A packed house assembled at the Guiges Centre on Murray Street on a September 15th warmly applauded commitments by Rideau-Vanier candidates to push for lower speed limits on King Edward Street, where traffic accidents have claimed ten lives over the last decade. Candidates Marc Aubin and Catherine Fortin LeFaivre both judged it unacceptable to simply wait for a proposed tunnel to remove transport trucks from the area.
Incumbent Mathieu Fleury, who is pushing for swifter action on the tunnel and participated in the passing of the Complete Streets policy, which would prioritize pedestrians and cyclists as much as cars, did not disagree. He argued however that the tunnel will ultimately provide the solution to the dangers and air pollution on King Edward Street.
The three leading candidates deftly answered questions on transportation posed in both English and French by moderator Ginette Gratton of Rogers TV, which taped the debate. Fleury focused on integration and extension of existing policies and infrastructure to support active and public transportation. Aubin and Fortin LeFaivre both argued for more rapid completion of the city cycling network slated for completion in 2031.
With substantial consensus on the need to promote active, safe, affordable and accessible transportation, the three candidates increasingly focused on the skills that each would bring to the job. Fleury brings experience as incumbent Councillor, Marc Aubin many years working as a transportation analyst with the federal government and the King Edward Street Task Force, and Catherine Fortin LeFaivre management of successful campaigns for non-profit organizations.
Audience members drew appreciative applause by identifying pressing local needs such as the enforcement of bylaws against sidewalk-cluttering sandwich boards, traffic signals that would give sufficient time to cross Laurier Street at the Transitway, express buses from Vanier to Gatineau and public washrooms on the light rail route – which have so far been rejected for budgetary reasons. The larger context of global warming was also raised in support of stronger public transportation measures.
Candidates could only pledge to work hard with the city bureaucracy and city council to bring these issues to the fore. Whoever wins the Ward 12 seat on October 27th, it seems clear that residents will need to remain engaged to keep safe, accessible transportation high on City Hall priority lists.
The debate was co-hosted by the Lowertown Community Association (LCA), the Vanier Community Association, Action Sandy Hill, Vanier Community Service Centre, Lowertown Community Resource Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Citizens for Safe Cycling, Walk Ottawa and Ecology Ottawa.
Residents can hear more from all these candidates at the following upcoming debates:
All-candidates’ debate (Ward 12) When: Thu, October 2, 7pm – 9pm Where: Sandy Hill Community Centre (map) Vanier Community Service Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Lowertown Community Resource Centre are organizing an all-candidates’ debate (Ward 12). This debate will focus on the 4 main issues promoted by the Making Votes Count project: 1. Transit - affordable, accessible and safe 2. Employment 3. Good food for all 4. Affordable housing
The Lowertown Community Association - All Candidates Debate for Lowertown When: Wed, October 15, 7pm – 9pm Where: Guigues Centre, 159 Murray Street (map) Have your say: Your chance to ask the candidates your questions on issues of concern to you.