Taxes, Fees Go Up. What About Salaries?

- September 19th, 2014

Mayor Jim Watson chats with reporters before announcing his tax platform during a lunch-hour speech at the Ottawa South Community Centre on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014.

When we talk about hikes to property taxes, water bills and user fees, we often think about our own salaries to see if they’re in line.

Mayor Jim Watson is promising to cap annual property tax increases at 2% if he’s re-elected. He suggested that user fees should be in the range of inflation, although he made no promise on the fees today.

When it comes to water and sewer rates, Watson (though he said he’d like to see them lower) didn’t sound like he was willing to make any changes to a plan already in motion.

Then there are the charges outside of City Hall jurisdiction. Other utilities. Food. Gas.

It adds up.

So what’s our salary forecast for 2015?

I found a handful of national projections, although nothing necessarily specific to the City of Ottawa. All suggest salaries are expected to increase more than 2.5%.

Maybe you’re one of those lucky ones.

Here are those studies or related articles:

Pal Benefits Inc.:

Hay Group:


Morneau Shepell:

Conference Board of Canada:

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

Some Candidates Want Ward Councils

- September 19th, 2014

There are some council candidates promising to create, or bring back, ward councils.

These have been used in the past to consult with community associations and, quite frankly, all residents on issues specifically related to the ward.

I don’t know of many of the 23 councillors who currently have a ward council beyond the current structure of community and business associations in their constituencies. (Looks like Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson has one, although I don’t know if they’re simply town hall meetings. There might be other councillors using ward councils, though).

I suspect the challenge with formalizing a ward council is managing expectations.

Are there votes taken at the ward council?

Would the councillor consider these votes binding?

Who gets to be a member of the ward council?

Is there a risk that a ward council becomes another layer of internal bureaucracy?

I think it could work either way, but key, I think, would be for the councillor to make sure the ward council understands its mandate. Is the ward council there just to provide feedback on city policy, or will it establish a position for the councillor to take to City Hall?

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

New Public Works GM Is Kevin Wylie

- September 16th, 2014

Kevin Wylie, the incoming public works GM, scrums with reporters after a committee meeting on Feb. 5, 2014.

This was actually announced internally in July, but today was the first time, I believe, Kevin Wylie has appeared in front of a council committee as the next general manager of public works.

The current GM is Larry O’Keefe and he’s retiring at the end of the year.

Readers might recognize Wylie’s name and face from the winter months. He’s been the road services manager since 2012 and, really, has been the face of the city’s snow clearing operations. Wylie is the guy who always knows how many plows and salters are on the roads, information which, for whatever reason, us in the press are obsessed with.

Deputy city manager Steve Kanellakos had this to say in an internal memo announcing Wylie’s appointment:

Over the course of his career, Kevin has demonstrated a strong commitment to employee engagement in support of excellent customer service. He is an exceptional team builder and project manager who is well respected by staff, colleagues, senior management and members of Council.

Wylie is shadowing O’Keefe and will officially become GM on Jan 1.

There’s lots to read up on. Public works covers roads, fleet, parking, buildings, forestry and traffic.

Here’s hoping Wylie’s first day as public works GM won’t be as crazy as O’Keefe’s was.

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

United Way Educates Candidates

- September 15th, 2014

The city’s United Way has sent all candidates running for council a document highlighting the main social issues and how City Hall could tackle the problems.

Lots of information here that’s useful for all residents, not just those running for office.

United Way Candidates Primer Sept 12 2014

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

Cycling Advocates Call For More Infrastructure

- September 14th, 2014

Hot off the press…

Citizens for Safe Cycling Launches 2014 Election Platform

“I Bike, I Vote” campaign calls for more spending on cycling, support “Vision

Ottawa (September 15, 2014) Today, Citizens for Safe Cycling (CfSC) launched it’s 2014 election platform, dubbed “I Bike, I Vote.” The platform outlines measures for the next term of council that CfSC believes will help make Ottawa the best cycling city in Canada.

“The ‘I Bike, I Vote’ campaign outlines measures that the next council can take to improve cycling in Ottawa, “ said CfSC municipal campaign coordinator Mike Powell. “Excellent cycling facilities are an important part of a liveable city. It’s important that cyclists of all ability levels feel comfortable riding in their own neighbourhoods. The steps outlined in this campaign help achieve that.”

“I Bike, I Vote” reflects the views of hundreds of cyclists that responded to a survey CfSC conducted over the summer. It calls for four simple, practical actions from the next council that will serve to improve cycling in Ottawa and help the city reach it’s cycling objectives.

These actions are:

1. Link spending on cycling infrastructure to ridership.
2. Support “Vision Zero”, a city free from cycling fatalities.
3. Collaboration. between the city, the NCC and the cycling community.
4. Complete projects that will complete the cycling network, making it easier for Ottawans to bike within their neighbourhood and elsewhere in the city.

“With a large number of open and heavily-contested council races, more than ever every vote will count,” continued Powell. “It is important for cyclists to take advantage of this and make their voice heard and ask candidates for council what they are going to do to improve cycling in this city. For aspiring councillors, it’s important to remember that cycling issues are a major vote determinant for electors.”

To help further inform voters, CfSC will be sending a questionnaire to all registered candidates, asking them their views on a number of important cycling issues. These results will then be posted to the CfSC website later in the municipal campaign.

The full CfSC I Bike, I Vote platform is available at .

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