January 4, 2010
A look back on the year that was
As we enter a new year, it is important we reflect on the triumphs and tribulations that occurred across our City and within our community over the past year.
The start of 2009 was, unfortunately, highlighted by the continuation of the OC Transpo strike - the longest strike in the City’s history. It was an event that rocked the residents of our City and Ottawa’s economic base to the core. While the City achieved its contractual targets through arbitration, the strike left an unimaginable imprint on our City, one which we are still feeling the affects of one year later.
Significant progress was made on several files - more than has ever been done - to ensure City-defining programs and initiatives move forward.
Once the crown jewel of Ottawa and the epicenter of entertainment, Lansdowne Park has deteriorated into, quite literally, rubble. The proposal put forth by a group of prominent Ottawa businessmen sets out to restore the CFL in Ottawa and revitalize this site as an economic engine for the downtown core. While there are still hurdles that must be overcome, the future is bright at Lansdowne Park.
Similarly, a recent pledge of $600 million by the Provincial government to support the first phase of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit plan was a Christmas gift like no other. With the Province stepping forward, the City can now turn to the Federal government to fund its portion, and the tracks can be laid for a rapid transit network in Ottawa.
While the Green Bin program suffered intense media scrutiny and some public backlash, I still believe in the merits of this program. In 2006, thousands of residents in our community stood in unison to speak out against the archaic process of landfilling. With the Province mandating that Ontario cities achieve a 60 per cent diversion rate. The implementation of the Green Bin program will help achieve this. The Green Bin program pulls the organic material out of the landfill, reducing the smell, and providing the Plasco facility with a dry stream of garbage, which is more advantageous to its operation. Further, the organic matter will be composted and used to fertilize City parks and sportsfields.
I still believe we can do more to improve our sustainability and our waste handling practices. Following the Waste to Energy Tour I attended, I made a series of recommendations to the City’s Planning and Environment Committee, which were ultimately approved by Council, that urging Ottawa and other communities in the National Capital Region to investigate the use of waste-to-energy, a staple technology in European nations. In an effort to mirror the European approach to urban development, I also recommended that the City and the developers behind the future Fernbank community explore state-of-the-art technologies and principles related to waste and sustainable development and how they can be applied to this future development.
Much like we endured tribulations at the City level, our Ward was no different. A summertime flood reeked havoc on hundreds of residents throughout the City’s west-end.
Staff’s preliminary indication was that the system was operationally successful but overwhelmed given the deluge of rain. While some remedial work has been undertaken, we are still awaiting a final report, which will be released shortly. It is evident that enhanced infrastructure is needed to not only meet capacity, but also handle unpredictable weather patterns.
There was much to celebrate in Stittsville, however, especially the infusion of infrastructure dollars into the community. The long-awaited and much-needed widening of Hazeldean Road was initiated in 2009 and the re-surfacing of Fringewood Drive was realized. Together, more than $65 million was invested into local infrastructure - the most the Stittsville community has ever seen. With the support of some staff members and our federal and provincial politicians, I pushed for the widening of Hazeldean Road to be included in the stimulus funding program as I considered it to be an absolute necessity. I thank everyone who had a hand in bringing this project to fruition.
We are also fortunate to have new two emergency service stations being located in our community. The City’s west division police station, a spectacular $22 million, 41,000 sq. ft. facility, was constructed on Huntmar Road, while a new composite fire station is being constructed on Iber Road.
A new fire station, complimenting an existing fire service, as well as a new police station is a tremendous benefit to the health and safety of our community. The presence and accessibility of emergency services in Stittsville is a comforting sight for residents.
After four years of little progress, Coyote Park finally came to be after a great deal of community involvement. I cannot thank the residents enough for their extreme patience and understanding. The park features are in place and a soccer field is taking root as well, which will greatly benefit area children.
I have always felt that it is important we take time to recognize those who improve our quality of life and make Stittsville a great place to live, work and play. The introduction of the Stittsville Appreciation Awards, which carries on a long-standing tradition started in the Goulbourn days, celebrates the contributions of community members. It is my hope that the awards will be even bigger in 2010.
In the spirit of retaining tradition, I submitted a request to have our ward name changed to reflect the rich and cherished history of Stittsville. The ward name will change from “Stittsville-Kanata West” to “Stittsville.” The 150-year history of Stittsville is something to be remembered and celebrated. As well, the name also clearly identifies political boundaries for new residents moving into developments such as Fairwinds and Jackson Trails - the new communities of Stittsville.
I am encouraged by the progress we have made over the past year and I look forward to the challenge ahead. One of the programs I am particularly excited about is “Youth Connexion.” Working with local schools and City Staff, Youth Connexion will organize social events and help students reach their 40 hours of community service by taking a leadership role in the community.
As well, Councillor Jan Harder and I have commenced work on reviewing the City’s development policies, which include everything from vegetation in new developments to the safety of sidewalks and reduced laneways. I will have more information on this file as the year progresses.
I would like to this opportunity to thank my office staff, Debra, Jessica, Kiel, Debbie and Michael for their support throughout the year. I would also like to thank the City Staff for their on-going efforts. Last but not least, I would like to thank you, the residents, for keeping me informed of your community and citywide concerns.
On a sad note, 2009 ended with the tragic loss of Ottawa Police Constable Eric Czapnik and four Canadian soldiers, Sgt. George Miok, 28, of Edmonton, Sgt. Kirk Taylor, 28, of Yarmouth, N.S., Cpl. Zachery McCormack, 21, of Edmonton, and Pte. Garrett Chidley, 21, of Langley, B.C., each of whom heroically defended their community and country. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.