Photo: City council candidates for Stittsville at a Q&A on Sunday night. From left: Glen Gower, Shad Qadri. Photos by Barry Gray.
Stittsville’s city council candidates Shad Qadri and Glen Gower offered their visions Sunday night for the future of Stittsville’s growth, and how to best manage its infrastructure needs.
The all-candidates meeting at the Stittsville United Church was hosted by the Stittsville Village Association and featured the two candidates for city council, as well as candidates for public and French school trustees. It was moderated by former Goulbourn Township councillor Louise Beggs (and the first SVA president).
Questions directed at Qadri (the incumbent councillor) and Gower centred mainly on infrastructure, transportation and growth.
Many questions focused on the traffic congestion in Stittsville during the morning commute, with Stittsville Main Street in particular a point of contention for many residents who think the road needs to be revitalized and widened.
“Revitalizing Main Street is a major priority,” responded Gower. “And that involves reducing traffic.”
Qadri said a solution to reduce truck traffic is in the works, with an extension to Robert Grant Avenue on the way. “It is about making Main Street a priority to this community,” Qadri said.
Residents were also looking for accountability on the LRT delay.
“The way the contract is set up prevents public accountability for (Rideau Transit Group, the firm building the Confederation Line),” said Gower. “City Council does need to do a better job on this.”
The City of Ottawa revealed earlier this month that the Confederation Line will not likely open until sometime early next year.
“The city isn’t paying for cost overruns,” added Qadri. “I want a safe system even if that means it’s late. Accountability questions will be asked.”
Video: City council candidates Q&A
Two residents expressed frustration over the existing OC Transpo services in Stittsville, particularly for those commuting downtown. Both demanded that each candidate make a promise to ride public transportation for a month to understand the scope of the problem if they were to be elected.
“There have been a lot of hiccups” replied Qadri. “I am aware of the bus problems here in Stittsville and I am working to rectify those issues by working closely with the OC Transpo.”
Gower said: “I have been listening closely to the problems of bus commuters.” He added that he will commit to regularly riding the bus.
OC Transpo’s own data shows transit service in Stittsville can be frequently late, with route 262 being the most unreliable of the three connexion routes serving the community, at 32 per cent of morning runs turning out late.
On two separate occasions throughout the meeting there were two members affiliated with Qadri’s campaign, Adrienne Charlton and Ayah Stretch, who posed questions to the candidates about waste disposal and the consequences of the Canadian Tire Centre relocation. Gower asked them to clarify their affiliation when the questions were asked. Their names were picked out of a hat at random, as was the case for all residents who asked questions Sunday night.
The subject of a possible conflict of interest also came up when a question was posed by a resident to Gower about the nature of his position at the StittsvilleCentral.ca if he were to become a councillor, and whether or not this newspaper should register as a third-party advertiser for his campaign. (please see an editor’s note at the bottom of this article with our own response to this question.) Gower is the publisher of this newspaper and the former editor.
“I have not written for Stittsville Central since I filed for my candidacy back in May,” responded Gower. “As the owner, I have no editorial control.”
The two candidates also discussed how growth in the community should be managed.
“Growing out is all about urban sprawl and it is bad for the environment and expensive.” said Gower. “Growth either needs to slow down or infrastructure projects have to speed up significantly.”
“I have been on the Planning committee from day one” said Qadri. “That’s how committed I am to infrastructure improvements for this city.”
Also featured were Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee candidates, Jon Flemming and incumbent Lynn Scott trustee.
Other OCDSB candidates were absent. Gurprit Kindra and Ken Lumsden sent notice that they were suspending their campaigns. Another candidate, Brandon Rabideau, was unable to attend for reasons related to the Ottawa-area storm on Sept. 21.
Candidates for French boards were also unable to come for various reasons.
Video: OCDSB trustee candidates Q&A
The main issues in the OCDSB Q&A included the building of a new Stittsville Public High School and the relationship between the Ontario provincial government and the board.
Questions were directed at Scott over the several years it has taken to secure a new Stittsville Public High School.
“Provincial governments move slow, which is always a struggle,” responded Scott. “The province should come up with a multi-year plan to fund new schools.”
Flemming responded that there is a growing need for accountability.
“With the growth in this area,” said Flemming. “It is unacceptable that we have schools overcrowding. There is a need for change on the school board; you need to only look at the outcomes of students to see that it’s needed.”
Questions also pointed to issues surrounding the relationship between the school board and the provincial government.
“There has to be sound relationships with folks at Queen’s Park making the decisions,” said Flemming.
“The school board used to have more control over the curriculum,” responded Scott. “That was taken away (by) the provincial government. I have already met with our new MPPs to discuss how we can make changes because our math curriculum is not working.”
In her closing statements, Scott promised she would build on her experience and work to address these pressing issues in a way that serves longterm sustainability.
“We need to build the new high school and (build it) right,” said Scott. “It has to be designed well enough to serve this community for many years and it has to be flexible enough to address the changes in our students’ needs over time.”
Flemming committed to improving vocational and physical education and to work towards improvements in math and the relationship with the provincial government.
“The school system is about kids and students and the future of our community.” said Flemming, “I think we all recognize there are problems in our school system and election time is the time to address those.”
The municipal election will be held on October 22nd.
Jordan Gowling is a journalism student at Algonquin College.
Editor’s note: Is StittsvilleCentral.ca a third-party advertiser?
No. A third-party advertiser is an organization which advocates for a particular candidate. We do not endorse any candidates, nor do we carry political ads or publish campaign literature. StittsvilleCentral.ca is in the journalism business, which is a protected activity under the principle of freedom of the press. While Glen Gower is officially the publisher of this newspaper, he has not had editorial input since May 1.