I know many residents are feeling anxious and have legitimate concerns about the planned demonstrations commemorating the 1-year anniversary of the convoy that occupied our city last winter. I want to reassure you that I take those concerns very seriously, and I spoke with Kim Ayotte, General Manager of Emergency & Protective Services at the city, and my colleague Councillor Stéphanie Plante (Rideau-Vanier) this morning to make sure our offices have all the necessary information to support our communities.
I am writing this letter in my capacity as the Ottawa City Council Liaison for Women, Gender Equity and 2SLGBTQ+ Affairs to express my disappointment in your decision to host Jordan Peterson at the Canadian Tire Centre on January 31, 2023.
Hello and Happy New Year.
I am writing this message to you in the midst of a winter storm, a day with weather similar to when I sat down to write this opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen. In any cold weather, my first thought goes to our neighbours experiencing homelessness and to the hard-working people who provide frontline services and emergency shelter.
The pandemic has been tough for so many of us, and the shift to remote work has been especially difficult for downtown businesses. The revitalization of downtown Ottawa (particularly the north part of Centretown) presents both challenges and opportunities. But as I write in the Citizen, we cannot expect the core to bounce back without increased investment in affordable housing and community services.
In December, I shared comments at the council table about my deep concern that a tax increase of only 2-2.5% would leave frontline services in the downtown core without the resources they need to help the growing number of people who are struggling with addiction, poverty and mental health. In a meeting with Mayor Sutcliffe last week, I reiterated that I can only support the 2023 city budget if we see no cuts to social services and a deeper investment in affordable housing and frontline support for our neighbours.
City Council will receive the draft budget on February 1st, and we will vote on it at a meeting on March 1st. My office is in the process of organizing a public education and consultation session about the city budget, in collaboration with Councillors Shawn Menard and Jeff Leiper. Details to follow, but save the date for a virtual session on Wednesday, February 15 at 7pm.
You can follow me on Twitter, but please make sure to also follow our Somerset Ward account, which is managed by staff. I am also active on Facebook and Instagram. I post regular video updates after council and committee meetings and am committed to sharing the thinking that goes into the decisions I make on behalf of our ward.
Stay warm and enjoy the snow,
Since I was officially sworn in as city councillor for Somerset Ward on November 15, it has been a whirlwind of activity, both at City Hall and in the community. The first item on my agenda was to hire staff, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Stephanie, Tessa, Nathan and Charlotte to serve residents and help advance progressive city policy. You can read their bios on my new website.
We hit the ground running with three city council meetings before the end of the year, during which we tackled some huge files: passing the governance review, appointing council members to committees and boards, and voting on the direction for the 2023 city budget. I have started posting recap videos after each council meeting. My goal is to be transparent about why I make certain decisions and share my thinking with all of you. Here are some recent updates:
- Recap from first meeting
- Introducing motion to combat anti-trans hate
- Recap from second meeting (and governance review)
- Introductory comments to council
- Recap from third meeting (budget direction)
As the winter holiday season is in full swing, I have been enjoying seeing you at Christmas craft fairs and dinners, Chanukah parties and other community events. In the new year, we will be reaching out to consult with you on the 2023 city budget and finding other ways to solicit your feedback and engagement.
It is an absolute honour to represent our incredible community. I wish you warmth, comfort and rest over the holiday season. And if you want to contribute to help our most vulnerable neighbours, I suggest Hijinx, the Parkdale Food Centre or The Door Youth Centre.
Happy holidays, no matter what you celebrate,