Another city council dinosaur is riding off into into the sunset -- presumably on a bicycle.
After 19 years at the trough, Councillor Jacques Legendre is calling it quits. Despite having previously indicated his intention to run again, he announced his departure in his "annual report" to his constituents which was circulated in Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward last week.
While his constituents were digesting this piece of news, the councillor was swanning around Copenhagen -- ostensibly attending a cycling conference or studying how the Danes have managed to convince their citizenry that cycling is the only way to go.
Now there's something in that. Citizen Ellie was in Copenhagen herself some six years ago and she couldn't help but notice the thousands of bikes parked on lots adjacent to the train station when she arrived in the city in the evening. The following morning, the bikes were gone and the lots were empty, only to fill up again at the end of the work day. Citizen Ellie's budget-priced hotel was adjacent to the railway station so she was able to observe this phenomena first-hand.
According to Citizen Ellie's tour guide, no one steals bicycles in Copenhagen -- thus the sucess of their "bikes in the downtown core" program. Councillor Legendre probably could have elicited this information from the Danish Embassy right here in Ottawa, thus saving the taxpayers the cost of this junket. But what's a few thousand bucks .............
Councillor Legendre knew in May (when his "annual report" went to press) or even sooner, that he was not going to run again. At the New Edinburgh Community Alliance annual general meeting earlier this month, he advised those in attendance that he was not going to give a verbal report to the meeting as his annual report was on the way and we could read about his "accomplishments" for ourselves.
So that begs the question: why, if you're not going to seek re-election, would you go off on a fact-finding jaunt when you know you aren't going to be around to present those facts to council or champion the cycling cause at the council table during the next four years ? Was this his version of the "farewell tour ?" The Tivoli is particularly nice at this time of year.
Councillor Legendre will be back at City Hall tomorrow. Never let it be said that he missed an important vote. He already telegraphed his position at the aforementioned NECA meeting where he exorted the audience to join him in objecting to the Lansdowne Live project on the basis that "if they could do it to the Glebe, they could do it to you" implying that evil developers could convince some future city council to OK construction of a football stadium and a shopping mall in Stanley Park. Enthusiastic applause from his pal, Councillor Clive Doucet, who just happened to be in the audience, having ridden to the meeting on his bicycle.
In the meantime, Citizen Ellie waits with baited breath for the councillor's response to the e-mail she sent to him (at his request) on the morning following the NECA meeting. It's now 20-plus days and counting. It's interesting that after announcing the "Legendre Watch" in last Sunday's edition of The Pitchfork, Citizen Ellie received an e-mail from one of his staffers apologizing for the fact the councillor did not have time to reply prior to leaving the city. Didn't see storm sewers and resurfacing of The Mews Lane in the list of 2010 and 2011 works projects approved for Rideau-Rockcliffe which he included in his annual report. Didn't see anything about cycling or trips to Copenhagen either !
Financial Sustainability ? Not For These Dolts !
There's a certain arrogance evident when only two councillors show up for the financial sustainability summit which was held on June 22 -- especially since some 19 of them voted in favor of holding such a summit back in April.
Talk about thumbing their collective noses at the electorate, especially in an election year. They must all feel very secure in their positions. A big mistake if they thought taxpayers and the media didn't notice !
While some councillors may have had good reason to be absent, it's obvious that money management -- fiscal responsibility when it comes to spending your tax dollars -- isn't a priority for most of these people. Is it because they can't grasp the concept of money management ? Is it because they prefer not to think about the possibility of the well running dry, leaving them without the power to grant the wishes of every special interest group that knocks on the city hall doors ? Is it because they're afraid of having to take tough measures such as trimming the city's payroll ? What is it about "no new money" that they don't understand ? Questions you should ask when they come knocking on your door seeking your vote in October.
Biking In The Capital
If members of city council (Councillor Clive Doucet, mayor wannabe Councillor Alex Cullen et al) are serious about encouraging people to ride their bikes to work, they need to campaign to make bicycle theft a really serious offence with an appropriate penalty. Knuckle-rapping just doesn't cut it.
Citizen Ellie suspects that the reason Ottawans aren't emulating their Copenhagen counterparts is that there are no safe places to leave one's bike in this city. Even if it's stored in your backyard, let alone chained to a bike rack or lamp post, you're at the mercy of crackheads and other low lifes.
In Copenhagen, citizens living in the suburbs take the train in the morning to their jobs in Copenhagen. Then they go to the bike lot where they parked their bike
the night before. Lo and behold, it hasn't been stolen or vandalized or broken up for parts-- the norm in Ottawa. They ride their bikes to their places of work where bike storage is provided and after work it's back on the bike for the ride to the bike lot at the train station and then it's on to the train and home.
In order to achieve what's been achieved in Copenhagen, there has to be a change in Ottawa's culture. Bicycle theft has to become as unacceptable as honor killings. The cops have to charge these people and the courts have to punish them severely. Safe, secure bike lots and bike storage areas have to be provided. Until then, those who advocate bike traffic only in the downtown core are dreaming in technicolor.
New posts usually on Sundays.