PRESS RELEASE: Horizon Ottawa urges council to reject transit fare increase and austerity budget measures in City report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is urging the new City Council to reject a recent report from City Treasurer and soon-to-be Interim City Manager, Wendy Stephanson, that recommends multiple austerity measures including a transit fare increase and deferring capital projects, noting “inflationary pressures'' as the main driver of these measures. Despite this, however, the report also recommends yet another increase in the over-bloated Ottawa Police budget.

In the most recent municipal election, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe was clear in his promise to at least freeze transit fares for one year upon becoming mayor. Approving this measure would mean breaking a key campaign promise and shifting the burden of paying for city services onto transit riders, among others.

“At a time when inflation is at historically high levels and people have lost confidence in our transit system, why is the city recommending riders pay more while others in our city get a tax cut?” said Sam Hersh, Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. "Ottawa already has some of the highest fares in North America, raising fares along with a faulty system will continue to lead people away."

The report also recommends a property tax increase of between just 2 and 2.5%, even lower than former Mayor Jim Watson’s 3% pledge in previous terms. According to the Consumer Price Index, inflation is currently at 6.9% meaning that this would be a tax cut and that service cuts would be almost inevitable.

The move is especially unwise, given the passing of the provincial government’s Bill 23, which would in many cases see the city miss out on revenue from reduced development charges which the city uses to pay for certain services involving infrastructure. Not having extra property tax revenue to make up for lost funds due to smaller development charges could put the city in a difficult position financially.

“These recommended budget directions will ensure the city misses out on important revenue at a critical time because of political expediency while those most worse off in our city will suffer the consequences,” said Hersh. “This is austerity, plain and simple, and will put unnecessary financial strain on residents. We urge councillors to demonstrate their care for improving the quality of services to people from rural, suburban and urban Ottawa by voting against this report’s recommendations.”

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For Media Inquiries:
Sam Hersh
[email protected]
613-663-7018

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