Michelle Reimer has joined candidates Dovi Chein and Jeff Leiper in the race for city councillor against incumbent Katherine Hobbs.
Reimer has labelled her city council campaign “Citizens First,” which reflects her view that citizens have a right to have a say in the municipal decision making process. Because residents are the ones who feel the impact of decisions made at the municipal level, Reimer says they should be actively involved and engaged.
“Good leaders enable the environment, especially communities, to come up with the ideas themselves,” she says. “I’m looking for optimism in this ward.”
Reimer moved to Ottawa sixteen years ago, and has lived in Kitchissippi ward for almost eight of those years. It’s during this time that she became vocal about the impact of city measures on citizens.
Most recently, she was a spokesperson for a successful campaign that opposed the City of Ottawa’s proposal to redesignate her street, Bayswater Avenue, as a collector road.
These traffic concerns are symptoms of increased urban densification, one of the major changes noticed by Reimer. She acknowledges there are many problems that can arise when developers move into a community, though she does not claim to be anti-development. “There’s a serious breakdown in trust in this ward,” says Reimer.
“There’s a lot of us and them here. It’s us against them. And there’s a lot of energy and resources spent fighting,” she says.
To resolve the issue, Reimer says developers and residents need to listen to one another, take note of lessons learned and start discussions early on in the development process.
“We need, as residents, to engage and work together with businesses and developers who are moving in,” she says. As a councillor, Reimer believes she could facilitate
Although it is Reimer’s first time running for city council, she says her professional experience has prepared her for the role. She is currently an independent management consultant with the firm Intersol, and her career has included jobs in the private and public sector. She began her career as a medical lab technologist in her early 20s and was a manager by age 25. She worked with the federal government before moving into consulting.
“My biggest passion is good planning and good decision making,” she says. She says the councillor position requires a broad, strategic way of thinking.
“It’s easy to just think about your street and think about your park,” says Reimer. “But as a councillor I think it’s really important to raise your head, look around, and understand why urban growth is happening and that it’s not going away, and then how we can proactively get involved in managing that change.”