In recent weeks, things have been fairly tumultuous at City Council. This certainly is not the term that I envisioned. Some have compared this to the 2006-2010 Term of Council, but it is clear now that this one is different. I recently wrote about the current term in one of my columns. Instead of focusing on the negative, though, I would like to take some time to shed light on some of the things I am involved in as your Councillor since most of the public focus is on what is happening at Council rather than what we are doing at Council. One of the main reasons for doing this now is that I was recently named as one of two Councillors who will be responsible for duties in College Ward. I would like to ensure all residents of Rideau-Goulbourn that this will not take away from our team’s efforts to look after our constituents, first and foremost.
Council has several Sponsors Groups currently. These are made of Councillors with the intent to guide discussion and policy outside of the Committee structure. It helps ensure that Council’s voice is heard throughout the various processes in developing new and significant policy. If I remember correctly, there are currently four Council Sponsors Groups. I sit on three of them. All relate to my role as Chair of the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water & Waste Management.
The first is the sponsors group assisting with the development of the City of Ottawa’s new Solid Waste Master Plan. This is our opportunity to determine which direction we are taking on all aspects of garbage. Our key priorities need to be waste diversion and reduction. How do we make it easier for our residents, not more difficult? I am of the belief that it is not your fault that you end up with waste at the end of the week that can only go in a garbage bag. You should not be seen as being in the wrong and you should not be punished for this. Other municipalities have gone down the road of punitive measures as a means to increase waste diversion. I do not support that. Further, the last thing we want is another landfill. The second last thing I want is an incinerator with an exorbitant price tag. Consider that the relatively new incinerator in Durham will cost taxpayers $600M by 2029. What other options exist? We are already working on developing answers to that question and we need to be open to innovative alternatives. Other members of this group are Councillors El-Chantiry, Dudas and Menard.
The next sponsors group is on the matter of climate change. This one is not necessarily attached to any one policy direction, but we are currently overseeing the Climate Change Master Plan and the implementation of Energy Evolution, which is Ottawa’s collaborative effort with the community to transition to renewable energy. As an example, Energy Evolution includes a project with the Burritt’s Rapids Renewable Energy Association to bring hydroelectricity to the community using the Rideau River. Our efforts here remain focused on making our City for environmentally sound as well as finding financial efficiencies in our operations. Making City buildings more efficient will save taxpayers dollars in the long run. It is a win-win and that is where my focus is. Other Councillors on this group include Councillors’ Fleury, Menard, Kavanagh, Sudds and Dudas.
Finally, we have the Official Plan review sponsors group. While I was originally on this as Chair of the Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee, I have found my way back on it chairing a different committee. Funny how that works out sometimes. Joining Councillors Blais, El-Chantiry, Gower, Tierney and Harder, our focus here is guiding the development of a new Official Plan for the City of Ottawa that projects out to 2046. Being Environment Chair allows me to cast a wide lens on policy development. The reality is that urban sprawl impacts rural areas in more ways than one. As a rural Councillor, my prime objective will always be protecting agricultural lands. There is an environmental benefit to that as well as helping to protect rural village identities. We are a city of one million residents and growing. Intensification in the urban area as well as in villages is an important tool but it is all easier said than done. While many support the concept of intensification, the story becomes quite different when that intensification occurs in your neighbourhood. How do we plan for the future, recognize the growth that is coming all the while manage our communities through smart growth? That is what is facing us in this Official Plan review. This review will continue right through 2020 and I hope our communities will be engaged in that process. Don’t wait for a development application to get involved. By then, it is usually too late.
In addition to these, I also have my regular responsibilities on various committees and boards. Therefore, it is so important to have a great team around me and I am very fortunate for having exactly that.
Community Dancing in Manotick
Interested in a fun, interactive session of dance, laughter & music? Join the Ever Hopeful Stringband and caller Pippa Hall for a family-friendly, alcohol-free evening of community dancing, including circles, squares and contras. Each dance is taught and the whole family is invited. The evening begins with simple dances, followed by dances that build on skills as the evening progresses. The fun takes place Friday, October 25th, from 7:00pm to 9:30pm, at the Manotick United Church. Admission is $10, $5 for those aged 12-18 and free for anyone under the age of 12. The family max admission is $20. For more information, please call 613-692-4576 or visit http://dance.manotick.net.
If you have any comments, questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca