It’s a historic win for Wilson Lo, who becomes the first councillor-elect of the new Ward 24—Barrhaven East. Lo received 37 per cent of the vote to defeat six others in the race to become the ward’s first councillor.
Lo says Monday’s victory was a culmination of more than four months of very hard work and daily door knocking.
“I’m very happy and very pleased with the result I got last night,” says Lo. “Seven and a half hours a day, some 960,000 steps and there is like half a centimetre of sole left on my shoe, I visited all 17,000-plus homes in the ward.”
A prevailing concern for residents was simply moving around the area.
“The difficulty in getting in out and within Barrhaven by any mode of transportation, whether it’s driving, walking, cycling or using transit,” he says.
Lo’s priorities include expanding arterial roads in and out of the area, while building a more robust multi-use pathway through the Greenbelt.
“A lot of the solutions to our transportation problems do start in other wards, like Prince of Wales Drive, which is primarily through Ward 9—councillor-elect (Sean) Devine’s ward,” he says. “We will have to work together. We will have to collaborate so that we have to make a strong case for our residents, as well as Barrhaven West; Greenbank, for example, affects both of us.”
Prior to winning the vote, Lo worked with councillors’ offices over the last two years, managing their inquiries for OC Transpo. Before that, he was a bus operator for seven years.
“I drove through Barrhaven a lot in the early days and that’s actually why I decided to move out here. In both those jobs I tried to advocate for the resident,” says Lo, who wants bus service to be more reliable and to match what he calls, a new community reality. “Not everyone here is going to go back to downtown every day, but it’s also not fair for the people who continue to rely on the services to go to work at places where you have to go every day. It takes a very long time or it’s just a very unwieldy commute and there is nothing in there that encourages public transit use.”
Lo’s is pitching a ‘Barrhaven Loop’ to connect major commercial areas through a network of local buses in the hope to increase ridership and provide better access to transit hubs.
Residents have told Lo that another issue is community safety. There has been an increase in car thefts and complaints of speeding and reckless driving on neighbourhood streets. Lo would like to see more traffic calming measures in community zones as well as an increased police presence and the construction of a police station to help crack down on crime.
“Because our children are playing on our streets and we’d hate for anything to happen. It should not take a death for us to address traffic issues,” he says. “Our new mayor has made it clear he does want to improve the policing situation here in Ottawa so that our residents do feel safer.”
Lo adds that he is committed to the residents of Barrhaven East and that Monday’s win could not have happened without the help of volunteers, friends, family and especially his wife, Amelia.
“She’s the reason our house has not fallen apart while I was out for four months. The love and support that she’s given me; I don’t have the words to express the gratitude for it,” says Lo. “Barrhaven is an incredibly diverse community in so many ways and I’m just happy that I can represent one part of it.”
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