...at the Agricultural and Rural Affairs
   Committee Meeting - August 18, 2005

Constructive steps sought,
heading towards Rural Summit

City personnel and rural presenters both signaled desire for Summit's success

RCOC Reporter
August 18, 2005

It was sincere --and down to business-- at the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee Meeting in the Metcalfe Client Centre, Thursday evening.  (See Agenda: CLICK HERE)

FULL HOUSE - There appeared to be plenty of interest in the topics for discussion, which included by-law harmonization and presentation of the Rural Summit Issues Paper.

 

Of particular interest to those attending, were the items dealing with the City's By-law Harmonization Process and presentation of the Rural Summit 'Issues Paper'.

Leaving nothing to chance in these delicate foundation-building stages of the planned November Rural Summit, City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick joined the meeting, sitting informally in the audience.

His attendance sent a message of his commitment and seriousness regarding the Summit, which was appreciated.

 


City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick, addressed many of the questions
raised throughout the evening.


     
Presiding Councillors of the ARAC meeting on Thursday: (L-R) - Doug Thompson of Osgoode, Glenn Brooks of Rideau, Committee Chair Rob Jellett  of Cumberland and Eli El-Chantiry of West Carleton

BY-LAW HARMONIZATION 
Prior to the Rural Summit portion of the meeting, the status of the city's By-law Harmonization process was the subject of much questioning, directed to Planning Director, Sue Jones.

There has been considerable rural angst, that the city was moving too quickly in the direction of a uniform city-wide policy with regard to licensing and pricing, and that it would be carved in stone before the opportunity to discuss it at the summit --which would be grossly unfair to the rural businesses.

Ms. Jones went a long way to allay concern, by indicating that her department is looking very "creatively" at the different requirements with respect to administrative cost differentials between city and urban, upon which the license fees are based, and that her department is fully cognizant of the fact that urban licensing requires a lot more administrative attention.

She indicated that the city was examining this in "as open and fair-minded fee structure approach, as possible," and expressed her belief that she can find some innovative ways to make category labeling decisions that could give the necessary latitude for equitable variations within the provincial legislation.

Bob McKinley, Past president of the Rural Council of Ottawa, commented favourably on Ms. Jones' strenuous 
 


Bob McKinkey, past president of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton

and creative efforts to do what is fair and right for the rural areas of the city.

RURAL SUMMIT - "ISSUES PAPER"
Moira Winch presented a quick overview and update on the status of the Rural Summit Issues Paper, and stated that she was in the process of contacting the 150 or so individuals who had either volunteered or been nominated to serve on various committees.

She indicated that it would take about a week to contact the individuals, to determine the level of time commitment each had, and how they could best serve.

Following Moira, Councillor Brooks led off by commending the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton for bringing the Rural Summit idea to the city. He thought that it would be a very productive exercise.

Brooks suggested that there should be another category of "Rural Business" added to the five categories mentioned in the Issues Paper. He added that the "Action Plan" following the summit is crucial to the Summit's success. In fact, he said, "The city should not wait for the Rural Summit, to be over, but start resolving the issues immediately, as they are identified."

Councillor Doug Thompson said that he believed that it was extremely important for some sort of "Rural Secretariat" to be set up to handle rural issues in the future. He suggested that many city departments have existing employees from the former rural townships, with considerable rural background and experience, so the city wouldn't necessarily have to go out and hire staff to do the job.

Thompson believes that, at the end of the day, if this is done properly -- "The Rural Summit could be a defining moment for us as a city."

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry hoped that the Summit would be able to address the issue of the "diminishing volunteers".

He cited an example where volunteers offered to do work on the Kinburn Community Centre, which would have cost roughly $15,000 in materials. However, the city insisted upon doing the work, and the job ended up costing taxpayers $37,000.

"We need a change of mind-set, to allow more volunteer workers. We're losing the momentum of volunteers," El-Chantiry stressed.

Richard Fraser, a farmer who lives in a rural part of former Nepean, was the first to note that a statement on page 2 of the Issues report seemed uncharacteristic of the desired tone of the Summit. The sentence stated: "The Summit will not be dealing with issues that City Council has already decided (for example, the transit levy and the Munster forcemain)..."

Richard asked, "Isn't the Rural Summit supposed to be open for discussion on all issues of concern to rural residents?"

Rob Jellett quickly said, "I think, at the Summit, we should be able to talk about anything." He then asked Kent Kirkpatrick if he wanted to comment on the matter.

Mr. Kirkpatrick stated that it was a "judgment call" as to which issues the summit should cover in depth, given the limited amount of time available for discussion of the many issues. He said that although he prefers discussion focuses on issues where improvements can be made for the future, he's open to some time being spent to discuss special situations where past decisions have given real cause for concern.
 
Shirley Dolan, West Carleton resident, expressed thanks to everyone for their dedicated work.

She added, though, "We are anxious to see the next steps, and there is still not a lot of clarity around the Summit. It's important to work out those details as soon as possible and communicate them to the rural people.

"You need to be particularly diligent in keeping us informed of progress between now and the summit. There is a lot of work to do and people need to see how things are progressing."

She mentioned that the Rural Summit page on the city web site is good, but there must be other ways used

 
Shirley Dolan is a West Carleton resident who is also an active Executive Member on both the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton and the West Carleton Rural Association.
to communicate with the public, since a large number of rural people will not be able to visit the web site.

Shirley also said, "There seems to be a disconnect between Day One and Day Two," of the summit. "We seem to have two separate summits here, each with their own steering committee. The two should relate to each other". Right now,"it's not obvious how they do."

Lastly, Ms. Dolan stated, "The public needs to be told as soon as possible who will be working on which sub-committee and how they were selected."

In closing, Dolan made it clear that she did not want to be seen as unduly criticizing the Summit --she just wants to "see it become all that it can be."

 
Andy Terauds, who is a farmer/market gardener in West Carleton, who operates the Acorn Creek Garden Farm, said, "First of all, I'd like to congratulate the Committee on the open nature of these discussions."

He then stated, "The category that was mentioned earlier, as being missed in the 'Issues Paper', is 'Rural Business'. One reason it may have been missed is because rural business-people are very reluctant to speak out. I believe there is some trepidation about being treated differently by city staff, if they seem critical about a city process or staff, with regard to licencing, permits, etc."

 


Andy Terods of West Carleton


Terauds concluded, "I think its very important for the city to somehow bring the rural business sector into the Summit process. If we don't, I think the rural businesses will suffer, for not being involved in something they should be involved in."

Adele Muldoon, of West Carleton, was not able to attend the ARAC meeting due to a schedulling conflict, but sent her comments (addressed to Kent Kirkpatrick), on the meeting day. One of her main points regarded the same issue discussed by others: that if the Rural Summit is to be effective, it must have unrestricted discussion of any-and-all issues rural residents are bothered by. In the close of her letter, she states, "Are we wasting taxpayers time and money or can we discuss all issues openly with the view to correct past errors as well as establishing a new governance structure that will help us to avoid such errors in the future?" (See Adele's letter in full, at the bottom of a related page: CLICK HERE.)

 
Harvey Snyder, President of the Richmond Village Association, made some general suggestions regarding the efficacy of the term "summit", but was more emphatic in earlier correspondence with Moira Winch and Kent Kirkpatrick when it came to the specific statement in the 'Issues Paper,' stating, "The Summit will not be dealing with issues that City Council has already decided (for example, the transit levy and the Munster forcemain)..."

Harvey argues that, not only does the Issues Paper specify that "issues" for discussion are to be "identified and developed by Ottawa's rural citizens," but asked, "How is the city ever going to learn to correct its ways, if residents cannot discuss the past blunders," still requiring redress?

 
Moira Winch, Rural Summit co-ordinator takes notes while Harvey Snyder makes case for the Richmond Village Association's presentation at the Summit, of the Village's unique  problem.
 
(The arguments defending Richmond's right to bring their specific issue to the Summit is addressed in greater detail, on another page: CLICK HERE.)
 
Bob McKinley, speaking on behalf of the Rural Council of Ottawa-Carleton, said that the Rural Summit has a daunting task ahead of it, and worries that there may be a need "to bring more structure" into the preparations and planning for the Summit.

He maintains, "There is a huge amount of public anticipation building here." There is so much "hope and expectation" riding on this summit, that "it cannot be allowed to fail."

He praised Moira Winch for what she has accomplished to date. He also 

 
Bob McKinley had supportive things to say, as well as  some sound advice for the ARAC, regarding the fast-approaching Rural Summit.

expressed appreciation for the city's sincere efforts to make it the Summit a success. 

McKinley noted the strong co-operation and commitment of Kent Kirkpatrick's department, and that of the rural councillors. "Thank you for the  political currency and effort you have expended to bring this to where it is today," he said. He cautioned that we all have an obligation to see that the Rural Summit is successful, and that there will have to be sincere effort made to resolve the problems, adding, "What I hope, is that community members come forward to fill the committees," and further, that those coming forward will bring "a positive frame of mind that is going to be constructive, as opposed to critical."

"We've got to think of how what we say is going to 'fix' the problem," McKinley stated.

Councillor Rob Jellett, in making his closing comments, thanked Mr. McKinley for his supportive remarks, and summed up with a phrase that he said was from his radio broadcast days. The expression goes: "No shame, no blame, just fix it."

Hopefully, that will become the working operative of the Committees leading up to the November Rural Summit ---and of the Task Force that follows it:


"No shame, no blame, just fix it."

 


 

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