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(Updated 8 a.m., Dec. 11)
City council wraps up 2009 budget process by passing second omnibus motion
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Ottawa city council put the wraps on the 2009 budget process on Wednesday by passing a second omnibus motion that dealt with the city's capital budget.

Council was expected to debate the merits of a long list of capital projects and initiatives, but the discussion barely even started before the same coalition of councillors who brought forward and passed an omnibus motion on the operating budget Monday, did the same thing again.

The motion contained a series of cuts, mostly in the area of IT acquisitions such as the purchase and upgrade of computers and computer programs, totalling $14.4 million. The motion also calls for a one year delay in work to be done on the Mooney's Bay Complex which will save another $1.6 million.

In their place the councillors added or moved up several projects including $2.9 million for the Old Ottawa South Community Centre; $2.8 million for rehabilitatiion work on Preston Street; and construction of the Southwest Transitway from Baseline Road to Norice Strett. The coalition also restored $8 million for infrastucture renewal that had ben slated for removal.

With the various alterations, council managed to reduce the overall capital budget for 2009 from $314 million to $304 million. The omnibus motion passed by a margin of 17-6, with Mayor Larry O'Brien and councillors Rob Jellett, Bob Monette, Rainer Bloess, Doug Thompson and Shad Qadri all voting against it.

Many of the councillors who supported it compared it to having to take a little water with their wine in that they didn't support everything that was contained in the motion, but there was enough in it to warrant a compromise.

The motion was introduced and then voted on without any of the councillors having the opportunity to debate it. The surprise move infuriated the councillors who were opposed to it including Mayor O'Brien who called the situation a "travesty".

"What I saw this afternoon was simply disgusting," O'Brien said after the meeting. "They acted out of fear, not leadership."

Moments before, the Mayor was sounding a little more conciliatory in summing up the budget process.

"As an ex-CEO I have the attribute of never being happy and always wanting to go father. I honestly thought we could do better (than 4.9 per cent). Zero has long since not been a number of meaning to me, but I did hope to have a line by line debate on our spending priorites. But that wasn't to be. It was the will of council to do it this way and we have to respect the will of council," said O'Brien.

"If there is one positive to come out of all this, it's that we have a solid consensus to do things differently next year starting with the creation of a standing committee on budgets and spending which I think will make a major difference."

Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette used his five minutes during the closing debate to apologize to the public for what had just transpired.

"I apologize to the residents of Ottawa for what they've seen here today. (The coalition brought in the omnibus motion) and then when it came time to debate it they cut us off. The 18,000 residents in my ward elected me to represent them and what happened today was not representation. We are paid close to $100,000 a year and we can't even do a full day's work," said Monette who then directed his ire at the 16 councillors who formed the coalition. "I hope you're proud of the budget because I'm not."

Despite the controversy over the process, the 2009 capital budget contains a number of local projects including the following.

Municipal facilites

- replace junior playstructure, fence and equip.m.ent at école des Pionniers, $59,000

- replace acrylic colour coating of tennis courts in Kinsella Park in Queenswood Heights, $23,000

- replace junior play structure, fence and equip.m.ent at Centennial Park in Queenswood Park, $82,000

- lifecylce repairs at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex, $341,000\

- replace pool basement service room at Ray Friel Recreation Complex, $101,000

- primary building and pool systems remediation at Ray Friel, $315,000

- replace lockers, Control Panel and gas detectors at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex, $335,000

- replace asphalt and gravel roof at the Queenswood Heights Community Centre, $72,000

- replace steel storage tanks and refrigeration equip.m.ent at the J.B. Potvin Arena, $68,000

- replace arena and cafeteria exhaust fans at the Earl Armstrong Arena, $68,000

- replace spray pad and senior play structure at Meadowbrook Park in Pinview, $85,000

- replace sport lighting at Trillium Park in Beacon Hill South, $90,000

- minor park improvement program for Alcide Trudeau Park in Vars including ball diamond, fencing and netting, $55,000

- construction of Hillside Estate Park including play equip.m.ent and park benches, $75,000

- replace senior play structure and play equip.m.ent at Norm Childs Park in Carlsbad Springs, $69,000

- structural remediation of R.J. Kennedy Memorial Centre in Cumberland Village, $22,000

- replace flooring, caulking and ceiling cladding at Charlemagne Blvd. fire station, $101,000

- Cumberland Village Design Plan, $500,000 for develop.m.ent and implementation of design plan

- building remediation at Cumberland Village Heritage Museum (Foubert House and French Hill School), $130,000

 

 

 

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