Responses to CBC Survey
CBC Ottawa sent a questionnaire to all municipal candidates ahead of the election on October 22. Below are my answers as a candidate for College Ward.
In the last term, what was council’s single greatest accomplishment? What was council’s biggest failure?
Council’s biggest accomplishment was to get all levels of government, and all major political parties, to support its vision for Stage 2 of light rail transit. The level of certainty for the plan and the funding is a big win for Ottawa’s residents and economy.
Council’s biggest failure has been the quality of our deteriorating roads, sidewalks and pathways. This has been a combination of underinvesting in our core infrastructure, and several years of challenging winters which have left roads like Merivale, Meadowlands, and Carling in terrible condition.
In the past four years, property taxes have increased about two per cent each year. Do you have a target for future tax increases? What is your target for future property tax increases, as a percentage?
I like the fact that there has been a predictable property tax cap over the last several years. This has meant beginning the budget process with the recognition that City Hall has limited means, just like any family or business does.
However, I am not campaigning on a specific percentage. I’m concerned about the growing size of our debt, the quality of our roads and sidewalks, and the funding of our core services. All of these are affected by how much taxes do or do not go up, and need to be part of the overall budget conversation.
Does Ottawa have an adequate level of policing?
No. I have tremendous respect for the work our police officers do, but we also need to acknowledge that the challenges we face are more complex than the number of officers. Just like other jurisdictions, we need to address relationship challenges between the senior leadership and the police association, take action on issues of race and bias, as well as support more community-based solutions to guns and gangs.
Would you increase the police budget by more than two per cent?
Yes, if required. The police budget is a very small portion of the City’s budget. An increase beyond this, if required to help keep communities safe, would be minimal on the tax bill.
Do you support cannabis retail shops in Ottawa?
Yes, provided there are responsible regulations around it. The federal government has decided to legalize cannabis. If the intention is to get the black market out of the game, there needs to be a responsible way for legitimate private sector actors to play a role.
Do you support cannabis retail shops in your ward?
Yes, but not in their current form. I’m concerned about dispensaries that have been operating in a legal grey area with no oversight or regulation.
What role should the city have regulating this new industry?
Governments already play a role in regulating outlets such as liquor stores, bars and casinos, and the next City Council should undertake a consultation on how cannabis should fit in to this new regulatory authority.
I’m most concerned about community impact issues such as proximity to schools and playgrounds, and would be interested in setting a maximum number in each ward. I am also interested in seeing how the upcoming legalization will fit into our smoke-free regulations.
My preference would be to see any retail access spread across existing trusted retail outlets such as pharmacies, instead of concentrating them into stand-alone locations or “lounges” like we see today.
LRT is the single largest infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history. As the city moves into Stage 2, what would you do differently to improve the plan?
When I worked at City Hall, I watched residents in Hintonburg and Centretown work hard to ensure traffic, active mobility, and construction concerns were addressed as part of Stage 1. I would bring a similar level of advocacy and collaboration to ensure residents can be engaged in the process as Stage 2 moves forward. I’m most concerned about pedestrian, vehicle, cyclist and bus detours, as well as noise mitigation when construction takes place close to residential areas.
I would also be interested to see what we could do to preserve views of the Ottawa River for LRT passengers.
How much public money, if any, should the city invest in redeveloping LeBreton Flats? What should the money be spent on?
I don’t support property tax dollars going into an NHL hockey arena. That cost should be left to the private sector.
I see a role for public dollars in the affordable housing components of the overall project, as it could help make a big difference for the 10,000 households still on the affordable housing waitlist.
Do you support supervised injection sites (SIS)?
Yes. But I also support keeping politics out of this issue by ensuring that the Ottawa Board of Health has the delegated authority to make evidence-based decisions alongside community input.
If the province retracts funding for SIS, would you support the city paying for their operation?
Yes. We need to approach this issue with compassion. These sites are saving lives in the midst of a crisis.
Do you support inclusionary zoning as a tool to improve the supply of affordable housing units in Ottawa?
Yes. Especially as City Council approves more density along rapid transit routes, the prospect of not including affordable housing is a big missed opportunity.
What do you love most about your ward?
I’m proud that my partner Nicole and I chose to buy our first home and start our family here. We chose this area because of the parks and pathways, the access to public transit, and the proximity to downtown.
After knocking on more than 10,000 doors in this campaign so far, I’m reminded of College Ward’s biggest assets: our neighbours. Our ward is filled with passionate, hard-working people who want good value for their tax dollars and to make our community a better place.
I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to speak with me on their doorstep and share their perspective about the future of our area.
What is your top infrastructure priority for your ward?
Building light trail transit to Baseline, Iris and Moodie, while mitigating traffic concerns and ensuring good bus service during construction.
What are two other priorities for your ward?
Many neighbourhoods are seeing young families move in, which means it is time to start renewing some of the things that has made College Ward a great place to raise a family. We need to get our fair share in order to invest in parks, playgrounds, and road safety measures.
Another big priority has to do with communication and customer service. I will go above and beyond to ensure residents are informed about what’s happening in our area, and ensure everyone has a voice at the table.
Residents often complain about traffic (speeding, congestion, etc.). What would you do to improve traffic in your ward?
Road safety is the top issue I’ve heard as I’ve been meeting with community leaders since late last year and door-knocking since May 1. There seems to be a few hotspots in every neighbourhood that simply aren’t getting the attention they need.
I am supportive of expanding our traffic calming toolbox through speed bumps/humps/pillows and automated enforcement in school zones. The latter would provide a new funding source expanding our road safety programs.
We also need to recognize that this is not a one-size-fits-all issue. Residents have raised concerns with me about cycling and parking conflicts as measures such as flex-stakes have been rolled out hastily in an election year. I’m hoping we can bring more transparency and better collaboration to the entire process.
How would you encourage residents of your ward to recycle more, especially green-bin organics?
A next big step for our organic recycling will be to ensure neighbours in apartments and condos have the ability to do their part. When we have City Council approving zonings for buildings of significant height, it feels like we are setting ourselves up for failure when there isn’t a discussion about how we can ensure residents who live there will have the opportunity to participate in the green bin program as well.
Do you support a city ban on single-use plastic?
Yes, following a consultation with residents and businesses about the timing and approach.
Do you support posting councillors’ voting and attendance records online and in the city’s open data portal?
What would you do to improve the diversity of city staff?
In my current role as a senior manager at a local small business (MediaStyle), we have implemented name-blind hiring in an effort to evaluate candidates solely on their skills and merit. While I recognize that this challenge is bigger than any one process, I am interested in practical measures like that in the short term, in order to begin breaking down some of the barriers that some candidates may face.
Recruitment of City staff needs to be active, not passive. This will involve our human resources staff building stronger relationships with community groups representing the diversity of Ottawa. This builds not only awareness, but also allows the City to be more proactive about identifying barriers to employment.
I’m also interested in the good ideas being circulated by #NowWhatOttawa about how the City of Ottawa can address issues of bias and discrimination by applying a gender-based-plus lens to decision-making and existing policies.
Do you support a women’s bureau? Why or why not?
Yes. We need to address the blind spots in how the city plans and implements programs and policies. It is important for those with power and privilege to recognize that not everyone has the same lived experiences, and steps such as this will help ensure decisions are more representative of Ottawa’s diversity.
The city is planning to undertake a ward boundary review. Do you think the city has too many wards, too few or the right number? Why?
I have not heard many residents raise concerns about the size of our City Council, though I recognize that the recent decisions by the Ontario government may put pressure on the upcoming ward boundary review process.
We need to ensure that the number and resources of City Councillors reflect the expectations of residents, and allow City Hall to deliver excellent customer service.
A Bit More About You
Which municipal figure, alive or dead, do you admire? Why?
Every time I have spoken with former Mayor Hazel McCallion, I have been reminded of her no-nonsense approach to municipal affairs.
Do you live in the ward you’re running in?
Tell us about any formal education, training or other credentials you think are relevant to the job of being a councillor.
I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from the University of Ottawa, as well as a journalism diploma from Sheridan College. This education, along with my career in communications, have provided me with strong problem-solving and collaboration skills that would be an asset for this role.
I’ve also participated in various City of Ottawa training sessions – including the Councillors’ Orientation Session – during my seven years working at the City. I’m day-one ready to get results for our community.
If elected, what single greatest change do you hope to have made in Ottawa or in your ward, four years from now?
I’m running to bring new energy to City Council. In four years, if successful, this will mean that residents will be more aware of what’s happening in their neighbourhood and have a greater sense of confidence in the City’s ability to deliver on its commitments.
Whether through Stage 2 of LRT or the upcoming Transportation Master Plan refresh, it will be more important than ever that we have a City Councillor who will go above and beyond to ensure residents can help shape the future of our community.
In four years, residents will be able to count on a more accountable and accessible style of leadership.
Election Day is Monday, October 22, with advance voting opportunities earlier in the month. Find your polling location here.