An Immature City Council: BENN




Governing a city is a serious obligation. It cannot be performed by unserious people.

Over the course of the last few weeks, we have been regaled by Beacon Hill-Cyrville Councillor Tim Tierney musing about asking school children to name the snowplows that operate in their neighbourhoods. A few days later, Tierney made the news by displaying a tattoo of his favourite musical group. Orleans West-Innes Councillor Laura Dudas wants the city to figure out how to get Ottawa named the Shawarma Capital of Canada. Seriously? This is what you were elected to do?

Then there is the finance and corporate services committee, which has instructed staff to figure out how to ban advertising from entities that peddle hydrocarbons. To solve what they acknowledge is a less than $13,000 problem.

Meanwhile, over at a sub-committee handling LRT, staff tables a report that says they have not yet identified what the root cause was behind the derailment of an LRT train back in August 2021. Two-and-a-half years after the event. Did any of the committee members ask pertinent questions. Question like, what needs to be done to complete the analysis? When can we expect a report that tells us what happened, and what is being done to prevent it from happening again?

How about council reflecting on lessons learned from the most recent Trillium Line extension delay. Now about two years and counting? The contract that was awarded to the proponent that failed the technical requirements. Not once, but twice.

The pattern that has emerged is that too many councillors are more interested in chasing social media likes than focusing on the challenges this city of a million people face. Where there is a disproportionate amount of time spent passing virtue signals (how many “emergencies” is Ottawa facing this week?) about matters over which the city can make little tangible progress. All to show their supporters that they care about big picture problems. Problems that cannot be solved by passing a resolution at council. But they sure do collect a lot of thumbs up on social media.

As for the challenges of meeting their statutory obligations of oversight? On matters that are the sole or prime responsibility of the city? Don’t dare talk about the LRT, let alone examine it for how we could improve the service. Point the finger at the provincial government for not solving the local responsibility of ensuring a minimum standard of emergency medical care. After all blaming others is much easier than addressing the problem.

This is not to say that a council that understood the seriousness of their responsibilities would have solved any of the complex problems of this city. Instead, the probability of making meaningful, tangible progress on the challenges this city faces, by a group of individuals who are not serious about their obligations, is nil.

Ron Benn, a finance executive, has been a member of the Centrepointe Community Association for the better part of three decades.


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6 Responses

  1. John Langstone says:

    This couldn’t be a planned diversion to try to get us thinking positive things about Ottawa governance could it? Attempts to keep us from dwelling on LRT, Lansdowne, Library cost overrun, photo radar, potholes, vacant unit tax, tax breaks for Porsche dealeships, suppression of Lansdowne and LRT audits, proposed 40 storey construction at every LRT station, stifled public consultation on major developments, and the coming zoning by-law which has the potential to destroy residential neighbourhoods as we know them.

  2. Brian Tansey says:

    agreed ! and / but … I do agree with Benn on every item he’s listed … EXCEPT his rolling in into the whole piece that bit about the FEDCO deliberations over the fossil fuel ad ban; yes it was only a few thousands of dollars less revenue for OC Transpo … but pushing back in this City on progressive ’causes’ is very difficult (due to this City’s generally regressive leanings ); that decision was small but important … whereas Kitts and Tierney’s ego laced ‘ social media posts do show immaturity.

  3. Luke Chadwick says:

    Perfect summary of the current Council. Tierney is usually the one before meetings cracking jokes and rarely has anything serious to say.

    Most of the posts by Councillors on social media have little value.

    The amount of time and money spent fighting a legal product that has very little in the way of advertising etc is a lesson in futility.

  4. Ron Benn says:

    Brian, thank you for reinforcing my point.

    Whether the city bans advertising by hydro carbon peddling entities or not, the same amount of hydro carbons will be pumped out of the ground. The signal they are sending … is to who? Do you think that Enbridge will stop transporting natural gas? No. Will people with natural gas fired furnaces and water heaters stop using natural gas? No.

    The signal that committee members sent is to those who are already in favour of reducing/banning hydro carbons. Just a variant on the theme of seeking approval, of chasing social media likes.

    That the committee spent more than 13 seconds on the topic did nothing tangible to address the big picture problem. Thus it was a waste of time. That staff are going to spend more than 13 seconds doing a copy/paste/edit a policy on banning advertising from an existing policy re tobacco or alcohol will accomplish nothing in the context of reducing the reliance on hydro carbons by the people of Ottawa. In other words, another waste of time.

    And therein the problem lies. These virtue signals divert attention and resources away from matters that are the responsibility of the city. Things like meeting the minimum standard of ambulance availability, not just on “good” days. But on “bad” days as well. . Like providing a public transit system (much bigger than just the unreliable LRT) that meets the needs of the community. Like how to get a better grip on meeting the needs of those who are without homes.

    It sends the signal that council is bereft of ideas on how to make tangible progress on problems that are their responsibility. It sends the signal that council isn’t aware of what their statutory obligations are. And that is my point. It is time for a number of councillors to take the roles that they were elected to perform seriously.

  5. Peter Karwacki says:

    The argument will be “they can walk and chew gum at the same time”

    Benn is not wrong, however, because time is limited.

    Because I ran against Rawlson King I will focus on him. There is no limit to his photo opportunities. “He was pleased to attend”…

    Then under his watch as chair of heritage buildings a rockcliff heritage building was leveled.

    I do not want to nitpick here but Benn’s messsge is not wrong…they all need to up their game…stop joking around becausr things are going to get really serious soon enough.

  6. sisco farraro says:

    We wonder why Ottawa voter turnout is only around 50% on municipal election day (and at advanced polls). Most people in the city have given up on city hall and the current council is good at getting their good old boy and girl friends to vote on their behalf. We are in a position that will be difficult to rectify unless more people turn out to cast their ballots. As the late Peter Finch stated so well in the movie “Network” – “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”.

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