City Council of 2018 to 2022

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In recent columns, I have focused on some of our recent decisions at City Hall and, in some instances, the controversy behind them. In two weeks, I will delve into the LRT Stage 2 contract. In that case, all of the focus is on the extension of the existing O-Train line into Riverside South and not the overall LRT east-west project. As background before I do that, though, I think it is important to spend a bit of time discussing Council themselves. This is not the same Council from the previous eight years and it is not even a Council similar to that during the Larry O’Brien years. This one is different and it is influencing much of the discussion that has been occurring outside of City Hall and on some of our biggest files.

For those of you who may not remember, one of my key commitments when I ran for Council in 2010 was teamwork and cooperation at City Hall. To be clear, that does not just mean we should agree on everything and ignore debate. What it means to me is that we work together. This is not Provincial or Federal politics. There is no “Official Opposition”. We are all in power and we all have the ability to contribute, if we choose to do so. When I look at examples of cooperation and collaboration, I think of where we ended up on the Rideau-Carleton Raceway file. On Stonebridge, I work with Jan Harder. On the climate emergency, I worked with Shawn Menard. On plastics, I worked with Catherine McKenney. On rural internet access, I worked with Jeff Leiper. On an initiative in Blackburn Hamlet, I worked with Jody Mitic and now Laura Dudas. When I hold budget consultations, I do so with George Darouze. This is how we get things done. We do not draw lines and pick sides. We work together, regardless of the issue and whom you are working with because we all represent the same people: the citizens of Ottawa.

When we look at the last few months, and the issues I have been highlighting of late, that commitment to cooperation is clearly not shared by all. Not every member of Council arrives at City Hall with the same motivations. Not every member of Council maintains the same beliefs throughout their time on Council. Factions form and divisions rise. One thing I remember Tobi Nussbaum saying to me early in the 2014-18 term of Council is that he was impressed at how we can all disagree on an item but then just move on and work together on the next item. Again, this is not that Council. How did we get here?

During every election, there is an overarching sentiment. In 2010, it was the previous Council’s dysfunction. In 2018, it was the apparent lack of debate. As a reversal of why I was elected in 2010, some campaigned in 2018 on a notion of disruption. I would call this debate for the sake of debate. Instead of reports coming through Committee for proper consultation, debate and discussion, those items are coming directly to Council. There is no opportunity for community input through the Committee structure so it turns into a free for all at Council. Some members have decided there are two distinct sides and they stick to it. That reality adds toxicity to our debates. One new member of Council was recently quoted as saying they are happy they are not on the Mayor’s “side.” Consider that the Mayor received more votes in their ward than they did. How does that desire to be an opponent make you representative of your constituents? Are we elected to represent or are we elected to pick sides? You may have different answers but mine have always been the same. We are here to represent regardless of who else is elected.

The only real result of this entire situation is that every member of Council looks bad. There are times when what happens at Council is somewhat scripted. I will not pretend one side is worse than the other is. The current climate can only be fixed by a desire to move forward and work together. On issues like the Chateau Laurier and LRT Stage 2, some Councillors have knowingly stated misleading information. I will explain that in more detail when I get into the contract situation of Stage 2 LRT.

At the end of this term of Council, those of us elected in 2010 will have been here for twelve years. That includes the Mayor. What you are seeing at Council right now is more about 2022 than it is about anything. People are jockeying for position. They are looking to the Mayoralty in 2022. They are looking to win. Unfortunately, the result is that their constituents lose. We are not elected just to get re-elected. We are not elected to simply govern in four year increments. We are not elected to put ourselves above our jobs. We are elected to represent. We are elected to see beyond four year terms. We are elected to lead, not mislead. Thankfully, we still have time to make this term more effective. We just need to have enough members of Council, the Mayor included, willing to make the effort. I know I am.

1966 Roger Stevens Drive

Broccolini has submitted an official plan amendment and zoning by-law amendment for 1966 Roger Stevens Drive. The application can be reviewed on City’s Development Application Search Tool where you will find information about the application and all of the submitted plans, reports, surveys and accompanying documents you will need to review the application. You can find this at Ottawa.ca/devapps.

This is the property on the southwest corner of Highway 416 and Roger Stevens Drive. It was previously designated for industrial and commercial uses. This application is to alter the plan from multiple buildings totaling 1.4M square feet to instead build one building totaling 700,000 square feet. The proposal involves road modifications to Roger Stevens Drive including signalization and new turning lanes at the off and on ramps. The plan also includes the retention of the trees on the west side of the property forming a buffer between the building and the homes along Third Line Road that were created as part of this property’s original application approximately twenty years ago.

At this point, the tenant is not confirmed. Broccolini has built distribution centres previously for Amazon, Target, Canadian Tire, Sobey’s and IKEA, among others. As they get further in the process, they will likely be in a position to secure a tenant and disclose that. There will be a public meeting about this application and I will be sure to provide notification when it is scheduled.

Comments can be sent to Jeffrey Ostafichuk, Planner, at: Jeffrey.Ostafichuk@ottawa.ca or (613) 580-2424 X31329

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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. For information on Rideau-Goulbourn issues, please visit RideauGoulbourn.ca.