Veteran councillors get top spots at city hall committees for next 4 years

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Stephanie Kinsella, CFRA

Just which elected officials will run which committees for the next four years at Ottawa City Hall is taking shape and veterans are getting the vast majority of the top spots.

Diane Deans is moving back to the Community and Protective Services committee, a position she held several years ago before taking the transit commission reins. She will oversee a major review of city by-laws, deal with taxi issues and is adopting a less combative stance on Uber and ride sharing programs compared to Mayor Jim Watson and her predecessor Mark Taylor.

"I'm just not going to close the door on Uber at this point or on any ride sharing program. I think we have to take a look at those issues and I need to understand them better than I do now," she told reporters on Tuesday, adding safety remains a top priority.

Deans snagged the role from Bay ward Councillor Mark Taylor who had it for the last four years. Taylor wanted it again this time around, but didn't get his way. There were a few missteps when he held the position, including when he accepted a $750 donation from the taxi union after he was named chair of the committee that oversees taxi issues (which isn't against the rules, but he conceded could be construed as bad optics).

Glebe to concerts: Come on down — carefully

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Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen

The Glebe is offering a welcome, if not a noisy one, to Def Leppard and the just-renamed CityFolk festival.

Both will play at the newly renovated Lansdowne Park, it was revealed Tuesday.

Glebe residents have complained in the past about noise from the Central Canada Exhibition, especially concerts at night. This year's Folk Festival at Hog's Back Park also brought noise complaints, some from the Glebe, which is about four kilometres away.

"The idea of concerts taking place at Lansdowne has always been part of the expectation," resident Bob Brocklebank.

"Even when Lansdowne consisted mostly of asphalt, there were concerts there, too," said Brocklebank, who has just finished a term in charge of Lansdowne issues at the Glebe Community Association.

"The problem is to work out a working relationship between the community and the concert organizers so that everybody can get along," he said. That would include concert hours and noise levels.

"We don't expect to be able to hear the hummingbird's wings flapping if you live downtown. You're accustomed to the traffic and noise and air-conditioning units," he said.

Watson taps council veterans for committee chairs

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Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

Mayor Jim Watson has tapped experienced councillors to chair committees at Ottawa City Hall, but several rookies are also pegged for key posts.

The recommendations were introduced and approved Tuesday at a brief nominating committee meeting and are likely to pass without much debate at Wednesday's council meeting. The chairs are to serve for the entire four-year term.

Planning
Chair: Jan Harder, Barrhaven
Vice-chair: Tim Tierney, Beacon Hill-Cyrville

This is a promotion for Harder, who served as the committee's vice-chair under Peter Hume until his retirement last month.

Harder says she's represented the largest growth area in the city since amalgamation and considers it a point of pride that throughout that time, only two applications from her ward have gone to the Ontario Municipal Board.

"That's about relationships, and I intend to work very hard with my colleagues to get an understanding of what their concerns are, what their community believes, and work really hard to approve applications that fit within our (community design plans) and our official plan," she said.

Harder has close ties to the development industry — many leading companies sponsor her annual charity golf tournament — but says she's already spoken with the city's integrity commissioner Robert Marleau to "make sure that I'm in a position that no one would be raising concerns."

Community and protective services
Chair: Diane Deans, Gloucester-Southgate
Vice-chair: Riley Brockington, River

The veteran councillor takes over from Mark Taylor, who wanted to keep the post but was named deputy mayor, a ceremonial title that mainly means standing in for the mayor at events.

She previously chaired CPS from 2003 to 2010 and says she is looking forward to tackling the broad range of issues the committee deals with, which includes everything from the arts and seniors to homelessness and firefighting.

One of the top priorities is reviewing and updating the city's bylaws and addressing the issue of ride-share programs, including Uber. "We need to figure out a strategy," Dean said, adding she has substantial history with the file and was probably "best positioned" to address the issue.

Poverty reduction is also on her radar, as some communities in Ottawa "have not been lifted up the way they need to be," she said.

Environment
Chair: David Chernushenko, Capital
Vice-chair: Rick Chiarelli, College

Having spent most of his adult life working on environment and sustainability causes, Chernushenko says he knew there was a risk of being stereotyped as a green guy during his first term of council, so he was low key.

But now he's stepping up and says he hopes to serve as a bridge between environmentalists and a city some don't think is moving swiftly enough.

"Since the early '90s, when I first became very active in environment and sustainability issues, I've felt very strongly that most of the time it was better being inside the tent working on something than being on the outside throwing rocks at people," he said.

The councillor added he's clear about where society needs to go in terms of adopting more sustainable behaviours, but he's practical about how to get there.

Folkfest moves to Glebe, changes name to CityFolk

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By Michelle Nash, Ottawa Community News

The Ottawa Folk Festival will move and change its name for 2015.

The festival – now dubbed CityFolk – will call Lansdowne Park home as organizers make a move to a more central location for music fans.

"The fact that Lansdowne was complete and seeing the new site really inspired us with what we could do there with the festival," said Mark Monahan, the festival's executive and artistic director.

According to Monahan, both parks are similar in size, but Lansdowne offers services Hog's Back Park cannot, which he said will make setting up and operation of the festival much easier.

Lansdowne's great lawn will be the location of the gated main stage for ticket-holders-only.

The area in front of and around the Aberdeen Pavilion will be open to the public and will include craft beer tents and musical programming.

Noise from this past year's festival at Hog's Back prompted a number of complaints from the Glebe neighbourhood, as the sound trickled down the river into their neighbourhood and the festival was ultimately slapped with a $405 fine after its opening night.

To mitigate concerns for 2015, Monahan said he has already met with Capital Coun. David Chernushenko about noise concerns and plans to hold a consultation with the community in the spring.

That was welcome news to Glebe Community Association president Christine McAllister, who added the community does acknowledge events at the park will be coming.

"We will be looking at the noise and making sure that bylaws are followed, but we also know it's just part of living next to the venue," McAllister said.

McAllister said since the park opened, the community has been focused on the day-to-day impacts and as more events occur, the association's Lansdowne Park committee will address community concerns and work with the city and park operator Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to alleviate them.

"We do plan to take a closer look at the impacts that could happen," she said.