PRESS REPORTS OF RCOC's RURAL RALLY
and WARD BOUNDARY VOTE IN COUNCIL:


Metronews Ottawa - June 9, 2005 (See page 3)


 Ottawa Sun - June 9, 2005

Rural folks take fight downtown

Farmers protest new ward boundaries

By DEREK PUDDICOMBE, Ottawa Sun

Worried they're losing their voice at the council table, about 100 rural landowners and farmers gathered outside City Hall yesterday morning to lend their voice to the debate on ward boundaries.

"We have become subservient to the City of Ottawa," said Bob McKinley, who founded the Rural Council, a grassroots organization that lobbies for the rights of rural residents.

McKinley told the small crowd who arrived by tractor and bus that city council does not understand the rural way of life.

LESS REPRESENTATION

"Most of them don't care about us," he said.

Brian, 42 and Bruce Hudson, 44, own a beef and hog farm in West Carleton, an operation that has been in the family since the 1830s.

They fear losing representation at the council table will lead to further divisiveness between urban and rural residents.

They argue when it comes to the amalgamated City of Ottawa, one size does not fit all. When it comes to plans to expand their farm, they say it's either impossible or takes too long because of the bureaucracy now in place.

"There are so many hurdles and hassles and there's no one to give you an answer," said Bruce.

A 2004 survey by the Rural Council revealed about 90% of rural residents are unhappy with how the city is run after amalgamation.

A few farmers were disappointed with the turnout, but Hudson said many were busy on the farm and couldn't afford to take the time off to make the trip into the city.

"The sad part about this is we are a pair of the youngest farmers in the city," said Bruce.

derek.puddicombe@ott.sunpub.com 


 Ottawa Valley News -June 16, 2005

Council accepts ward boundary recommendations despite rural rally

Only an OMB appeal can stop reduction of rural representation by 40 %

By Karen Secord

Ottawa Valley News 

The presence of about 100 protesters at City Hall on June 8 failed to make little difference to councillors when they voted on recommendations to change ward boundaries before the 2006 municipal election. Neither did a motion in the “11th hour” by Coun. Bellmare, who objected to the addition of two more wards at an estimated cost of $1-million.

“Don’t get too comfortable in your seats,” Bellmare told staff around the table, such as City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick, “because the way we’re going those extra councillors are going to take your place.”

 
 
Councillor Cullen called the recommendations the best of the worst. He described the consultant’s report “badly constructed” and said that it “was not a good use of taxpayers dollars.”

 
 

“Rigid thinking is putting a straight jacket to future boundary reviews,” he continued, offering to extend his ward over the Greenbelt. “My motion is not a magic bullet but it is a great first step.”

However, the majority of councillors disagreed and accepted the recommendations of the consultants, not because they are perfect, as some noted, but because there is a rush to get them in place before the December 31 deadline.

Councillor Cullen called the recommendations the best of the worst. He described the consultant’s report “badly constructed” and said that it “was not a good use of taxpayers dollars.” But pointing to the discrepancies between the ward sizes he also said that he could not accept that taxpayers in Rideau ward, for example, are worth four times more than those in Kanata or Bell-South Nepean, where ward size is edging close to 70,000.

Bellmare’s motion was to essentially leave the wards alone and, if accepted, would have triggered a whole other round of public consultations and yet another report. It would be like starting over, the city’s lawyer confirmed.

“Alex Munter and I put forward a motion in the spring 2001 to make boundaries fairer,” a disgruntled Jan Harder reminded her colleagues.

The first ward boundary bylaw, which lumped rural residents in with their suburban neighbours, was successfully challenged in front of the Ontario Municipal Board by a group representing the rural communities of Ottawa. It sent the city back to the drawing board and kept the city’s ward structure unchanged during the November 2003 municipal election.

Protest Rally

 

Rural residents, concerned about the recommendations, which they say will reduce their representation around the council table by 40 percent, came to city hall by the busload to state their case.

“Because we are the unique subservient citizens of the City of Ottawa we must submit to the decision making of councillors who don’t know about our issues and concerns and don’t care about them,” said Bob McKinley, the lawyer who represented rural interests during the first OMB challenge.

Standing atop a hay wagon in front of a street lined with farm vehicles, and surrounded by signs from the Rural Council of Ottawa (an organization he helped to form), the  
 
Janne Campbell, President of both the Ottawa Rural Council and the West Carleton Rural Association, was instrumental in organizing the rally and facilitated the two-hour long presentation by various groups and individuals.
Lanark Landowners Association, and the West Carleton Rural Association, McKinley told the crowd that their voices in the city “have been badly damaged.” And he challenged them to let their politicians know that they are not going to take it any more.
 

Mayoral hopefuls Terry Kilrea and Brian McGarry both addressed the crowd.

“I’ve read the sign. I did eat breakfast,” said McGarry. “And I thank you. But I need to understand more. Trust me we are not going to leave you in the wilderness. Let’s work together. You have friends in the city.”

Speakers touched on everything from de-amalgamation and the forming of a new area called Carleton County, to property rights and the need for a rural summit.

Crystal LeBlanc, the NDP candidate in the federal riding of Carleton-Mississippi spoke passionately on the issue of rural rights.

 
2006 mayoral hopeful Brian McGarry told the protesters that he is interested in learning more about what their concerns are.

“We're here today because of what NDP Agriculture critic Charlie Angus has
coined a "political walk away" from rural Canada,” she began. “While economically rural Canada is being marginalized, politically rural Canada is being disenfranchised.”


Doreen Coade may live on Ogilvy Road, in an east end suburb, but she showed her support for the plight of rural residents by protesting along side them.
 
Coun. Rob Jellett stood shoulder to shoulder with farmers while he listened to what various speakers had to say.
     

“We've gathered here at City Hall to stop more walls from being erected. We're here to let our municipal leaders know what we think of the rural democratic deficit they're voting on today.”

Councillors Thompson and Brooks provided buses for their constituents to attend the rally and they stayed and listened to many of the speakers. West Carleton’s Coun. El-Chantiry refused to assist with transportation for his constituents, calling it a waste of taxpayers money. He came out to the rally for a brief time, but then voted to accept the consultants recommendations.

Sittsville Coun. Stavinga did not attend the rally. Cumberland’s Coun. Rob Jellett did. And Coun. Bloess purchased signs from the Rural Council that read, “If you ate today thank a farmer.” He displayed them in the window of his city hall office.

 
Bob McKinley, past president of the Ottawa Rural Council, had the ear of Councillor Doug Thompson.
 

 -Ottawa Valley News-

 

 Manotick Messenger - June 15, 2005

By April Scott

150-strong, rural people rally to voice concerns

Running shoes, work boots and jeans were the dress code at city hall last week.

As the dark clouds overhead warned of rain, rural residents and farmers set up camp on the front lawn of city hall on Wednesday, June 8 to remind city decision makers that they have concerns that cannot be ignored.

They came by car, farm truck, school bus and tractor carrying placards that got straight to the point: “If you have eaten today, thank a farmer” and “Stop: this is our land, back off government.”

Huddled around a hay wagon parked at the top of the lawn by the Laurier Street entrance, the rural supports listened intently and cheered as farmers and politicians alike took to the make-shift stage and voiced their discontent with the city bureaucracy.

“People have had enough,” said Terry Kilrea, rural advocate and mayoral candidate.

Rural residents say that their needs are not being addressed, considered or even understood. The proposed ward boundary changes, the reclassification of rural drainage systems to the status of river tributaries, bylaws that restrict

 
Mike O'Connell (L) with Mike and Dawn Westley of rural Stittsville area, joined Wednesday's Rally to protest the city's unfair approach to "wetland" re-designations of their properties. All are also members of the Rural Council.
farm sizes and signage restrictions were at the top of the long list of rural grievances at the rally.

“It seems like the city has come in and is taking over our lives,” said Manotick resident Eve Spraggs.  “We have to have rural representation,” she said. “It is most important.”

Ms. Spraggs has lived in Manotick since 1966 and remembers a day when her village was not run by the conforming Big Brother of Ottawa.

Since amalgamation in 2001, the city has been trying to create one set of rules for the combined rural-urban city and residents living in the outlying areas are fed up with the one-size-fits-all approach.

“The people down at city hall don’t understand the ways of rural life,” said First Line Road resident Wilda Hicks. “I am very concerned for the farmers.”

“Our wallets are a part of Ottawa but our needs aren’t,” added another bystander. 

Bob McKinley, the founder of the Ottawa Rural Council, put it best in his speech to the crowd when he said that the 88,000 rural residents of Ottawa have become “subservient citizens that bow down to city councillors without a clue.” Everyone clapped at the comment and nodded their heads in agreement.

Roger Graves, a North Gower resident, said he moved to the area knowing he wouldn’t have street lighting and would have to live on a well but felt it was a good trade off to be able to attend town meetings at the local hall and voice his opinions. “(Now) my chances of being heard are almost zero if I have a beef,” he said, adding, “All the things I moved out there for, I’ve lost!”

At noon as city council convened to vote on the rural boundary review, the protestors put down their signs and flooded into the council chambers to hear the debate and put a face to the community that a “yes” vote would impact. 

“This (rally) reinforces the rural discontent,” said Osgoode Ward councillor Doug Thompson adding that the rally laid the groundwork for the rural summit that will take place later this fall.
 

Photo at right: Osgoode ward Councillor Doug Thompson (L) and Rideau ward Councillor Glenn Brooks were among 150 residents at a rural rally at city hall on Wednesday.
 
 

-The Manotick Messenger-
 


 Free Press Advocate - June 7, 2005 -(PRE-RALLY COVERAGE)

EDITORIAL - June, 2005

OFA, Landowners a true combined force for change

Hats off to the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton for achieving what everyone knew had to be done, but were less sure how to do it.

The Rural Council's Rural Rally, set to descend on Ottawa city hall as the paper went to press, boasted a talented array of speakers to let the city know they are an unhappy lot. And politicians know that while there may be fewer rural voters, the country folk generally continue to turn out en masse to cast their ballot while the city folk stay home.

In fact, there are optimists who are now saying out loud that rural voters may well hold the balance of power in upcoming elections, certainly at the municipal level and perhaps others.

And that is why it was with such delight that in scanning the list of speakers for the June 8 rally, we spied names from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Lanark Landowners Association on the same page.

Both groups can be a force to be reckoned with. Individually, they have achieved much, on different days and in different ways.

Imagine then, the potential force that has been harnessed by this Rural Rally to remind city hall and its urban majority that they cannot condemn Queen's Park's "one size fits all" approach to city governments while adopting the same ill-starred strategy with its taxpayers populating the far reaches of what they proudly proclaim to be "the largest agricultural city in Canada."

Just a week earlier, Wyatt Williams and "Food Aid" showed what this city --any city-- can accomplish when all players get to play. They raised more than $108,000 in one day. The OFA and LLA are more likely to raise eyebrows. If that doesn't work, they may raise a little hell.

                                            The FREE PRESS ADVOCATE


 Ottawa Citizen - June 9, 2005

Council OKs 'compromise' boundaries

Rural group warns that city can't keep 'taking and taking'

Carly Weeks
The Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, June 09, 2005

While admitting the changes are flawed, city council approved new ward boundaries yesterday that will eliminate one rural ward, add three suburban wards and add two councillors.

"It's best to describe it as a compromise," said Mayor Bob Chiarelli yesterday.

"There were significant numbers of people, including myself, who did not want to increase the number of councillors."

But one rural group is already warning that councillors will eventually have to pay for their decision to axe rural representation on council.

"There needs to be a little bit of give-and-take in there. They're taking and taking and taking. They're going to have a real problem on their hands if they don't start listening to us soon," said Janne Campbell, president of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton.

 
 


"This was not a good use of our time and money where we end up in a situation where democracy is violated."
                                                                                                                             -Councillor Alex Cullen


 
 

Several councillors who voted in favour of the recommendations yesterday said they were doing so because it was better than being stuck with the status quo for the next three years.

Had council not adopted the new ward structure before Dec. 31, it would not have applied to next year's municipal election.

Then, any efforts to adopt the new ward map could have been delayed for another three years.

Councillor Alex Cullen was one of the councillors who said the report was an "obnoxious choice."

"This was not a good use of our time and money where we end up in a situation where democracy is violated," he said.

Ottawa's ward structure has been in question since 2002, when three rural groups launched an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board after council adopted ward changes the groups feared would stifle the rural voice.

The board ruled in favour of the rural groups and said the city had to draft a ward structure that recognized the distinct nature of certain areas in the city.

Rural residents may now take the city back to the OMB to have the ward boundary decision overturned.

But, that decision won't be made for a few weeks because it needs careful consideration, said Bob McKinley, past president of the Rural Council who is also the lawyer that would represent the group.

"It's not something we can decide upon immediately because the decision to go to the board is going to have significant negative implications for the suburban members of our city and not to go to the board is going to have significant negative impacts on the rural residents of our city. It's a tough decision that has to be thought out," said Mr. McKinley.

If council wants a new ward structure in time for next year's municipal election, it has to adopt one by Dec. 31.

The city has spent at least $250,000 on the entire ward boundary review process, including the OMB hearing three years ago.

By approving the ward boundary recommendations without significant adjustments, city officials feel they have a strong case if the changes are appealed at the OMB.

"I think we've done reasonably well maintaining the rural presence and being able to meet the guidelines of the OMB," said Mr. Chiarelli yesterday.

The ward boundary debate took up a significant amount of time yesterday, mainly because of a motion moved by Councillor Michel Bellemare that would have significantly altered the proposed ward boundary recommendations.

The debate became heated at moments and at one point, Mr. Chiarelli tried to stop Mr. Bellemare from wrapping up the debate on his motion, which is the usual custom.

Mr. Bellemare's motion had several recommendations, including that no new wards should be created and that the size of city council should stay at 21 members plus the mayor.

But, in the end, 14 councillors voted in favour of the ward boundary review. Councillors Doug Thompson, Clive Doucet, Rainer Bloess, Georges Bedard, Michel Bellemare, Glenn Brooks, Peter Hume and Jacques Legendre voted against the report.

                                            © The Ottawa Citizen 2005


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