This past Wednesday was the final City Council meeting of 2022, and much was dealt with including assigning committee responsibilities for Councillors and asking City finance staff to come back to Council with a budget that does not exceed a 2.5% tax increase.
After a lengthy debate City Council supported having City finance staff write up a budget with a cap of a 2.5% property tax increase. There was agreement that within this budget transit fares will be frozen at current rates for next year as well as a 10% reduction in recreation registration fees for targeted communities.
I appreciate these directions however I remain concerned about what services and programs could be cut given rising costs and inflation that the City faces. I did raise at Council that we will be getting a report on possible improvements for Winter Maintenance Standards in 2023 that will examine the cost of having a higher-level service, especially for pedestrians. This is an important step in keeping our community liveable and walkable in the winter months. We don’t know what this will cost at this time.
As a member of the Nominating Committee, I was privileged to be part of selection process for who would be part of each council committee. I appreciated Mayor Sutcliffe’s involvement with the Nominating Committee in the decision-making process. Regional and gender balance was taken into consideration, which will help for a better-balanced decision-making process.
Here are my committee assignments:
Designated Chair for Ottawa Community Housing
From 2018-2022 I was privileged to be a Member of the Board of Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), including being a member of the Board’s Client Services Committee. Ottawa Community Housing is a leader in the delivery of quality, affordable social housing, and collaborates with other agencies to develop safe and healthy communities.
OCH provides approximately 15,000 homes to about 32,000 tenants, including seniors, parents, children, couples, singles and persons with special needs, within many communities across the City of Ottawa. They house a diverse population of varying languages, ethnicity and cultures. They are also the largest social housing provider in Ottawa, and we manage two-thirds of the City’s social housing portfolio. OCH is the second-largest housing provider in Ontario.
With a waiting list at over 10,000 individuals for affordable social housing, demand is strong for OCH units from families to individuals. In Bay Ward, OCH communities include Britannia Woods, Regina Towers, Michele Heights, Foster Farm, Winthrop Court, Starflower Lane, 31 McEwen, for low-income and Edgeworth townhouses.
I am proud to be the designated Chair for OCH. Providing affordable housing for low-income individuals and families is essential for the growth of our city. OCH is a leader in developing new mixed communities across the city. Ottawa Community Housing is a corporation solely owned by the City of Ottawa – it is our best resource to build much needed housing for those in need.
I will also be a member of City Council’s Audit Committee, Community Services Committee, Public Board of Health, Environment and Climate Change Committee, Planning and Housing Committee, and the Light Rail Subcommittee. I will also be a member of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.
I see all these committees complimenting one another and being a benefit for moving forward for Bay Ward. As I have stated many times my top concerns for our city are the effects of climate change as well as the need for affordable housing. I will outline the directions of these committees in the new year as I learn more on their upcoming agendas.
I was pleased to have served as the City’s First Council Liaison on Women and Gender Equity during the last term of Council. I appreciated the privilege and opportunity that this gave me to work with City staff to ensure gender equity was a priority at the City-including in our new Official Plan. I am happy to see Councillor Ariel Troster now take on this role and I look forward to working with her to continue to speak out on equity issues.
Council Committee meetings will begin in the new year. Until then, I hope everyone has a restful and peaceful holiday season.