Mayor said no in 2019 but city adds new ward

CITY HALL – Despite Mayor Jim Watson telling West Carleton Online in June 19 council was opposed to adding “more politicians,” that is exactly what city council did  on Wednesday, approving a plan that will had one addition ward to the city in time for the next municipal election.

 “The city will have one additional ward in the next municipal election in 2022,” city staff released in a statement Wednesday (Dec. 9) following the regular council meeting. “Council approved a new ward structure with 24 wards – 12 urban, nine suburban and three rural – that minimizes changes to existing boundaries.”

The long boundary review process got underway in June 2019. On June 7, West Carleton Online spoke to both Coun. Eli El-Chantiry and Mayor Jim Watson on the issue during the Mayor’s Rural Expo being held on the lawn of City Hall.

At the time Watson said there was no appetite among the public for more municipal politicians.

“I indicated, and the committee supported my recommendation, that we not add councillors because we don’t want this to be an exercise to add more politicians,” Mayor Watson told West Carleton Online more than a year and a half ago. “I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say please add more politicians. So, what we’re trying to do is rejig the balance where a ward like Barrhaven has 50 or 60,000 people and another ward might have 25 or 30,000.”

In the end, following months of consultant work and public engagement, council decided to add one more politician and one more ward.

No matter what one of the six options council chose following the ward boundary review, West Carleton was set to get a little bigger. West Carleton Online spoke to El-Chantiry about the changes last September (you can also see the six options that were on the table in this story).

For West Carleton Online’s extensive coverage on the ward boundary review process, click here.

Council briefs

In other news from Wednesday’s council meeting, the last of 2020, see here: 

To mitigate the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Lansdowne, council approved amending the partnership agreement with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. The amendments do not require any taxpayer funds and will restore the balance and alignment of risk in the partnership.

According to an audit of the financial partnership for Lansdowne, the city has processes to monitor and validate its financial results. The audit identified a need to increase the frequency of examination and analysis to reduce risks to the City and ensure that forecasted returns are accurately reported.

Council also received audits on the Stage 1 LRT contingency fund, management of city facilities, bylaw enforcement, and Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe and Shenkman Arts Centre.

Based on the mid-term governance review, council approved re-establishing the Debenture committee to improve the city’s access to financial markets and reduce debt-servicing costs. Other outcomes of the review include changing recruitment and hiring practices for resident appointments to advisory boards and taskforces, implementing a new performance review process for the city manager and auditor general, and adding optional sections in committee reports for climate, economic, and Indigenous, gender and equity implications.

Following Coun. Jenna Sudds’ resignation as chair of the Community and Protective Services committee, Council appointed Coun. Matthew Luloff to chair the committee. Sudds replaces Luloff as a deputy mayor.

Council delegated authority to the city clerk and the manager of council and committee services to hire staff and approve spending for College Ward for the rest of this term of council.

Council approved a motion to conduct an environmental assessment and design an interim multi-use pathway for the Prince of Wales Bridge. The city hopes to secure funding from other levels of government to create this additional active transportation link between Ottawa and Gatineau.

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