Brown Says Ward 21 Does Not Get a Good Return On the $9 Million We Pay on Policing
By David Brown, Rideau-Jock Councillor
Last year, during budget consultation, I had raised only two specific priorities with the Mayor and Senior Management in the Civil Service: getting the trucks out of Manotick and constructing a stop light at Perth and Shea in Richmond. My reason for this is that these are the most important priorities for the community and the ones which most require the cooperation of staff and senior leadership at the City to accomplish.
Unfortunately, these priorities were not funded in the 2023 budget. This was perhaps to be expected; generally, immediately after the election, Councillors are presented with what is effectively a completed budget. For this reason, I reiterated these two priorities as the most important items for the community in the 2024 budget.
I also highlighted several other priorities for the communities in our Ward.
First, on infrastructure and roads, I am pushing hard for these measures to be prioritized so that the list of outstanding projects is completed more quickly. From road resurfacing to gravel road upgrades and more, the only way to get these priorities dealt with more quickly is to tackle our infrastructure deficit generally. I have requested that other basic elements that related to the standard of care for our communities – including winter road maintenance, roadside wild parsnip spraying, and noxious weed control – be prioritized for funding.
On traffic issues, I am requesting additional funds for intersection control measures and an expedited study system to get these measures assessed and implemented more quickly. I asked the City’s senior leadership to consider a more rapid expansion of automated speed enforcement so that speeding in high-risk areas can be tackled more quickly, as well as more money for the Temporary Traffic Calming program to help get measures introduced in our communities to make our streets safer.
Speaking of safety, our ward pays over $9 million annually toward the Ottawa Police Service. Unfortunately, we do not get a similar return on that investment. As a result, I am advocating for alternative service models to be explored, models that can help save money to reinvest into hiring and equipping more frontline officers.
As I did last year, I came to the table with a wide range of ideas for the City to realize increased savings and to ensure that revenues are spent efficiently. These include reducing staff discretionary spending, piloting private service transit options in the rural areas of the City, freezing certain staff and department budgets in the City, adjusting the allocation of development charges, and much more.
The budget will be tabled at Council in early November, at which point everyone will have a chance to review and have their say on the issues that matter most. I will be looking closely to ensure that the 2024 budget respects your tax dollars, reflects our communities’ priorities, and focuses City on basic core programs and services.