Lansdowne Smoking Ban Riles One Person

- August 18th, 2014

You can’t smoke in city parks. Lansdowne Park included.

There’s a smoking ban at Lansdowne Park, just like at all the other municipal parks in Ottawa.

Will that deter people from visiting the redeveloped Lansdowne?

Yes. At least one person.

I received this email over the weekend from a reader disgusted that smoking isn’t allowed in the new urban park.

I read your articles in todays newspaper about the new Lansdowne Park with great interest until I got to reading some of the hi-lights.

” and oh!, by the way no smoking anywhere in Lansdowne Park”

What Moron came up with that bright idea? I don’t like it , but I can accept not smoking indoors or even in the outdoor stadium due to the close proximity of other people. But I cannot accept no smoking in the wide open spaces of an outdoor park.

How can any by-law justify such a ridiculous notion. Any smoke from a cigarette would instantly dissipate into the open air not harming anyone.

I have lived all my life in Ottawa. I pay taxes to this city, but have been basically told that I cannot visit the park.

I had planned to visit the park once all the construction had been finished, but now have no desire to ever visit the new park.

How can I possible enjoy wandering around the park, if I can’t enjoy a cigarette at the same time.

Oh! for the good old days when you could smoke everywhere, ie. in hospital rooms , in doctor’s waiting rooms, in movie theatres, in concert halls, in restaurants, on planes, trains, buses, etc.

I am very disappointed in this city. Please forward this e-mail to your contacts at city hall.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

All Quiet On Taxi Fare Increase

- August 14th, 2014

One issue that has died down over the summer is the cabbies’ call to increase fares by 7%.

“There’s not much happening on that issue yet,” taxi union president Amrik Singh told me today.

No meetings are being held with city staff and it didn’t sound like anything was scheduled. It’s hard to arrange meetings in the summer since staff are taking vacation. Singh himself just got back from being off.

I don’t think there would be much motivation at City Hall to mull a fare increase anyway. Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Mark Taylor, chairman of the committee that oversees taxi licences, have said 7% is a bit much.

Maybe it’s one of those issues that will pop up in the election campaign. But right now there’s not a lot of momentum.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Still Years Before Ottawa Hits 1 Million People

- August 8th, 2014

Coun. Allan Hubley (transportation vice-chairman), Coun. Peter Hume (planning chairman) and Mayor Jim Watson on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 unveiled new welcome signs recognizing the city’s walking and cycling honours.

Population estimates are often all over the map.

You see above the city is using the 900,000 figure, which was announced back in December 2009.

The 2011 census put the city’s population at 883,391.

And, the city’s count at the end of 2012 was 935,050.

(Not to mention another sign advertising 900,002 people)

Many consider Ottawa a million-people city, but it’s more like a million-people capital region when Gatineau and the surrounding areas are considered.

So, when will the City of Ottawa hit 1 million people?

The city’s official plan predicts the population will hit 1,031,000 by 2021, so give or take a couple years around then, we can celebrate the one millionth person.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Term-Limit Promises Still Popular

- August 7th, 2014

Here’s the first term-limit promise I’ve seen so far this election. Kanata North candidate Matt Muirhead vows to only stay for two terms if elected Oct. 27.

Two-term promises have been popular.

First-term councillors Mark Taylor, Tim Tierney and Stephen Blais made those promises in 2010.

Councillors Bob Monette and Steve Desroches, both in their second term, made those promises, too. Desroches isn’t running, but Monette is. Coun. Marianne Wilkinson, the incumbent in Kanata North, made a term commitment and she’s also been called out on it.

I don’t know how much voters care about term-limit promises, especially when they see how easily councillors can potentially break them.

Matt Muirhead 2 Terms Promise 2014

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Mayoral Challenger “Raising The Bar For Candidates”

- August 6th, 2014

From the desk of Darren W. Wood, mayoral candidate in the Oct. 27 city election.

In sum, if Wood wins and doesn’t get council during the first meeting of the term to 1) Return weekly trash pickup 2) Cancel the Orgaworld contract and 3) Ban closed-door meetings, he’ll quit right there and then.

Here’s Wood’s promise to us. Comment as you will.

Raising the Bar for Candidates:

I have decided that since most everyone is making the same promises this election cycle in Ottawa, there should be a way to determine who is serious about their platform and who is doing the traditional blowing of smoke up the voters butts.

In order to set myself apart and show the taxpayers of Ottawa that I am serious about implementing change, I have pledged on my twitter account to my followers and now openly to the media that I will see three promises carried out during my very first council meeting as Mayor of Ottawa. These issues have been expressed to me as being important when I talk to people on the street, in coffee shops and in grocery stores. These are the items I am told by the voters I have talk to so far, that they would like to see done, sooner rather than later.

1) Actually get Council to Restore Weekly Garbage Pick Up

2) Get Council to pass a motion instructing staff to get taxpayers out out of the Green Bin Contract

3) Pass a “Transparency Act” or get council to agree to the idea of staff putting together such an act making behind closed doors essentially illegal in city hall (with the the exception where any provincial or federal law dictacts certain items must be discussed behind closed doors – apparently there are some instances). The purpose of this act would be to give the voter more over sight into how city hall is spending their money and the ability to hold staff and Councillors alike accountable in real time and not just every fours years.

My guarantee to taxpayers….

If I fail to not only put these issues before council during our very first meeting, but also fail to get these three items to pass a council vote, then I will resign my seat as mayor.

Now I was told by a twitter follower that others, including former Mayor O’Brien had promised the same thing. So let me be perfectly clear there is no misunderstandings. I will not promise to resign at the end of the first term…. If I don’t carry out the three items listed above successfully at the very first council meeting, I will resign at the close of that meeting.

I think we have reached a point in Ottawa politics where it is time for politicians to offer a real guarantee to voters and not just ask them to take our word that we will keep our promises.

My opponents can call it grand standing, and some whiners will call it a publicity stunt, but what I call it is a guarantee. Something I would challenge any other candidate to do. Put your money (or your job in this case) where your mouth is. Give the people the things they are asking for most (and realistic requests at that) at your first official council meeting or leave your elected office.

I don’t expect any other candidates to follow my lead because I do not believe any of my competitors have the confidence in themselves or their platforms to get such a bold goal accomplished.

For those in the media stuck for an angle for this story, how about calling it what it really is, a candidate doing something that few before him have done, backing up his platforms to the people with more than empty campaign promises.

Darren W. Wood
Candidate for Mayor of Ottawa

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.