PRESS RELEASE: Horizon Ottawa Condemns Budget Directions Vote That Starves Public Services


OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is condemning today’s vote at the city's Finance and Corporate Services Committee (FCSC) to approve budget directions that once again see tax increases below the level needed to support good, quality city services –in particular a public transit system facing a $39 million hole, along with several other city departments that are facing deficits.

In a 9 to 3 vote at today's FCSC meeting the committee voted to push the budget directions report to the next council meeting on September 13th, setting a target of a small 2.5% increase in property taxes. The report also recommends an increase in transit fares as well as a “route review” which is likely to lead to service cuts according to local media reports.

Under Sutcliffe, the capital budget for public transit was slashed by almost $50 million last year that led to the loss of over 100 buses in the fleet among other things. Repercussions of this decision were felt during the O-Train outage when the city did not have enough R1 buses to service all routes.

“While other cities across the country are looking at other ways to generate revenue other than property taxes like a parking levy or raising their vacant unit tax, our city is instead opting to needlessly cut services,” said Sam Hersh, a member of the Board of Directors for Horizon Ottawa. “This is another austerity budget that will continue to decimate city services like our ailing transit system that is in dire need of investment to bring back ridership, not more cuts.”

Better alternatives are possible. Toronto’s newly elected Mayor Olivia Chow proposed a plan, that was approved by Toronto’s council, to explore more tools to raise city dollars and avoid cutting vital services like transit. She also proposed a plan to boost service in certain areas, a stark contrast to Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe’s proposed plan today.

Similar to last year, transit Chair Gower has also made pleas with the provincial government to fill the gap in transit funding - but that money never came and seems unlikely to come again.

“Our organization fully supports asks from the City for permanent operational funding from the provincial government and to get back to the 50-50 funding split that existed before Mike Harris. However, we know that money will not come and at a certain point it becomes the fault of the city, and we have reached that point” said Hersh. “Mayor Sutcliffe's plan lacks the imagination Canada's capital deserves, the only way to ensure more people use a service is to invest in it, not cut it. If these directions are approved at council, we will continue to see a degradation in community services during a time when people desperately need them.”


For Media Inquiries:

Sam Hersh
[email protected]

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