When I first ran in 2018 for a seat on city council, I was driven by the desire to give the east end of Ottawa a thoughtful and hardworking voice at the table. I wanted to continue the hard work of my predecessors and I wanted to do it with renewed energy and a single-minded focus on continued economic development, which I saw as the key to independence for our part of the city. Therefore, I immediately got to work on the Orléans Economic Corridor Study, now the Orléans Secondary Plan, which is the first major economic development policy Orléans has had since amalgamation.
For decades, community leaders from Orléans were focused on finding ways to keep our predominantly public servant workforce in our community. Commuting is an inefficient use of time; severely truncates the amount of time we spend with our families; reduces our quality of life; makes for more greenhouse gas emissions; adds wear and tear to infrastructure; and redirects economic activity to the downtown core at the expense of local businesses close to home. The big push was for co-working space or a government department to be moved to Orléans. For a variety of reasons, that never happened.
The move to force public servants back into the office hurts families, the environment and our local economy with the stroke of the minister’s pen — for all the reasons listed above.
The federally mandated NCC refuses to provide relief to the east end by approving Option 7 of the Brian Coburn bus rapid transit corridor extension, making those commutes longer and calling into question further development to our south while we are in a housing crisis.
The federal government is again floating the idea of an interprovincial bridge in the east end that will overwhelm our already-failing infrastructure including the 174 and the split at Highway 417.
The combination of these three misguided and destructive policies really hurts east-end residents of our city. It hurts our local businesses, hurts our chances of meeting our housing and environmental goals and makes life more difficult for everyone outside of the downtown core.
It should either advocate for the NCC to do its job and work with the city to approve the Brian Coburn bus rapid transit extension for those workers who cannot work from home full-time — or disband this unnecessary and costly layer of bureaucracy. There is no reason why federal appointees from Calgary and Vancouver should be making local planning decisions for the municipality anyway.
Ottawa’s east end is tired of being forgotten. We are a vibrant community with incredible businesses and green space that is poised to become so much more than place for federal workers to sleep between shifts or a rest stop on a shipping route from Montreal to Toronto.
It is time the federal government recognized this and gave us the consideration we deserve.
Coun. Matthew Luloff represents Orléans East–Cumberland, Ward 1.