PRESS REPORTS OF
RCOC's RURAL RALLY
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
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.
"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.
2004 survey by the Rural Council revealed about 90% of rural
residents are unhappy with how the city is run after amalgamation.
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.
Ottawa Valley News -June 16,
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
“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.”
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
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.”
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
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.
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
“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
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
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
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
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.
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.”
on everything from de-amalgamation and the forming of a new area
called Carleton County, to property rights and the need for a rural
the NDP candidate in the federal riding of Carleton-Mississippi
spoke passionately on the issue of rural rights.
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
Coun. Rob Jellett
stood shoulder to shoulder with farmers while he listened to what
various speakers had to say.
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.”
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
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.
past president of the Ottawa Rural Council, had the ear of Councillor
Manotick Messenger - June 15, 2005
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
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
“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
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
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,
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
“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.
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
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
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
Rural group warns
that city can't keep 'taking and taking'
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
"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
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
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