FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is raising alarms around the 2024 draft budget tabled today by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe. His second budget as mayor features such things as the worst transit service cut since 2011, an inadequate property tax increase to meet service levels and insufficient funding to tackle the climate and housing crisis.
The organization says that the draft budget as is, will devastate Ottawa’s already ailing transit system as well as make life less affordable for those already struggling.
Last year, OC Transpo GM, Renee Amilcar announced a route review and was vague if it would lead to cuts. The result of the “review” however has confirmed suspicions and more than 74,000 annual hours or 3.5% of service will be cut. A fare hike was also announced earlier this month.
“The cuts announced in today’s budget are nothing less than devastating for our transit system,” said Sam Hersh, a Board member with Horizon Ottawa. “I’ve heard from many now that they will not have any other way to get to work or school and will either have to rely on a car or another way to travel. Sutcliffe promised to fix transit - this will only make it worse and push us closer towards an inescapable transit death spiral.”
Horizon Ottawa is also criticizing the proposed inadequate 2.5% property tax increase. They say it is not enough to meet service levels for many programs that are already struggling like Ottawa Public Health and Paramedic services that often reach level zero leaving no paramedics available for service.
The budget is set for a vote next month on December 6th.
“Over $400 million is being proposed to pay for a corporate handout to OSEG for Lansdowne 2.0 so we know the city has the money to fund these services” said Hersh. “Our Mayor is not campaigning anymore and he needs to put forward policies that are in the best interest of all Ottawans, not just his voter base.”
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