Music Strategy: City Can’t Get Basics And Non-Basics Right

If you really want snappy service from Mayor Jim Watson, just cross him on a program that is absolutely inconsequential to the essential duties of running a city.

That said, these sort of things he understands … unlike budgeting or good planning or pothole-filling with real asphalt or bringing in projects on-time and on-budget.

Easy stuff he gets. Complicated stuff? Less so.

So His Worship got his ceremonial chain of office in a knot when he heard that buskers were being asked to be insured. Notwithstanding the fact that buskers are being regulated (in fact part of busking is its impromptu nature fundamental to the performance), which is stupid, Watson was particularly concerned that they were being required to get insurance. Next … who knows? … paying user fees to the city for standing on a sidewalk bongos a-flying?


No doubt Ottawa’s new music strategy will produce thousands of groups such as Arcade Fire.


Only in Ottawa would so much time be spent on legislating street music. The level of regulation in this city is laughable, at least until they pass an ordinance against laughing in a public place.

Busker regulation … really? Aren’t there already a dozen or so laws on the books to move people along if they are causing a problem. Loitering immediately comes to mind.

And to insure buskers … wow. You never know when you might pull a thumb pounding out Smoke On The Water on a guitar. Mega-tweeter Watson, more than most, knows the importance of the human thumb. God help us all if we do not undertake regular thumb exercise and stretching. In fact, there might be bylaw about thumb care. Hard to know.

Yes the two-year Ottawa music strategy earmarks $100,000 per annum to make strategy for Ottawa music. It has also created a music development officer with related resources to strategize music, one presumes. Can’t have enough of that. Will a city music strategy create more music with but only $100,000 a year to create intricate plans?

In a word, no. About $100,000 gets you a fancy-sounding coffee at Starbucks where you can meet Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, the moving force behind this initiative, and friends making good strategy.

When did music strategy become part of the responsibilities of municipalities in Ontario … Ottawa in particular? Perhaps when Leiper said so.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had great success with Canadian music content quotas which spawned some of the great international stars this country has today. But then it was mandated to do such things and had the functionality to do it. Leiper’s $100,000 plan will likely produce more clerks at Home Depot. In other words, this project won’t work.

All the while Leiper is creating the next Arcade Fire in the market, potholes mark Kitchissippi like a relief map of Utah. Some day, we hear, Scott Street will be paved.

A city that can’t do what it is supposed to do (monkeying with snow-plowing levels as it does) now has a pint-sized music strategy in a field where Ottawa is not exactly mandated to put its resources and has absolutely no expertise. That sound you hear is $200,000 and one city position being flushed down the drain.

So while Leiper makes Ottawa a safe place for bongo-players and everyone has a bike lane coming out the wazoo, the real reasons why Leiper was elected are not being remedied successfully.

Condos towering over elastic zoning limits continue to pop up just beyond your back fence. Great planning that. Leiper has had little success there. Witness the demise of the iconic Trailhead building and the delays on Les Soeurs de la Visitation repurposing causing concern about the heritage building’s welfare.

Still, we have bike lanes and bongos while Kitchissippi homes get their values devastated because of poorly planned highrises.

Leiper’s next initiative we understand is to abolish the guitar-playing ban while riding bikes. Leiper’s buddies will be pleased. But that’s not why the voters of Kitchissippi supported him last time out.

Oct. 22 can’t come soon enough.


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One thought on “Music Strategy: City Can’t Get Basics And Non-Basics Right

  1. Have no fear Ken, our publicly funded hockey-ticket purchaser audit committee chairman Allan Hubley will identify enough inefficiencies to fund such projects.

    He even identified his own “inefficiency” in buying hockey tickets and refunded the taxpayers. Are you not impressed? Let’s hope his constituents will be less impressed on election day with his promises of responsible spending and keeping his two-term promise.

    Oh yes I forgot, he will most likely tell us that he still has too many efficiencies to find and that’s why the third term. The $90,000 plus he gets every year has no bearing on his decision of course.


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