On May 8th, a bunch of our members sent the following letter on the new Term of Council Priorities to City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and all Ottawa City Councillors. On May 9th, Joanne Chianello, city affairs columnist with The Ottawa Citizen, wrote an excellent opinion piece on the same subject titled "Mayor's 'strategic initiatives' short on vision — and consultation"; here is a relevant excerpt:
"And here’s arguably the worst thing about this crop of strategic initiatives: They include a number of items that most reasonable observers would assume were already funded, or have no business being called a new initiative.
Perhaps the most egregious example is the inclusion as a strategic initiative of $4.6 million that is supposed to be spent this year on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. That biking and walking plan was an integral part of a massive transportation strategy approved by council in 2013. Councillors were rightly shocked to discover those funds were not set aside in the main budget."
Below is the letter we sent; if you too agree with some or all of our priorities, get in touch with the Mayor and let him know
Tel.: (613) 580-2496
Dear Mayor Jim Watson, May 8, 2015
As members of the Healthy Transportation Coalition, we are writing to express our concern that spending related to the City’s Transportation Master Plan, including pedestrian and cycling mobility, are being included as part of the Strategic Initiatives debate instead of the City’s core budget. We urge you to move these items to the City’s 2016 Budget to uphold commitments made in the 2013 Transportation Master Plan, and ensure sufficient funding is spent in these areas every year.
We felt Ottawa took important steps toward a healthier and more sustainable multi-modal transportation system with the 2013 Transportation Master Plan. Some of the measures in the Plan, such as transit-oriented development, expanded pedestrian and cycling networks, and a complete streets policy, are very much supported by our members and citizens of Ottawa.
Transit and active transportation are core parts of the City’s transportation system, and their funding should be treated as core parts of the city’s budget. The 2013 Transportation Master Plan committed $70 million from 2013 to 2031 to improve the cycling network, and $66 million for pedestrian infrastructure, $40 million for multi-use paths, and billions for Light Rail Transit.
However, the serious infrastructure deficit across the country demonstrates that Canadian cities cannot approach transportation from a business-as-usual perspective. We reiterate our request of October 2014 that the City of Ottawa, as part of its Term of Council Priorities, initiate a study to research different options related to a user-pay approach to roads. We believe that looking at new options to manage and fund roads will create a more innovative and sustainable transportation system, one that is more welcoming to all users.
In summary, we ask Ottawa City Council to:
• Ensure that Budget 2016 includes core funding for pedestrian and cycling infrastructure improvements;
• Spend $3.5 million on the Pedestrian Facilities Program in 2015;
• Create a protected bicycle lane network throughout the city;
• Spend $20 million a year on cycling, matching the overall transportation budget to the per cent of people currently riding their bikes;
• Implement a low-income public transit pass accessible to all residents whose income is less than the Low Income Cut Off (and work toward free public transit for those on social assistance [Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program]); and
• Commit to studying user-pay for roads as part of its Term of Council Priorities.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to your response to this letter and the specific requests contained within it.
Robin McAndrew, Acting Associate Executive Director, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
Wanda MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre
Catherine Doolan, Board President, Centretown Community Health Centre
Dianne Breton, Chair, Ottawa Seniors Transportation Commitee, The Council on Aging of Ottawa
Kat Fortin, Chair, Ottawa ACORN Board of Directors
Mark Tremblay, Ph.D., D.Litt. (hons), FACSM
Director, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
Scientist and Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa
David Sweanor, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law, University of Ottawa
Special Lecturer, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham
Erwin Dreessen & Nicole DesRoches, co-chairs, Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital
John Woodhouse, Chair of the Steering Committee, Walk Ottawa
Trevor Haché, worker, Healthy Transportation Coalition