(21) - Councillor Glen Brooks, comments...
Last week I briefly raised the issue of the Safe Drinking Water
Act and its potentially disastrous financial impact on rural
businesses that provide potable water for their employees and
clientele. Everyone should have access to safe drinking water!
Local amalgamation was the brainchild of the Province. It was a
shotgun marriage of eleven local municipalities and Regional Gov’t.
The proponents of amalgamation promised considerable savings with no
decrease in services and service levels. Those considerable savings
were to offset the need for tax increases. Further, amalgamation
promised fewer politicians, fewer local gov’t. employees, greater
transparency; thus, greater accountability!
Overall, amalgamation promised greater “value for money spent”.
Repeatedly, senior Staff, Mayor Chiarelli, and some Councillors
assure us that amalgamation although not perfect, is a success story
here in the Ottawa. Indeed, if that were the case, the City of
Ottawa is unique. Not one other provincially amalgamated city has
achieved the level of success promised.
There is a growing sense of dissatisfaction and distrust of
government among residents across the land. Canadians have lost
confidence in their elected officials to manage their tax dollars
prudently. Judging from the local press/media Ottawains are not the
Taxpayers generally want to see the amalgamated city succeed.
In order to replace this lack of confidence, Staff and Council need
to clearly articulate those benefits achieved through amalgamation.
These benefits need to be open to public scrutiny. That process will
greatly assist in dispelling many of the naysayers of amalgamation.
A good starting point would be to measure the level of
dissatisfaction across the city. By determining the level of and the
areas of dissatisfaction, adjustments can then be made. For all the
above reasons, I have asked the City/Province to review the benefits
of amalgamation by a politically independent third-party.
following is my June 21/04 Notice of Motion for Council
WHEREAS, the amalgamation of the
City of Ottawa was forced upon the former 11 municipalities and the
Region of Ottawa-Carleton;
AND WHEREAS, some communities, including rural communities,
still question the benefits of amalgamation;
AND WHEREAS, although the City of Ottawa conducted a Universal
Program Review, the benefits of amalgamation have never been clearly
identified and quantified;
AND WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Ottawa is morally
obligated to demonstrate that the residents are receiving value for
AND WHEREAS, the residents of the City of Ottawa deserve and
require accurate information on the benefits of amalgamation;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Ottawa requests that
the Province conduct an independent third party public review of the
benefits of amalgamation, with the results to be released to the
public no later than May 31, 2006.
“rural voice” at City Hall is paramount! Many residents however,
sense that their concerns are often over shadowed by the demands of
their urban/suburban cousins. Quite frankly, they are right! Rural
services and service levels have unquestionably decreased since
2000. Residents, citywide, are becoming increasingly concerned about
rising costs of all levels of government. None, more so, than in the
rural areas of this province!
A Rural Council would strengthen not only the “rural voice” of
its residents, but give greater credence to the voice of the rural
councillors at City Hall. I personally, believe that a Rural Council
of volunteers representative of the rural wards would benefit both
rural residents and rural businesses. I see this council as a forum
in which residents can voice their opinions and be heard without a
day trip to City Hall.
Initially, I see a rural council of 11 members: two members
nominated from each of the 5 rural wards plus a chairperson
nominated at large. Nominations need not follow the more formal
election process. The respective ward councillors would be ex
officio members without voting privileges. Further, there should be
a proviso for the other rural areas to participate. Meetings would
be held on a monthly basis and open to the public.
Due to the large geographical area of the former rural
municipalities, I could see a benefit of each ward having a smaller
volunteer ward council component much like that presently in Osgoode
Ward. These more local 5-member councils would include the 2
nominated members to the Rural Council. The advantage of these
smaller councils would be their greater accessibility to their
residents. Again, the respective ward councillors would be ex
officio members without voting privileges. Concerns, opinions and
comments raised would be presented at the monthly meeting of the
I think the committee structure of the Rural Council should
mirror with some modification, that of the City Council. I think
too, that the various committee terms of reference could be modified
and adopted. By mirroring City Council and city committee
structures, would provide more meaningful interaction mechanisms
between the City and Rural Councils and both committee structures.
The Rural Council and its bureaucracy must be flexible and
responsive to be effective in meeting the needs of rural residents.
To create such a structure is not without its challenges. That
said, I strongly believe that the effort is well worth the time and
energy. If this Rural Council can be realized, I believe it will not
only serve the interests of the rural residents, but that of the
City as well. The aforementioned ideas are presented for discussion
Survey #3 will be sent out electronically on May 15th. Its main
focus is pesticide use. If I have your email address, you should
receive the survey. Survey will be accessible on my website. The
database is designed to accept only one response per email address.
Glen Brooks' - Article Archive
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believe the proposed Rural Council will be a valued asset in getting
the rural voice, voiced. Speaking with the organizers, it is their
hope that the rural residents will find the Rural Council a forum to
express rural concerns.
Although I support the organizers’ efforts and have paid my
$10, I see this Council as principally a non-political organization.
As well, I have offered my assistance in creating an effective
governance structure. That structure, I believe, must be responsive
and responsible to those it represents. The Rural Council cannot be
allowed to grow into rudderless bureaucracy.
The following “draft” mission statement clearly enunciates the
Rural Council’s mandate: “The Rural Council is a coalition of rural
citizens and organizations representing communities, farmers and
small businesses, dedicated to the preservation and protection of
rural values, and freedom from unwarranted urban regulations. It is
the intent of the Rural Council to achieve its purpose in harmony
with our urban neighbours through education, advocacy and political
leverage. Therefore, the Rural Council will seek the co-operation
and support of all levels of government.
This statement of purpose extends the hand of co-operation to
City Council and our urban/suburban cousins. I also sense a very
positive willingness to work with the City in developing a better
understanding of rural concerns. If the Rural Council can achieve
this, the growing tensions between rural and suburban/urban will be
If, on the other hand, there is not a meeting of the minds, I
can see some very difficult times ahead. Platitudes from either of
the Councils will not suffice. It is time to set aside
counterproductive power struggles that may exist and to resolve
differences by building bridges of understanding founded on respect
and trust. This approach, I have shared with my Council colleagues,
our Mayor and senior Staff many times.
A quantum step toward reducing increased tensions between the
two solitudes would be a review of amalgamation. Both urban and
rural residents were promised a broad range of benefits prior to
amalgamation. Have those promises been achieved and have those
benefits been measured?
The only way to answer that pivotal query is to evaluate
amalgamation. Just as Council, Staff and the general public
evaluated all city programs and services, the City should now
appoint a politically, independent third-party to do that
evaluation. I think the discussion would be a healthy exercise for
those who support amalgamation and for those who question the value
The proposed Rural Council’s success will be measured by its
transparency and its willingness to discuss controversial issues.
There must be a willingness to listen to all perspectives from all
parties. Its decisions and/or recommendations must be founded on
fact rather than emotion. It is of paramount importance that the
Rural Council be representative of the rural areas and that it be
accessible to the rural residents. Further, it must work closely
with rural Councillors.
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Going with the flow
the flow”, is one of life’s principles that I treat most cautiously.
In truth, “going with the flow” is less frustrating, more
convenient, less demanding. “Going with the flow” is much like the
old adage, “birds of a feather flock together”.
That said, I admit that generally “going with the flow” for
many is not for me. I prefer to know why I am going, where I am
going, who are my travelling companions, and how and when I am going
to get there. In short, I am not going anywhere unless it is the
most appropriate course of action.
As many are well aware, I have asked the City and the Province
to review the benefits of amalgamation. As a taxpayer, I want to
know if my hard-earned tax dollars are being well spent. Well spent,
in ways that improve my community. To me that is plain every day
common sense at work! However, I will be the first person to admit
that common sense is not all that common!!
The Rural Council of volunteers has just published their survey
results. And although the results are not science-based, they are
indicative of the level of the public’s dissatisfaction.
On the question of governance: Are you satisfied with the
governance being provided to you by the new City of Ottawa since
amalgamation? Goulbourn indicated 95%; Rideau/Osgoode showed 90% and
West Carleton voted 91% … “NO”!
On the question of de-amalgamation: Would you support
de-amalgamation as an option? Goulbourn indicated 84%; Rideau/Osgoode
showed 91% and West Carleton voted 85% … “YES”!
It is becoming even more urgent that the City clearly
identifies the advantages of amalgamation ASAP. It is as important
as well that the Province reconsider its objection to
de-amalgamation via referendum. At the least, the Province ought to
insist that all amalgamated areas clearly, unequivocally demonstrate
that amalgamation is working socially, politically and economically.
If the Province resists, I have predicted that the
de-amalgamation issue will become a province-wide crusade by many
yet-to-be-created grassroot movements. Let us be pro-active on this
potentially explosive issue!!
I am of the opinion; many of our residents want to see
amalgamation work. It behoves City Council/Province to demonstrate
that. And to be more convincing, I have asked for an independent
third party review with access to all public documentation and
senior staff. Further that this information be accessible for public
Your thoughts are important.
Link to Councillor Glen Brooks' Website
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