By Jeff Morris
MUNSTER — Ottawa Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt hosted the first of four scheduled town hall meetings Mon., April 26.
“In previous years I have hosted town halls like this mid-term,” Moffatt said. “I did one in 2019 in Munster. Normally I would have held town hall meetings in the fall of 2020, but clearly there wasn’t an opportunity for me.”
The town hall meeting, held by Zoom, tackled issues in the Village of Munster. Moffatt said it was the only one scheduled for that format. The meetings for Manotick (May 6), North Gower (May 10) and Richmond (May 18) will be held in a webinar format.
While Moffatt gave a rundown of his responsibilities as ward councillor, one of the first issues he discussed was the naming of the Rideau-Goulbourn ward. Goulbourn Township was originally named after Henry Goulburn, the Undersecretary of State for War and the Colonies from 1812-26. Goulburn never visited Upper Canada. He was also the owner of a sugar plantation in Jamaica that was noted for cruel treatment of the slaves who worked there.
“We have had community input,” Moffatt said. “The story of Henry Goulburn was something I was not aware of previously.”
Moffatt said the Goulbourn Museum has discussed the issue at length and has held seminars on the history of the name as well.
“You can’t change the past, and you can’t change history,” Moffatt said. “The reality is that Goulbourn Township existed, and that’s a history that many of us are proud of.”
Goulbourn Township existed from 1818 through 2000, and then became part of the City of Ottawa after amalgamation.
“The name of the ward is mainly what I’m referring to and not anything else,” Moffatt said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly insignificant. Most people don’t say they live in Rideau-Goulbourn. It’s just a ward name for electoral purposes. There are no ‘Welcome to Rideau-Goulbourn’ signs in the ward.”
Moffatt added that the name is used only to refer to Ward 21. He says it is time to move on to something new.
“It shouldn’t be something that refers to a past that is less than honourable,” he said.
During the meeting, Moffatt was asked about the OC Transpo 283 bus that serves Munster and Richmond.
“We fund rural transit from the rural transit rates,” explained Moffatt. “North Gower doesn’t get transit because they don’t pay into transit, but Carp, and Richmond, and Manotick, and Navan all pay into a rural transit rate, which funds rural transit.”
Moffatt said it was determined by OC Transpo staff that there was enough space within that budget to offer more service.
“You wouldn’t see a significant impact on your taxes from that change, but it does get funded from that rural transit piece” Moffatt said. “It’s enough to add that fifth bus and then to extend two of the buses to begin and finish in Munster rather than where they currently finish in Richmond.”
Moffatt was also asked about the city’s commitment to the environment and climate change, which included the usage of road salt in Ottawa’s rural area. He was also asked about growth in rural Ottawa.
Other topics of discussion was the speed limit in Munster, particularly on Bleeks Road and Munster Road, as well as the future of Munster Elementary School. Moffatt said he was unaware of any plans for the vacant school, which is still owned by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
Overall, Moffatt was pleased with the meeting.
“We had a good turnout, more than usually turn out when we do the meetings in person,” Moffatt said. “We even had hecklers that we had to kick out, which I’ve never had to do in Munster before!”