Councillor identifies local priorities as budget process begins

By Manor Park Chronicle

Since completing ward-based consultations, City of Ottawa council started committee-level deliberations in November and will finalize the 2022 budget in early December. Photo: Wes Smiderle

‘Tis the season for municipal budgets and in order to get a sense of local needs, Rideau-Rockliffe Coun. Rawlson King recently held two online public consultations, including one focused on black, Indigenous and racialized communities.

In previous years, Councillors of inner urban wards held city budget consultations “thematically”, organized around city services.

This year, since the pandemic again compelled online consultations and also as a way to pinpoint local concerns, Coun. King, and neighbouring Rideau-Vanier Coun. Matheieu Fleury, decided to have this year’s consultation ward-based.

They held a joint consultation October 19. A second one, aimed specifically at Indigenous, black and racialized communities, was held October 22.

Councillor King notes that there were many similarities in the concerns expressed during both consultations.

“Social services and affordable housing were key,” he says. “We heard that in geographic and cultural contexts . . . People want to see more investments in social services and housing and those are issues I’m advocating.”

He notes the first ward-based consultation also had an emphasis on increasing investment on road and street improvement. “Street quality, improving our main streets like Beechwood and McArthur. We heard that very clearly.”

Coun. King considers the approach a success in terms of reaching more residents to hear their concerns, and also explaining the lengthy budget deliberation process.

“Understandably, most people don’t understand the intricacies of how government works, especially city government. Part and parcel of these presentations was ensuring that City Treasurer Wendy Stephanson was in attendance to answer questions and provide a presentation outlining the process.

Both meetings had about 50 participants each, as opposed to in-person consultations where, he says, “you’re lucky with five to 10.”

Although holding consultations online does allow for grater access, he notes that this applies only for those residents “with the resources” (i.e., reliable computers and online service). “We still do engagement by email and telephone,” he adds.

The October 22 consultation is available on Coun. King’s Youtube channel. (The October 19 consultation wasn’t recorded because the discussion was broken down into sub-groups, which couldn’t be recorded.)

The City of Ottawa’s 2022 budget will be deliberated throughout November and early December before being finalized and adopted at a council meeting December 8.

Schedule of City of Ottawa’s 2022 budget deliberations

  • City council “tables” proposed budget at 10 a.m. Wednesday November 3

(Note: City of Ottawa Transit Commissions will table its own budget shortly after the end of the November 3 council meeting)

In mid-November, the city’s standing committees deliberate budget items (and listen to public delegations) and meet on the following dates:

  • Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water & Waste Management 9:30 a.m. Tuesday November 16
  • Community & Protective Services Committee 9:30 a.m. Thursday November 18
  • Audit Committee 9:30 a.m. Tuesday November 23
  • Planning Committee 9:30 a.m. Thursday November 25
  • Information Technology Sub-committee 9:30 a.m. Monday November 29
  • Transportation Committee 9:30 a.m. Wednesday December 1
  • Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee 9:30 a.m. Thursday December 2
  • Finance & Economic Development Committee 9:30 a.m. Tuesday December 7

The Police Services Board adopts its budget beginning at 4 p.m. Monday November 22 while the Board of Health does so at 5 p.m. Monday November 29, the Transit Commission at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday November 17, and the Ottawa Public Library board at 5 p.m. Tuesday November 30.