

As for the other 25% of living ‘the Dream’? That will come in 2018 and when I am elected to serve as an MPP in Queens Park.

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.

Out of the ashes of the Glebe Fire: A case for new affordable housing

the-aftermath-of-a-structure-fire-at-the-beavers-mug-cafe-an

This week’s fire in the Glebe was tragic, seven businesses lost their home and 50 people have lost employment. There will be a rebuild, the owners of the building say it will rise again, as it was – a one-story building.

But should it stay the same? Isn’t there a case for more? Not a multi floor condo building but how about there now being a case for affordable rental units, somewhere to provide a home for singles, mothers with children and families?

When first built in the 70’s, our housing landscape was much different than it is now. Ottawa was a sleepy National Capital where the streets did roll up at 6pm. Today and 40 years later Ottawa is vibrant and now there is much activity late into the evening. As the city grew it attracted many people as a place to live. As populations grow, so do the pressures of housing, homelessness and poverty. Today there are 10,000 people on a waiting list for affordable housing.

The Glebe in the last few decades has also seen a transformation, especially with TD Place and Lansdowne Park now in place.

40 years later there is a higher demand for affordable housing that needs to be met. Local initiatives like “Broadening the Base” are good partnerships for the owners of the burned out building. The City of Ottawa also has programs that assist the private sector in creating affordable spaces. It becomes even more enticing for the City to be involved in since recent announcement that 10’s of Millions of dollars are coming to Ottawa from Queens Park to create spaces and help eliminate homelessness. Build into the equation that there are several top notch not for profit organizations that would be excellent partners for George Halel and Sam Bellama to fill these units.

While George and Sam have balked at the suggestion of apartments, they also call the Glebe a good community. It’s a good community that needs new low rent units that can help others that need a good community. I think that the idea of adding more to the a good community is something that Messer’s Bellama and Halel need to seriously consider. Working with Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko may result with a quick approval of plans through the planning process and construction so that the businesses can be back home, but also so others might have a new one.

—-

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.

Hello 2015, you`re looking alot like last year

2014-15

They say that some politicians have a short ‘honeymoon period’, well in the “year of our lord” 2015 I think we can agree, the honeymoon is over. The only honeymoon that might have been shorter belongs to Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Perhaps we could ask for a do over and we declare January 28th New Year’s Eve part 2 and as of 9pm that night we start 2015 all over again?

Consider these news items that have taken place within the 1st 12 days of the year. Fresh off 49 shootings in 2014, the first of 2015 in Ottawa takes place on day 9 of 2015. By the 12th of January 3 Ottawans had been arrested on terrorism charges and of course the tragic events in Paris took place within the first week of the year. We can look to past events in Ottawa, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Sydney that took place in the last quarter of 2014 as the events that pulled the past year into the new. We are struggling in each of these instances to make sense of why they happened and what needs to be done to prevent a further opportunity for a repeat.

In Ottawa, the Mayor, Police Chief and the Ontario Minister for Correctional Services met to find a way to have a, ‘exit strategy’ for young people leaving detention to prevent them from going back to the ‘gang family’. Looking for an ‘exit strategy’ could be no further than Bill C-10 and Mandatory minimums. Though the mandatory minimums are controversial, the Bill offers a chance for those convicted a chance to gain an ‘exit strategy’ rather than being let our much earlier with no strategy for live on the outside. Rob Sampson, Chair of the Correction Services of Canada Review Panel and a former Minister of Correctional Services in Ontario, states in several interviews that rather than an early release from prison where someone will likely go back to an old life and re-offend, a mandatory minimum provides the time for training and a chance for a new and different life, a life away from the gang family that seems to be large and growing in Ottawa.

A lot of 2014 seems to have steamrolled its way into 2015. We need to take the hope, good faith and good intentions that are still with us from 2014 into the New Year and make our communities safe, provide our youth with a promising future and teach restraint and respect for others.

If you need a re-do for New Year’s Eve, pick a day, time and do it – but after it’s done start fresh and let’s make the rest of 2015 the best we each can contribute for a better outcome than the start may have forecast.

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.

Three items that got my attention this past week in the 2014 Ottawa Election

one two three

Finally, a Political Slate! Jim Watson says he does not believe in a slate of candidates. It’s a good thing others do – it’s made for some interesting election reporting.

The #PropertyOwnersSlate is comprised of 15 candidates led by Mark Scharfe, a Candidate in Osgoode Ward. The slate is made of all challengers, no incumbents – advocating for the return of weekly garbage pickup. Other issues in the group’s 4 point platform include the cancellation of the Green Bin program, giving Ottawa Hydro dividends back to its customers and the cancellation of the city biosolids program. However the return of weekly garbage pickup is the issue that is getting the traction that the group of 15 are looking for. Candidates in other wards, though not part of the slate including Matt Muirhead in Kanata North and Lili Weemen in Somerset have also come out in support of the idea.

It is difficult to determine how this will play out in the end, but at least it’s given the voters and the reporters something to talk about.

Let’s show School Board Trustee Candidates some of the electoral spotlight

Each property owner pays taxes that support the activity of the City; they also pay taxes that go to one of four school boards that educate the children of Ottawa. So quick tell me…who is running to be the school board trustee in in your zone for your school board? Do you know what zone you are voting in? Do you know what board you pay taxes to? I hope you can at least answer the third question.

But what about numbers one and two, can you answer them?

The Board Trustee Candidates in most wards have not had the opportunity to debate in front of those they are trying to get support from. Community Associations are focused on Council Candidates, as they should – the councillors will have to work closely with these communities. So who can organize these public forums and debates? How about the people closest to the schools, the Parent Councils in each of the schools?

If you have children in any of the four school boards, even if you don’t and are concerned about our education systems contact the Parent Council of your school, encourage them to work with other councils in your zone and organize a public meeting. Have the questions you need answered asked. Let the candidates tell you why they are seeking your vote – they need to do that and deserve the chance to have that opportunity.

#OttVote Advance Polls

I can now say I voted!

I voted last week at the Advance Poll that was in my building in Somerset Ward. The City estimates that over four days (the first three days to vote were October 1-3 in a special poll and Advance Poll October 9th) more than 28,000 people voted. In 2010, in just two advanced poll days 42,178 people took advantage of the early voting.

The poll clerks working in my building said that turnout was slow when Liz and I voted around 6pm. It did not surprise me that the election staff were not busy, the only signage announcing that the building was a poll location was inside, there were no signs or ‘sandwich boards’ outside inviting the public to vote indeed. To be fair, voters would have known about the location on the voters’ cards and via the city website – but I know a visible reminder does more than an unopened piece of mail with a voters’ card.

The next scheduled Advance Poll is Saturday October 18 2014. If you know you can’t vote on the 27th – vote on the 18th from 10am to 5pm. I await the final number of ballots cast in the five days of advance polls. The five are up from last year, but far below the 11 days of polls that the City of Mississauga (a city of 713,000 residents compared to Ottawa’s 900,000) has before election day.

But please, make sure you vote!

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.

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.