Ottawa municipal mayoral election guide
Our Ottawa municipal mayoral election guide breaks down all the stories we've covered or the electon, to help you make sense of it all
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 19, 2022
Official Plan direction, and building 10,000 homes per year
Hold off on the Official Plan: Mayoral candidate Bob Chiarelli wants the province to wait on approving the city’s Official Plan and hand it back to the next council, CTV reported.
Background: Chiarelli wrote to the province last week, and said because the province had yet to give its okay to the plan, it only made sense to give it back to the new council.
Tewin development: He also wants the province to remove the controversial Tewin development from the Official Plan. He told CBC the decision to build an entirely new suburb well outside the current urban boundary was a mistake and council should have gone with the original plan in Kanata North/West Carleton.
The province is still deciding whether to approve the Plan, passed last year by city council. Chiarelli, himself a former provincial housing minister, said it was within Ontario’s powers to reject a part of the plan, and approve the rest.
To properly service the proposed development, the city would have to extend services like water and sewer pipes more than 20 kilometres, CBC reported.
Other candidates’ reaction:
Catherine McKenney said they supported the idea of removing Tewin from the Plan, and told CTV it would cost citizens $465 per person, per year forever.
Mark Sutcliffe told CTV he did not want to re-litigate council battles of the past and said Tewin must be built to meet 15-minute smart growth standards.
Sutcliffe announces plan to build more homes
The plan: Mark Sutcliffe is promising to build 10,000 homes per year, including 1,000 affordable units, if he’s elected mayor. He told CBC he would build 100,000 homes over 10 years.
Key to plan: Central to his plan to increase construction is the waiving of development charges to developers if at least 20 percent of the new units are affordable.
Breaking it down: Development charges money is paid for the construction of new city infrastructure to new developments, things like pipes, transit and community centres, according to CBC.
The details: Sutcliffe did not outline the threshold for a unit to qualify as affordable, and allow for the waiving of these fees, or what waiving the fees might cost. He said his full fiscal plan will be out later in the campaign.
You can read the full details on Sutcliffe’s plan here.
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 16, 2022
McKenney announces plan to end homelessness
Ending homelessness: Catherine McKenney promised to end homelessness in the city in their first four years. There are about 500 homeless individuals in the city, according to the campaign.
Their plan: To get them into homes, McKenney would build supportive housing for 250 people, and give housing allowances to the remaining 250 people.
McKenney would increase spending on homelessness to $30 million, CBC reported. It would be double the amount the city currently spends on homelessness. While adding new spending of $20 million, the city would also save $5 million by no longer paying for motels, which can cost up to $3,000 per month, well above average rents in the city.
For more on McKenney’s plan, see their website.
McKenney said they would be open to removing R1 zoning, which forbids multi-unit housing to be built in certain neighbourhoods, CBC reported. McKenney told reporters their earlier vote against expanding the city’s urban boundary was because expanding the boundary costs taxpayers money and is environmentally damaging.
Sutcliffe said his housing policy would be released soon.
Sutcliffe campaign updates
Official campaign launch: Mark Sutcliffe officially kicked of his campaign Wednesday night with a speech extolling the virtues of unity. “We’re not going to solve the challenges of tomorrow by continuing the divisive tactics that we’re seeing more and more often in politics. Instead of working against each other, we should be working together,” Sutcliffe said. You can read the whole speech here.
Calls fundraiser criticism ‘smear’: Sutcliffe said it was “bogus” to call events where people had to pay large donations to have access to the mayoral candidate cash-for-access events. “I am meeting with people all over the community constantly throughout this campaign. Anybody who wants to meet with me, I’m happy to talk to them,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. Two more fundraisers are listed online for the coming week, one which would cost $600 to $1,200 to attend, and another $1,200.
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 16, 2022
New election poll results show McKenney in the lead, housing top issue
New poll lands: Catherine McKenney is the preferred candidate of 34 percent of Ottawa voters, a new poll conducted for iPolitics by Mainstreet Research suggests. Sutcliffe has the support of 20 percent of voters, and Bob Chiarelli has the support of 11 percent.
Only the second major poll of the campaign so far, it suggests 20 percent of Ottawa voters are still undecided.
Top concerns this election:
Creating affordable housing, 31 percent
Improving transit, 24 percent
Decreasing taxes, 16 percent
Increasing/improving services, 15 percent
Roads/infrastructure, 15 percent
Housing: According to the Mainstreet poll, 48 percent of Ottawa voters feel there is too little housing being built, compared to 37 percent who think there’s just enough. The remaining 16 percent said there was too much housing being built.
Not in my neighbourhood: Interestingly, 71 percent of people said there were enough homes being built in their neighbourhood, compared to 29 percent who said more should be built in theirs.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 13, 2022
Fundraisers, housing and a campaign launch
Sutcliffe hosts big money fundraiser: Mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe held a $1,200 per person fundraiser over the weekend. The ticket price counted as a donation to the campaign, the event site said, and $1,200 is the legal donation limit.
In his pre-politics life, Sutcliffe looked down upon events when corporate money was involved at the provincial level.
What Sutfliffe said: “The potential conflicts of interest at some of these events – ministers raising money from the very companies that their departments regulate or do business with – are far too many to list here. But it’s as simple as this: how could any business justify $7,500 for a meal if it didn’t think it was getting a lot more than food?” he wrote for the Ottawa Citizen in 2016.
Sutcliffe said it’s time to rename the SJAM: Pointing to another op-ed he wrote for the Citizen, Sutcliffe said the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway should be renamed. “Sir John A. Macdonald may have demonstrated vision and foresight in many aspects of the founding of our country, but on the treatment of Indigenous people, he clearly failed the test,” he wrote last year.
McKenney to announce housing plans: Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney will announce their plan to address housing affordability and homelessness this afternoon. McKenney will make the announcement in Barrhaven, their campaign said in an email.
Sutcliffe to officially launch campaign: The campaign may be well underway, but the Sutcliffe campaign will officially kick off this evening at the St. Elias Centre near Mooney’s Bay. The campaign said there will be parking, but encouraged people to use transit. Sutcliffe will give a speech and launch a new campaign video.
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 9, 2022
McKenney promises bike lanes, Sutcliffe emphasizes roads
What happened: The major mayoral campaigns put out duelling transportation infrastructure announcements this week.
First, Catherine McKenney promised to build 25 years worth of cycling lanes and paths across the city in just four years. They said the $250-million promise would be paid for by issuing green bonds, instead of coming out of general tax revenue.
The McKenney campaign said in a statement front-loading the construction of so much bike infrastructure would save the city money in the long-term by avoiding construction cost escalations. It would also reduce wear and tear on the city’s roads.
Sutcliffe responds: Mark Sutcliffe put out a statement that said the proposal to build so much bike infrastructure would “prioritize bicycles over cars.” He instead proposed $100 million over four years to improve and repair the city’s roads, bike lanes, and pathways.
Sutcliffe said the city’s roads are in terrible shape, and called McKenney’s plan irresponsible. He said the city needed his balanced approach to respect all infrastructure users.
Chiarelli says no to new roads: Bob Chiarelli said he would cancel all new road projects, and instead use the money to repair existing infrastructure. Included in that he would cancel the Alta Vista Expressway (and absurd plan to build a new highway through parkland to connect the 417 to Walkley Road) and the twinning of the Airport Parkway. He would also divert red light and speed camera fines to road repair.
“It makes no sense to prioritize new road infrastructure when we are investing billions in LRT,” Chiarelli said.
The numbers: The city is spending $112 million to widen 3.3 kilometres of Strandherd Drive in Barrhaven. The 2022 budget had about $11 million for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades, and $88 million for road repairs. The city budgeted $62 million for other road construction and widening projects.
Election stories you might have missed
Transit, housing top issues: A new survey by the Broadbent Institute shows Ottawa voters ranked housing affordability, transit reliability, and accountability at city hall as their top three issues this election.
69 percent of respondents said they supported increased density and the inclusion of affordable housing in new developments.
68 percent said the LRT should be brought under control of the city
65 percent supported expanding transit in the city’s suburbs.
Vote by mail: For the first time, every voter in the city can cast their ballot by mail. The deadline to sign up for a mail-in ballot is Sept. 16 at 4:30 pm. You can find more information and apply for one here. [Ottawa Citizen]
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 7, 2022
McKenney promises transit fare freeze, 20% increase to funding
What happened: Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney promised to increase OC Transpo funding 20 percent over the next four years and freeze fares if they’re elected. McKenney would also make transit free for anyone 17 or younger.
They also promised to bring maintenance for the troubled LRT under city control, if Rideau Transit Group is found in default of its service contract. The city is currently suing the private company for not providing adequate service.
McKenney also promised to:
Make Equipass more widely available to low-income residents;
Speed up the electrification of the bus system;
Conduct a review of the system within the first 100 days to pinpoint areas to improve service;
Increase the accessibility surcharge by $0.20 per ride for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to better fund ParaTranspo.
How to pay for it: McKenney said they would reallocate funding from elsewhere in the city budget. In an email to the Lookout, McKenney expanded on where the money would be found:
“The City of Ottawa has a $4-billion budget. Experts in city budgeting, like myself, know how the city finances work and can easily find flexibility for a $35-million expense. Like in 2019 when the city was able to switch directions and pledge $15 million for affordable housing.”
McKenney said their full plan for paying for their promises will be available before anyone votes.
Election stories you might have missed
McKenney, Chiarelli promise fair wage contracts: The two candidates said they would build into all city contracts the requirement that contractors and subcontractors pay their workers a “fair wage.” McKenney said a fair wage would be tied to the cost of living, and enforced by city staff when issuing contracts. Chiarelli said he would model his policy on the cities of Toronto and Hamilton. [CTV]
Sutcliffe promises more police funding: Mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe promised to increase police funding and hire 100 more personnel. Sutcliffe would renegotiate the funding deal with the federal government to a level more reasonable for a national capital. He also promised to support the piloting of community paramedicine to relieve the stress on the city’s paramedic service.
The toll on current councillors: The CBC has done a deep dive into how sitting around the council table has become more difficult than ever. The pandemic, eroding relationships, and the convoy crisis have all led to a worse environment for elected officials, according to several councillors leaving public life who spoke to the broadcaster. [CBC]
PUBLISHED: SEPT. 1, 2022
Fighting over transit, promising more police funding
Robert Hiltz/Ottawa Lookout
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.”