Informing and engaging area residents


City Must Address Lack Of Basic Core Services In Village

By Rideau-Jock Councillor David Brown

Some may have read an article I recently wrote which appeared in the Ottawa Citizen. In it, I discussed the need for a program review to determine the value for money of the programs and services that the City currently is engaged in and the need to get back to basics. A program review can make sure that, with the limited resources available, our City is being responsible to the needs of residents and respectful of the resources of tax payers. 

The other side of this story though is the fact that, in communities throughout our Ward and other rural areas of the City, services are woefully inadequate. Our roads are falling apart; our villages are exploding with new residents as necessary infrastructure lags behind; snowplows come too infrequently to meet the needs of residents. These are but a few of the challenges that residents endure.

If we are to get back to these basic issues and improve service standards in rural areas, we must accept that the status quo is a problem. We must also accept that the best way forward won’t come to us out of thin air; we must engage in an effort to find problems and inefficiencies and tackle them fairly and responsibly. This is why a program review is necessary.

Some might express concern that a program review could worsen these issues, increasing the divide between urban and rural Ottawa and resulting in our communities further subsidizing the excesses of urban priorities while getting little in return. The concern, according to some, is that a program review will lead to further cuts to rural Ottawa’s already subpar services. However, I would argue that a program review is that it is likely to do the opposite.

Effectively, a program review is just an opportunity to assess what is and what is not working. It is in fact the best means to identify the gaps in service standards that rural Ottawa must endure. A program review would highlight just how short-changed rural Ottawa is and would help identify solutions.

Moreover, many of the kinds of programs that are most in need of review are those which we can describe as “nice to have.” In a time of inflation, budgetary pressure, municipal debt, infrastructure deficit, and other issues, is now the right time for the City to splurge on spending areas that are not absolutely necessary? A program review helps ensure that every dollar is spent as responsibly as possible on the things that matter most.

A program review is an acknowledgement that better is possible. It is not about cutting but rather finding the most efficient and effective way to spend scarce resources in service of over a million residents in the largest municipality in North America by land area.

For myself, I see this effort as a significant opportunity to make sure that money is directed toward those things that will make a difference in the lives of residents in each community of our Ward. I will work to ensure that rural priorities are represented, that the reasonableness of our communities’ interests are clearly understood around the Council table, and that the City embrace a ‘back to basics’ mentality that is sorely needed.

It is my hope that the City’s planned program review will be an opportunity to improve both the quality and kinds of services that are prioritized in our ward and elsewhere. I look forward to ensuring that we take advantage of this opportunity.