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Council's heavy agenda - Part 1

Tue Jul 12, 2005 Miss Vicky 

Once again I am experiencing that lethargy that tends to envelop me during hot, humid spells. And I'm afraid it's having an effect on my blogging capacity. I didn't want to bore you all with my adventures at the Blues Fest, nor am I ready to reflect upon the recent arrival of my mother and her new hubby, who've moved to their new Ottawa digs. And while the impending Kitchen Reno has tremendous potential, I'm holding back on that for now.

And there's only so much I can say about the pumpkin vine now taking over the front garden of the Finishing School.

So today I went looking for inspiration on the City of Ottawa web site. Looks like the heat isn't slowing down our councillors. There's a lot going on, and it all seems to be hitting the fan at tomorrow's council meeting.

Take the proposed changes to the City of Ottawa Act.

The document makes for interesting reading - a kind of primer on the legislative status of municipalities and the impact of the provincial downloading of services on municipalities' role, function and finances. The background section describes some of the challenges the city faces in meeting obligations to provide health and social services, address infrastructure needs, and so on, as well as the limitations placed on the city by the current legislative framework, which offers only limited opportunities for financing, thus placing a too-high burden on property taxes to pay for the things that federal and provincial governments have off-loaded to cities in favour of tax cuts.

I guess the short way of explaining it is that this is the beginning of putting the so-called New Deal for Cities into a more tangible form. Some of the proposed changes are housekeeping (adjustments from amalgamation, for example). Others seem designed to reflect the desire of council to implement theprinciples of Ottawa 20/20 and meet some of the challenges the city has identified in its long-range financial planning. In order to implement any changes to the legislation for the next council term (that's 2006-2009), the city has to submit its proposals in the fall of 2005.

Which I guess explains why this seems to be coming out of nowhere, rapidly introduced at committee and brought to a council meeting in the dead of summer, when folks are distracted by heat waves and blues festivals and other summer activities.

I've only skimmed the proposed amendments. Some of them seem innocuous, some would have clear benefits, some seem thrown in there for political purposes, and some could be perceived as a cash-grab.

Not that I'm opposed to some of the more cash-grabby proposals. Like Amendment #26: Authority to levy a visiting players’ tax with respect to professional sports., or the proposed hotel tax. Oh, and I particularly like #28: 28. Authority to assign a recycling levy (i.e.bottle returns, regulating use of paper/plastic bags, etc.).. That would be a levy on the producers of recyclable items to reflect the high cost of collecting and recycling them.

A lot of the proposed changes are connected to specific municipal services or infrastructure - like making developers who don't provide the requried percentage of affordable housing units pay cash-in-lieu, much like the current cash-in-lieu of parking system. Or the proposed land transfer tax levy, which would also be dedicated to affordable housing (I'm not wild about that one. Closing costs are hefty enough, and you're still chargning the same folks who are burdened with property taxes).

Some of the proposed amendments are more process-oriented, aimed at increasing the transparency of local government. They want to, for example, indicate what proportion of the property tax bill is dedicated to particular services (for example, the Police Services, which seems to be a particular target of this document).

Anyway, there's lots to take in, so I recommend having a look. And we'll all have to see how tomorrow's debate goes down.

Some people were moved to reply

The Webgeek Jul 12, 2005 01:33 PM said:

the pumpkin vine now taking over the front garden of the Finishing School.

The leaves are bigger than dinner plates and it's starting to flower now. I've got nightmares about some sort of bizarre morning ritual re-enactment of Woody Allen's robot/pudding fight from the Sleeper come October.

pinklitva Jul 12, 2005 03:11 PM said:

I think it might be more like Little Shop of Horrors and soon Miss Vicky will be touring the halls of municipal building finding 'hapless political victims' to feed to her pumpkin plant. IN FACT I suspect that her purposeful DENIAL to discuss the pumpkin plant is intended to put us all off.

It's hot in the UK too.....

Miss Vicky Jul 12, 2005 03:14 PM said:

i've got a little list... they surely won't be missed....

The Webgeek Jul 12, 2005 03:24 PM said:

Miss Vicky will be touring the halls of municipal building finding 'hapless political victims' to feed to her pumpkin plant.

All the while singing I wanna be a P-u-u-ndit

sing along with me if youe wish....

When I was younger, just a odd little kid,
my mama noticed funny things I did,
like groupin' up puppies in a welfare line.
I'd picket for guppies, and when I was done
I'd find a pussycat and offer it social' medicine.
That's when my mama said (What did she say?),
she said, "My gal, I think someday
you'll find a way to make your natural tendencies pay.
You'll be a pundit.You have a talent for causin' social gains.
Dear, be a pundit. People will pay you to be humane.
Your temp'rament's wrong for management
and CEO'ing would suit you still less.
Dear, be a pundit. You'll be a success.

Miss Vicky Jul 12, 2005 03:29 PM said:

Yeah. But no one's payin' me to do this.....

sigh....

accidental altruist Jul 12, 2005 04:08 PM said:

that's some pretty inspired spoof songwriting there webgeek!

Hugh Jul 12, 2005 07:15 PM said:

Um? Isn't the city hall air conditioned? Especially the council chambers. And paid for by the taxpayer.

Better'n staying home and depending on dinky home style conditioners.

Um? I'm melting on a hillside 185 K west of you folks at 37C outside. I like hot but this is rediculous.

the Bitter Pirate Jul 12, 2005 10:36 PM said:

I like how the benefits of #10, pertaining to operating a light rail service, are underlined. Obviously a biggie in council's eyes.

I also really like #25, "ability to introduce a vehicle plate fee." A cash-grab, but aimed at the right crowd. At least I think. They may want to introduce IQ tests for drivers too, or some sort of Clockwork Orange reprogramming so that drivers pay more attention to, say, anyone around them that isn't protected by airbags and hundreds of kilos of steel.

pinklitva Jul 12, 2005 11:25 PM said:

Feed me. Feed me. Feed me!
Feed me, miss Vicky.
Feed me all night long.
"That's right, girl!"
You can do it...

Feed me, Miss Vicky.
Feed me all night long...
'Cause if you feed me, Miss Vicky,
I'll be politically strong.

Would you like rid
of the gas guzzling car?
Or ubiquitous recycling
of the pickle jar?
You gonna git it.
"If you want it, baby."

How'd ya like to be a big wheel?
Ensuring all get a fair deal?
I'm the plant can make it all real.
You're gonna git it.

I just can't stop it now.......My apologies folks....it's Webgeek's fault.
Webgeek - I can't get 'Miss Vicky' to scan well. Any hints?

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