Maria McRae in the News
In the early days of this new council, Councillor Maria McRae has dominated the news headlines from her pining of no wine at the swearing in ceremonies to her role in photogate to being named chair of the environment committee. And in the past couple of weeks, she’s made the news again with her plans to reduce regular garbage pickup to a bi-weekly service and her intentions to put up solar panels all over Ottawa in the name of the environment plus $5M revenue to the city.
But are all her initiatives worth the press they have garnered?
First, neither announcement has yet been debated at the environment committee. And if either or both pass the committee, they must then get approval from the council as a whole.
When the reduction in garbage service was announced, it drew the concern of some eastern ward councillors. It’s no wonder they got upset. There is no east end councillor on the environment committee and the way the announcement was made would make anyone question why is the city looking again at an idea it has floated by previous councils and been rejected. One rural councillor, Scott Moffatt, thoughtfully said he will try it himself for a few weeks to see how it affects his lifestyle.
Also, city staff is planning to spend $130,000 to survey Ottawa residents on their wishes relating to garbage service. First, how big is this budget slush fund that this department has $130,000 to spend on this survey (note to council: here is $130,000 you can cut in the 2011 budget) and second, why was this not done before the city signed at 20 year contract for the green bin service?
It may be the green bin contract that will coerce the city to adopt a bi-weekly regular garbage pickup but the amount of times sanitary personnel will visit your abode will not decrease; just what they take away each time will be modified. Will there really be any savings?
And the fanfare of the solar panels. Who says it’s a good deal? Because the city is getting $5M from another level of government at highly inflated prices over a 20 year period is a bad deal for everyone. CFRA’s Rob Snow has an excellent Op-ed on the subject. He rightly refers to this plan as a plan for suckers. I do not agree that $5M over twenty years is a good deal for the city. City employees will expense more than that in cell phone bills over the same time period and that’s “chump change” according to another fellow councillor.
I am not against smart solutions that are environment friendly but solutions adopted by the city should make sense for all the stakeholders involved. These programs should not be pushed through so politicians can point to a green program while taxpayers bleed money to pay for them.
So Councillor Maria McRae has been in the news a lot these past few weeks. She has brought a lot of attention to her new role as chair of the environment committee as well as other things. The other members of the committee still have to have their say on the plans. I suspect, not many of them, if any, even knew about either of these initiatives before they were announced.