By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Wilson Lo says he is running for city council in the newly formed ward of Barrhaven East.
Lo, who worked for a number of years as an OC Transpo driver before transitioning to a communication role at the company, is the first person to officially announce they are running in the newly formed ward 24.
Barrhaven East includes the community from Fallowfield to Strandherd left of Greenbank if entering the community, all the way to the Rideau River. At Strandherd it starts up again on the left side of Longfields, and includes Stonebridge, Hearts Desire, and Chapman Mills.
Part of the ward is currently represented by Gloucester-South Nepean, which is now being split into two wards, with Riverside South becoming its own district, and part of Barrhaven West now moving to the east.
Current Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Carol Anne Meehan said she is running again, hasn’t decided where, but is leaning towards Barrhaven East.
Lo said he’s always had an interest in municipal politics and wanted to become a city councillor since being in elementary school. He grew up in Markham, a suburban city of Toronto, and became very familiar with the challenges of rapid suburban growth, particularly transportation and public transit.
He says many of the issues faced there are similar to Barrhaven’s, given how both communities share common concerns.
“A robust transit network begins locally, based upon a network that best serves the community supplemented by an effective commuter system,” he said. “I propose a restructuring of transit services in Barrhaven East in service of that belief, to create a network that allows people to get around Barrhaven with reasonable ease and efficiency. The restructuring will shift the focus away from a downtown-centric network design to one that is more flexible with multiple nodes based on trip generators throughout the community and city, plus more focus away from traditional peak commuting hours.”
The pandemic meant a change to how the transit system is run, with ridership levels dropping to 34 per cent pre-COVID levels in August 2021. Working from home is becoming more common, leaving fewer people commuting downtown.
‘We cannot rely on the hope most commuters will return to the downtown core on a daily basis,” said Lo. “Safe and effective public transit instills a belief in people that they can rely on it to get to work, run an errand, get to classes, visit a local business, or to meet some friends. We must ensure we build a system that can be sustained long into the future.”
While public transit is at the forefront of Lo’s platform, he also supports the realignment of Greenbank Road in Half Moon Bay, located next door in the ward of Barrhaven West.
He would also like to see Greenbank between Fallowfield and West Hunt Club widened to match the road’s capacity north and south of that stretch to eliminate the bottleneck and dangerous merging at the two intersections.
“Although the priority serves the residents of another ward more directly, it will alleviate the traffic that will otherwise travel through Barrhaven East, especially the Woodroffe/Fallowfield intersection,” said Lo.
With the ward boundary changes, Barrhaven East will not have any community centres in the community. Both Walter Baker and Mintro Rec will be located in Barrhaven West. Lo would like to see a new community centre and library built somewhere in or near the ward.
Lo also says he supports the Barnsdale/416 Interchange to alleviate traffic congestion through Barrhaven East and new communities.
He’d also like to see a new multimodal pathway along Prince of Wales between West Hunt Club and Strandherd — plus a section of Fallowfield Road — to provide residents with a more direct path in and out of the community.
“After eight years of public service as a city employee, the time is right for me to evolve and expand my role to better serve the public as councillor,” Lo says. “I am a balance of fresh optimism and level-headed realism, qualities which I believe are necessary to effectively represent residents, the ward, and the city. On a more personal note, my wife and I want to start and raise a family one day, so there is a very personal interest in ensuring a bright and healthy future for our community and city.”
The municipal election in Ottawa will be held on Monday, October 22, 2022.