Adam: Ottawa's urban-rural split isn't new, but it needs fixing just the same

By Mohamed Adam, Ottawa Citizen, July 25, 2019

One of the important side effects of the Château Laurier debate is the light it has shone on an age-old Ottawa problem: the disproportionate way in which suburban and rural councillors dictate development in the urban core.

The Citizen’s Kelly Egan hit the nail on the head in a column two weeks ago in the bitter aftermath of the château decision, and now Capital Coun. Shawn Menard is demanding the breakup of a planning committee that’s clearly stacked against urban residents and routinely votes against their interests. The 65-storey 900 Albert St. tower, Greystone Village in Old Ottawa East and the Salvation Army homeless shelter on main-street Vanier are examples of recent projects approved against the wishes of local residents and community plans.

(...)It is hard to believe, but in Ottawa, a planning committee whose work largely revolves around zoning and Official Plan changes involving urban intensification, has only one member from the core where most of the development is taking place. The voices of the representatives of the people most affected are basically shut out. It is as if they don’t exist. Part of the problem is that the mayor doesn’t count the urban councillors as allies, and therefore keeps them at bay. But it is not just the planning committee. Urban councillors also are also cut out of the powerful finance committee, which basically acts as the mayor’s cabinet. Think about it: Councillors representing thousands of urban residents are cut out of the city’s two most important committees, and it begs the question why?

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