are three things
the new council
should work on
been 29 years since I wrote my first column for the Orléans
Star and in that time I haven’t been shy about given
advice to the city council of the day, so why stop now.
are three things our newly elected councillors could work
on during the next four term.
#1 – Infrastructure
always said the smartest thing Larry O’Brien did during
his time in office was pass a two per cent surcharge for
dumbest thing he did was to get rid of it two years later
on the eve of the 2010 election in what was shortsighted
move aimed at buying votes.
money would have raised $20 million a year to be used
to help cut into the city’s ballooning infrastructure
deficit which was more than $600 million at the time.
deficit is the difference between the estimated cost to
repair the city’s roads, sewers and bridges and the amount
of money held in the city’s reserve funds to pair for
money raised by the surcharge was supposed to used to
help cover those costs. But rather than put the funds
into a dedicated account that could drawn from when necessary,
it was put into general revenue and ended up being used
for snow removal and keeping tax increases artificially
much smarter than me once said that good ideas never get
old. The infrastructure surcharge was a good idea then,
and its still a good idea today, if it’s implemented properly
and managed transparently from a stand-alone account so
that residents know what the money is being used for.
brings me to my second suggestion.
don’t have to be a genius to realize that a number of
Ottawa’s roads are in need of repair, and the number keeps
increasing year after year.
problem with infrastructure and especially our road network
is that we always manage to build roads without thinking
about how we are eventually going to pay to repair them.
a sub-division is built, development charges are applied
to help pay for the infrastructure supporting said sub-division
and when they day comes when they need to be resurfaced,
repaired or replaced, the money is supposed to come from
the city’s reserve funds which are built up through your
problem with that system is two-fold: the development
charges are never high enough to pay for the initial infrastructure
so the city is then forced to borrow the money; and the
money in the reserve funds is never sufficient enough
to pay for he repairs when they eventually need to be
done, so the city has to borrow even more money to do
the work which ends up being piecemeal at best.
implementing an infrastructure surcharge will only solve
half the problem. The other half of the problem is identifying
the roads that need to be repaired and developing a model
to ensure the repairs are done in a methodical manner.
first step that needs to be taken is for the city to undertake
a complete and thorough inventory of the city’s road network.
It would surprise a lot of people to know that no such
inventory currently exists.
inventory needs to be done and the information put on
a database that includes the date when the road was built,
and the dates when any repairs were done to the road.
The database should then be made public, with access available
to members of the public.
database could then be used to help local councillors
decide which roads should be repaired first and when.
But that would require a new funding model. Infrastructure
renewal funds should be placed in a pool and alloted to
each ward based on their population on an annual basis.
It then should be left up to each councillor to decide
how the funds should be divvied up the funds based on
#3 Community Building
years the city has followed a cost-recover model when
providing city assets like picnic tables, garbage cans
and barricades to community events. The effect of the
policy has been to discourage well-meaning residents from
organizing community events.
new councillors should reconsider the existing policy
and allow residents to use city assets free of charge
for community building events that are volunteer driven.
are just three suggestions that would go a long way to
make this city a better place to live, work and play.
The rest is up to the new city council..
you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column
please write to Fred Sherwin at email@example.com)
to Front Page