The inauguration of City Council last night was an interesting spectacle. It was a delight to see Suzanne Pinel again, she had us all from the first “Bonjour, je m’appelle [Marie Soleil]”. She refrained from calling hiz honor “Fergus”. I have many fond memories of taking my daughter to Marie Soleil events, endlessly rewatching the VHS programs. But once a children’s entertainer … it is hard to not view the inauguration through those eyes.
It wasn’t the only note of nostalgia last night. There was the old politician stumbling to a new life, the promoted lifeguard, the renaissance garb worn by the mayor that instead of lending dignity to the event drew sustained snickers from the packed house at Shenkman Centre. It was interesting to listen to the cheer volume as each councillor was announced. This is definitely a Liberal council.
Mayor Jim presented his speech well. He is going to watch our tax dollars, because that is what he heard we wants. He will do this by not raising user fees at sport facilities and by keeping and spending the money “saved” by the province uploading certain municipal programs. He will also make transit more sustainable, which means operating efficiencies (not “cuts”) or higher fares. To my ears, this was a speech full of contradictions. I thought of Stompin’ Tom Connors spending money we ain’t got.
He called for a concerted effort to celebrate our sesquetennial in 2017, apparently unaware that Council has already passed a motion to that effect. He recognized the significance of the LRT program. Perhaps he could combine the two, by opening the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel and LRT lines before July 1, 2017. The word I hear from staff is that is certainly do-able; this was confirmed by a Councillor I talked to at the reception last night. If Jim’s signature accomplishment is implementing his rival predecessor’s major project, he’s got to stamp it with his own image. I couldn’t make that suggestion to his honor himself, because I didn’t see him work the crowd at the reception, he was busy giving MSM interviews in a side wing.
While chatting with a new councillor and a few other residents, someone pointed out I wrote the West Side Action blog. The conversation then turned to the blog, recent posts, the value of the micro-reporting on neighborhood affairs … and I noticed the councillor had drifted away, no longer centre of attention. Conclusion: Councillors, start a blog today, blog daily, if you don’t write it yourself get a staffer to do so, and write in plain English and not bureaucratese. Get someone who can spell better than me.
Final observation: the reception lobby for the Shenkman Centre is downstairs, below the street-level entry lobby for the large and neutral-colour theatre, partially tucked under the slope of seats. The perimeter wall of the hall is plain poured concrete. It felt decidedly like a basement rec room. The cookies were great though, thanks Timmy.