A good Watson versus a great Watson
I’ve always said that Jim Watson would be a good mayor, maybe even an above average mayor because of all of his political experience, but I still have doubts about him being a great mayor. I feel he is not thinking big enough to be the visionary that will qualify him as great mayor.
Why do I say this? Well, the most recent indicator is his rush to spend $400,000 to bring FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. It’s a good plan to bring a small world event to the city but outside the short term economic benefits, what are the lasting benefits for Ottawa? The answer is very little. It may give some legitimacy for the Lansdowne redevelopment plans but the revitalized Lansdowne is going to happen anyway. And no new money from other levels of government will be added to the mix to improve supporting infrastructure for these events.
Compare this to other Canadian cities that have bid and won world class, major events such as World Expo, Summer and Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games and even FIFA World Cup. Montreal was built on Expo 1967 and the Summer Olympics 1976. Much of their metro, their major roads, hotels, housing projects and even an airport was built for the city to support these events. And the benefits to the host city are lasting infrastructure that everyone, residents and visitors alike, enjoy to this day. The same can be said for Vancouver, Edmonton and all the host Canadian cities of big, world spectacles.
This is what I mean by thinking big. Imagine Ottawa hosting a World Expo. To pick up on former Mayor Larry O’Brien’s Ottawa Business Journal op-ed about the lost opportunity for Kanata, one can envision a completed entertainment centre in the heart of Kanata with high tech accommodation and connected to all of Ottawa, East, North and South, by a state-of-the-art transportation network. And this world class experience would set concrete deadlines by which projects must be completed.
So, if Mayor Watson wants to play in the minor leagues and feel good about accomplishments like bringing bring FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 to Ottawa, I’m not going to take away the credit he deserves for winning these projects. But in my opinion, it’s not quite the same as a FIFA World Cup soccer is it? That’s the difference between good and great.