Kelly: Winter carnivals and budget meetings

The Councillor's Column

As the community thaws out after a quick deep freeze and some unwelcome snow squalls, our office continues the business of helping to solve issues and representing the needs and wants of the people of West Carleton–March. These past weeks I have been involved in Committee and Council meetings, attempting to bring rural issues to the fore.

A column header for the councillor's column.The issues of road safety and maintenance, the transparency of city government, and the lack of rural access to certain city services are the most common issues we see raised at our office. I am working to ensure I hear all of the concerns and challenges and will bring these forward as we establish the term of council priorities over the next weeks and months.

It has been such a pleasure to see people out in the community enjoying the beauty of winter despite the cold snap. I would like to thank everybody who organized and made it out to the Fitzroy Winter Carnival. Lots of good food, fun events, and I was pleased to see the carnival get kicked off with a big win by the Country Boys of Fitzroy Harbour over the City Boys to take the annual Carnival Cup. Good times were had by all as we celebrated the season here, and at the Corkery Community Centre for their family skating event.

I enjoy so much of the work of representing West Carleton – March, but these events are always particularly special. I look forward to being involved in some hands of Euchre in Fitzroy Harbour this weekend and ask for the mercy of participants as I am sure there will be some experts in attendance. Connecting with the residents of this community is always a great opportunity for me to hear from you so please, do not be afraid of striking up a chat with me at these events. Getting honest feedback from you is the only way I can truly represent the people in this Ward.

That representation this week took the form of budget consultations and the passing of a motion. At the February 1 Council meeting, I kept an election promise when I pressed City Staff to present all information used to arrive at the decision for the City to purchase battery electric buses. While I applaud staff’s intention to address climate change and recognize the need to move away from fossil fuels, I was unimpressed with how the plan came together and was bothered by how the procurement process lacked transparency. I am committed to supporting real programs that create real, identifiable change.

Too often, when talking about the climate emergency, people provide solutions that sound terrific on their surface, but do little to address the actual problem. I am looking for solutions that can demonstrate how they contribute to the goals of the city in addressing climate change. Because of this, a motion that I sponsored was passed at Council on February 8 to attach a Municipal Support Resolution to a Battery Energy Storage System proposed on the southern border of Ward 5. With systems like these in place, we can help ensure our grid’s resilience to worsening weather and outage events, while removing our reliance on fossil fuels as a backup.

A photo of the councillor at a podium.
Coun. Kelly led a Ward 5 budget meeting earlier this week. Courtesy Coun. Kelly

On February 7, we held a budget consultation at our Ward office. The turnout was good, given our recent weather, with great information shared by city staff and residents. We had presentations about the 2023 budget and how decisions were reached; the Vacant Unit Tax; our roads; and Fire and Ambulance Services in the area. I need to thank City staff for participating in the event and allowing residents a chance to have their questions answered by those who have all the correct answers. For those who were unable to attend, the public consultation can now be viewed here on our YouTube channel.

Meetings like these will continue into the spring and summer as we receive feedback about our current budget, along with direction suggestions about our future budgets. Increasing consultation was a major part of my election platform as I hoped to bring the residents of West Carleton – March closer to the aspects of their municipality that they can influence and allow them the chance both to have their enquiries addressed and their voices heard. I hope, as these consultations continue, we will hear from more of you.

What we have heard from residents has been informative and, for the most part, positive. Major complaints we receive on an almost daily basis mostly involve road safety and repairs. I had a meeting with OPS Deputy Chief Steve Bell about road safety in our area and I am happy to announce that we have submitted our requests for temporary traffic calming measures and are looking forward to discussing with the city the results of these initiatives once they are implemented. We hope to be able to report a decline in calls about speeding and want it to be the result of less speeding, not simply less reports of speeding.

The state of our roads and the impact of poor weather on them was also discussed in our meeting. The cold weather we are seeing right now reduces traction on the roads, the blowing snow reduces visibility to near zero and in a rural ward, like ours, a traffic accident is eight times more likely to cost you your life than an accident in the City. We all need to slow down, take more care with how we travel the roads, and stay warm in this most difficult stretch of the winter.

I look forward to hearing from more residents and seeing many at our future budget consultations.

To read all Coun. Clarke Kelly’s columns, click here.

The preceding 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, made available to the entire community through an agreement with the publisher.

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