Be Careful What You Wish For

So if we’re to believe Ontario Premier Doug Ford, he’s receiving plenty of calls from Ottawa calling for a smaller city council with fewer politicians. Frankly, making a call for fewer politicians is a cheap political ploy, one Mayor Jim Watson has made himself in the past – a campaign promise he may live to regret if Ford sets his sights on Ottawa.

Is it possible to cut city council, here or elsewhere? Sure. Absolutely.

What isn’t possible in Ottawa is to cut the the number of politicians and expect the same level of response from your elected representative and their staff. And it seems even more impossible to cut the number of councillors in Ottawa and preserve the special community of each ward.

This isn’t the time to talk about what a mistake amalgamation was. Yes, it was a mistake.

If you’re talking about cutting councillors in any sort of equitable fashion, how do you balance the special wants and needs of the urban, suburban and rural wards? You simply can’t look at Ottawa as a pie and cut it into equal pieces. No one wants that. And it would never work for you – the taxpayer.

Look, simply cutting city council is clearly possible, but if you’re looking for a city council that responds to your concerns about snow plowing, garbage pickup and dog poop in the park, forget about it.

And those are just the basics. There are bylaw infractions, noise, parking, fences – the list is really endless. Yes, you should go through the bureaucracy, but they’re not elected to represent you. Cutting councillors can only mean your concerns end up in the deep cesspool that is an overworked bureaucracy. And of course, ward duties are only part of what city councillors do. They also represent the city as a whole, and that comes with huge responsibilities.

If you look at the details of the individual wards, you’ll likely be surprised at the differences. There are incredible disparities in not just the population of the individual wards – but the geographical size.

Take this tweet from @Catherinemckenney who represents the downtown Somerset ward.

For Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt, that’s nothing but a dream. That would take him days to do! He represents a huge geographical area that takes up a huge part of the city. And within that ward, there are several distinct communities.

So sure, complain to Ford if you want.

Just don’t expect to have anyone there on the other end of your concerns if your wish to cut councillors comes true.

If you want, cut all your councillors and just see what kind of representation you get.

It’s that simple.


  1. Amalgamation was NOT a mistake and there is now no substantial demand to undo it! We had 12 or so squabbling municipalities, all with their own bylaws and forms. Goodbye to all that duplication! And then there were the many dozens of councilors. The list goes on and on.

  2. Amalgamation was a mistake. We did not have squabbling municipalities – only Ottawa being upset by better-run cities. They were paying the bills, either out of debt or getting out of debt. Ottawa, on the other hand, needed more money to keep up their growing problems and needing more money. Duplication was so much cheaper than each councillor having a huge budget. I would love to see that list that goes on and on that Dennis Findlay mentions. Actually, the regional government was so much better. It represented each city and as a group looked after the regional issues. Right now we elect people who cannot know what is happening in the city overall, and if you have a local problem, don’t try to solve it, but say they will contact the staff member in charge. Our elected people do not know what is going on all the time, they are often shocked to hear the latest news that is published. Thank goodness things are brought up in the public and printed in the newspapers. I would love it if our Provincial Government acknowledged the mistakes they made in forming Ottawa and made some changes. Go back to what it was – not a chance! But,making changes to what is absolutely not happening now

    1. Why is the above comment posted twice? It gives the appearance of answering my post but really it is the reverse of that. I have already replied to this
      Anyway. if Sherry is who I think she is, I do have the greatest respect for her husband/politician despite my views. Probably a good idea for me to shut up now! Bye!

  3. Oh come now! The reason why pre-amagamation cities did “so well” is that they had no aging infrastructure in their so-called “city centres”. Guess what? In the real world, downtown Ottawa was the real Nepean “downtown”. Nepean was proudly “debt free” because it didn’t pay it’s share of replacing aging core infrastructure!
    By the way, I have lived in Nepean for 51 years.

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