Letter to Mayor Regarding New City Council Governance

Below is the contents of a letter sent from the HCA to Mayor Watson on December 13th, 2018.

Dear Mayor Watson,

We on the board of directors of the Hintonburg Community Association wish to express our views on the selections  process and slate proposed for the so called city cabinet of council as approved at city council yesterday.

The current top-down approach to final recommendations for chairs, committee and board memberships leaves you too much discretion and too little opportunity for any meaningful deliberations amongst selection committee members. As well, committees in general have little or no input on who leads them.  While one could argue that much good could come from such direct control from the mayor’s office in terms of equitable selections based upon the nature of current issues, local representation and policy objectives, the results we see today seem more to be addressing consolidation of policy and decision making powers at the top to minimize serious and meaningful debate.  While this may seem more efficient, it does stifle the kinds of policy and decision-making discussions that citizens deserve. Democracy is a messy business.

The process for selecting committee members leaves much to be desired from a citizen’s point of view.  Ottawans vote for their councillors based upon a mix of ward-specific and city wide issues and policy stands. The current governance has drastically reduced the ability of any major  issue arising  in Ottawa to be effectively addressed by the elected representatives of those most impacted.

More specifically, FEDCO, the most powerful committee, does not have a single urban councillor. And given that many of the major decisions facing FEDCO are concerning or greatly impacting the urban core, not one elected official from central Ottawa is a member. This is baffling.  A consequence of city amalgamation in 2001 is an urban/suburban/rural divide on city policies and priorities.  The current configuration of FEDCO would seem to exacerbate those divides rather than united us and providing for equal geographic weight in decision making.

The same questions arise from the Transit Commission’s make-up. We are facing two phases of transportation renewal reaching further out into the suburbs ahead of us with serious issues being voiced in the south end yet both Barrhaven and Orleans are shut out of this important decision making body.

We applaud having our councillor, Jeff Leiper, on Planning Committee. He served well last term. Much of the development of infill and intensification happens in Kitchissippi. It’s important to have the urban citizens’ views represented. But, he is alone from central Ottawa on committee. With so many major projects and initiatives happening in the city’s core, how can we have only one urban councillor on planning committee?

As well, we are pleased to see Councillor Deans as Chair of the Police Services Board. She represents a ward with serious issues that the Police Services Board needs to address. Her role as chair should stand both the Police Service, her constituents and the rest of the city in good stead.

In summary, governance is critical  and the way we establish governance for each term is extremely important.  You have the ability to lead for all of us by ensuring that we are effectively represented by the people we cast our votes for. The current process needs to be improved upon. We are hoping that our views can help you to take measures in the future to veer us all into a better direction.


Larry Hudon

President, Hintonburg Community Association


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