Since becoming a candidate in Somerset Ward I have had the opportunity to meet many people and groups who have asked questions on why I am running for municipal government, where I stand on the issues that are important to them and how I would handle certain situations. I am happy to share their questions and my answers with you in this blog.
Q: There’s been a lot of confusion around the development of the outdoor space at McNabb Community Centre, specifically the de facto dog park that was in the news this summer. I’ve spoken with other dog owners who use the park and everyone seems to have heard a different story from various city representatives about how it will be considered in the development of the area, from creating a properly designated dog park to disallowing dogs altogether.
As a neighbour of the community centre, the continued existence of useable outdoor space for dogs is a concern for me, and so I’m writing to ask if you have a position on this.
A: I believe it is important to have properly designed outdoor space for dogs in the different sections of the Ward. I would support a dog park at McNabb if that is the decision taken by the community centre and area residents.
Q: As I consider my options for who our next Councillor will be, there are three questions that I would like to pose to you (and thus save you a visit to my doorstep!), namely, what is your position on:
- LRT Expansion:
- Light Rail Transit (LRT) is a positive change in the way we will transit around our City and how it will enhance the City’s landscape especially in Somerset Ward. The LRT will replace city buses allowing us to redesign some of our Centretown streets; add additional bike lanes, widen our sidewalks, plant more trees, include more patios, more food trucks and overall make walking around the core safer, more fun and enjoyable for everyone. One and very crucial piece missing from Phase II of Ottawa’s LRT plan is a North/South link to our City’s international airport.
- As city councillor I will work with council and city staff to ensure our city offers residents and visitors to Ottawa a quick, economical and environmentally friendly transportation option between the Ottawa Airport, the City’s downtown and perhaps even over to Gatineau with the use of existing tracks over the Prince of Wales Bridge.
- I am a big fan of patios and think it is great for our local businesses and adds amazing life into our community (see also LRT expansion response). However, not at the expense of our pedestrians. Most patios are fine as they are, I’ve met up with friends on patios often in the past and will continue to do so. But there were a few, especially on Elgin, that did not leave much room on our sidewalks with bus stops, hydro poles and signage also narrowing the space. So yes to most patios as long as it makes sense and keeps people safe.
- When streets are being redeveloped, I support the burying of hydro lines and the removal of the hydro poles in order to alleviate sidewalks crowding.
- I find the concept behind Uber quite interesting and I don’t see an issue with looking into and even adopting new and innovative ways of doing things in Ottawa.
- If elected, it is something I will certainly look into. Always happy to keep an open mind on new ways of doing things. Otherwise, we will end up becoming the boring City everyone not living here thinks we are.
Q: UBER: Are you for or against it operating in Ottawa?
I believe it s time that the City starts looking at new and innovative ways to delivering services in Ottawa such as UBER Car Service. We must keep an open mind to new ways of doing things. Our current taxi system is antiquated, over regulated, inclusive and devoid of competition. Competition is always good for a city such as Ottawa in making sure its residents and visitors get the best service possible at very competitive prices.
I support the introduction of the UBER Car Services to Ottawa. It is time to show that our capital city can compete with all others.
Q: We would like to get to know your thoughts on this issue. Supervised injection and harm reduction services are important topics for voters in Somerset, and your position will help decide how supporters of our campaign will cast their ballots (Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites).
A: Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important issue. This is something that is close to my heart as I know a few people who are suffering from addiction.
Harm reduction programs are crucial for Ottawa. In 2009, when I first heard Ottawa was being considered for a supervised injection site I took the first opportunity I had to visit Vancouver and set up a tour of Insite (see photo on right). I was quite impressed with the whole operation and the different services being provided to those requiring its use.
However I am not convinced that the model used in Vancouver is what we need here in Ottawa. We need a model that will work for us here in the Capital. Something that will service the needs of all the communities across the city. As city councillor in Somerset Ward I would most certainly work with a number of groups such as yours to plan out exactly what that model should look like.
That said, my goal and what I believe sets me apart from the other candidates is to also focus on helping those dealing with addiction get long-term treatment. After my tour of Insite, the Executive Director at the time took me outside to meet a few of its clients. One person who introduced himself as Charlie told me that although the services provided to him at Insite were great, what he would really like are more quality long-term treatment centres that can be accessed quickly. He told me at the time that treatment centres were only available to him for about four to six weeks only. He said, “I’ve been doing drugs for 20 years, six weeks just isn’t going to cut it in my case”.
Currently addiction recovery programs reside within multiple organizations which make the recovery process difficult and cumbersome for many. Wait times between steps are often too long and lower the recovery success rate causing relapses to be more frequent and severe.
As city councillor I will work in partnership with the City’s current programs, private industry and other levels of government to establish more long-term treatment centres to be located across the city which will get people on a road to recovery quicker.
I hope that this gives you an idea of my position on the issue of addiction and supervised injection sites. Please feel free to contact me any time should you have additional questions or need clarification on my response. You will find that addiction and recovery has been part of my platform from the beginning.
Q: I’m curious to know Denis’ stance on the patio project on Elgin St and whether or not he will support keeping the patios and encourage more.
A: I do support patios. I believe they are great for our local businesses and adds amazing life into our community. However, not at the expense of our pedestrians. Most patios are fine as they are, I’ve met up with friends on patios often in the past and will continue to do so. But there were a few, especially on Elgin, that did not leave much room on our sidewalks with bus stops, hydro poles and signage also narrowing the space. So yes to most patios as long as it makes sense and keeps people safe. When streets are being redeveloped, I support the burying of hydro lines and the removal of the hydro poles in order to alleviate sidewalks crowding.
Q: What is Denis’ position on the construction of bicycle lanes on Laurier Avenue West? Did he support that initiative or would he support an alternative route or approach?
A: Yes I did support the Laurier Avenue West segregated bicycle lane pilot project. The city was looking at a few different location options including Somerset Street West but I believe Laurier was the better choice for a pilot project. From what I’ve heard and seen (I live just a few blocks from Laurier) the bicycle lanes are a great success with a large number of cyclists, skateboarders and inline skaters using them.
I do support additional bicycle lanes throughout the core in both the North/South and East/West directions. I am always very open to alternative approaches and would be happy to discuss further if you have any thoughts on the subject.
Q: What is his view on the current finances and fiscal management of this city? What would he like to see done differently in the management of the city’s finances?
A: On average I think that the City’s finances are in good shape and are well managed. However there is still waste that needs to be addressed. The City must better negotiate and manage contracts to ensure it gets what it pays for (i.e., bridges, Orgaworld, ). I was disappointed that the City got rid of the Cash in lieu of parking program before having something else in place. Important revenues that would have been very useful in Somerset have been lost. I would also like to see the city’s core keep a bit more of the revenues it generates.
I agree that the Mayor and/or someone else on council must be at the table when decisions are being made by the NCC that affects the City. Many of those decisions are taken without City input and ends up costing it a great deal more.
Q: Why municipal politics?
A: I have been involved in the community on many different levels for over 25 years and I am proud of the work I and so many others I’ve had the chance to work with have done. I have chosen municipal politics for a number of reasons:
- Municipal government is where I can make the most direct and positive impact within the community;
- There are no political parties so I am free to put forward new ideas, mine and/or those of the community, for debate and possible implementation and changes that benefit the community and ensure its sustainability;
- Provide a stronger voice for the citizens of Somerset Ward within City Council.