Community Newspaper Columns

Councillor Chernushenko writes a regular columns for the local community newspapers OSCAR, the Glebe Report, The Mainstreeter, the Heron Park Herald and the Riverview Park Review.

A Tale of Two Parks

July 2014

This term of City Council has been somewhat dominated by the Lansdowne Park redevelopment project. Though many residents still understandably resent how it came about, and how little true community consultation took place, it is happening. Meanwhile, planning for the new park in Old Ottawa South is proceeding with actual community consultation.

Lansdowne Park is re-opening in stages over the coming months, with a RedBlacks game (CFL) on July 18 and an Ottawa Fury FC game (North American Soccer League) on July 20. Construction is on schedule for the urban park opening in August, the return of the Ottawa 67's in October, retail stores and offices opening during fall and winter, and residential buildings next spring. The Ottawa Farmers' Market will return next spring.

Here's some additional information in question-and-answer form:

What is there to do at Lansdowne on July 18, besides watch the game?
The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) is planning activities for ticketholders. While none of the on-site retailers or restaurants will open until late fall, there will, as always, be lots of activities, food, drink and shopping in Old Ottawa South and the Glebe.

I Walk, I Bike, I Bus, I Drive: In pursuit of better transportation choices

June 2014

"With all your columns about improving walking and cycling, I assumed you were some kind of anti-car radical!"

These were the words of a Capital Ward resident who, upon meeting me for the first time recently, expressed relief that my "agenda" is not so much about forcing or guilting drivers out of cars as it is about ensuring that everyone has some genuine choices. I would like most of us, for most of our trips, to be able to actually choose which mode of transportation

we would like to take, without fear or any tradeoff between safety, convenience and comfort.

My agenda, if that is the right term, is to improve transportation choices in the City of Ottawa, to reach the point where walking, cycling and riding a bus/train (often in combination) would be as viable, convenient and secure as driving. In many cases, maybe even faster, cheaper or less stressful.

I think the City of Ottawa bumper sticker on my car says it nicely: "I bike, I drive." Like many citizens of this town, I do not belong exclusively to one camp, and am not hostile to either.

My guiding principle, as councillor, has been to increase choices for Ottawa residents at large. A few projects have been very ward- or neighbourhood-specific; but really, when it comes to moving around a city, there are no borders. Many people besides Capital Ward residents can make good use of a safer way to cross the Bronson Bridge over the Rideau Canal, an expanded O-Train, or signallized crossings on the National Capital Commission's driveways.

Expedience or principle: Which do you prefer in a politician?

May 2014

As a city councillor, I occasionally hear from constituents who feel very strongly that it’s my job to do what they say, and to vote the way they tell me to. Usually the exchange includes a phrase along the lines of, “We elected you to represent us!"

For example, I have been getting plenty of feedback regarding my decision to support the development of a residential building in the community of Heron Park to accommodate adults living with severe mental illness.

Although plenty of people support the construction of this building — and my willingness to speak in its favour — many do not. I won’t get into the specifics here (I address those on my website) and let’s ignore, for the moment, the fact that councillors do not actually decide where supported housing is built.

What’s interesting is the number of constituents who have told me it’s not my place to take a position that fails to conform to their views. They believe I was elected to do their bidding and that, by supporting the proposal, I am being derelict in my duties as their representative.

But this assertion is fundamentally flawed. If an individual feels I must always agree with his/her position and vote accordingly, and that anything else earns me an automatic failing grade, then that person is assuming one or all of the following: (a) theirs is the only position held in the community; (b) theirs is the only correct position; (c) it is the majority position.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is

April 2014

We all have a little voice inside our heads that tries to tell us when a phone or email offer, a poster or a flyer seems too good to be true: You’ve won a free cruise! Claim your inheritance from that relative you’ve never heard of! Take advantage of this deep discount on a roofing job! Earn thousands per week working from home!

Also in this category: Declarations of love from somebody recently met online.

Most of us, most of the time, listen to that voice and simply hang up, delete the email or ignore the offer. But a surprising number of people do get seduced, literally or figuratively, by scams. They bite, get hooked and get reeled in. Some time later, after a great deal of pain and financial loss, they realize or are finally prepared to admit —sometimes forced to do so by people who care about them — that they have been duped.

And do they ever feel dumb. How could anyone fall for that scam? Shouldn’t they have seen it coming? The truth is that the people who orchestrate such frauds are experts at finding and exploiting their victims’ vulnerabilities.