Ward 10 – Gloucester-Southgate Councillor Q&A
With the Ottawa city election quickly approaching (and advanced voting already started) this is an excellent opportunity for the community to choose elected officials for many key positions that make a real difference in our day-to-day lives.
We asked those running for city councillor for Ward 10 – Gloucester-Southgate to answer a few questions pertaining to the redevelopment of South Keys Centre. We received answers from three candidates, but have included links to the websites and platforms of all the candidates. Please take a look to help you make an informed vote!
Here are their answers.
*Editor’s note: On October 13 Hussein Mahmoud’s answers were added.
- The City currently owns the Greenboro Park-and-Ride, a six-hectare parcel next to the Greenboro O-Train Station. In 2019 the City reviewed the potential to redevelop this parcel with affordable housing and labelled it a medium-term priority. With strong Councillor support, this could happen much sooner. Will you advocate for replacing the park-and-ride with affordable housing, and what approach would you take to get it done?
Aria Alavi: Yes, I will support it completely. The lack of affordable housing all over Ottawa is a major issue for many residents. At least, Ottawa needs 70000 affordable units in 3 to 5 years, Not 10 years. If I get elected, I will make this important issue my top priority and will place a motion for action in the City Council immediately and in my motion, I will mention it as an urgent-term priority.
Jessica Bradley: I strongly believe that we need to look for opportunities to add new and affordable housing in Gloucester-Southgate Ward. Publicly owned land in proximity to transit is a logical place for this type of development and is in line with our Official Plan policies to add density close to our major transit stations. The Greenboro Park-and-Ride is well used and consultations with OC Transpo and the community would need to occur before decisions to repurpose this land could be made. I would want to consider an option where both housing and sufficient area for the Park-and-Ride (to meet demand) could both co-exist.
Taylor Houstoun: I will advocate for this. One of the largest sections of my platform is affordable housing, and building intelligently-densified new neighbourhoods. At the end of the day anytime something is lost, it must be replaced. When the park & ride is lost, people still need to park somewhere. And even with ridership down overall currently, it does not mean it will stay that way.
I advocate for building more vertical (or subterranean) parking in the area. If the entire area will be developed anyway, we can put the existing allotments above or below ground with extra to spare. This will also be necessary given that the redevelopment is planning to eschew parking space in an area with a significant senior population – proverbially we can kill two birds with one stone here.
The biggest impediments to new housing are zoning and community concerns. I advocate primarily for medium-density buildings and will be respectful of the ward in building on this land. However, it is right near transit and with a sensible, modern, design and community consultation, I see it proceeding smoothly.
With regard to zoning, I plan to advocate for and challenge the current zoning paradigm in the council to allow for more mixed-use and forward-thinking developments. However, given your proposal, I don’t necessarily see any zoning bylaws being run afoul anyways.
Hussein Mahmoud: I believe that affordable housing is a necessity for all residents of Gloucester-Southgate, and Ottawa as a whole. I also firmly believe that we need good-functioning, reliable transit in our ward. Which is why I believe that there needs to be public consultation and a thorough plan drafted to outline exactly how the housing will be kept affordable; how we can optimize our routes to account for the lack of a Park-and-Ride, and; ensure we are using the space to its fullest potential, including greenspaces, where possible.
- Bank Street is scheduled to be resurfaced from the rail corridor to Albion Road in the next 3-5 years. While the City’s long-term plans for Bank Street include a “complete street” with improved sidewalks, cycling, safety and landscaping, resurfacing projects typically don’t involve major changes. Would you advocate for increased City investment to create a “complete” Bank Street, and what approach would you take to get it done?
Aria Alavi: Bank Street requires a ton of investment in its infrastructure and has been neglected for decades. On top, road safety is always my top concern and Bank street is not an exception either. I will be a tireless advocate for increased City investment to create a “complete” Bank Street and I will negotiate with other City Councillors to support this project.
Jessica Bradley: Bank Street is a major barrier for both pedestrians and cyclists, particularly around access to the South Keys and Greenboro Transit stations as well as the South Keys Shopping Centre. I would advocate to make Bank Street a complete street to not only facilitate access across Bank Street, but to also create a safe and convenient north-south active transportation corridor. With projects planned for both north and south of Gloucester-Southgate Ward, on Bank Street, I would work with city staff and neighbouring councillors to take a more holistic look at Bank Street and to leverage opportunities to expand the scope of existing projects.
Taylor Houstoun: I would entirely advocate for this. I fully believe in resurfacing our roads and maintaining them and it’s another big pillar of my campaign. I also already argue that the best time to expand a road is when you’re already planning to resurface it. Financially, this makes the most sense as well, rather than trying to do it after the fact. Do it once, do it right. Citizens understand this mentality and appreciate how it saves their wallets.
Other than making the aforementioned financial case to my constituents, I would work with fellow city councillors. Making walkable, bikeable, cities is in everyone’s interest. And with a full slate of new councillors, many who will be younger and eager to see a modern city, we will get a lot done.
Hussein Mahmoud: Bank Street is easily one of the busiest streets in our Ward. Residents use it to access Centertown, the Downtown Core, as well as to do their grocery shopping, go to their doctor’s appointment, or perhaps they own a small business along the street. The revitalization of Bank Street is valuable to all residents of Gloucester-Southgate. We need to engage with stakeholders and understand how they visualize the new street working best for their needs, because that is how we continue to promote community engagement and economic development in the Ward. While we need to acknowledge that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, and that there are many different changes that need to occur to foster economic development in the Ward, this is a great first step.
- The re-opening of the expanded Trillium O-Train Line next year will bring a major improvement to transit service in the ward. In your opinion, what should the next priority be to improve transit?
Aria Alavi: LRT has tons of problems. I will push for more resources to address sharp curves, provide more track crossovers and add more trains and have more public scrutiny and reduce fares. For me, the other major priority is to start debating about Bank-Street O-Train in the next Council.
Jessica Bradley: Our local transit network in Gloucester-Southgate Ward must be a priority. Local routes are currently unreliable, infrequent, and inconvenient. If we want to facilitate greater use of our transit system and take full advantage of the major investments made in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 LRT, our local networks need to be well connected into the system.
Taylor Houstoun: The buses. If you go to River Rd there are two daily. One in the morning, one in the evening. Move over to the Cotter’s area and you have back-to-back empty buses in some cases, but a dearth of service when people need it at other times of the day.
We need to adjust schedule times to meet ridership, increase buses on the road, and get delays and O-train breakdowns handled because people can’t rely on transit currently. If they can’t rely on it, they won’t use it.
Beyond this, we can look into using more small-vehicle transport to save the city money while increasing service. I also want an assessment done on the feasibility of using an app and push buttons at often-unused stops to let drivers manage routes and timing in a more organic manner. This would increase service and save the city money at the same time if done properly and has been successful elsewhere.
Hussein Mahmoud: I believe that we need to take firm steps towards 15-minute neighborhoods. The South Keys Mixed-Use Area (MUA) we are seeing smart city planning that is fostering diverse housing, greater connectivity, pedestrian and cycling crossings. This change will allow for diminished carbon footprint, with more economical methods of transportation; it will allow for parents to walk, safely, to grocery stores, doctor’s offices, schools, and parks. This can only be achieved through adequate and reliable public transit and making our roads safer for pedestrians.
- The redevelopment of South Keys Centre and adding residents is all the more reason to increase pedestrian and cycling connections to the surrounding community. Better South Keys Centre is advocating for improved connections to the existing Greenboro Pathway network. As Councillor would you support increasing and improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in this area?
Aria Alavi: I will support it completely. Again, investing more into infrastructure is a necessity and road safety for everyone including pedestrians and cyclists is my top priority if I get elected.
Jessica Bradley: Yes. Gloucester-Southgate Ward is fortunate to have a great multi-use pathway system that runs across several communities. However, there are many key missing links along the system that create barriers for residents wishing to cycle or walk to destinations such as the South Keys Shopping Centre. I would focus on identifying the key missing links and prioritizing these links in future Ottawa Cycling Plan and Ottawa Pedestrian Plan updates and budget cycles.
Taylor Houstoun: My home and road strategy is to build beautiful neighbourhoods with significant green space like the one I live in, Greenboro. As part of my plan, I plan to connect neighbourhoods with paths and bike infrastructure to create a parallel system wherever possible to stereotypical roadways. I would like to see a fully walkable Ottawa, safe from roadways and fully support this proposal.
Between connecting neighbourhoods this way, and opening up roadways to also having more walking and cycling capability, Ottawa will be in a much better position.
Hussein Mahmoud: A lack of road safety affects all residents of Gloucester-Southgate. It affects children, seniors, and persons with disabilities the most. I believe in a well-rounded approach to increasing our pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, will allow us to attain the climate target we’ve set for ourselves. Which is why we need to engage with all levels of government, to ascertain the proper funding to ensure that we have a fulsome and effective strategy to increasing our pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, with innovative ways of visualizing transportation in our city that will help us move forward towards carbon neutrality.
People running for city council for Ward 10 – Gloucester-Southgate:
Voting information is available on the City of Ottawa website.
Your final day to vote is Monday, October 24.