(L to R: The four candidates who appeared before residents at the SBA/SVA Question and Answer session on September 26, 2022 running for city councillor in Ward 6 Stittsville are: Mathew Duchesne, Glen Gower (incumbent), Keven Hua and Tanya Hein. Municipal Election Day is October 24, 2022. Photo: Stittsville Central)
Stittsville Central reached out to the four local candidates running in the October 24, 2022 Municipal Election for Councillor in Ward 6 Stittsville – Mathew Duchesne, Glen Gower (incumbent), Tanya Hein, Kevin Hua – to share with residents their background, why each would be the best representative for Stittsville and to address issues important to you. Questions were posed of each candidate on affordable housing, transit service, volunteer firefighters, what is being heard at the door, and, what are each candidate’s priorities to improve Stittsville.
As the article is lengthy, we thought you might like to have each candidate’s website for additional information on their platforms or to personally reach out to them at the links provided.
- Mathew Duchesne – https://www.mathewduchesne.com/
- Glen Gower – https://voteglen.ca/
- Tanya Hein – https://votetanya.ca/
- Kevin Hua – https://www.kevinhua.ca/
Below are the responses we received and shared in alphabetical order.
Question 1: Let’s get the generics out of the way – Can you provide residents with some background information on yourself and why you would be the best representative for Stittsville at Ottawa’s Council table?
Mathew Duchesne: In my opinion I am the candidate best qualified for this position with my education in urban planning and engineering, work experience in project management, master scheduling and contract management along with having ran and operated a successful small business here in the community for over 8 years.
Am am uniquely able to both understand the needs of our growing community and see what concrete actions we need to take to modify our course and effect positive results in order for use to live more functions, complete lives here in our ward.
I am a results oriented person with a can do attitude who knows how to bring people together and figure out complex problems.
Glen Gower: Since 2018 I’ve had the honor of serving Stittsville as your city councillor. I’ve been a hardworking and responsive councillor through a challenging four years with the pandemic and the wind storm last May. I’ve supported and advocated for residents in Stittsville at the local level and as a strong voice at City Hall.
Volunteering and public service has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Before being elected, I had a leadership role on several community associations and boards, always focused on building healthy, vibrant communities and improving the quality of life for residents. I founded SitttsvilleCentral.ca in 2014.
Professionally, I have a background in marketing and communications including roles with the Ottawa Senators and Iceberg Networks, an Ottawa-based company providing management consulting and professional services in governance, risk management & compliance. I have a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University.
Tanya Hein: I’ve lived in Stittsville since 2005 and am raising my four sons here. Stittsville is a fantastic, engaged community, and I wanted to contribute to that, so I almost immediately started getting involved with local volunteer groups. Of particular note, I’ve spent more than a decade with the Stittsville Village Association (seven years as president), with a focus on planning and development issues. This has given me tremendous insight (positive and negative) into how Stittsville is growing, and how we can manage and make the most of that growth without losing the charm, green space, and amenities that make Stittsville such a great community.
In addition to my long-time community advocacy, I can also draw on my training in print journalism, and my years of professional experience in community news, as a legislative assistant to a Member of Parliament, and as a former small business owner to better serve Stittsville.
Kevin Hua: I am a Carleton student studying Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialisation in Social Policy and a Minor in Law. I have had experience working in the public service in Service Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, working as an Office Secretary and volunteering for the OCSB’s Indigenous and International Languages Program, and volunteering with Around the Campfire, an organisation that gives a socialisation group to kids with mental and developmental disabilities. I’ve also served twice as a federal candidate in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections for this community.
Stittsville needs an independent voice and representative in City Council who will fight and deliver for the needs and interests of the community and residents. Someone with new perspectives, bold, ambitious, and transformative ideas, and a vision to shake up the status quo at City Council and bring out the full potential of our community.
Question 2: There is an affordable housing crisis in Stittsville affecting all ages – Would you work with Developers, City Staff and the Planning Committee/Council to put into effect inclusionary zoning for all new development – including apartment buildings, condominiums and townhouse/house projects in Stittsville – ensuring that a percentage of new builds would include a proportionate number of affordable units to the number of available units being constructed?
Mathew Duchesne: Yes, I would be open to including inclusionary zoning and especially focusing on our growing aging population that is being under represented in the types of homes we’re building. We need more single story type dwellings thst have no stairs. We need more walkable, mixed used, transit oriented developments that can sustainably accommodate those with no vehicles, therefore we need to look at rethinking our building models and make sure we are building sustainable housing that meet our demands long term.
Glen Gower: Yes, I do support inclusionary zoning (IZ) as one of many policy tools that we need to address the affordable housing crisis. There are currently over 10,000 families on a waiting list for affordable housing and IZ has proven to be a helpful tool in other cities who have adopted it.
As it stands, the Provincial government only allows IZ near a small number of transit stations. Earlier this year I introduced a motion – supported unanimously by City Council – to ask the Province to expand the eligible areas for IZ to more parts of the city.
Here in Stittsville, I’ve established an affordable housing working group with a goal of launching affordable housing construction in our community within the next four years. We are already making progress towards identifying suitable land and partners to make this happen.
Tanya Hein: Everyone deserves a safe and comfortable home. Inclusionary Zoning is a versatile tool to help address our affordable housing crisis, but I don’t support it for all new developments in Stittsville as phrased in your question. Instead, I support the city’s current direction of focusing Inclusionary Zoning efforts around Protected Major Transit Service Areas and perhaps to areas of the city losing higher numbers of existing affordable units to renovictions or other tenant displacement. I do, however, support the ideas that we should be working with developers outside of IZ areas to encourage more affordable housing options (including some sized for families) throughout the city, and to create funding and organizational partnerships with other levels of government and non-profit housing organizations to better leverage their resources and expertise in the field so we can do more to significantly reduce housing wait lists.
Kevin Hua: Yes, inclusionary zoning is one of the city’s best tools to help address the housing crisis by mandating the inclusion a proportion of truly affordable housing in new developments, creating much needed mixed-income housing particularly for those with low to moderate income, those on OW and/or ODSP, and other marginalized and disadvantaged groups that are disproportionately vulnerable to housing insecurity.
Question 3: Many in Stittsville are expecting and deserve better transit service – What is your plan of action to ensure that Stittsville is properly serviced with OC Transpo buses as we wait for rapid transit that is expected to arrive in 2031?
Mathew Duchesne: First we need to establish a transit hub at the site of the Hazeldean / Robert Grant future LRT site. We must ensure as a top priority that we have Robert Grant (the backbone to our transit and transportation network) built to a minimum of 4 lanes right off the bat, in the next phase starting this fall so that we can connect Stittsville to LRT and Bus transit creating a cohesive transit plan with supporting infrastructure. By connecting Robert Grant to highway 417 as soon as possible we will be able to connect new communities to the bus infrastructure already in place, therefore servicing a big part of our community that is underserved by transit and car reliant. We have to bring buses closer to residents so that they’re not forced to walk long distances especially in the winter months or left waiting by the roadside (unsheltered) as buses don’t show up.
Glen Gower: The pandemic and a shift to work-from-home is changing how people use OC Transpo. We need a big rethink of local bus service to meet demand. For example:
- More service outside of rush-hours, especially in busy retail and employment areas like Hazeldean Road, Iber Road, and Carp Road.
- Bus connections for Kanata North.
- More weekday and weekend service for Routes 61, 62, and 67.
- Improve frequency and reliability of the bus network, with upgrades to cross-town routes like Hazeldean, Baseline, Carling, etc.
- Keep pushing to get light rail to Stittsville as soon as possible to improve travel times to move across the City. Both the federal and provincial governments have indicated they will fund this project.
(For what it’s worth, I do not support across-the-board fare-free transit.)
Tanya Hein: I hear valid complaints about transit every day—everything from being unable to access local businesses to students having to take 3+ buses and 3 hours a day to attend university. I’ve also heard from employees, who say morale is low, hiring is difficult, and that we need to take a very close look at how OC Transpo is managed and operated. Step one to improving bus service locally will be a thorough review of schedules and routes to determine where we need additional service and addressing those gaps. I’ve spoken to several operators who have made good, low-cost, suggestions. Staffing, training, and planning for increased needs must also be a focus to avoid cancellations due to lack of staff.
It’s also important to learn from the upcoming Ottawa LRT Public Inquiry report. Given the lack of accountability and transparency surrounding the contracts, trains, testing, etc., I’m expecting extensive recommendations.
Kevin Hua: Stittsville deserves a more robust transit network that actually reliably serves the community. My plan to achieve that is to:
- Run more local routes through the community to increase coverage and range so that the transit network is accessible to residents.
- Establish dedicated service for Stittsville that goes straight to the Transitway rather than add an extra 30 minutes passing through Kanata like with routes 61 and 62.
- Shift our priority to include not just 9-5 commuter service but service to other communities and within the community by, for example, extending route 88 to Stittsville.
- Deliver a much needed bus station to serve as a transit hub for the more than 40,000 people in Stittsville and as the foundation of our local transit network.
- Create a real-time GPS tracking app to allow better coordination with buses and bus schedules in real-time for riders.
Question 4: There is a 70 year history of our Stittsville volunteer firefighters at Station 81. In this municipal election, there is a movement evolving that questions the work and training received by volunteer firefighters in our area fire stations – Would you support or not support a Composite Station 81 where Volunteer Firefighters would work alongside Full-time Firefighters and what are your reasons?
Mathew Duschesne: I’ve spoken to a lot of professionals about this matter and it is my understanding that it is not the training that is the problem but access to available equipment. The Volunteer fire hall has more equipment that the full time fire hall and since volunteers in some instances work other jobs, it’s critical to our community safety that we have the full time firefighters stationed where we have the most equipment and different types of emergency vehicles for quick access. We have a greet team of superb volunteer firefighters and it’s my understanding that we have a very good response rate at the moment, and a very well trained team of volunteers who we all appreciate very much and value. We must start building our new development streets to be wider to accommodate street parking and fire / emergency response vehicles, we must ensure we have adequate vehicles that can service our changing housing types and make sure we are not reliant of vehicles coming in from other parts of the city.
Glen Gower: I cannot imagine Stittsville without a strong volunteer fire department. There’s a long tradition of volunteer firefighters in Stittsville dating back 70 years and I want to see this tradition continue into the future.
Also let’s be clear that there are zero concerns about the ability of volunteer firefighters to keep our community safe. Response times are well within targets, and all volunteers are exceptionally qualified and have access to all of the required fire equipment.
The City’s emergency services department is doing a review of fire coverage in the west end in light of projected growth in the coming years. I expect we’ll see the results and recommendations back sometime next year. One of the options may be a hybrid station, however I’m still not convinced it’s a better model than what we have now with the volunteers.
Tanya Hein: I haven’t heard anything that questions the work/training of volunteer firefighters. In fact, there’s been nothing but praise and admiration for volunteers, who keep us safe and are tremendous community ambassadors. What I have heard, though, are concerns about challenges that come with intensification: congestion on Stittsville Main that could delay volunteers getting to the station quickly (and related, needed ongoing green light education); issues associated with managing fires in the larger, more densely populated buildings coming to Stittsville; and ensuring we have the human and equipment capacity to respond to an expanding population. The 2020 OFS annual report identified the need for additional guaranteed response capacity in Stittsville as ‘pressing’, and it seems sensible to plan for that, whether we look at converting Station 81 to composite as suggested, or perhaps considering interim options like adding an extra guaranteed crew/apparatus at Station 46 so growth doesn’t outpace response capacity.
Kevin Hua: I greatly respect and acknowledge the vital service and excellence of the volunteer firefighters of Station 81 that they have provided in protecting our community. But as Stittsville continues to grow rapidly, we need to ensure that our services and fire protection matches pace with this growth. As according to the 2020 Annual Report, I would make consideration to converting Station 81 into a composite station with both volunteer and full-time firefighters with consultation from the community and stakeholders.
Question 5: As you knock on doors – What is the issue or issues that you hear as being the most important for Stittsville residents?
Mathew Duchesne: In new Stittsville it’s all about builder accountability; unfinished developments, no schools (portable overuse, no buses), small roads, no local walkable shopping, incomplete communities, with lack of transit & transportation infrastructure, lack of healthcare, hard to access childcare and worsening traffic.
In the established area of Stittsville people are concerned with Stittsville Main Street traffic, the rate at which Stittsville is expanding and the type of developments we are allowing in our ward, lack of leadership by our councillor in regard to failed urban planning policies and recommendations to council, also concerned about speeding, growing crime rates, keeping Stittsville comfortable and functional.
Glen Gower: I talk to residents every day and hear all sorts of feedback on a wide range of issues. Three are coming up most frequently:
- Traffic safety – reducing speeding, and improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
- The impact of development, especially infrastructure and amenities. The biggest challenge we face is ensuring that along with new homes, we also can provide all the amenities we need for healthy communities. We need more tools from the Province to fund the roads, transit, libraries, recreation centres, etc. to match. And we need the Province to step up and build schools and provide family doctors.
- Property taxes. Over the last four years we’ve capped property taxes at 3%, and I support the same for this term. That’s a good balance to recognize rising costs (construction inflation, ability to maintain and improve city services), while keeping taxes affordable and predictable for residents.
Tanya Hein: I’ve heard a variety of issues from residents, but road safety, transit frustrations, and concerns about lagging infrastructure in the face of so much community growth are the top three issues that come up over and over again. Managing growth is going to be one of Stittsville’s biggest challenges over the next decade. We are developing at an intense rate, with developers often pushing to maximize the number of units built on their property. More housing capacity is great, but we need to encourage a better balance of residential and commercial uses, better transit, accessible green spaces, community centres, sports facilities and more to realistically achieve the vision of a walkable, 15-minute community.
Kevin Hua: The largest issues I’ve been hearing when knocking on doors have been:
- The unreliability, infrequency, and poor coverage of transit
- The loss of trust from the lack of accountability in City Hall
- The increased occurrences of speeding on our streets
- The numerous connectivity gaps creating accessibility obstacles to active transportation
- The approach to intensification in Stittsville
- The deficit of services and infrastructure not keeping up with the growth
Question 6: Residents want to know – What are your priorities to improve Stittsville?
Mathew Duchesne: We have to master plan the community together and make sure we have a solid plan for Stittsville – one that is functional, sustainable, planned and exciting. The community want and expect to see a plan for our future growth, more public consultations regarding planning and our future developments having walkable neighbourhoods centred around transit stations and infrastructure like the Queensway.
We want to have Robert Grant built to its intended 4 lanes and expedite connection to 417 highway asap – as to decongest Stittsville Main St., Carp, Huntmar and Terry Fox.
1. Revitalizing Stittsville Main: Improve cycling and pedestrian safety and attract more small businesses.
2. Transportation infrastructure: Robert Grant Avenue, Carp Road, Fernbank Drive.
3. A “Health Hub”: Bringing health services to Stittsville, including an urgent care centre and family clinic.
4. Tree planting: Planting 2,000 new trees yearly.
5. Fernbank District Park: Finishing construction within 2-3 years to serve the growing Fernbank area.
6. Welcoming newcomers: More support for new Canadians.
7. Pedestrian & cyclist safety: Improving sidewalks and pathways and more police enforcement.
8. A dog park at Shea Woods: Ensuring this cedar forest remains a protected natural area and off-leash dog park.
9. Affordable housing: Building an affordable housing project in Stittsville. Supporting city policies to build more affordable housing in our city.
10. Rethinking transit: Improving local service, frequency and reliability of transit. Improving local service outside of rush hours.
Details here: voteglen.ca/platform/
Tanya Hein: My priorities for Stittsville are:
1) Balanced growth: encouraging a mix of residential and commercial development, along with the supporting infrastructure and services needed to serve the new residents. This includes more variety in our residential builds, adequate transit, better cycling/pedestrian facilities, parks and natural areas, revitalizing our main street, etc.
2) Honest and accountable leadership: I am committed to giving Stittsville my very best effort. I will be approachable, forthcoming, independent, and make every decision with integrity in mind. I value public input and perspectives and will facilitate participation at every opportunity.
3) Smart budgeting: I recognize the importance of prioritizing our needs and wants and balancing those priorities against taxpayers’ ability to pay. Affordability is an issue that stretches far beyond housing. Everything costs more than it did two years ago, and almost everyone is feeling the pinch. Council has to keep that in mind with every decision.
Kevin Hua: My priorities in Stittsville are:
- Providing a robust transit network that truly serves the community
- Restoring accountability and transparency to City Hall
- Tackling the climate crisis for future generations
- Delivering quality amenities and services for residents
- Designing a safe, accessible, and well-connected community.
You can find more details and information about my priorities at kevinhua.ca/priorities.
Question 7: And for the proverbial light side – What 3 songs would you add to your deserted island playlist?
- Life is a highway, Tom Cochrane
- Le Nozze Di Figaro, Mozart
- Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys
- Livin’ for the City / Stevie Wonder
- Ontario / Jim Bryson
- We Can Work It Out / The Beatles
Tanya Hein: My deserted island play list would definitely include –
- New Sensations (Lou Reed)
- One (Three Dog Night)
- Dancing Queen (ABBA)
- Cry Baby by Official Hige Dandism
- Fils de Joie by Stromae
- U (English Version) by millennium parade x Belle