Open letter to all provincial candidates for Ottawa-Vanier

Dear provincial candidate for Ottawa-Vanier,

I am contacting you today to survey you on three impactful matters in my community. I was elected in 2010 and represent a section of the riding, which includes Lowertown, Sandy Hill and Vanier. If you are fortunate enough to be elected on June 7th, it would be my pleasure to work with you on initiatives to continue to improve our community.

I have a long list of projects that we have begun or that we would like to pursue with our provincial counterparts to improve the quality of life in our city and our community.

I chose to focus my survey on 3 categories that are meaningful to the entire community:

1- Resolving the interprovincial truck route that is going through our downtown streets;

2- Investing in the ByWard Market, Ottawa’s most iconic/historic area;

3- Helping our most vulnerable residents to be housed using modern approaches.

I would like to receive your response no later than 4pm on Monday June 4th. I will post all your answers on my website to inform our community of your perspective on those key issues.

1- After more than a generation of work on the issue of the interprovincial trucks going through our city’s downtown streets, we have successfully completed a feasibility study to build a truck tunnel that would connect the 417 at the Vanier Parkway Interchange to the MacDonald Cartier Bridge. If elected, will your government commit to fund the next phase of the review, which is an environmental assessment? In addition, will you pursue clarity as to the responsibility of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario to connect 400 connection highways to interprovincial crossings?

2- The ByWard Market is the oldest continuous farmer’s market in Ontario. It also happens to be the second most visited area by tourists when they come to our capital city, after Parliament Hill. The City has approved the ByWard Market revitalization plans, which includes a key strategy to invest in the public realm. The success of the $1 million investment in the George Street Plaza is a prime example of the need but also of the value of those investments in the ByWard Market. The City is currently engaged in a consultation on the public realm with the goal of having an approved investment strategy by the end of 2018. If elected, will you pursue funding to cover 1/3 of the cost for these important public space investments in our community and for our city?

3- Last but not least is housing and homelessness. As the Chair of the board of Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), I am looking for a provincial government that is able to help our most vulnerable residents by ensuring that they have a good place to live and the supports that are needed. Investments in affordable housing through the Portfolio Management Framework is essential to unlock the potential of our city’s largest landlord.

On a related note, the topic at hand is relating to the approach and fund transfers to the City and local agencies for our homeless community. Let’s be clear that I believe that all parties in the provincial election want to eradicate homelessness. Recently, in my community, we have had to fight a city-wide debate on the proposal from the Salvation Army. I have strongly advocated that it is simply the wrong location and more importantly the wrong model for our city. The Salvation Army proposal goes against all of the research on best practices towards reducing homelessness, and re-creates issues of the past around institutionalization of our most vulnerable residents.

As a candidate in Ottawa-Vanier (one of the lowest income communities in our city) do you commit to getting the provincial government to review the funding streams to the City and local agencies from the provincial Housing, Municipal Affairs, Health, and Social Services departments? A modernization and better coordination to reflect modern needs is essential. We do not want a reduction of funding from the provincial government for housing and homelessness initiatives, but we do want the funding streams to reflect the newest research in the field, which at its core is structured around Housing First Initiatives. Further, do you commit to ensuring that the current mega-shelter proposal, by the Salvation Army, at 333 Montreal Road not be funded through provincial funds?

I wish you the best in the last 10 days of the 2018 provincial campaign. By putting your name on the ballot and by listening to the community’s ideas you are contributing to a strong democracy.