Adam: Diane Deans says the time has finally come for her to try to become mayor of Ottawa

“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” said the 63-year-old cancer survivor, one of the senior counselors.

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Ottawa will have a new mayor in October, and if you’re Diane Deans, there could never be a better time to run for the top job. Deans was presented as a candidate for mayor for years, but never took the plunge, possibly because of an impregnable roadblock named Jim Watson.

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But Deans, a cancer survivor, thinks the time is right. At 63, she is one of the longest-serving councilors, having been first elected to council in 1994 in Ottawa before the merger. She believes that experience, knowledge and understanding of the city and its issues are important qualities for the mayor.

“The city is now a complex and diverse place and it is in a period of critical change. I believe that more than ever, we need strong leadership, better direction and experience. Now is not the time for on-the-job training, ”she said. “I have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the city. I ask tough questions, challenge assumptions, demand excellence, and demonstrate leadership at the board table.

Deans points out that she has chaired some of the most important city committees, from the Transportation Board to Community and Protective Services and the Police Services Board. “If you look at the major issues in the city right now – public transit, policing, housing affordability – I have chaired committees that deal with them and have gained in-depth knowledge of each of them, ”she said.

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There’s a long way to go before applicants release their detailed platforms, but Deans says the biggest issues are public transit, affordable housing and bringing a fractured city closer together.

Affordability of housing will certainly require significant support from the provincial and federal governments, but transit is one area she believes the city can deliver significant results.

Although it has invested billions of dollars in public transit, the city is failing to put it on track, she says, with rising public discontent and declining ridership. Support for public transit would be one of its main priorities. “Right now the funding is split roughly 50-50 between property taxes and tariff. Do I think we are going from there to 100%? 100 on the tax bill? I don’t think so, ”she said. “It’s too big a bite. But we need to stop raising prices and sharing the load differently.

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This raises the question of whether this kind of thinking will open the door to big spending and tax increases. Not necessarily, she said. “My record speaks for itself. I have not been a big spendthrift and have always supported modest tax increases based on inflation, ”Deans said, noting how the Police Board handled the 2021 budget.“ I am a fiscal conservative and a social progressive. “

Deans has a reputation as one of Watson’s fiercest critics, so how would his administration be different?

On the one hand, she says, “building a new team on the board will be merit-based, geographically representative and diverse. Mayor Deans won’t feel the need to win every vote. And instead of pitting one group of advisers against another, creating unnecessary friction and animosity, she will strive to unite the council. “I don’t believe dividing and conquering our communities is the right thing to do. Cranky advice doesn’t work at its best.

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Gaining votes in the outskirts of the city will be one of the great challenges of the race, especially for the urban candidates. Watson has mastered it pretty well and Deans says she’s up to the task.

She notes that she comes from a farming community north of Toronto, where her family still lives, and that she includes such communities. And not only is it careful with taxpayer dollars, but it demands good value for money, which is important to residents of the outskirts.

In addition, she understands the importance of good transportation networks to them. That is why she is keen to rebuild the bad roads in the city. “I understand that we all need roads; we need safe roads that are not full of potholes. We have to invest in our road infrastructure, every 6,000 kilometers, ”she said.

Mohammed Adam is an Ottawa journalist and commentator. Contact him at nylamiles48@gmail.com.

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