Problem  Community Submissions  Proposals  Progress towards a Solution  References

Rethink City Policies to Establish a Stronger Ideological Foundation for the Urban Community


The City, and by extension, its population, have and are spending all their efforts and resources in finding solutions to urban problems. However, the policies that provide the basis for all such decisions have not changed - in fact, are not well defined. Therefore most solutions are simply band-aides over ongoing problems. As a result, the current problems of taxation, infrastructure and costs, social imbalances, etc., are also not changing. We are not heading towards the future with any definite positive change in direction.

Community Submissions


Use the following as a start to updating City policies:

  1. Overall goal: Develop a mechanism and guidance process so that each community can restate the City’s 7 guiding principals as items, tasks, or concepts that can be understood and acted upon at a community level. Help communities do this.
  2. Community: Define what a community is, in a measurable way (for example, a clump of streets surrounded by natural or infrastructure barriers) as areas that individuals can feel as “home”. Current wards and even community areas within the wards are still too large for individual citizens to recognize and associate as their “home area” within the city. Set up tools and mechanisms that encourage and enable community involvement, and communication within the community and between communities.
  3. Guidance: The City is too big for the limited resources of City Hall governance to be able to tackle each small detail. However, the City does consolidate a lot of expertise in most areas. The City should guide the citizens in making decisions so that the citizens can actually do much of the work to improve their present and future quality of life. Current meetings and consultation sessions involving the public are sometimes directed by special interest groups or by emotions and feelings flowing from incomplete information.
  4. Accountability: Improve the ability of citizens to communicate ideas to the City; for example through the City website by providing portals based on City guiding principals, and on a per-community basis. Have councilors first define or announce, and then account for their contribution to predetermined city, ward, and community goals on an ongoing basis using, for example, their webpages on the City site. Develop a system to triage incoming suggestions and respond to citizens on a per-track basis so that each citizen is encouraged to contribute ideas and so that each can track the progress and timeline (or limitation and potential rejection) of an idea.
  5. Property ownership: Create bylaws that mandate ongoing local involvement by people who own property but do not live in the area where that property is located. Specify the responsibilities of absentee landlords, and establish the allowable percentage of external ownership in order to retain decision-making power (for assets, design, transportation, infrastructure) at a local level.
  6. Transportation: Reverse the current concept of transportation from “how things are to be transported” to “what is needed to be transported”. Place these needs into a hierarchy in order of importance: for example, natural elements such as fresh air and water, supplies we need, people. Cars, for example, are only one means of transporting such items and are required only when other more healthy methods are not available. Redefining this term sets the basis for healthy urban design policies; better zoning algorithms, and clearer bylaws governing infrastructure change, and property development.
  7. Assets: Redefine assets to include a hierarchy of things that can be measured in dollars; include assets that we do not recognize as such (ability to transport (see City Election Platform Suggestions What I would look for in a City councilor and mayor definition of “transportation” above), visual points of interest (both current and potentially future, and including those created by neighbors on private property), wooded areas, hilltops, useful intersections, historical points, etc.). Adjust city taxes and implement other money-based mechanisms that encourage people to retain, recognize, and build such assets. At this time, the City economy is focused on only one asset (the City recognizes only one asset): developed land. People are actually afraid to implement improvements on a community basis because: 1) they are not aware of a process for doing so, 2) any process sanctioned by the City is so cumbersome as to be a no-starter, 3) the fear that community improvements might raise property taxes.
  8. Infrastructure: Use these proposed definitions and tracks to establish better criteria, policies, and design for a better infrastructure for new developments. Develop a vision and mechanisms for improving existing infrastructure to correct past mistakes. It is especially important for residents to realize that they can and should improve what they had to accept due to past City and conceptual limitations.
  9. Environment: Redirect the public attention on minimizing pollution from industry (only 50% and usually provincially and federally mandated) to private citizen-based causes (cars, equipment, smoking, garbage, etc.). Use the redefinitions of transportation and assets to provide a basis for minimizing pollution. Target supply sources as well as disposal efforts.
  10. Integration: of newcomers to Ottawa, especially those from other countries. Work with federal and provincial programs to supplement these with local resources: volunteers and paid mentors. Enable training for potential mentors. Distribute housing opportunities to avoid ghettos. Involve, obtain permission from, and encourage, community residents to accept and help newcomers.
  11. Education: Link education (or lack of), justice system, crime, and ability to cope (for example, homelessness), into one system. For example, lack of education at one end of the spectrum (inability to predict, control, and ensure one’s quality of life) to proper education (complete ability to do the same). Redefine justice as a system that reimplements this lack of appropriate education where required. This necessitates a redefinition of “education” as we understand it today in terms of reading, writing, arithmetic, and a relook at the mechanisms we have that educate (schools being only one part of these; prisons, perhaps, another).
  12. Emergency preparedness: develop emergency plans for feeding and transporting people and supplies for the whole city – should a global emergency arise.

Progress towards a Solution

Date Progress
18 May 06 Met with a candidate who indicated that the content of this email is being discussed in the City, probably along with many other items of interest and potential usefulness.
4 May 06 Received one response from GA, classifying the policies into what could be done now and what is probably too futuristic for the current time.
3 May 06 Emailed to Greenspace Alliance members.
22 Mar - 2 Apr 06 Continued to receive mainly positive responses from councillors and candidates.
22 Mar 06 Emailed to all councillors and potential election candidates. Received immediate positive response from several councillors and candidates.