Controversial votes explained and 2016 construction updates

In recent columns, I have made an effort to explain how I vote on items that are generally controversial in nature or on votes that end up being split. The overwhelming majority of votes at Council are unanimous but every so often, we have issues that divide Council. Two such votes occurred at the April 13th meeting of Council and I ended up on the losing side of each. They were the Pet Shop By-Law and a proposed study on traffic congestion. Indulge me, if you will, as I explain both items.

During the 2014 municipal election, an activist group lobbying for a ban on the sale of cats and dogs in pet shops asked candidates at debates in every ward whether or not they would support such a ban. In Rideau-Goulbourn, this question was posed as part of the debate in Manotick. For various reasons, I did not support the creation of a new by-law. Candidates elsewhere supported a ban and, upon being elected, directed staff to engage in a review of the by-law.

Following the review, staff brought forward a report to the Community & Protective Services Committee (CPSC) recommending that the City of Ottawa “restrict the sources of cats and dogs available for sale in new pet shops and existing licensed pet shops to municipal animal shelters, humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and rescue organizations.” However, the report also recognized three existing stores that currently sell cats and dogs and recommended that they be allowed to continue operating based on the fact that they are inspected annually by Provincial agencies as well as the City. They also provided their breeder information to the City. Staff did their due diligence on the file and presented a report that was evidence-based. There was no reason stated in the report to endorse a heavy-handed approach on the three existing stores.

At the CPSC meeting on March 21st, many delegations spoke and demanded that the City go further than the report recommendations. Committee obliged and amended the staff report to state that the three stores be given five years to operate as is and then they, too, fall under the ban. The report showed no evidence to support a ban on the three stores but the Committee did so regardless in response to the lobbying efforts of the activist group leading the charge. Leading up to the Council meeting on April 13th, the proponents of the ban resorted to public shaming the three store owners on social media. At Council, I voted against the decision made by the Committee, but it passed 21-3. I believe in evidence based decision making. The City’s report was evidence based and supportable; the decision rendered by the Committee was not.

The other item evolved from a report at Transportation Committee, which I wasn’t planning on supporting, on tolls and congestion fees in the downtown core to a more generic report on specific causes of congestion city-wide and what solutions could be employed to resolve congestion. The issue the City is faced with is that we are still waiting for over a decade before we can afford the Prince of Wales widening. Perhaps this report, now amended to focus on the entire city, could look at options that benefit us in the short term. Therefore, I supported the report at Committee and again at Council.

When the report came before Council, however, something strange happened. Instead of focusing on the amended report, an effort was made by members of Council to focus on what the report USED to say. The assertion made by some members of Council was that the amended report was really just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. The report failed. I was the only non-downtown Councillor that supported the report. What’s the point of an amendment if a member of Council can simply convince the majority of Council that the amendment isn’t really an amendment?  It’s puzzling, to say the least.

2016 Construction Projects

The construction season is nearly upon us. There are a number of projects that you will notice this summer as you make your way around Rideau-Goulbourn. Roads slated for resurfacing include:

  • Bridge Street
  • Moodie Drive (Brophy-Fallowfield)
  • Ottawa Street (West of Fortune)
  • Royal York Street (Fortune to Fowler)

The Moodie Drive project will be conducted primarily between the hours of 7:00pm and 6:00am. The Rideau Valley Drive South project continues with the renewal of storm sewers, introduction of sidewalks and resurfacing from Dorack to Lockhead. Flewellyn Road, between Conley and Huntley, will be microsurfaced. This will help restore the road to its condition prior to the Enbridge pipeline project from 2014. Residents on along Mackey Road can expect to see some work this summer, as well, as the road is upgraded from gravel surface to a paved surface through surface treatment. This project will extend the existing paved surface from Viola Street to McCordick Road.

Sidewalk projects include upgrading the sidewalk on Beaverwood Road, between Ann Street and Manotick Main Street as well as the renewal of the sidewalk on Roger Stevens Drive, west of Fourth Line Road. This project had been delayed from last year to this year because the scope of the project was larger than its budget.

Also in North Gower, the replacement of the canteen at the Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre has already begun. Later this summer, the replacement of the play structure will also take place. The much discussed Manotick Arena expansion is moving forward with design and tendering to occur this year and construction slated for 2017.

These are just the construction projects slated to occur within Rideau-Goulbourn. In a future column, I’ll highlight projects outside of the ward that may be of interest or may impact your commute.

Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee

Our May 5th meeting of ARAC contains a very light agenda.  There is a floodplain mapping report that was deferred from our last meeting, a presentation on the Ottawa Rural Clean Water Grants Program, a presentation on the 2016 Canadian Plowing Championships and two items that I put forward as Notices of Motion at our April 15th ARAC meeting.  One item again asks the Province to give municipalities more authority on land use planning as it relates to renewable energy projects and the other directs staff to correct a zoning anomaly on several Dwyer Hill Road properties. As usual, we meet at Ben Franklin Place at 10:00am.

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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.