SOUTH EAST OTTAWA PRESENTATION
I was disappointed to miss the South East Ottawa debate due to illness. Below are the remarks I prepared for the event. As your City Councillor, advocating for Alta Vista will be my top priority. I will fight harder on the issues that matter to you - my public record demonstrates it. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.
I want to thank the organizers for hosting tonight’s debate.
We are here for two reasons.
1. To discuss how as a City and as a ward can move towards addressing community and social issues in a more effective and comprehensive manner and;
2. To provide you the voters – with a better understanding about who on this stage is best prepared to hit the ground running to achieve results.
I have talked throughout this campaign about measuring progress on results – not intentions. Residents want a leader who is forward looking – not someone who only identifies problems. Leadership is not a title, it is a behaviour. I have a track record of rolling up my sleeves and working alongside residents in the ward. I get results - my public record demonstrates it.
I’d like to start with affordable transit.
We have some of the highest fares in Canada and ridership in Ottawa has declined every year since 2011. Residents have told me that they are frustrated with the cost of fares as well as having accessibility and reliability concerns.
As your Councillor, I want us to look at new and innovative ways to keep costs lower, while encouraging more people to get on OC Transpo.
Let’s look at some of these options:
1. To increase ridership - advocating for City Council to take a real look at variable fare rates based on time of day – that are linked to the amount of congestion on the road.
2. To provide a disincentive for people to choose cars - advocating for City Council to consider raising short-term parking rates in the downtown core as it is currently cheaper to park downtown for two hours than it is to take the bus two ways.
3. To re-think where we are spending our tax dollars - Last year, close to $50 million was spent widening roads or building new ones. Let’s re-allocate some of this money into areas like making our transit more reliable/affordable and fixing the roads that we have.
Providing better access to services:
I believe that are two fundamental problems when it comes to residents accessing community and social services.
1. We simply are not getting enough money to keep pace with our population growth.
2. City needs to do a more effective job of tracking where its gaps are – to determine if social services are meeting the needs of Ottawa residents.
This past year our City ran a $5.7 million deficit in community/social services. Dipping into reserve funds to off-set deficits should be the exception, not the rule at City Hall.
Ottawa has a growing and aging population. I want to be sure that the city can actually demonstrate how its budget takes into account the increasing demand for social services. Our seniors alone require more transparency on this issue.
We also need to do a much better job about how the City currently tracks who needs funding and better determine if the needs of our Alta Vista community are changing. I will push for these answers around the council table.
On Affordable Housing
In our ward, we have seen first-hand some of the real problems that have turned people’s lives upside down when it comes to affordable housing - with kids having to change schools and families getting split apart – all of this is a travesty.
I will be the Councillor that recognizes and demonstrates that safe and affordable housing is a right – not a privilege by strongly advocating for:
· The City to continue to buy private housing stock and converting them into affordable units
· Working with by-law officers to ensure property standards and City-by-laws are respected and followed
· Working collaboratively with NGO’s like ACORN so residents know they have a real ally in the councillor office
· Continuing to push for inclusionary zoning in the rental sector to ensure we create inclusive communities.
Achieving Diversity and Inclusion
I believe the City Councillor should provide multiple points of contact from which residents can work together toward building a more inclusive community. As your City Councillor, I will advocate for:
· Ensuring Ottawa continues to conduct equity/diversity survey of its employees – with the results being used to inform employment strategies.
· Let’s reach into the community and cast a wider net using community associations, faith-based groups and others to ensure residents are given greater access to information about how they can get involved in their community including employment.
· Better promoting Alta Vista’s ethnic and cultural communities. The new Jim Tubman outdoor skating rink should be used to showcase some of our local artisans from across the ward and highlight many of our diverse cultures – through song, art and food. Let’s get the most value for money from this capital investment.
This work will not be easy.
However, as I mentioned at the outset, sustainable solutions to complex issues require problem solvers who have an attention to detail, and a track record of delivering results. I am confident I am that person because my public record demonstrates it.