Where mayoral candidates stand on policing and transit
The heat turned up in the municipal election as one candidate accused another of misleading the public. We dig into the full story.
Well, September is here, and with it comes campaign silly season. Now that the conventional wisdom says that the public is done with summer holidays, and is plugging back into real life, expect municipal candidates to really turn things up. We’ve got you covered with our first big election story.
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And a quick bit of housekeeping: Monday is a holiday so there will be no newsletter. Fear not, we’ll be back Tuesday with a new Capital Eats (subscribe to get it!), and Wednesday with the Lookout.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Friday: 27 🌡️ 12 | ⛅
Saturday: 30 🌡️ 11 | 🌦
Sunday: 20 🌡️ 9 | 🌦
Monday: 22 🌡️ 12 | ☀
Fighting over transit, promising more police funding
Free transit? The race for mayor took an early negative turn this week, as Mark Sutcliffe accused Catherine McKenney of “misleading” the public.
What Sutcliffe said: He accused his opponent of secretly wanting to remove transit fares for all users. The mayoral candidate said McKenney’s support for the idea of free transit means they will implement it if elected.
- “Why would Catherine McKenney support a million dollar study for something they now say they do not support? Why are they now misleading Ottawa residents about where they stand on ‘free’ public transit?” a statement on his website said.
Background: The study Sutcliffe referred to was proposed by city staff, which they said was estimated to cost between $700,000 and $900,000. It would have been an in-depth study into a variety of funding ratios for the transit system, what the costs would be to different parts of the city, and what it would mean for overall transit affordability.
- The study would cost money because city staff said they could not do such a study themselves.
McKenney’s response: “Ottawa must work towards fare-free transit, but it won’t happen for everyone overnight. Progress is desperately needed because we have some of the highest transit fares in the country. Yet our buses don’t show up on time, and backroom LRT deals have given us broken trains,” they said on Twitter.
- McKenney promised details on how transit could be made affordable in fares and property taxes in their transit platform, which they said will be available soon.
Current funding: OC Transpo is facing serious budget issues as ridership continues to lag far below pre-pandemic levels.Ridership levels are nowhere close to the optimistic projections in the most recent budget.
- Fares are supposed to cover 55 percent of its operating budget.Currently it’s only about 45 percent. The system is also facing a driver shortage, resulting in the cancellation of sometimes dozens of bus trips per day.
We sent several questions to the Sutcliffe campaign on Wednesday hoping to get some clarity on how he would make transit better and more reliable, and what funding model he might use. We received no response before we published today’s story.
Police issues take centre stage
Bigger police budget: Sutcliffe announced yesterday he would increase the police budget and add a station in the ByWard Market if he became mayor, CTV reported. He told the broadcaster, “I’m not going to cut police services when people are worried about crime and safety. … The police budget needs to grow, not shrink.”
- He said the money for police had dropped as a percentage of the city’s total budget.
Yes, but: While the police budget was less than the force asked for, it still rose by two percent. The police budget has stayed fairly stable over time, according to our research. (Past budgets are difficult to find, the city’s website is a graveyard of broken links, hence the jump from 2006 to 2020.)
No chief until after the election: Catherine McKenney sent a letter to the Police Services Board, requesting they delay the hiring of a permanent police chief until after the election.
They also indirectly responded to Sutcliffe’s proposal: “When the convoy seized our city for weeks, it revealed flaws in our police force’s ability to keep us safe. … When the City of Ottawa invests hundreds of millions per year in any area, citizens want to see clear evidence that those funds are being spent sensibly.”
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Other election news
Establishment lines up behind Sutcliffe: Last week, the Sutcliffe campaign announced a series of endorsements, dubbed honorary co-chairs. The list includes four former mayors, current and former city councillors, retired senators, current and former MPPs and MPs, lobbyists, charity leaders, activists, and local business owners and executives.
Chiarelli accuses Sutcliffe of dirty tricks: Former mayor and current candidate Bob Chiarelli accused the Sutcliffe campaign of spreading rumours Chiarelli was going to drop out of the race before the deadline. “It was a strategy of the Sutcliffe campaign to tell people that I was going to withdraw before the deadline. …They tried to blunt our fundraising, and it was a dirty trick,” Chiarelli told CTV. Sutcliffe responded: “I have no idea what Bob is talking about. … I just think it’s time for change.” [CTV]
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
- $332,000: The amount raised by the Friends of Palliative Care Golf Tournament in Brockville. [CTV]
- $1,800: The daily amount an Ottawa woman was threatened with being charged if she didn’t accept a long-term care bed in a home she didn’t want to go to. [Ottawa Citizen]
- 189.1: The amount, in millimetres, of rain that fell last month, the wettest August since 1893. [Ottawa Citizen]
What’s open, what’s closed on the holiday Monday
What’s closed: Most city services are closed on Monday, the city said on its website. Here are some important ones to make note of:
- There will be no curbside garbage or recycling pickup, which will be delayed one day all week;
- Wading pools are now closed for the season;
- Most Ottawa Public Health services are closed;
- Libraries are closed;
- Municipal child care facilities are closed;
- Malls are closed.
CBC put together a comprehensive list: What's open and closed in Ottawa Labour Day Monday [CBC]
Kemptville ER closes as COVID restrictions lifted further
Kemptville ER closed at night: Until next week, the Kemptville District Hospital will be closed from 7 pm to 7 am until at least Sept. 5. Fatigue, burnout, COVID-related absences and vacations are the cause, the hospital’s CEO said, according to CTV.
More boosters: Children aged five to 11 are now eligible for a booster dose. The federal government announced yesterday a new booster targeted at the Omicron variant was approved by Health Canada, CTV reported. Initial doses will arrive next week for the most vulnerable. Details on when it will be available widely in the province will be announced at a later date, CityNews reported.
STORIES YOU MIGHT’VE MISSED
Hydro back after eight years: More than eight years after his hydro was turned off while he was hospitalized by a heart attack, Bernard Steele has it back on. He told CTV that Hydro Ottawa wouldn’t turn it back on because their system said his apartment did not exist in their database. It wasn’t until the broadcaster got in touch that they turned it back on. Steele got by these last years with solar panels and batteries and the kindness of his neighbours. [CTV]
ATV deaths up: In eastern Ontario there has been an upsurge of fatal ATV crashes. At this point last year, there was only one death, this year there have been six. In all of 2021 there were four deaths. [CTV]
Tornadoes: A storm that blew through Wednesday included tornadoes. Several possible funnel clouds were spotted, and a tornado warning was issued for a large part of the region southwest of the city. Researchers confirmed a weak tornado touched down near Franktown. Some lost power on Wednesday, but by Thursday it had been restored. [CTV]
Recall warning: Ottawa Public Health is warning people to check if they have any Mr. Right brand Keampferia Glanga Powder or Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii Powder. The two products are thought to be the source of potential aconite poisoning in Markham, Ont. Any of the Mr. Right products with codes AT119 or AT154 should be thrown away.
LONG WEEKEND GUIDE
Light shows, hot air balloons, and impressionist art
Gatineau Hot-Air Balloon Festival | Now until Monday | Parc de la Baie, Gatineau | Daily passes $17.99 to $34.99 | Food, music, a midway, and of course hot-air balloon rides the 35th edition of the hot-air balloon festival has it all.
Northern Lights | Until Monday | 9 pm | Parliament Hill | Free | The last weekend of the Parliament light show. Catch the show before the season ends.
Imagine Monet the Immersive Exhibition | Now until Sunday | EY Centre. 4899 Uplands Drive | Last chance to see the immersive experience featuring over 200 works from Impressionist master Claude Monet.*
City Sounds | Saturday | 9:30 am to 11 am (Cumberland) 2 pm to 5 pm (Orléans) | 1115 Dunning Rd. Cumberland, and the Orléans Public Library | Free | The last free outdoor concerts as part of the city’s series. Featuring Janie Renée, Amy-Lynn Howson, Sophie D’Orléans, Bobby Parent, and Sabaya at two locations.
60th Anniversary Fireworks | Sunday | 6:30 pm | Rideau Carleton Raceway | Racing begins at 6:30 pm, then after 9:30 pm fireworks will start. There’s free parking and a family entrance on the south of the building.
- Bystanders saved a man’s life at Bruce Pit by giving him CPR after he had a heart attack. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Take a trip down Bank Street south of Riverside for a world of fantastic flavours.
- If you see him driving by in his 1950 wood-panelled Woodies, wave hello to Sam Kucey, and maybe give him the thumbs-up. [CTV]
- Want to try some new beer? Our food editor Ralf reviewed the Gatineau Beer Festival and he has some recommendations of new ones to try.
- The key to Athletico Ottawa’s success this season has been a strong defence. [Ottawa Citizen]
Okay, so it seems we might have made this week’s GeoGuesser a bit too easy because a lot of you got it right! Apologies if we miss anyone’s name here, but congrats to: Jen, Michèle, Richard, Brigitte, Lorna, Elaine, Sylvia, Andre, Anne, Sheila, Françoise, Ross, Claudette, Sandra, M.J., Cynthia, Tina, Jan, and Peter who all correctly said this week’s GeoGuesser was of one of the Minto Bridges across the Rideau River.
Part marks to Rosie, Helen, André, Beverly, Alyson, Joel, Angélica, Richard, who guessed it was the Union Street Bridge, which is partially correct because the Minto Bridges do connect to Union. And part marks to Christine who correctly guessed the river.
Now, how about you try your hand at this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.
LATEST COVID STATS
Note: Ottawa Public Health is now only updating COVID stats twice a week, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. Because of the Lookout’s publishing schedule, this means the numbers here may be out of date.
- Active Cases: 635
- Total deaths: 873
- Ottawans In Hospital: 29
- Ottawans In ICU: 1
- Acute Beds Occupied: 96%
- ICU Beds Occupied: 72%
- ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 36%
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