City of Ottawa – Under New Management by Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan
Shirley Dolan

There is a new air of congeniality and cooperation at Ottawa City Hall. After 12 years as Mayor, Jim Watson decided not to seek re-election in the 2022 municipal election. Likewise, 9 councillors also decided not to seek re-election and one councillor who ran for Mayor was defeated. In the ward boundary review of 2020, one new ward was added making a total of 11 new councillors in our City or almost one-half of the 24 councillor seats around the table. And we have a new Mayor. All 13 of the councillors seeking re-election were returned to office. Have a look at the old and new faces Mayor and City Councillors | City of Ottawa.

I’ve watched a few of the council meetings and I like what I see. At one of the first meetings, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe gave each of the councillors five minutes to introduce themselves and the wards that they represent. In addition, several of the new councillors are making an effort to sit down with their colleagues and get to know them and what matters to their constituents.

The new Residential Vacant Unit Tax (RVUT) introduced earlier this year has taken residents by surprise, especially the manner in which it is being rolled out. It is an “opt-out” tax. You must register your residence and your income properties as occupied, every year, or pay the tax. Returning Councillor Laura Dudas, who voted against the RVUT when it was tabled in spring 2022, put forth a motion for staff to report on the potential cost and revenues as well as complaints associated with the tax before June 2023 – a good step in the right direction. The motion carried unanimously.

Following the formation of the City of Ottawa in 2001 by amalgamation, two rural summits were held: one in 2005 and one in 2008, with a promise to hold one every term of council. But, after Mr. Watson was elected as mayor in 2010, we never saw another rural summit. We have lost many of the gains achieved during those first two summits. Our rural wards have been reduced from 5 at amalgamation down to three. The Rural Affairs Advisory Board was cancelled. There is little to no interest in improving our internet/cell service. Good news, though. One of the new rural councillors, Clarke Kelly, introduced a motion asking staff to report back on options for holding another rural summit. This motion also passed unanimously.

And these councillors and the mayor are listening to what rural residents have to say about the industrial wind turbines (IWTs) that the last Council committed to in the Energy Evolution document. The Carleton Landowners Association and Ottawa Wind Concerns worked diligently to make sure the placement of the 710 IWTs in rural Ottawa became an election issue. We succeeded and we look forward to getting support from this council for the protection of people, property, and wildlife in our rural countryside.

Looking forward to a more effective and efficient council that listens to all constituents, I wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year.