Changing Urban Attitudes Toward Rural Ottawa Is Challenging

By David Brown, Rideau-Jock Councillor

Almost 18 months ago, I was elected to represent Ward 21. Our ward, which comprises the majority of the old townships of Goulbourn and Rideau and the rural part of the City of Nepean, is approximately 720 square kilometres in size.

To put that into perspective, our ward is larger than the City of Toronto at 630 square kilometres or larger than all of urban Ottawa, from Stittsville to the far side of Orleans, and from Parliament Hill to the south side of Barrhaven. Our ward has more than 18 communities and villages and will soon be home to 40,000 residents.

Since coming to office, the single largest challenge that I have faced is changing the mentality of my urban colleagues and public servants as to the different needs of a rural resident.

For example, infrastructure is always a major issue. Predominantly in Richmond and Manotick, which are the fastest growing villages in Ottawa, we are seeing major delays with new infrastructure coming online to serve these new communities. Roads, sidewalks, parks, and pathways are integral to supporting this growth, and like the many residents who reach out to me, I am just as frustrated with the time it takes to build this infrastructure and the rate at which existing infrastructure is maintained. Changing how and when we build and upgrade infrastructure is something I am looking at improving in order to meet our needs.

The second challenge is balancing the needs of our growing villages while maintaining the sense of community that exists. Residents who have lived in the village of Ashton for 30 years have different issues, ideas, and expectations than new residents 40 kilometres away in Manotick. Our ward is vast, and so too is the range of different needs of residents who live in villages and more rurally.

This balancing act requires an approach from the municipal government that recognizes that one size does not fit all. I will aim to highlight this reality during the Rural Summit.

Our communities have much more in common with the smaller townships around us than we do with urban Ottawa. We don’t have the same level of access to many programs and services in rural Ottawa that urban residents have. In fact, there are many services that rural residents don’t need and others that we need more of.

Repairs to our roads, higher levels of policing, investments into village infrastructure to manage the high levels of growth are all basic priorities. Accomplishing these priorities requires a recognition that, for rural Ottawa to be successful, we must tailor how the City delivers the programs and services we pay for to the rural context in which they are delivered.

Each rural ward will host a Rural Summit Workshop in early April. All the feedback received will inform the Rural Summit meeting that will be held in November with the goal of presenting our ideas to City Council in December. Once the dates for our workshop meeting and the rural summit are finalized, I will share them with the community.

Any ideas that you have can be emailed directly to or to me at