Ottawa city council to vote on budget directions in final meeting of 2022

The final Ottawa city council meeting of 2022 will take place today and next year’s budget is high on the agenda.

City staff have recommended drafting the 2023 budget with a maximum 2.5 per cent property tax increase, the top-end of what Mayor Mark Sutcliffe promised in his election campaign.

The city is facing a serious budget crunch after nearly three years of pandemic impacts. Staff warn the city of Ottawa is facing “unprecedented inflationary pressures” that will affect all city services next year.

However, city council is looking at ways to fulfill some of Sutcliffe’s campaign promises despite budgetary pressures. Motions were moved last week to freeze transit fares in 2023—a late campaign promise from Sutcliffe—and to cut youth recreational programming costs by 20 per cent.

“Significant increases on fuel, construction indices, parts and supplies will have a significant impact to the 2023 Budget pressures,” says a report prepared for Council. “Staff will also include a list of efficiencies and opportunities as part of the tabled 2023 Budget.”

The Ottawa Police Service would also be directed to draft the budget with a 2.5 per cent increase.

The draft operating and capital budgets will be presented to Council on Feb. 1, 2023. The budget will be voted on in March.

APPROVAL FOR CITY COMMITTEES

The city’s nominating committee recommended members and chairs for the city’s standing committees, subcommittees and boards Tuesday.

Final approval must come from council, and there is already an indication that at least one thing could change.

Bay Ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh asked Tuesday whether she could be appointed to the newly-created Light Rail Subcommittee, in order to bring it to six members, give it gender parity, and allow her to be involved in decisions on light rail, which will directly affect Bay Ward.

Kavanagh was told she would need to raise the issue at council.

The chairs of each of the city’s standing committees are all experienced councillors who have served at least one term before. The nominating committee named five councillors whose wards are inside the greenbelt and four outside the greenbelt as committee chairs this term. Last term, there were only two councillors inside the greenbelt sitting as committee chairs.

Chairs of each standing committee and the transit commission sit on the city’s powerful Finance and Corporate Services Committee.

SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

Another item on the council agenda is a motion calling on city staff to immediately stop buying single-use plastics, such as drinking straws and stir sticks. It would also direct staff to work on ways to reduce plastic waste.

The motion comes just days before the first phase of the federal government’s single-use plastic ban, which, as of Dec. 20, prohibits the manufacture and import for sale of many single-use plastics. The ban on sales of these products won’t come into effect for another year.

Kavanagh, who is moving the motion that is seconded by the mayor, says stopping the purchase of single-use plastics is a good first step for the city.

“We have to start somewhere and this is really just the start of the immense problem that we have with the overflow of plastic,” Kavanagh told CTV News. “So if the city does it themselves, we’re setting a good example.”

Wednesday’s city council meeting begins at 10 a.m.

–With files from CTV’s Josh Pringle and Tyler Fleming. 

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