Corrections and comments about the February 24 Council meeting

To begin this week, I just want to correct something from last week’s column:

When discussing the photo radar motion, I had said it would come to Council on March 9th. In March, Council only meets once and that will be the fourth Wednesday of the month, not the second. Therefore, the photo radar motion will come before Council for a vote on March 23rd. As it turns out, I will not be in attendance at this meeting. 

However, your feedback on the photo radar issue is still very important. The motion before Council simply asks the Province to allow municipalities to use it as a tool for speed enforcement, nothing more. If the Province obliges, the City would then discuss this matter further to determine if, how, when and where it would deploy photo radar. I have received good feedback so far on the matter so please keep it coming! 

February 24, 2016 city Council Meeting

February 24th Meeting of Council

At the most recent meeting of Council, we deliberated several motions that resulted in split votes. There were three to be exact and I wound up on the losing side of all three. My votes were mentioned in the press so I thought I would elaborate on my rationale in opposing the three motions.

The first was a motion of support for the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications (CRTC) ruling that would require the sharing of fiber-optic networks between large and small competitors. Bell Canada appealed this decision and its appeal is now before the Government of Canada. The benefit of the ruling would be that small providers can access the infrastructure installed by large service providers, such as Bell and Telus. The downside, according to Bell Canada, is that they’ll delay fiber-optic rollout if it means that they’ll just be supplying infrastructure to their competitors

I voted against this motion for two reasons. First, the comment period ended back in December making this motion somewhat redundant. Secondly, my focus needs to be on rural internet customers. I don’t see a scenario in which small internet service providers are going to provide their own fibre optic network to rural Ottawa. If that service is going to be provided, it will almost certainly come from Bell. I cannot support any scenario which could have the possibility of delaying the rollout of that service to rural customers.

The second issue was with regard to the spraying of mosquitoes on Kanata North. I lost 23-1 on this one. As a result, Kanata North residents will now pay a Special Area Levy each year on their taxes for four years on a campaign to reduce the presence of mosquitoes. There are no guarantees it will work. My opposition was based purely on process. Unfortunately, while we have a clear process for Local Improvement projects, we have nothing for special levies of this kind. In fact, a poll of residents isn’t even technically required at all. On a whim, a Councillor could bring forward a special levy to pay for a pet project. As a result, I have already begun looking into creating a process for special levies similar to what we already have in place for local improvements.

Lastly, I voted against a motion seeking to increase greenhouse gas reduction targets.  Now, to be clear, this wasn’t a vote against the climate change issue. I supported the Air Quality & Climate Change Management Plan when it was passed at Environment Committee and Council in 2014. I was Vice-Chair of the Committee at that time and helped usher through a plan that set short-term, achievable targets with a clear plan to get there. This was a plan that would even save the City money in the long run.  What appeared on the Council agenda on February 24th was merely a motion with no clear plan that only sets a higher target over a longer period of time. When broken down, the motion is little more than an effort to pander to those pushing for more action on climate change. It doesn’t, however, actually achieve any increased action on climate change.

In my opinion, the motion was purely politics. I voted against it for that reason. If someone wants to bring forward a plan with tangible objectives and a clear path to get there, like what we did when we brought forward the AQCCMP in 2014, then I’ll be happy to review that at that time.

Stormwater Rate Structure Review

You may recall in May 2015, I highlighted an upcoming review on water, sewer and stormwater charges.  In next week’s column, I will provide more details on where this currently stands. In the meantime, I just want to provide as much notice as possible that the City will host a public meeting on the matter on April 5th at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre in North Gower. There will be one meeting per rural ward so North Gower was chosen as the most central location. The meeting will begin at 7:00pm.  Stay tuned to next week’s column for more details.

Miller’s Oven Royal Breakfast

On Sunday, March 13th, the Miller’s Oven is bringing Anna & Elsa to Manotick!  There will be three seatings: 9:00am, 10:00am & 11:00am.  Tickets are on sale now at the Miller’s Oven and can also be picked up at The Fairytale Boutique (5560 Manotick Main Street).  Tickets go for $6 for children and $8 for adults.

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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.