Thursday, October 28, 2010

Election leaves transit committee gutted

One interesting outcome from the municipal election just a few days ago: The City of Ottawa's transit committee has been absolutely gutted. Five of the eight councillors on the committee will not be returning, as Alex Cullen, Georges B├ędard, and Christine Leadman were defeated in their wards by incumbents, Clive Doucet lost his run for mayor, and Jacques Legendre stepped away from political politics.

Bigger than the names that will be missing from the list? The fact that every councillor representing an urban ward will not return, while Marianne Wilkinson, the vice-chair, from Kanata North Ward, and Rainer Bloess, from Innes Ward, represent suburban wards, and Doug Thompson represents the largely rural Osgoode Ward (a ward which has about five OC Transpo routes running through it).

So there will be at least five new faces on the next Transit Committee. What might this huge change mean for OC Transpo, and for public transit in Ottawa?

Well, it's possible it won't mean too much for too long; part of mayor-elect Jim Watson's platform called for the establishment of an arm's-length transit commission, with five or six councillors and a few members of the public. But this transit commission, if it happens, won't happen right away. And when it does, most of the councillors joining it will likely be those people already on the Transit Committee, and familiarizing themselves with the transit ticket. So who might step up onto it?

It's obvious that there will need to be an urban presence, as transit issues are most pressing in urban areas. And of the new councillors to join the ranks, David Chernushenko, as likely the most left-leaning newcomer, seems like a natural fit for the committee. While we're all still getting to know some of the other new council members, the apparent prevalence of fiscally conservative members may make some individuals interested in joining the committee in an effort to bring down the operating costs of the city's highest budget item, transit services. Some longstanding councillors may also step up to the committee, as well, including Diane Deans. Deans has been outspoken on certain transit issues in the past, and has taken the lead on some items of the transit ticket, so there may be a fit there.

Whatever happens, though, there will be new faces on the transit committee, and there may be a learning curve. However you felt about Alex Cullen, he was the chair of the Transit Committee, and David Reevely thinks he'll be hard to replace. I suppose we will see.

1 comment:

Nick said...

My only question: How many members of the transit committee would have ended up on it again, even if they had been reelected?