By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
It’s the first day people can file nominations for this fall’s municipal election, and a number of people are already putting their name forward in Barrhaven West.
This will be the city’s most crucial election in over a decade with sweeping changes coming to the next term of council. At least four current councillors have announced they aren’t seeking another term, including Barrhaven representative Jan Harder, and Mayor Jim Watson is stepping aside after being the city’s top representative since 2010.
Two newly formed wards will also be created, with Barrhaven being split into Barrhaven West and East. Riverside South on the other side of the river will become its own separate ward.
Current councillors Catherine McKenney and Diane Deans have announced their intentions to run for Mayor. With all that in mind, that means eight seats are up for grabs.
That will mean at least a third of the council table will have new faces. This number doesn’t take into account those who haven’t yet made up their minds, or those who could lose in the fall election.
Candidates For Barrhaven West
On the first day of nominations, two Barrhaven West residents have put their name forward to represent the ward.
David Hill, who’s worked in the Canadian military since 1997, said he’s running because Barrhaven needs a balance of residential development and infill development. He also wants to better transit system in the ward, with new ideas needing to come forward after the COVID-19 pandemic altered out habits.
“The hybrid work model is not going anywhere soon, and the public service will need access to a secure Federal building in the Barrhaven/Riverside South area in order to support the 15 minute community and future hybrid work concepts,” said Hill. “I will fully support our Business Improvement Area in order to posture Barrhaven to continue as the leading economic growth engine in the city.”
Hill has also been advocating for the Greenbank road realignment, creating a petition which garnered over 2,000 signatures. With development and transportation constantly expanding in the ward, Hill wants constriction to start before its 2030 timeline.
Taayo Simmonds, who runs Simmonds law, has also officially put his name forward. The Stonebridge resident says he’s running to change the culture at council.
“I think we need change at City Hall,” he said. “I think there’s too much infighting and there’s been a lot of political battles, and I feel like it’s getting more expensive to live in the city.”
Issues Simmonds is passionate about includes: light rail transit, keeping property taxes low, and speeding.
“A priority is there’s a speeding issue in Barrhaven, there’s cut through traffic, there’s stunt driving, some local roads are essentially being turned into raceways, said Simmonds.
Sadaf Ebrahim and Jay Chadha tell the Barrhaven Independent they also plan on running. A few other Barrhaven residents have stated they might run.
Barrhaven East Candidates
As of May 2, no official candidates have put their name forward to run in Barrhaven east, but current councillor Carol Anne Meehan has previously said she intends to run there.
Meehan, who has represented Gloucester-South Nepean for the past term, will see her ward divided into two.
Barrhaven West includes the community from Costco to Greenbank, and includes Half Moon Bay and Stonebridge. Barrhaven East consists of Greenbank to Prince of Wales, and includes a hearts Desire and a Chapman Mills.
Oc Transpo Transpo employee Wilson Lo has not put in his nomination papers yet, but has told the Barrhaven Independent he will run in Barrhaven East.
Lo said he supports fast tracking the Greenbank Road realignment, would like to see a community centre built in the ward, and more multi use pathways. Given his dedication to public transit, Lo said restructuring could help riders commutes.
“ 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.”
Riverside South candidates
While no candidates have officially filed for Riverside South, former city councillors Michael Qaqish and Steve Desroches has previously told the Barrhaven Independent they are “seriously considering” a return to municipal politics.
Qaqish, who lost the last election to Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Carol Anne Meehan, said he feels there is still unfinished business to be done.
“During my term on Council, I had worked collaboratively with my colleagues to ensure everything was lined up for the Bank Street widening, community centre/library and LRT to the heart of Riverside South,” he said. “Yet, when I step outside my home and look to the east, none of those things have happened.”
Desroches, who was councillor for the area before Qaqish, left office after two years, just like he originally campaigned on. But now almost eight years out of office, Desroches says he has been approached by many to run again.
“I have been away from city hall for the last eight years and I feel very recharged with the energy to serve the community,” said Desroches. “I am giving the matter serious consideration.”
After three terms, Mayor Jim Watson has decided to retire from a lifetime of politics.
Just after news of his decision broke, Somerset councillor Catherine McKenney and Gloucester-Southgate councillor Diane Deans were quick to announce they were running for Mayor. That same day Chiarelli announced he too would run.
Chiarelli, who’s called Barrhaven home for many years, said he’s running to be Mayor again because “the current council was problematic in a number of ways.”
“I am a fasilitator, and I’m fair minded,” Chiarelli told the Barrhaven Independent. “It is pretty obvious, unfortunately so, that under the current administration, council has become more divided and toxic than ever, with urban councillors being shut out of chair positions, being kept out of the loop, and sometimes being embarrassed in public.”
Chiarelli, who was Mayor of Ottawa from 1987-1997, said he has concerns that light rail transit will never come to Barrhaven under the current plan. He also has concerns over commute times and public transit.
“One of the biggest failures of this council of 10 plus years is no LRT to Kanata, and no LRT to Barrhaven,” said Chiarelli. “Those were a part of our plan and four or five months ago the city manager said once and for all that the city does not have money to bring LRT to Barrhaven or Kanata. That is a huge disappointment, and I think it’s a huge failure of this council over the years. It is planned for 2031, but it will go well beyond 2031… you are looking at 8-10 years before the whistle blows on the train for the first time. That is a huge challenge.”
As of May 2, Brandon Bay and Bernard Couchman have also submitted their nomination papers in the Mayoral race.
On the trustee level, incumbent Donna Blackburn has registered for Ottawa Carleton District School Board trustee in Zone 3. Spencer Warren, who represents Barrhaven in Zone 4, has not yet officially filed his nomination papers, but says he is running again.
The next municipal election isn’t until Oct. 24, and nominations don’t close until Aug. 19.
With files by Kassia Skorzewska