By Alyson Queen –
A crowd of nearly 70 headed to the Innovation Centre at 7 Bayview Rd. on January 11 – both with eager eyes to check out the new facility and also to attend the quarterly Kitchissippi Ward Forum hosted by Councillor Jeff Leiper.
Although the incubation companies have been in the Centre for some time, this was a first chance for many residents to get a peek inside.
On the packed three-hour agenda were the usual updates from the Community Associations and BIAs, which for this meeting were focused on priorities for 2017. Not surprisingly, traffic congestion and development were common topics that all discussed or presented.
Wesley Petite also provided information on the Kitchissippi Parks Participatory Plan Consultation, which he is facilitating. According to Wesley, suggestions have been submitted on nearly all of the parks in Kitchissippi.
The in-depth consultation will help to develop a plan for parks in the area over the next six years. It’s a three-round process of public consultations, the next being held January 26 and January 28.
The main attraction for the evening, however, was unquestionably the frank and candid Q&A with Ottawa’s new City Manager, Steve Kanellakos.
The Forum was one of Steve’s first appearances in the role, addressing a larger, general audience.
The discussion was candid and engaged, particularly on the topic of intensification, development – and the imbalance that many residents are currently sensing between growing the area’s population and needed investment in infrastructure to support that growth.
As Councillor Leiper reiterated, he is hearing people say that “we’re seeing thousands of new residents over the next 30 years, but there never seems to be money to invest in new parks, a new library, or new recreation.”
Steve addressed the questions, in part, by highlighting the way that municipalities finance infrastructure, including from development charges.
He flatly stated that in urban areas, those development charges just aren’t enough to pay for everything. “Growth pays for growth,” said Steve.
“It was good to hear, as an urban councillor, our City Manager acknowledge those challenges,” said Councillor Leiper following the meeting.
On the topic of traffic, the problem seems to be getting worse.
For the moment, the solutions continue to be conducting (more like applying and waiting for) Area Traffic Management Studies, although there are resources also available from the ward traffic-calming budget. Those include speed boards and planters, which Councillor Leiper hopes will be easier to get this year.
There was some good news announced. A year a half later, the City is looking at making pedestrian improvements at Richmond and Churchill, including sidewalk widening, removal of the bus bay and a curb extension.
“The City has come back with some modifications to propose, to make things a bit safer,” confirmed Councillor Leiper.
The Ward Forum is a quarterly event, which Councillor Leiper says is an effective way to bring people together, with varying perspectives, from the area. He is committed to its continuation.
“I’m thrilled with the event.”