Council discusses coyotes and speed limits during its final 2021-2022 session

Ottawa City Council met for its last time before the municipal election. The next term of Council will see at least 11 new councillors, including a new mayor, take their seats in chambers.

The proceedings started with the mayor giving out the City Builder Award before recognizing the retirement of Danielle McDonald, CEO of the Ottawa public library. McDonald spoke briefly about how much she enjoyed working for the city and touched on the challenges of running North America’s largest bilingual library system.

Councillor Riley Brockington brought forward a motion asking staff to explore solutions to the coyote problem in River Ward. He explained that a wildlife specialist could answer why the population has grown and if changes in habitat or environment have contributed to the ongoing issues. Brockington noted that coyotes are part of the wildlife in the area and should be respected but that their sometimes brazen public appearances during daylight hours lead to more calls to 3-1-1. He also noted that residents have reported losing pets to the carnivorous predators.

Councilor Jan Harder asked, “Why now?” and brought up examples of coyotes harassing school children, saying that nothing was previously done about it because it was assumed the city could do little due to the problem being a provincial issue. City staff informed Harder that it was within the breadth of municipal responsibility.

Brockington asked for a coyote management strategy like those taken in other municipalities and consultation with Coyote Watch Canada. Brockington’s motion to develop a strategy was passed. The next council will look for a solution to the coyote problem.

Councillors Katherine Kitts and Theresa Kavanaugh brought forward a motion to ask Mayor Watson to write to Premier Ford in support of Bill 5; a private members bill brought forward by Liberal MPP and former Councillor Stephen Blais, which would allow a judge to remove councillors who violate workplace safety and harassment rules.

Blais' bill is in response to the Rick Chiarelli scandal — two integrity commissioners’ reports determined that Chiarelli was a serial sexual harasser of female staff in his office. Chiarelli was stripped of his pay for 400 days but continued to sit in the Council Chamber.

Councillor Matthew Luloff brought forward a motion seconded by Councillor Tim Tierney to reduce the speed on Springridge Drive in Orleans to 40 km due to the high pedestrian foot traffic on the street. The motion was passed.

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry proposed a motion, seconded by Cathy Curry, advocating that councillors disclose close relationships between themselves and city staff to the city Audit Committee.

Today was the last day for Jim Watson in the Council Chamber. Instead of going out with a speech or a brief note about his time in Ottawa municipal politics, Watson was quiet. Not uncommon for Mayor Watson, he allowed the day-to-day business of the Council to continue, concluding the meeting after a short hour and fifteen minutes.

Ottawa City Council meetings will resume once the new Council is sworn in after the October 24th election. Make no mistake; everything will change at City Hall. After 12 years, the era of Pax-Watson is coming to a close.

Image: OLM staff