Ottawa election day is now just one week away! Have you decided who you want to represent your community? I’m quite excited about this week’s Ottawa Election 2014 post as it features a candidate from my very own ward, Rideau-Vanier. Sandy Hill resident and mom, Catherine Fortin LeFaivre is one of six candidates running in Ward 12, which is arguably one of the most interesting and diverse wards in the city. And just to bring folks up to speed…I’ve been using this blog as a bit of a platform for urban candidates. These posts are not endorsements; participation was open to all urban candidates and I’ve been asking everyone the same four questions. 1. Tell us a little bit about your background and why you are running for City Council. What do you have to offer Rideau-Vanier?
I choose to raise my family in Rideau-Vanier because of its diversity, its heritage and its proximity to downtown. However, I am concerned by the many challenges that our ward faces, including crime, development pressures, and income disparity. I believe Rideau-Vanier needs a leader and a problem solver—someone who will not be afraid to stand up for all of its residents, including those who are currently disengaged or too preoccupied by family crises to join the conversation. Having been in leadership positions in the non-profit, the private and the public sectors, I have the skills and experience to successfully advocate for Rideau-Vanier residents.
2. What are two of the biggest challenges facing your community and what do you plan to do about them?
There are many critical issues in Rideau-Vanier and I’ve noticed that they do differ by neighbourhood and by economic status, unfortunately. Issues of importance include concerns around responsible development, homelessness, safe and reliable transportation options, and trucks in the downtown core. However, the issue which has been consistently raised across the ward is the need for more landlord accountability. Slum landlords are having a very negative impact on our neighbourhoods—whether you are a neighbour to these sites or live in these buildings as a tenant. Other Ottawa communities have experienced such issues and successfully dealt with them through an aggressive task force led by the councillor. I will create such a task force, made up of community police officers, bylaw, and other city services, to ensure that irresponsible landlords are pressured to take action. I also support fining landlords who do not properly deal with tenant maintenance requests, excessive loud noise, trash and other basic issues that have been allowed to persist for far too long. Rental licensing seems to be a good idea. I’m also very concerned that many Rideau-Vanier families are being left behind. On the campaign trail, I have met countless single moms struggling to make ends meet, many of whom live in deplorable conditions as tenants of community housing. Many families also have difficulty assessing quality, affordable child care, and healthy food. As councillor I will advocate for all families to ensure that our kids have the opportunity to grow up in safe, stimulating and healthy environments.
3. What can be done to improve Ottawa’s urban neighbourhoods for families and get more families living downtown?
Ensuring that there is safe, efficient and affordable transportation will play a large part in our ability to attract more families to the downtown core. Residents must have more real options to reduce their dependency on car usage. Investing in more connected and segregated cycling lanes is a good start. Taking a long-term view, we must develop our communities in a way that is conducive to family living. For example, child care centres need to be on the way to workplaces and easily accessible by transit. This is often not the case. Also, we must push developers to build units in the downtown core that can accommodate families (i.e. 3 bedrooms units as opposed to small one and two bedroom units). Finally, our ByWard Market needs to provide more community spaces to welcome people of all ages. Earlier in the campaign, I suggested building the new public library here to act as a community gathering area as well as a tourist destination. Moving forward with underground parking would free up space for this type of city investment.
4. In one sentence, what’s the best thing about Somerset Ward?
Rideau-Vanier is a great place to raise a family because of its historic charm, bilingual communities, and diverse residents!
Catherine Fortin LeFaivre’s website Catherine Fortin LeFaivre on Twitter This is likely the last post in my Ottawa Election 2014 series. I’d like to give a big thank you to all the candidates who participated. That being said, I’m always looking for guest contributors. So if you’re a newly elected councillor or a community leader who would like to share some thoughts with urban Ottawa families, let me know.