I strongly support the expansion of the urban boundary by a modest amount to facilitate the development of new land to ensure housing affordability for young people and new Canadians.
With the population estimated to grow by 400,000 people over the next quarter-century in the capital, I agree with the recommendation a balance of increased intensification and expanding the urban boundary by 1,350 to 1,650 to hectares.
This protects our cherished villages like Vars, Sarsfield and Navan from encroaching development by placing a one-kilometre buffer around them. It also preserves farm land and protects our food security.
If you care about affordable housing you must ensure an adequate supply.
It must be acknowledged that if we are going to put another 400,000 people into Ottawa in the next 25 years, than we have to recognize we have to build homes for them.
It’s a false belief to say that we are going to stop growth by freezing the boundary and people will accept this planning forced on them.
They will drive to where they can afford the mortgage in Carleton Place, Kemptville, Arnprior, Renfrew, Rockland, Perth, Smiths Falls, Casselman, Russell and Limoges as they are doing now.
Problem with this is they hop in their cars to get to jobs in Ottawa and clog up our roads, fill up our park-and-rides and take up the seats on our buses and light rail and contribute zero tax dollars to it.
Many rural residents in 2001 were skeptical about the amalgamation into the City of Ottawa.
I believe, however, the former municipalities have benefitted greatly for the most part from being part of the larger family of former cities and townships joined into one city.
Concerns over the loss of local representation and maintaining the rural way of life for the most part did not happen.
The most recent official plan discussions preserve our villages from encroaching development and protect agricultural land from being paved over.
But what is troubling to me is whether rural taxpayers are getting treated fairly on the tax front of late, specifically the stormwater management fee or as detractors call it, the ditch or rain tax.
This fee is now equivalent to an additional three per cent tax hike on top of any approved residential property tax increase. With this council married to a three per cent annual tax take, rural residents can expect an annual six per cent property tax hike for the foreseeable future.
The city’s rationale for the fee is in part “the safe transportation of rain and melt water runoff to prevent properties from flooding.”
The reality is flooding in your ditches, water back-up and laneway culverts are not covered by this fee.
The ditch tax, in my opinion, should be axed.
The #defundpolice movement is in my opinion short form for gutting police budgets.
I don’t prescribe to this medicine.
With policing costs a big slice of the overall city budget, the temptation is there to at least take a look at it.
The problem of course is that it is almost entirely made up of salaries. So any deep cuts would have to come from the rank and file.
That is an impossible task with, for example, increasing calls for residential speeding, traffic enforcement, beefing up the gangs and guns unit, and a greater emphasis on community policing.
History has seen reviews of calls for service and attempts to eliminate unnecessary police responses.
Previous reviews prior to amalgamation looked for fat to trim in the senior ranks of the regional force and how many of those could be considered non-essential.
Operational areas were looked at with a view to what might be considered the least crucial.
These are the kinds of historic tinkering around the edges that have been done to reduce police budgets.
The police service is not a sacred cow and like any other city service, they should be able to figure out ways to deliver more with less and differently – but within reason and never at the expense of public safety.