Extra 0.5% to address critical municipal needs

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The 2% residential tax increase proposed in the City of Ottawa's 2018 draft budget is simply not enough to address critical municipal needs identified by residents during budget consultations as necessary for a balanced, affordable and progressive budget approach consistent with sound financial management.

That's why I, along with Councillors Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney, Diane Deans, Mathieu Fleury, Marianne Wilkinson, Tobi Nussbaum and Rick Chiarelli, are supporting a motion to introduce a one-time, 0.5% infrastructure levy.

Public infrastructure is the foundation on which our communities are built, and maintaining assets such as roads, sidewalks, recreation facilities and parks in a state of good repair is essential to preserving a good quality of life and to the overall health and well-being of our city. Failing to keep these assets in a good state of repair costs taxpayers more in the long-term.

Adding a dedicated levy of 0.5% to the citywide property tax bill, with all revenues directed towards tax-supported capital asset renewal, would cost the average urban homeowner $1 per month and allow us to make important strategic investments in our infrastructure, advance needed repairs, and save money on future repair costs.

Click HERE to download a PDF of the motion, which will be brought before council on Dec. 13.

David Chernushenko
Councillor for Capital Ward

Help name the new foot/bike bridge

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concept aerial view 2

The Canal Footbridge, the Fifth Avenue Bridge, Clegg Footbridge, Rideau Crossing — whatever you’ve been calling it, it’s time to agree on a permanent name for new bridge connecting the Glebe and Old Ottawa East/Old Ottawa South. What name do you suggest?

Following guidelines set by the City, we are collecting suggestions for names that honour local historical events, people or places, or outstanding individuals of the community.

You can complete the online form here, including 250 words or less to explain why it’s an appropriate name. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2018.

And no, you can't suggest Bridgey McBridgeface.

Advocates call for more spending on energy

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Jennifer McIntosh, Ottawa Community News

The city is treading "too gingerly” when it comes to dealing with climate change, said Bill Eggertson, who sits on the environmental stewardship advisory committee.

Eggertson joined the chorus of voices calling for more funding for the city’s energy evolution initiatives.

Ottawa is clean, Eggertson told the city’s environment committee on Nov. 21, but it’s mostly a result of a lack of smoke stacks — not any notable difference in Ottawans' behaviour.

The energy evolution aims to reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuel and replace the fleet of vehicles and other equipment with those that run on renewable energy.

It’s a laudable goal, but the city has fallen short of its commitments and won’t meet the city’s emissions targets, critics say.

Robb Barnes, from Ecology Ottawa, an environmental watchdog of sorts, said only $500,000 from for energy evolution is new money, even though $2 million is set aside in the 2018 draft budget.

“I worry the city won’t be able to meet aggressive emissions targets without more money,” he said.

River Coun. Riley Brockington said Barnes is being diplomatic in his description of council’s inability to get some key strategic initiatives off the ground.

One of the key criticisms was lumping $500,000 used to buy green vehicles under the budget for the initiative.

Barnes said it’s “strange” to see the allocation for the green fleet. He, along with Janice Ashworth, from the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s sustainability committee, suggested the money should have come from the city’s transportation budget.

“The city should apply a climate lens to everything,” Barnes said.

A motion from Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney to allocate $200,000 of the energy evolution money to staff to the city’s smart energy office fell flat. Committee chair David Chernushenko said he wasn’t comfortable spending already scarce dollars on staff.

“There’s already not a lot there and I think it’s best spent on community partnerships,” Chernushenko said.

The environment budget — which includes water, stormwater and wastewater rates — was approved on Nov. 21. If passed by council on Dec. 13, the rates would go up by four per cent for drinking and wastewater and five per cent for stormwater.

Lansdowne partnership riddled with broken contract conditions, auditor general finds

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David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen

Our city government signs something like $1 billion in contracts a year for everything from bus tires to emergency shelter beds, but almost everywhere auditor general Ken Hughes looks, he finds that managers are slack about enforcing them.

“Deficiencies in contract management” are the theme in Hughes’ work so far, he told city council’s audit committee in presenting his latest pack of audits Thursday.

Take the partnership with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group to rebuild and manage Lansdowne Park, which Hughes looked at closely this year.

Councillors wanted two things out of the OSEG deal. First, a big infusion of private money to redevelop the site. And second, somebody else to take on most of the risks of running it. As Hughes’ audit report puts it, this is “the most significant public-private partnership ever undertaken by the city,” at least until the new light-rail system opens.

Making it work “requires careful attention to the terms and conditions of the agreements affecting operations and maintenance, as well as ensuring that the city’s assets are maintained, maximizing safety, reliability and availability.”