As your Councillor, I will do my best to represent the concerns of Ward 5 communities and make progress in the following areas:
- Improve paramedic access, police services, and faster emergency medical response times.
- Improve infrastructure by widening arterial roads, upgrading connectors and local roads, and adding street lighting to improve safety.
- Farmers and small business owners are suffering. They are overly stressed. Needs discussion and solutions on the table. First, we had floods, tornados, pandemics, storms and now high inflation.
- Initiate alternate transportation methods for our communities.
- Seek funding for improvements to beaches, parks, and events to preserve and enhance the beauty of our natural environment and attract visitors.
- Reduce the fiscal deficit.
- You might be aware of the City debt has tripled over the past decade to close to $3.5 billion and interest costs have doubled by about $300 million per year.
- Our City’s annual expenses are $4.1 billion while our City economy is $6.0 billion. We have a $3.5 billion deficit; If you calculate, the City is left under debt of $3000 per person. We must look all these details, fix the mess, and balance it.
- Example: In rural areas, still we do not even have basic services like buses, faster paramedic services, parks, senior resource center, local healthcare center; in summer we have to deal with mosquitoes, insects and wild creatures while the city is being extravagant, overspending our money to provide luxury services to city on LRT, next year planned to spend $1 billion to purchase electric buses. We do notice most of the times our OC-Transpo buses are running empty but city is still spilling money, 330 million over budget on beautification of a central library, etc. and much more to say……
Our ward is unique, different and needs attention!
What is possible and what is fair for our unique rural community.
In recent years, Ward 5 was hit hard by not only several natural disasters, but COVID and the resulting impacts to the retail economy, failed municipal services, and a re-prioritization of expenditures that pushed rural wards even further down the list.
For decades, our Ward, like other rural wards, have contributed heavily to the City of Ottawa purse with little return. In fact, rather than recognize our community’s unique rural needs, we have been lumped in with urban wards and saddled with overly bureaucratic process, increased costs, such as the storm water fee, and little consideration to the importance of farming and our aging population.
Instead of maintaining and improving the minor investments we have seen in our community, we have seen the reduction of essential services, like police, paramedic, EMS and fire, roads and infrastructure have fallen into disrepair, and resources wasted, not maintained or not used to their full capacity, such as the Ward office and the Dunrobin Community Centre.
The deterioration of the community after the flooding in 2017 and tornadoes in 2019, and several other storms, is obvious as you drive through Dunrobin and the surrounding areas. A plaza once bustling with activity every day now stands empty and vandalized, its pane glass windows shattered, garbage overflowing and weeds on the boulevards.
The very basics of what makes a community healthy and proud have not been met for years and the unbalanced focus on more dense areas has cost the whole of the Ward greatly.
Ottawa is diverse in its people, communities and neighborhoods – which means our needs are different. The concerns of residents in the Glebe, Downtown, Westboro or Vanier are very different not only between them but compared to the needs of rural residents, like those in Ward 5.
That is why my focus is on seven critical areas for our rural Ward to raise them to an acceptable standard and then to maintain them with realistic plans – not empty promises.
I understand the responsibility and commitment to Ward residents and that we need solid, unwavering leadership to ensure rural needs are met. It takes the ability to prioritize, balance and deliver on those and ensure Ward 5 is part of the strategic vision of the City, while sustaining our own unique community, lifestyles and quality of living.
The Problem: The needs of rural wards in the City of Ottawa are unique to its geography, demographics and availability of city, community and social services. Power outages and communications and internet failures have a very different impact to rural residents than those in urban and suburban wards.
With rural wards having limited access to retail stores, little or – in the case of Ward 5 – no public transit, and an aging population, the option of walking to a neighbors’ home, coffee shop or store to pick up supplies and provisions, to use a phone or internet or even take shelter is not a viable option for many.
In 2017, the flooding in Ward 5 was the perfect opportunity to develop an Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Plan. The City did develop a very rudimentary plan for residents but it did not address the serious consequences in rural areas. This was lived out again in the tornadoes of that tore through West Carleton and the rest of the city in 2019.
Again, in 2022, a derecho decimated areas of West Carleton causing wide spread power, cell, landline and internet outages for days and for some weeks. And then the recent Canada-wide Rogers outage had a similar effect on the Ward, leaving many unable to communicate with neighbors or work from home
The solution: Overall, rural needs in the event of a disaster or interruption to services have been ignored and without any prioritization based on severity of impact and additional risk.
Ward 5 needs its own comprehensive emergency and disaster plan to address, first, what provisions and services must be in place when a disaster occurs and what must be augmented to ensure the safety of residents. Second, response plans based on rural needs must be developed to ensure responses are disaster-specific and that risks and impacts of affected services are understood. Thirdly, recovery plans must also be developed to ensure the correct prioritization for the recovery and resumption of services. All of this planning includes effective communication to residents and their valued input.