Editor’s Comment: As the Ottawa Civic Election approaches October 22nd, 2018 the HUB will provide coverage from all Candidates seeking office who wish to publish a message to ward residents. Comments and opinions are those of the candidate for your information and consideration.
by David Brown, candidate for Rideau-Goulbourn Ward 21
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]On June 21st, the City of Ottawa topped up its coffers with the balance of the $1.596 billion dollars owed by local taxpayers on their final property tax bills.
In addition to property taxes, the City collects revenues from federal and provincial governments to help round out the $3.4 billion dollars in expenditures for 2018. All of this money pays for city services like garbage collection, road and infrastructure repairs, policing and emergency services, plus the myriad of other programs that Ottawa residents rely on. ‘But’ have Ottawa’s residents benefitted over the last eight years from tax hikes and service cuts? Local politicians haven’t been afraid to spend money over the last two terms of council – a testament to the 164% increase in the City’s net debt that now stands at over $2.2 billion dollars. Ottawa now spends twice as much to service its debt than it did eight years ago. This is a problem that Council has decided is best left to the next generation of taxpayers to pay for.
The garbage file has been one blunder after another. The failure of the Plasco deal, cutting weekly garbage collection in half, signing a sweetheart deal with Orgaworld costing taxpayers millions of dollars and now, increasing the cost of the Green Bin Program by $600,000 a year so plastic bags can be put in your green bin. The cherry on top is the Springhill Dump. All of this just adds to the humiliation that Council should be feeling as we continue to bury our garbage in 2018!
Council voted to spend a paltry 1.1% of its 2018 budget to resurface Ottawa’s roads knowing that 75% of the roads need to be repaired, according to a 2017 Staff report. However, Ottawa’s taxpayers shouldn’t despair because after years of hard work and lofty promises, Stage 1 of LRT is only behind schedule by 6 months. Council has no problem borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for Stage 1 of LRT and has now committed to doing the same for Stage 2. This is money that will have to be repaid with interest. Council’s priority appears to be focused on building an expensive new public transit system at the expense of Ottawa’s existing infrastructure.
In 2017 Council committed to eliminating the annual $70 million-dollar infrastructure funding gap over the next ten years. Infrastructure funding covers everything from community parks, arenas, emergency service facilities, libraries, roads, bridges and sidewalks.
Adding insult to injury, the Federal Government is giving Ottawa over $56 million dollars from the Federal Gas Tax Fund in 2018, which Council has decided to spend solely on public transit projects. This is money paid for by drivers who fill up at the gas pumps. However, not one dollar will be used to fix our crumbling roads. Councillors should be outraged that their residents who depend on using their vehicles to drive on our roads are subsidizing a service that the vast majority don’t use.
After eight years of tax increases, more than doubling the City’s debt, misplaced priorities, and a commitment to underfund vital services, it’s time for a revolution. As your councillor, I promise to provide respectful and prompt representation while listening to the concerns of our communities. Working together to fund vital city infrastructure projects that we depend on, respecting our tax dollars and fighting for the issues that are important to our residents – that is my promise.
David Brown is a candidate for Rideau-Goulbourn Ward 21 and you can learn more about his campaign at – https://www.electdavidbrown.ca/