The 66 Items on New Mayor’s To-Do List by Tim Wieclawski
One of the strengths of Jim Watson’s successful mayor campaign was how completely his city changing ideas had been thought through. These were not off-the-cuff, cocktail napkin ideas. They clearly had some research behind them before he released them. However, it is easy to make a bunch of suggestions when you’re not in office. It’s another thing to deliver on those promises. By my quick scan the policy statements on his website, Watson made 66 promises.
Watson was elected because people believed he was capable of building consensus around the council table to follow through on his promises. That’s not an easy task. It’s something that confounded Mayor Larry O’Brien.
Here is a list of promises Jim Watson made during his campaign. They have been collected from his website. Some of these promises, like completing the Downtown Transit Tunnel, cannot be accomplished in a single term. Some are very vague. Some maybe should be abandoned. Others have clear time lines or budget goals. Here they are in no particular order.
This is a list worth keeping to see what the score is in 2014.
1) Create a “Green Team” in the Planning Department that is knowledgeable and motivated to work efficiently on approvals for sustainable projects and materials. This team would focus both on homes and on commercial buildings, and act as a planning express line for those projects striving to achieve more in green building.
2) Work with the province to establish a bylaw to turn our roofs from asphalt eyesores to green gardens or efficient solar panels.
3) Work with builders and the province to set a higher efficiency standard for new construction of housing and commercial buildings that are encouraged will determine how much energy and other infrastructure residents consume now and in the future.
4) Re-organize the planning department so that people with different types of knowledge and expertise, ranging from commercial buildings to a home to major subdivisions are located and work together.
5) Stand up for the recently renewed Official Plan and stand by the Urban Boundary it entails.
6) Finishing the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel on time and on budget with a clear plan to engage the community and Infrastructure Ontario around a coherent deployment.
7) Make sure the city had the tools needed to benefit from the Green Energy Act and make the most of the green revenue opportunity. Make Ottawa the number one city in the province in green energy deployment within four years.
8 ) Expand recycling and diversion programs. Work with builders to reduce construction waste. Take a stronger hand with commercial waste generators to encourage more effort in the work place.
9) Do more to support and celebrate local food producers. “It has gotten too hard to deal with the city for farmers since amalgamation. And too little is being done to value local food and products.”
10) Prohibit a highway, with attendant on and off ramps, to despoil the Green Belt.
11) Dedicate a portion of each year’s budget surplus [Ed. He thinks there will be a surplus?] to an environmentally sensitive land reserve fund to purchase significant lands for protection.
12) Designate a staff person to reinstate and update the city’s cycle safety programs.
13) Ensure there is an annual cycling map that shows all of our city’s paths and dedicated bike lanes.
14) Expand on recent bait programs in theft hotspots. Work with the Police to implement more bait programs targeted and a blitz week for police to ticket cars and cyclists who endanger one another by driving irresponsible.
15) Advance the building and expansion of multi-purpose pathways in the cycling plan that can be undertaken immediately.
16) Increase the number of parking meters that are turned into bicycle parking to 40 per cent from the current 14 per cent.
17) Ensure that dedicated bike lanes are in place within the first year of the new council. * This one has a 1 year time limit.
18) Ensure that the first phase of the Cycling Plan is implemented on time by 2014 and accelerate the parts of Phase 2 that we can move forward on now.
19) Work with the FCM and local cycle advocates to create a Canadian Cycle friendly city designation and ensure that Ottawa is one of the first recipients of this award.
20) Put forward a realistic request for proposals for public rental bicycles that can attract bids.
21) Increase the use of bicycle storage units at select OC Transpo stations.
22) Immediately begin bringing together leaders from the tourism industry, the NCC, as well as the Province and Federal government to map out a plan to ensure Ottawa is in a position to welcome the country and the world on July 1, 2017 [Ed. That should include opening the transit tunnel.]
23) Develop “Canada House” in Ottawa, an interactive museum that would be “Canada’s treasure chest” of cultural accomplishments similar to Smithsonian Museum.
24) Attract more national and international events to Ottawa with a special emphasis in the years leading up to 2017.
25) Build upon and provide stable funding for festivals.
26) Pursue major sporting events like a Blue Jays pre-season game; the Grey Cup; the NHL Outdoor Winter Classic; the Briar and Tournament of Hearts; Skate Canada
27) Create a soccer equivalent of the Bell Cup
28) Ottawa Tourism in kind rent for the Tourism office, in a city facility.
Housing and Homelessness
29) Dedicate $5 million from the $23 million the city sill save on provincial uploading to fund an expanded rent supplement program.
30) Create a $5 million per year Opportunities Fund to be invested in a variety of needs from new construction and renovations to supportive housing.
31) Dedicate an $4 million, 1% of the city’s capital budget to boost efforts to fix and add to the low-income housing available in Ottawa.
32) Establish a Council of Business Improvement Areas.
33) Set clear standards for turnaround times on planning and permitting and institute a “we get it done or it’s free” rule.
34) Fees for recreational facilities, sport fields, rinks and community venues will be frozen for the next 4 years.
35) Create an arms-length Downtown Transit Tunnel Authority to oversee completion of the tunnel.
36) Create a transit commission that would be made up of a majority of councillors and a minority of citizen.
37) Institute a monitoring program on diesel buses to ensure better tuning in order to reduce harmful pollutants that arise when a diesel engine is not operating properly.
38) Look into alternative fuels to reduce dependence on diesel fuel and improve green house gas performance
39) Pass a by-law prohibiting all elected officials from sitting on corporate for-profit Boards of Directors.
40) Require the Mayor to put all financial assets in a blind trust and require that a trustee administer the Mayor’s finances.
41) Require all travel and hospitality expenses for all elected officials, their staff and senior management to be posted online every month.
42) Institute a lobbyist registry within the City Clerk’s office that is updated on a regular basis and available to the public online.
43) Institute a gift registry for all staff and elected officials and prohibit any gift or meal over a value of $200. All others under $200 would be added to the registry.
44) Adopt a council code of conduct.
45) Appoint on a Municipal Integrity Commissioner that has the power to suspend, or dock pay for infractions of city integrity guidelines, or code of conduct.
46) Institute a ban on all sole-source contracts by the City. [Ed. Lansdowne not included, I guess?]
47) Ban all promotional advertising in an election year by elected officials as of June 30. [Ed. I think that refers to material created using city office funds.]
48) Improve the city’s web site.
49) Cap the tax increase at 2.5 percent.
50) Freeze salaries of Mayor and Council for the term
51) Cut Mayor’s office budget by 10 percent
52) Freeze salaries for senior managers for two years
53) Implement an immediate hiring freeze until after the budget process sets out a restrained financial course, emergency services not included.
54) Cut the budget of the city for conventions, travel and hospitality by at least 20%
55) Implement twice annual budget variance updates that compare projected to actual spending levels for departments and major projects
56) Cut overtime and absenteeism by 10% through stronger management and leadership.
57) Reduce the size of municipal Council from today’s 23 members to between 14 and 17, while respecting the court rulings on rural wards. [Ed. This is a big one. He wants it to take place before the next election.]
58) Cut outside consultants by at least 10%
59) Require any new spending initiative to be accompanied by an equivalent and realistic cost reduction
60) Initiate a comprehensive capital budget review to ensure clear and prudent financial planning, post economic stimulus funding
61) Host a spending control town hall meeting prior to the passage of the 2011 budget. *This has a time limit of a couple of months.
62) Work with staff to better manage overtime. [Ed. Can we gauge overtime payments in 2010 versus 2014?]
63) Convening a quarterly meeting of the Audit Budget and Finance Committee to track progress on all Auditor General money-saving recommendations.
64) Make strategic capital investments in new technology to reduce travel and other administrative costs, such as video-conferencing between City of Ottawa facilities.
65) Ensure the plan is implemented and that all relevant concerns for the surrounding community and taxpayers as a whole are dealt with.
66) Host a city wide senior’s summit within one year if he is successful in the October 25 election. The summit would help the city better plan for a significant increase in the number of seniors living in the city.