If you’ve been following the shenanigans going in River ward, you must be painfully aware that Riley Brockington doesn’t deserve to be re-elected.
He has proven time and time again he’s more than willing to put himself and his own interests in retaining power ahead of those in his ward. If that means he keeps them in the dark, so be it.
Brockington has shown absolute disregard for public consultation. His lack of consideration for his constituents prompted well-loved Craig Searle to resign as the president of the Riverside Park Community and Recreation Association.
A bit of history.
It’s impossible to understand how or why Brockington thought it was so important to shut out his residents to change the landscape of Mooney’s Bay for a $1 million – funds the city had to match. If you cover city hall, you know that $1 million doesn’t have the clout it used to be. But Brockington sold out Mooney’s Bay, kept the plans from his residents and forced the changes on them without the chance to even have a say about their own community.
Unbelievable. Unbelievable but true.
Then of course there’s Canoe Bay, a neighbourhood-changing development where Brockington didn’t fight for his constituents hard enough. He does listen to Mayor Jim Watson, but as I understand the rules, Watson can’t vote in River ward!
Enter Fabien Kalala Cimankinda, a candidate in River ward who deserves to win the right to represent River ward.
“Kalala’s early years are a familiar story of overcoming hardship as a young immigrant. His family fled war in Congo for a better life in Ottawa. He grew up in the Caldwell projects, where many members of his family still live and where all too many troubled young men and boys succumb to the temptations of crime or become victims of it.
“But it was a shooting, a death and a vow to do something about this kind of senseless violence in the community he grew up in that led to a political awakening and a determination to take his fight to city hall.
“Last year, during a routine visit to Caldwell with his young daughter to visit family, Kalala was thrust into a situation that tested his character and further awakened his passion for community service. It began with gunfire near where his daughter and other children played. Kalala instinctively ran to get the children inside. In the process he saw a man on the ground.
“I still remember to this day my daughter screaming,” Kalala recounted emotionally in an interview with Ottawa Sun columnist Rick Gibbons.
According to Gibbons, Kalala rushed to the young man’s aid and began applying pressure to stop the bleeding in his chest. He started CPR and (assisted by a police officer who had arrived on the scene) did everything he could to keep the shooting victim alive. He recounted how he later drove home, bloodied from the scene, only to hear on radio the young man had died, the story continues.
His political activism stepped up, and he became even more involved in his community.
A motion was moved at the Community and Protective Services Committee to recognize Kalala for his bravery. A ceremony was arranged for February.
But days before the event, Kalala was notified it was cancelled due to a heavy committee agenda. It never happened.
It wasn’t until June that Kalala was finally notified the event would be postponed on the recommendation of the city solicitor since, by then, Kalala had officially registered as a candidate for River Ward and the city had all sorts of reasons why it couldn’t go ahead.
This is one of the ugliest stories to find its way into city hall. Kalala is a hero and whoever is to blame, he wasn’t honoured for what he did for this city.
Everyone knows someone isn’t being honest about the delay, but regardless, if Brockington were any kind of a real leader – he would have insisted the honour go ahead.
So oust Brockington, elect Kalala and know your ward will be the better for it.
Also running are Kerri Keith, who appears to be a thoughtful and sincere candidate and Hassib Reda.
I don’t mean to dismiss their candidacy, but Kalala is the right man at the right time. And River ward would be the richer for his presence at city hall.