Kelly: ‘Holiday season upon us’

The Councillor's Column

The following column was written by City of Ottawa Ward 5 Coun. Clarke Kelly, part of the councillor’s ongoing, bi-weekly column for West Carleton Online.

With the holiday season upon us, I feel the need to express just how thankful I am to everybody who has helped my team and I through this time of transition. As my wife and I prepare for our daughter’s first Christmas I also must pause to thank my family for their patience, support, and understanding over the past several months. A position on Council can require a large investment of time and anything I accomplish will be due to their willingness to support me and for that, I am forever grateful.

A head and shoulders photo of Clarke Kelly.
Ward 5 Coun. Clarke Kelly

The learning curve has been steep for our office. Many of us have never worked in Government before, but we are finally up and running. And aside from some IT glitches, we’ve managed to engage with many residents, helping to solve their various issues. My staff and I are trying our very best to respond appropriately with accurate information, and we appreciate the community’s patience and understanding. I am grateful for the residents who have also brought a lot of useful information forward to our team. This will strengthen our ability to bring the voice of rural residents to the Council table.
City Council met on December 7 and several topics were discussed but the Governance Report was the focus. It was a long meeting, filled with motions and a lot of procedural issues. Councillors were afforded the opportunity to make opening statements for this term of council. My opening statement, which you can watch on our YouTube channel here, focused on introducing Council to West Carleton – March, and highlighting some of the realities that we live with, that other Councillors may not have been aware of.

On December 14, Council met again, and I introduced and passed a motion directing City staff to report on options for hosting a Rural Summit during the 2022-2026 Term of Council. I am thrilled that I received support for this initiative from all 24 councillors as well as the Mayor. The previous Rural Summits established Advisory Groups, facilitated broadband internet access, made City contracts more accessible to rural companies, increased investments into rural road and ditch maintenance, and launched and updated the Rural Connections website to act as a “portal” for rural Ottawa residents.
I will work to engage the rural community of Ottawa to ensure that residents of West Carleton – March and all rural residents feel their voices have been heard. Stay tuned for more information on how residents can be involved with this important venue for rural issues.

This week, I also seconded a motion to address much of the convoluted language and nature of implementation of the Vacant Unit Tax. The motion directed staff to report back to Council about the successes and failures of the program within six months of the program’s start. This ensures that residents who own exempted properties are not being burdened by a tax that should not apply to them and that the declaration process is simple and easy.
Council also appointed members to their committee assignments for this term of Council. I have been selected as Vice-Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I’ve also been appointed to the Emergency Preparedness and Protective Services Committee, the Planning and Housing Committee, the Committee of Revision, and the Built Heritage Committee. I have also been selected for the Ottawa Community Lands Development Corporation Board and the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority.

Finally, I am honoured to have been selected as the City of Ottawa’s delegate to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association. I am very excited to roll up my sleeves and take an in-depth look at the issues in these portfolios and I hope to hear from residents if they have suggestions about Committee business. Through these appointments, I hope to be better positioned to maintain the rural character of our Ward, while arguing for a commitment to sustainable development in my committee roles.

In addition to these important aspects of being a Councillor, I have also enjoyed the holiday and community events I have been able to attend so far. Seeing our residents out and enjoying themselves in this festive season, after years of quieter-than-normal holidays, fills me with joy. In closing, this holiday, as you watch your Grinches grinning, your Griswold’s groaning, your favourite or least favourite family members entering your house, please remember to be safe and enjoy the spirit of the season, however you choose to.

In the New Year, we will all reconvene and continue the work of providing a future path that residents of West Carleton – March can look toward with hope.

Happy Holidays!
Ward 5 Coun. Clarke Kelly.

To read all Coun. Kelly’s columns published in West Carleton Online, click here.

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