By David Brown, Rideau-Jock Ward Councillor
As the saying goes, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”
One of the many frustrations I often hear about from residents is the constant struggle to get the most basic requests approved by the City. These could be requests for a garbage can to be emptied at a local park, a ditch drainage issue in front of your home or on your street, speeding in your neighbourhood or a lack of transit access in our villages.
I share these frustrations as it ultimately is part of the larger reason I ran for public office- to ensure we get the services we are paying for.
When I ask City staff to assist with an issue, most of the time, they can help, but often, I hear about the lack of resources available to do more than the very basic of requests.
Given how much residents pay in taxes, it is reasonable to ask: why do services so often fail to meet residents’ reasonable expectations?
One challenge is the sheer size of the City. Ottawa is the largest municipality in North America with a landmass of more than 2 770 square kilometres. That is more land area than the country of Luxembourg. Our ward, at more than 700 square kilometres, is larger than the City of Toronto. This size strains Ottawa’s ability to deliver services.
Another issue is that, for many years, Ottawa has sought to do more than it historically has done. Debt has skyrocketed to more than 3.6 billion dollars due to major infrastructure works, such as the LRT, and the expanded role of the City by providing additional services. The interest on this debt, as well as the growth of Ottawa’s suburbs, further strain services.
With these challenges in mind, it is clear that Ottawa is not going to shrink. The city must instead take extra care to be efficient in how it delivers services. It must make priorities about what can and cannot be reasonably provided.
As the saying goes, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.” I believe the best service delivery model is always one where you focus on what you must do. As such, Ottawa must focus on the critical services that are most important to residents.
To that end and as we head into budget season, I’m pushing the City to focus on the core services we need to live our lives. I’m interested in hearing what is important to you, which services and programs you use and how I can help make them better. You can contact my office by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 613-580-2491.