Capital Ward Councillor debate: Candidates present different approaches and priorities

John Dance 

Councillor candidates Dan Rogers (left), Shawn Menard and Rebecca Bromwich were described by the debate moderator David Reevely as “three accomplished, thoughtful people who want to represent our community.

Councillor candidates Dan Rogers (left), Shawn Menard and Rebecca Bromwich were described by the debate
moderator David Reevely as “three accomplished, thoughtful people who want to represent our community.”

The three candidates for Capital Ward councillor squared off in a community-association-sponsored debate in September with challengers Rebecca Bromwich and Dan Rogers both arguing that they would be more collaborative in their approaches while incumbent Shawn Menard set out specific goals if he is re-elected.

Although many issues were touched on – everything from sidewalk design to the Ottawa Police Services operations during the occupation – the challengers continually argued that more collaboration with other councillors and other parties was required and that the dysfunctionality of City Council must end.

One example was the discussion of the proposed four-lane roadway running through OOE’s portion of the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor. Menard unequivocally opposes the idea, noting “More roads do not mean less congestion. This is not something we want to put through our community. OOE needs the greenspace.”

Bromwich said she was “Not going to commit on way or another… [We] have to consult [and] have to listen respectfully.” Rogers noted, “If the population continues to grow we’re going to have to face the fact that we have to build corridors into the city.”

In the discussion on the future of Lansdowne Park, Bromwich said full consultation within 100 days of her taking office would be undertaken. She noted that the City of Ottawa could have liability issues because of the crumbling stands. Rogers also stressed the need for public consultations and commented that it’s “fair to say no decisions have been taken” and “we have to do something because the stadium and the arena are crumbling.”

He also noted that the first phase of Lansdowne renovations were good for Glebe businesses. Menard, who noted that the north-side stands are structurally sound, countered that any changes should be publicly driven, that there should be full consultation with options, and these options should not be based on selling-off public property.

The need for affordable housing came up repeatedly, with all candidates committing to do more. Bromwich acknowledged that the problem is “incredibly hard,” and that the City needs to look at its social programs. Menard argued money should be reallocated to affordable housing from such things as developers’ subsidies and road widenings.

He also strongly opposed suburban sprawl, noting that its development is costly for taxpayers. This summer’s closure of Queen Elizabeth Drive was also a contentious issue. Menard commented that he was supportive of the pilot project but that there should be more consultation by the National Capital Commission and he raised the desirability of again having bike days on Colonel By Drive.

Rogers commented, “To close Queen Elizabeth Drive permanently would be a terrible mistake because Lansdowne has only two entrances.” Bromwich, who lives on Queen Elizabeth Drive, commented that it should be redesigned to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. And she noted that consideration of permanently closing QED should be assessed in terms of “what’s in the best interests of everybody.”

In the discussion on what candidates would do to support seniors, Rogers noted that the City needs to ensure seniors are not forced out of the community because of affordability issues. And he specifically raised the issue of new sidewalks built at 45 degrees “built for Toronto but not for here.” Menard agreed on this point and said he’d promoted the option of adding the driveway access slope at the curb, rather than part of the travelled sidewalk. Bromwich raised the issue of the affordability of City programs and highlighted “(i)t’s time not to spend recklessly.”

Another issue where the challengers opposed the incumbent’s position was the proposed location of the new Ottawa Hospital campus. Menard does not support the proposed location on the Experimental farm property, saying it should be at Tunney’s Pasture, the location originally recommended by the National Capital Commission. Bromwich said it wouldn’t be “wise to backtrack” but suggested more consultation was needed. Rogers commented that “to stop the plan now would be a mistake.”

Menard also took issue with the City proposing to make a large contribution to the new hospital, instead asserting that the Province should pay for all of it.

Moderator David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen columnist, concluded that Capital Ward was fortunate to have “three accomplished, thoughtful people who want to represent our community.” COVID considerations seemed to limit attendance at the Glebe Community Centre event, with only about 70 people in the audience. Usually, the hall is packed for all-candidate debates.

However, the debate is online, so voters can readily view and form their own opinions on the candidates and figure out for whom they want to cast their vote.

OOECA and other local community associations are also sponsoring a mayoral candidates debate scheduled for 7 p.m., Monday, October 17 at the Horticulture Building, Lansdowne Park.

Filed in: Front Page

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