Deachman: Ottawa makes a bet on the inexperienced, but safe Sutcliffe


The problems the mayor-elect faces are myriad and complicated. Hopefully, he brings as expert a staff to metropolis corridor as he did to his marketing campaign

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In a gripping flip of occasions, Ottawa voters made clear on Monday that they had been extra snug backing an inexperienced horse transferring at a secure and regular tempo, over a extra seasoned one seeking to gallop maybe slightly too speedily into the longer term.

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All through the marketing campaign, Mark Sutcliffe countered Catherine McKenney’s guarantees to make Ottawa a “world-class” metropolis with a extra measured hand promising security and monetary accountability. That clearly resounded with voters: as Monday’s outcomes got here in, Sutcliffe held regular with simply over 50 per cent of votes solid, about 14 factors forward of McKenney, to grow to be Ottawa’s sixtieth mayor.

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Coincidentally, Sutcliffe overcame a 14-point deficit in polls early within the marketing campaign, whittling it down late final week to a 4.2-point drawback, in accordance with Mainstreet Analysis. Regardless of having no earlier electoral expertise, he billed himself because the candidate of change whereas on the identical time wrapping his marketing campaign in quite a few endorsements from institution figures, together with previous mayors and present MPs and MPPs.

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And whereas reasonably priced housing, roads, transit and taxes had been uppermost in many citizens’ minds, the problem that drew a number of the most heated debates between the 2 frontrunners was McKenney’s quarter-billion-dollar plan to compress 25 years’ of biking infrastructure development into simply 4 years.

The plan, which McKenney mentioned can be cost-neutral, nonetheless carried a large price ticket, and voters, at the moment dealing with excessive inflation and the specter of a recession within the New 12 months, merely didn’t purchase in. The difficulty was a major one in pushing Sutcliffe excessive.

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The problems Sutcliffe now faces are huge and complicated: an reasonably priced housing disaster; Phases 2 and three of LRT, plus different transit woes; Lansdowne 2.0; the event of LeBreton Flats; crumbling roads and different infrastructure points; a downtown core emptied of employees, a results of a pandemic that has additionally (a) exacerbated the necessity for extra and higher social providers, and (b) hasn’t but ended.

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Then there’s The Ottawa Hospital improvement, zoning and intensification, and rubbish and policing to take care of. Even a veteran mayor would blanch on the enormity of all of it. One hopes that Sutcliffe will deliver as expert a staff to metropolis corridor as he did to his marketing campaign. 

What Sutcliffe probably received’t should take care of is the so-called Watson Membership and accompanying acrimony that left council badly tarnished all through the final time period and the general public dismayed at its dysfunction.

Watson’s repeated roundup of the same old suspects to get the votes he wanted to steer the town within the path he wished, nevertheless, most of the time labored for him.

And that’s half and parcel of being mayor. You’ve obtained to do some horse-trading, back-scratching, and strategic committee- and board-appointing to assist additional your agenda, and as soon as you identify which councilors you may depend on, you’ll probably return to them once more. Hopefully, Sutcliffe’s promise to function in any other case, saying he can lead by conciliation and consensus, giving all components of the town illustration, will maintain.

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For if he creates committees that symbolize the town as an entire — each geographically and ideologically — it’s extra probably they’ll deliver insurance policies and suggestions to the council desk which have already undergone the mandatory compromises to make them palatable to the bulk.

However as a first-time mayor with out earlier council expertise, Sutcliffe will discover himself surrounded in three weeks by the least-experienced council in reminiscence. Everybody would do effectively to not alienate the others as they muddle their approach by protocols, guidelines of governance and factors of order, nevermind studying the place the washrooms are.

Though a fresh-faced council implies that lots of the previous scores have been settled come what may, additionally gone is a big chunk of council’s institutional data. Beacon Hill-Cyrville’s Tim Tierney, re-elected in a landslide, and Kanata South’s Allan Hubley, seemingly re-elected by splitting the opposition vote, are the one councilors to have served constantly since 2010.

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Steve Desroches, who was elected Monday evening to symbolize Riverside South-Findlay, may very well be added to that listing, though he’s returning to council after an eight-year hiatus, so it’s unlikely he’ll stroll into his new workplace absolutely up-to-date. Former Osgoode mayor and candidate in that ward, Doug Thompson, who has equally been away from council for the final eight years, was in a good race however trailing incumbent George Darouze till Darouze was in a position to declare victory shortly after 11 p.m.

The excellent news is that many of the incoming councilors aren’t such ideologues that they received’t be capable of work with Sutcliffe, or he with them. Newcomer David Brown, elected in Rideau-Jock, might have slightly longer than others to earn the mayor’s belief — Brown had labored for councilor Scott Moffatt earlier than operating towards him in 2018. It stays to be seen whether or not Ariel Troster, elected to hold on McKenney’s progressive mantle in Somerset ward, comes out of the gates like a combative Shawn Menard (who was simply re-elected in Capital ward), or a extra pragmatic Jeff Leiper (additionally handily re-elected, in Kitchissippi).

Sutcliffe promised to work with everybody, and he’s going to want everybody to proper this ship. Hopefully, he’ll take note of metropolis managers, and appoint a number of the extra skilled councilors, comparable to Matt Luloff, Laura Dudas, Cathy Curry, Glenn Gower, Tierney, Rawlson King, Catherine Kitts, Steve Desroches and Leiper, to important management roles.

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