By Charlie Senack, Manotick Messenger
There will be a big changeover at city hall after this fall’s municipal election, with at least 12 fresh faces around the council table.
Many of the new councillors will be in West Ottawa and rural areas where multiple incumbents aren’t seeking re-election. Both Barrhaven wards will have a new representative, riverside south is becoming its own ward, and the newly named ward of Rideau-Jock will also be left vacant.
In Osgoode ward, current councillor George Darouze is hoping for a third term in office. First elected in 2014 with 21 per cent of the vote, he had a more comfortable margin in 2018 when he got a 54 per cent lead.
Darouze took over from Doug Thompson who was a city of Ottawa councillor in Osgoode from 2001, but also served as Mayor of Osgoode township from 1997 until 2000. Before that he served as councillor for the township from 1988 until becoming Mayor, totalling 31 years of municipal politics experience.
Thompson endorsed Darouze in 2018, but his feelings in their relationship have now shifted. At 76 years of age, Thompson has thrown his name in the race again, wanting to become councillor for a third time.
It has been a turbulent four years for Darouze, who, in 2020, was caught texting and driving while on camera for a virtual audit committee meeting. He said at the time it was done “inadvertently” but later apologized, and handed himself into police to receive a $615 fine.
In June 2020, a woman and her police constable husband filed a lawsuit against Darouze after he tried to silence the woman who expressed concern with the Osgoode councillor on social media. The 2018 posts criticized police deployment decisions in the ward.
Darouze complained to the woman’s husband’s boss, who was then chief of police Charles Bordeleau.
Bordeleau took the information for review and found out the woman’s observations were accurate. That’s when the woman’s husband was notified about the posts, and was told the police force wouldn’t be taking any action.
A year later in 2019, the city’s integrity commissioner began investigating Darouze’s actions. In his report Robert Marleau wrote Darouze contacted the police chief: “for the primary reason of silencing the female complainant and causing the male complainant grief in his workplace.”
The lawsuit that was asking for $32,500 in damages came after the couple felt dissatisfied with the actions city council and the integrity commissioner took. Darouze issued an apology and ensured his email was removed from the police constable’s file.
The case, which was in small claims court, was dropped in early August of this year, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The couple felt it would eat up too much time and costs, and have since decided to volunteer on Thompson’s council campaign.
Darouze hopes the work he’s done for Osgoode ward will not be overshadowed by these controversies. He has an ambition plan of repaving all the main roads in his ward and wants to keep taxes low.
He’s strongly against free transit and wants it to remain a pay per use system. Darouze, who served as deputy mayor for the last four years, also wants to revisit some current plans including Phase 3 LRT out to Barrhaven and Kanata. With empty park and rides and ridership levels still low after the pandemic, he has concerns over its usefulness at this Stage.
Darouze says he’s proud of securing funding for the Bank Street widening project, and wants to remain working on enhancing core emergency services in rural ridings.
Thompson says he’s running because he wants to fix the LRT system, deal with the high level of capital debt, and find solutions to the ambulance shortages Ottawa has seen.
In total there are four names on the ballot for Osgoode ward: Dan O’Brien is running on a platform of supporting local farmers and developing a robust home care system, and Bob Masaro is giving it another go after running in 2010. No details of Masaro’s platform can be found on his website.
In the neighbouring ward of Rideau-Jock (formally known as Rideau Goulbourn) the seat will be left empty after three term councillor Scott Moffatt decided to step aside.
David Brown is seen as a front runner in the ward after coming in second place back in 2018 with 44 per cent of the vote. Brown lost to Moffatt by about 1,000 votes.
Brown has many ties in the community, particularly in agriculture. He has been a driving force for the Richmond Fair for years, and has also served as the president of the Richmond Agricultural Society. He’s worked as an assistant to Moffatt, Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, and Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Carol Anne Meehan.
He’s running on a platform of improving infrastructure in ward 21.
“Ottawa is approaching a critical juncture. For 12 years, we have seen the slow decline of services, the rapid growth of our villages without the necessary roads, intersections, sidewalks, parks and community centres built to support and sustain this development,” Brown wrote on his website. “We have seen the explosive spending that has added more than $3.1 billion dollars of debt onto the backs of taxpayers, with no plans to stop borrowing.”
Five names are currently on the ballot in Rideau-Jock: Brown is up against Leigh-Andrea Brunet who says agricultural lands must be protected, Patty Searl who wants to improve roads, Kevin Setia who is passionate about garbage disposal issues, and Michael J Nowak who doesn’t appear to have a platform released online.
The current ward of Gloucester-South Nepean will be split into two with Riverside South-Findlay Creek becoming its own municipal ward. Barrhaven will then be split into east and west.
It’s looking like an easy win for former councillor Steve Desroches, who’s running again after serving two terms from 2006 until 2014. He is up against Em McLellan, who doesn’t appear to have released a website, Salah Elsaadi who registered in the final few hours, and Zainab Alsaliy, who was the final person to submit their nomination papers.
Desroches decided to make a comeback after wanting to bring his leadership and experience to a council table full of fresh faces. He wants to finally see a recreation facility built in Riverside South and ensure the rapidly growing community receives proper infrastructure upgrades.
In Barrhaven both councillors Jan Harder and Carol Anne Meehan have announced they won’t be seeking re-election this fall. Nearby in Knoxdale-Merivale, Keith Egli has also decided to call it quits. Diane Deans, who initially considered a run for Mayor is leaving the municipal scene altogether, as is Eli El-Chantiry. Mathieu Fleury decided not to run after wanting more family time, Catherine McKenney is giving up their council seat to run for Mayor, Jean Cloutier is retiring, and Moffatt says he has another career left in him. And with 30 minutes to go before the nomination period closed, Rick Chiarelli said he was taking time off to look after his health.
A new Mayor will lead the new group which will now consist of 24 councillors instead of 23.