Priorities

A Fractured City Council Leading Nowhere

A council unwilling to work together, lacking leadership and spending tax dollars on infighting is not what Ottawa deserves.

Bob’s proven record of supporting leadership initiatives and building consensus has been invaluable to our city’s development. It’s this team mentality that made Ottawa the first city in Canada to ban smoking in public places.


Quality of Life

For Bob, quality of life is a priority for all citizens. Let assume that 95% of all Ottawans are living a quality of life acceptable or satisfactory to them… that leaves 5% of our citizens who need support for social services, housing support and just the plain basics of life. Translate the percentages into real people… 50,000 residents, the equivalent of Cornwall’s entire population, need public support. Bob is committed to meeting that challenge.


Affordable Housing

Housing affordability has been defined by our three levels of government as a housing crisis impacting negatively on the quality of life of families and individuals. As mayor, seating in the Big Cities Mayors caucus , Bob will advocate strongly federally for ways and means to lower the cost of housing, and likewise with our provincial government. The city of Ottawa owns surplus lands that could be made available for affording housing and if elected Bob will ask council do so. He will also ask council to increase the budget allocation for public and non-profit housing.


Transportation

As mayor I would put a halt to all NEW road construction and shovel
the savings into repairing the deplorable condition of the City’s existing roads.

The roads in Ottawa are in as bad a shape as the City’s finances. Both need to be fixed.

All existing contracts will be honoured and projects already underway will be completed, but I will halt any new road building. The emphasis has to be on repairing and fixing what we have.

I have travelled thousands of kilometres in this city from Corkery to Cumberland over the past year. The condition of our road network has never been in such desperate condition. You need a four-wheel drive or an all-terrain vehicle on some of them.

Unlike mayoral candidates Mark Sutcliffe and Catherine McKenney, I know it can be done without borrowing more money.

The City debt has tripled in the past decade to more than $3.5 billion and the borrowing costs have doubled over that time to $240 million a year.

This city can’t afford Mark Sutcliffe or Catherine McKenney as mayor. As part of their campaign priorities, they have promised more than a quarter-billion-dollars in new spending for their pet projects. And Mr. Sutcliffe has promised to spend tens of millions more without any idea how to pay for them.

I have pledged to freeze property taxes in the first year of my mandate and freeze 2023 spending at 2022 levels, meaning there will be no increased allowances in any budget, except those deemed essential in health, safety and social services and quality of life for seniors.

By cancelling planned road projects, such as the twinning of the Airport Parkway and the Alta Vista Parkway, it will free up money to address the crumbling road system.

It makes no sense to prioritize new road infrastructure when we are investing billions into LRT and targeting net zero GHG emissions.

I propose diverting parking revenues and red light and photo radar fines to fixing existing road infrastructure.

During the first year of my term, I would have public works staff inventory priority roads for fixing, along with a financial plan to achieve that result. Future budgets would reflect the outcome of that process.

It makes no sense to build new roads while many in this city are impassable It’s time to stop speaking platitudes about roads and start taking real action.


Law and Order

Our city experienced the worst of the worst with the so-called Trucker Freedom Convoy. Overwhelmed by groups intent on breaking the law, the Police Services were unable to effectively control the situation for an entire month. Its officers simply could not match the numbers in the street.

Ottawa already having one of the lowest police population rates across major cities in Canada, now needs to assess its resources including a new chief of police, operation of Police Services Board, and review budget making issues regarding City of Ottawa and Police budgets.


Our Environment

Time to take real action

The rising temperature of our planet is a threat to us all.

To reduce Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero, as planned, by 2050 will require us all to do our part.

While the federal and provincial governments have the lead and primary responsibility for action, the City must do what it can within its financial restraints.

The City’s Energy Evolution Strategy identified five actions that will have the most significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions:
Electrify personal vehicles; 22.7%
Retrofit existing residential buildings; 17.9%
Divert organic waste from landfill and create renewable natural gas; 17.2%
Retrofit existing commercial buildings; 15.1%
Transition to zero emission commercial fleets; 8.3%

Collectively, these five actions account for roughly 80 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required.

The City has identified the cost of implementing the full strategy at $32 billion over the next 28 years, or $1.2 billion per year.

This level of spending is unsustainable. Even the 20 priority projects identified were estimated to cost $7.5 billion over the next five years. We cannot afford the property tax increases and additional debt load.

The City needs to work with the federal and provincial governments, non-profit organizations and industry, and focus on practical actions it can afford.

It’s time to stop speaking platitudes about the environment and climate change and start taking real action.

Initiative #1
No expansion of the urban boundary

One of the prime contributors to GHGs is urban sprawl. I previously brought in the concept of an urban boundary as mayor to bring discipline, innovation and creativity to the development industry. I believed in it then, and believe in it now. The existing urban boundary should be respected with very few and unique exceptions.

Initiative #2
Replace the tree cover lost over the past four years

Trees are an important part of climate mitigation. The 2018 tornado and recent derecho wreaked havoc on the city’s tree cover. We need to bring the number of trees in the city back to at least 2018 numbers. I will replace the tree cover lost over the past four years within the coming term of council. This needs to be done with native trees, with an eye to variety, moving away from past examples of planting the same species year after year. We also need to better preserve our current stock, especially mature species. The long-term goal is to meet the City’s target of 40 percent coverage in every neighbourhood.

Initiative #3
Encourage biodiversity protection

We will achieve this through re-wilding, planting pollinator gardens, permitting naturalized lawns, and encouraging community gardens.

I will coordinate with the National Capital Commission and other federal and provincial agencies to ensure we are all working to the same goal.

Initiative #4
No new roads not currently contracted.

We will not proceed with the City’s preferred current plan to extend the Brian Coburn Boulevard and the Eastern Transitway, a proposed project that jeopardizes the Mer Bleue bog. We will also drop the Tewin project.

As part of my initiative not to build new roads at least until we are well on the way to fixing existing ones, we will not proceed with the proposal to build at Mer Bleue, and will stop all work on that project. The Tewin project does not meet our immediate needs and can be safely deleted. Wetlands and significant tree cover will not be destroyed.

We can be both environmentally sound and fiscally responsible.

Initiative #5
Develop new green standards for construction and negotiate an agreement with the industry

Unlike the current top-down, bureaucratic imposition of standards on the industry, I would sit down with the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association (GOHBA) and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to reach an agreement on strong, new green standards for housing in Ottawa, including the order and timing of their sustainable implementation.

This may require the City to work with the province to change the Building Code to enable city council to enforce significant new emission standards for new buildings. We will work in collaboration with LUMCO (the Large Urban Mayors Council of Ontario) to get the province to make the appropriate changes.

Initiative #6
Work with the industry to train (and ultimately certify) energy retrofitters, on a cost-recovery basis

Home retrofitting is something many citizens have done and many others would wish to do. It’s good for the environment and homeowners gain significant savings. Federal and provincial governments provide funds to have the work done but capable and trained specialists are in short supply. Fly-by-night contractors suddenly appearing, in order to access available funds, are hurting the image of the sector. I will work with the industry to help train (and certify) energy retrofitters, on a cost-recovery basis.

Initiative #7
Sit down with the Ottawa Riverkeeper, in partnership with Hydro Ottawa, to develop a fiscally viable project that will improve our primary waterway.

Initiative #8
Work with the industry and other orders of government to develop the necessary infrastructure appropriate for a municipality to provide for the transition to electric vehicles

As we move increasingly quickly to a world of electric vehicles (and hydrogen-based fuels soon after) we need a broader network of charging stations and EV infrastructure in the City. I will work with the industry and other orders of government to collaborate on implementing the necessary infrastructure, including charging stations that will facilitate the coming transition.

Initiative #9
Slowly transition, with careful testing, from fossil-fuel buses to electric buses.

Unlike the approach that was done with the LRT, I would ensure slow and steady progress to the transition to electric buses, testing intensively to ensure we have the right vehicles for our transit system, especially for our climate, before we proceed with switching our fleet to electric with the high cost involved. We will purchase a small number of vehicles at a time, sufficient to do the proper testing.

We need to learn from the mistakes made by the previous administration when they poorly implemented the LRT project at enormous cost.

Initiative #10
Trail Road will be the last public garbage dump in Ottawa. We need to start now to decide on the technology alternatives to the creation of a new landfill once Trail Road is full.

To facilitate this approach, we will move the centre of operations of the research and evaluation of alternatives from City Hall to Hydro Ottawa. The public utility has better expertise to evaluate the various technologies available globally, and as an independent body, has no vested interest in the outcome. By the end of my term there will be a plan to replace the landfill with a technological alternative.

I would do the same for the City’s GHG strategy. Four years of work and more than $2 million spent, all there is to show is short-term and long-term plans that are not financially viable.

The strategy is a wish list rather than a realistic plan of action. The fact that little action has occurred two years after its release is an early indication of its shortcomings.
After nearly 20 years of failure, it’s time to re-think our approach. Fresh eyes can help us get on a better path. So, I will also move this activity out of the City bureaucracy and ask Hydro Ottawa to develop a realistic GHG reduction plan that better meets the city’s needs.

Initiative #11
Expand the current organics waste program to divert organic waste from the City’s landfill. Start use of renewable natural gas.

While searching for an alternative to a new landfill, it is prudent to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste going into the facility. Organic waste is an area that needs to be addressed with more urgency. As well as helping extend the life of the landfill, this program is significant in reducing GHGs.

According to the City’s Energy Evolution Strategy, fully implemented, these two actions would reduce our GHGs by about 17 percent. With an estimated cost of $200 million, full implementation will take some time, but we will make a significant and positive start to the process during this term.


Finances & Debt

Tax freeze in first year of mandate

Life in Ottawa is becoming unaffordable for too many people and residents are desperate for relief. Citizens are burdened with an inflation rate at a 40-year high, the record cost of buying or renting a home, and for countless others, keeping a roof over their heads.

The size and scale of our city’s challenges are unprecedented and will require experienced leadership.

Today, I am announcing, as mayor, to help ease the burden on homeowners and renters, I will freeze taxes, fees and non-discretionary spending in the first year of my mandate.

Today’s announcement is not about me, it’s about the people of Ottawa.

I have heard you over the last year and you’ve been telling me and your city councillors you’re tired of what’s happening in our community.

I have been told by thousands of individuals and small business people that they have had to cut back and do more with less and they expect the same from their municipal government.

As mayor, Job One on Day One will be obtaining outside, experienced financial experts to come in and do a top to bottom review of the City’s operations to be completed within 100 days of the new council taking office.

The mandate will be to find efficiencies that will not impact core services and get us through the first year while we put a solid strategic plan together.

There will be those who will throw up their arms and say a tax freeze can’t be done.

It can be done. I’ve done it. I froze taxes in each of the three years I was regional chair and each and every year in my first term as mayor.

I understand it won’t be easy.

I have been told by senior City staff that the municipality is effectively broke.

The City debt has tripled over the past decade to close to $3.5 billion and the interest costs have nearly doubled over that time to about $240 million per year.

This runaway spending and borrowing has to stop.

In preparation for the coming year’s budget, as mayor, working with council, I will call for an across the board freeze on all new spending. That means – just so we are clear – that 2023 planned spending will be frozen at 2022 levels. There will be no increased allowances in any budget, except those deemed essential in health, safety and social services.

I am especially concerned about our bulging debt and the condition / management of our reserves. Before we approve one more major project, I want to see existing debt figures and the real and potential impacts in coming years. For once in the past 16 years there will be full and complete transparency of the City’s operations and finances.

There will be no new mega-projects approved in the first year of the new council, including Lansdowne Park, no new major road infrastructure contracts entered into and I will recommend the City delay the planned $1 billion purchase of electric buses.

The football stadium and hockey arena at TD place have sufficient life left in them. The proposed second phase of the re-development of Lansdowne will have to wait for the expected better economic times.

Now is not the time to add another $330 million to the City’s debt load for an improved sports and entertainment complex.

On city infrastructure, all existing contracts will be honoured but I will call for a hold on any new road building. The emphasis has to be on repairing and fixing what we have. I have travelled thousands of kilometres in this city from Corkery to Cumberland over the past year. The condition of our road network has never been in such desperate condition.

There is wide consensus that OC Transpo is broken. While LRT gets all the headlines, the bus system is broken. I have met with bus operators, union executives and transit experts on a fix for what ails our transit system. It is clear existing management has failed passengers and that he solution is the need for new oversight over our transit system.

When the 100-day analysis is complete on all City operations, council and I as mayor will inform the public on the true picture of City finances with full transparency.

Only then will Council be able get to work on putting this city back on a firm financial footing.


Health Care

Healthcare task force first order of business

The provincial government is starting to roll out its plan to stabilize the health care crisis in Ontario.

As a former provincial cabinet minister, I appreciate the difficult balancing act the current government is faced with. I have been working with a team of experienced health care professionals, including former Royal Ottawa Hospital CEO George Langill, to better understand the nature and extent of the problem and what the City of Ottawa can do to deal with the crisis in the short and long term.

 “I fully endorse Bob’s position on health care which proposes to leverage the significant role of our city in the health of our community and the need for a collaborative action plan to identify, facilitate and advocate for needed changes to our local health care delivery system,” said Langill. 

No city has avoided the impact of COVID, human resource shortages, emergency department closures, significant delays in accessing many diagnostic and treatment services and many instances where no ambulances were available to respond to calls. To date this year, there have been more than 1,000 “Level Zero” events in our city when there were no paramedics available to respond to emergency calls. This is compared to 750 in all of 2021. 

These are not new issues but have been amplified by COVID. 

The City is a major player in the health of our residents. We need a coordinated response to the new health initiatives being contemplated out of Queen’s Park and the City must recognize this and use this responsibility, working together with community stakeholders, to build a better, more integrated and responsible healthcare delivery system. 

The main issues arising from consultation with a team of health care professionals are:

  • Access to and the capacity of our health services. 
  • The service impact of the aging population and provision of mental health services
  •  Fragmented and uncoordinated community health and primary care services.
  • Traditional health services delivery models that don’t and won’t work to resolve this continuing crisis. 

There is no one level of government or any one health services provider that can address these issues in their entirety. Municipal governments have direct responsibilities for a significant share of the health care pie but an equal responsibility to leverage their role and their assets to advocate for the unique needs of our region regardless of jurisdiction. 

We must be ready to proactively engage upper levels of government and use this opportunity to represent the unique needs of our community. 

My first order of business will be to create a nimble, focused and local healthcare task force to advise the City through the Mayor’s Office on our response to any provincial vision and plan. 

This task force will make specific recommendations on what needs to be done and by whom to put us on the path of resolving this crisis for our region before it is too late. It will be representative of those decision makers who can best contribute to the development of directions but also will be key to their effective implementation.


NCC

Mayors should be given vote on NCC board 

It is time the City of Ottawa is given more say in how the National Capital Commission (NCC) is governed.

The current governance model of the NCC does not work for Ottawa.

The concept of having representatives on the board from across the country while Ottawa has token input is an outdated system. 

The mayor of the City of Ottawa and the City of Gatineau must be given voting privileges on the NCC Board.

The NCC chairman’s role also needs to be strengthened to where it is no longer subservient to staff.

Can anyone in the public even name the chair of the board?

All options should be on the table for a thorough governance review of the NCC.

The Mayor of Ottawa should play a lead role in developing the vision for Ottawa. 

The residents of Ottawa, through their mayor, deserve more respect and should have more input than staff and board members who fly in for the meetings into decision making at the NCC.

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