Ottawa Sun 

Fri, March 19, 2004
Rural residents get chance to be heard

Ottawa Sun

   The rural voice of discontent just got much louder. A group of rural residents, unhappy with the way they and thousands of rural taxpayers are being treated by the city, have formed the Rural Council to tackle a broad range of issues across rural Ottawa.
   "This group may not be radically different from other groups that grow out of the seeds of dissension, but one of the concepts of the Rural Council is it will be a place where people can be heard and express their concerns," said retired lawyer Bob McKinley, who is leading the charge against the city.


   "By speaking with a single voice the expression of those concerns may be more forceful," he said.
   But before the group goes full steam ahead against Chiarelli and council, the group wants to conduct a formal poll of rural residents and businesses to determine their level of satisfaction with the city since amalgamation four years ago.
   McKinley wants residents to compare how they feel today with how they felt prior to amalgamation in 2000.
   "We are actually going to be asking them how they feel about it, unlike the city approach, which tells rural residents they should feel good and be grateful about what we get," said McKinley.
   Adele Muldoon, who lost to West-Carleton


 councillor Eli El-Chantiry by only 29 votes in last November's municipal election, said there is a definite need for the rural group.
   "All the rural wards should become united," said Muldoon who, along with her husband, operates a cattle farm in the rural ward. "I have a strong concern our voice is going unheard. There is power in numbers. We have never lived in fear of having our services being taken away before."
   Unlike similar groups that are politically motivated, McKinley said the group has no political ties or affiliations and is simply a group fighting for the rural voice to be taken seriously by council.
   "The organization that we're building upon is the same organization that fought the city's ward boundary changes, which was a deliberate attempt to compromise democracy in rural Ottawa," McKinley said.


   "The sentiments expressed in last November's mayoralty race came as a direct result of the ill will that council's decision created in the rural wards in that the last election was not an endorsement of Terry Kilrea as much as it was an expression of disapproval for Mayor Chiarelli."
   North Gower business owner Bev Millar moved from Sandy Hill in 1992 and is encouraged by the formation of the Rural Council. 
   "I hope we can work towards a new governance model that meets the needs of the rurals," she said.

Ottawa Sun