Councillor Rawlson King made introductory remarks for the 2022-2026 Council Term at the Ottawa City Council meeting for December 7, 2022.
It is an honour to have been re-elected as Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
I would like to congratulate you on your election as Mayor, and I would to like to extend congratulations to all Council colleagues, both new and returning, on their electoral success.
Like all of you, it will be my continuing objective to help build safe, affordable, and healthy communities.
Over the last three years, I'm proud of how much the City achieved together despite the challenges of a global pandemic and difficult socioeconomic conditions.
Working with both Council and the community, our City created an Anti-Racism Secretariat and developed an Anti-Racism Strategy.
Our anti-racism office conducted extensive engagement with over 1,000 Ottawa residents and community stakeholders to create a broad and comprehensive plan that identified concrete actions to remove systemic barriers in City programs, services, and policies.
It will be imperative that we continue to advance this work in this new Term of Council through real investments, in order to improve the lives of our residents.
Measurable results must be made towards improving affordability and quality of life. Therefore, Council must work to deliver the poverty reduction strategy and food security policy that it started last term.
Council must also work to address the growing spectre of homelessness by building affordable housing and improving social services. Despite the challenging economic headwinds that we are encountering, we must continue to invest in people and invest in policy innovation. This includes enabling land trusts, assisting diverse communities provide culturally responsive affordable housing, investing in non-market public housing, ensuring that we reduce with cost of transit with fare freezes, and making recreational activities more accessible through lower fees.
It will also be important that we focus on improving the health of our communities. I believe Dr. Vera Etches and the rest of the team at Ottawa Public Health need to be commended for all the incredible work they undertook to keep our city safe during the past two years. While our public health agency performed in an exemplary fashion, the pandemic has revealed the socioeconomic and racial disparities that need to be addressed.
We have begun some of that critical work through investment in preventive health measures such as Neighbourhood Health & Wellness Hubs, but we will need to do more.
As we move forward, it will be imperative that we take more action to protect our environment against the existential threat of climate change. This will mean working to ensure that we invest and implement our climate change master plan, to implement the conversion of our transit fleet and pursue the deep retrofit of buildings.
Council will also need to be diligent to deliver a fair and transparent urban planning process in the face of provincial changes that aim to remove planning powers from local government and the public participation of residents.
We therefore will need to consistently work to improve democracy and accountability at City Hall, in effort to address the massive fiscal and LRT oversight challenges that confront us, and fight climate change to create a greener, more liveable city.
We will also need to work together. In an age of political polarization and ideological division, it is clear that our city and its people will only prosper if we all collectively seek common ground. Governments needs to be able coordinate during times of crisis and Members of Council need to be able cooperate to advance the interests of all those who sent us here.
In sum, I am excited to be back at this table once again, to pursue the concerns of residents who are seeking more housing, more green space, the protection of our built heritage, significant investments in affordable housing, in traffic management, snow removal, road and pathway maintenance, in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, in reliable transit, and parks.
With the next four years being critical for our city, we will need to deal all these serious problems but I remain optimistic about collective prospect of success.