Community Voice: Kanata North Ward Votes

The Community Voice asked Kanata North candidates a series of questions, trying to shed light for readers on who the candidates are and their views on some issues. I am happy to share with you my responses to this survey below.

Do you support a tax cap in the next term of council similar to the two and two-and-half per cent ceilings of the past eight years?

At countless doors, Kanata North residents have expressed concerns about the increasing level of taxes and the decreasing level of services that the City provides to Kanata North residents. Affordability is a big issue for many Kanata North residents. As a mom of three daughters and an economist by study, I understand the demands of the increasing cost of living. I do believe that 2 percent or the rate of inflation is a good target but I believe the process is flawed. I think we need to take a much longer term look at our budgeting process and ensure that the process is inclusive and our communities are consulted. Councillors should have an active role in developing the budget.

 

Do you support introducing photo radar in school zones and other high traffic arterials?

Yes. I have heard from thousands of residents that speeding is a major concern. Safety of our children in school zones is critical. Photo radar is a simple and effective deterrent to speeding. It allows us to use technology to address a serious road safety problem, which frees up valuable police resources so they can focus on other traffic issues and public safety concerns. There is no substitute for strong police visibility in problem areas. However, the police can’t be everywhere, and research has shown that photo radar is an effective deterrent.

I also strongly believe in effective traffic calming measures and reduced speed limits in neighbourhoods and around our schools. Children often don’t have the awareness of vehicles needed to stay safe, and we have a responsibility to ensure we create a safe community for our children to play and learn.

 

The provincial government has signalled it will move to privatizing the sale of cannabis. This will become a zoning issue for municipalities. Where should the city allow these storefronts to operate?

Retail sales of cannabis in our City is a new complex policy issue for Ottawa that requires extensive community consultation. Until very recently this was not a topic of discussion at peoples’ doors. Residents have expressed concerns about location and the convenience of access to retail stores selling cannabis. Conversely, they have also expressed the desire for safe, regulated sources so that those who do use cannabis are not purchasing from criminal organizations and using cannabis possibly laced with other harmful substances.

This is unchartered territory and these aren’t easy decisions. The decision has been made to legalize cannabis, and the Province is moving forward to allow retail sales. I believe the City should be focused on consultation locally, and encouraging the Province to develop a responsible, balanced legislative framework ensuring planning, zoning, safety and increased funding for enforcement are all critical considerations. The safety of our community, our kids and families is too important to rush and get this wrong. At a minimum, storefronts should not be allowed in close proximity to primary and secondary schools.

 

How will you deliver Stage 3 LRT to Kanata North and Stittsville recognizing the competing interests across the City?

The LRT project is the most significant transportation initiative Ottawa has ever undertaken. I have worked tirelessly to secure LRT to Kanata since 2013. I have participated in every single consultation in the last five years, and have worked with our current MP, Mayor, and Councillor to ensure Kanata is included in this project. As the inaugural President for the Kanata North Business Association I was asked by the City to help bring major employers to the business consultations organized for LRT, which I did. I also worked to engage almost 40 of Kanata North Technology CEO’s to sign a letter that I sent to the Mayor in April 2016, asking that Kanata be included at Stage 2.

Since that time we have an environmental assessment and route approved by City Council and now we need funding. This will only be achieved by working diligently with City staff, key stakeholders and with our MP and MPP, both of whom I have solid working relationships with. I will advocate for Kanata North at every opportunity to secure the funding needed to move forward with LRT to Kanata in acceptable timelines.

 

Transit service in Kanata and Stittsville has long been criticized as ineffective - what is your plan to address this and how will you pay for it?

The current OC Transpo bus routes serving Kanata North cause daily frustrations for thousands and desperately need to be improved. I will immediately seek residents’ input into a review process for our bus services and work with OC Transpo to review and re-create a system that provides the value we deserve. I will also create a Kanata North Transit Committee for ongoing review and feedback, to ensure that the bus system is serving our area in the best possible way.

 

Should the city reduce the size of city council in time for the 2022 municipal election?

This is not an issue that residents are expressing any concern over. In general, I think that the current system ensures that residents are well represented and that Councillors are able to work closely with their community. I am open to evidence that suggests otherwise.