A Look At The Council Candidates In Barrhaven East And West

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent

The nomination period is closed and the Barrhaven community is just months away from having new city council representation after the incumbents aren’t seeking re-election 

In Barrhaven West, Jan Harder is retiring after two and a half decades in politics. Carol Anne Meehan, the current Gloucester-South Nepean councillor, decided to run in Barrhaven East, but then changed her mind. 

Ward boundaries are changing with Barrhaven being split into two wards: Barrhaven East and Barrhaven West. Riverside South-Findlay Creek on the other side of the Rideau River is becoming its own ward. 

Barrhaven West consists of Old Barrhaven from Greenbank to Highway 416, beginning on Fallowfield and ending at Barnsdale. It includes: Half Moon Bay, Stonebridge, and the Cedarhill Golf and Country club. 

Barrhaven east stretches from Greenbank to the Rideau River, beginning at Fallowfield and ending along the Jock River. Hearts Desire, Knollsbrook, Longfields, Chapman Mills, and Stonecrest are included. 

In Barrhaven West, four names are on the ballot. 

David Hill, who was the first to start campaigning, has centred much of his campaign around getting the Greenbank Road realignment built. He launched a petition which has garnered over 600 signatures

Taayo Simmonds, a lawyer who has been endorsed by former Conservative Party Leadership hopeful Peter McKay, is looking to invest more in the community. 

Jay Chadha, who’s worked for OC Transpo for the last 19 years, is focusing on bettering the public transit system, which has long been a problem in Barrhaven. 

Sadaf Ebrahim, who is involved in Liberal circles and won the Order of Ottawa, wants to see more youth involvement. 

In Barrhaven East, seven names will be on the ballot. 

OC Transpo communications specialist Wilson Lo is seen now as the front runner after Meehan took her name off the ballot. Lo is surrounding much of his campaign around the transit system, but is also looking to bring fiscal responsibility back to city hall. 

Kathleen Caught is passionate about bringing more mental health resources to Ottawa and Dominik Janelle wants to see more maintenance done in the ward.

Patrick Brennan is running on his background as a school trustee from over two decades ago and Richard Garrick, a teacher by trade, wants to ensure taxes stay low. 

On the last day of nominations, Guy Boone and Atiq Qureshi also put their names on the ballot. 

There was talk that former Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Michael Qaqish would make a political comeback after losing to Meehan in 2018, but after careful consideration, he decided the time was not right.

“Over the last few weeks, I have received many messages of support encouraging me to run for city council. I’m honoured and humbled by this support. After thoughtful consideration, I have decided that I would like to focus on growing myself, experience and skills outside of the municipal realm,” Qaqish told the Barrhaven Independent. “This was not an easy decision, but I believe it’s the right one at this time. I will continue to stay involved in the community and give back in other ways.”

Most of the candidates are running on similar platforms with the differences primarily being in solutions. 

The Greenbank Road realignment has long been a discussion in Barrhaven West, with planning starting in the early 2000’s. Current plans don’t have construction starting until 2030, a timeline many in the community want to see moved up given rapid growth in Half Moon Bay. 

Public transit has long caused commuter havoc in Barrhaven with cancelled trips, packed buses, and a lack of routes in some parts of the community. While the COVID-19 pandemic has helped with the overcrowding, upwards of 300 bus cancellations are being reported per day. 

With ridership still low from the pandemic, and commuters transit habits changing, park and rides around Barrhaven are sitting empty with travel to the downtown decreasing. Many office workers now do their jobs either completely or mostly from home. That has resulted in campaigns to better localize bus routes so commuters can easily get from their homes to shopping, parks, recreation centres, and school. 

Then there is the debate over whether to build Phase 3 of light rail transit out to Barrhaven. It would cost at least $3.52 billion, perhaps more by the time construction would start by 2030 or beyond. 

Many current councillors have already said they feel plans should be put on hold for now with ridership levels simply not justifying the large price tag. Current council candidates in both Barrhaven wards are debated on the topic, with some feeling current plans should go ahead, with others saying they need to be revisited. 

All Barrhaven West and East candidates seem to agree more funding needs to be put in infrastructure to ensure roads, sidewalks, and other amenities can keep up with the growing community of nearly 100,000 people. 

There have been concerns over speeding on main roadways in Barrhaven, and a lack of police resources in the community.  Barrhaven West reported a 20.7 per cent crime increase in 2021, higher than any other ward in Ottawa. This year multiple car break ins, carjackings, and other incidents have been reported. 

Barrhaven West council candidate Jay Chadha has launched a petition for more police resources,  which has garnered over 400 signatures. 

With cost of living also increasing, candidates are calling for lower taxes and budgeting to ensure needed projects are being funded. 

In Riverside South-Findlay Creek, it is looking like an easy win for former councillor Steve Desroches, who’s running again after serving two terms from 2006 until 2014. 

He is up against Em McLellan who doesn’t appear to have released a website, Salah Elsaadi who registered in the final few hours, and Zainab Alsaliy, who was the final person to submit their nomination papers.

Desroches decided to make a comeback after wanting to bring his leadership and experience to a council table full of fresh faces. He wants to finally see a recreation facility built in Riverside South and ensure the rapidly growing community receives proper infrastructure upgrades. 

OCSB and OCDSB Trustees

For the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Barrhaven, Gloucester-South Nepean Trustee Spencer Warren is facing two challengers. In 2018, Warren was acclaimed after nobody ran against him. 

Last year Warren brought forward a motion to fly the Pride flag at all Ottawa Catholic Schools in June for Pride Month. 

He is up against Greg Hopkins who is passionate about helping kids with behavioural disabilities, and Nicolas Caravaggio who registered on the final day. 

In the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, current Barrhaven Knoxdale/Merivale trustee is eyeing another term. Earlier this year she brought forward a motion to reinstate a police presence in OCDSB schools after multiple incidents, including a stabbing at Longfields Davidson Heights High School. 

Blackburn, who was feeling confident her motion would be passed, was rejected indefinitely after all trustees voted against the idea. They didn’t feel comfortable bringing back the former student resource officer program, which Blackburn said she was not calling for. Instead she wanted to work with police to ensure  school staff had an easier way of dealing with police when issues came up, and to do proactive work. 

Patricia Kmiec, who also ran back in 2018, is hoping to oust Blackburn. In that election Kmiec came in fourth place with almost seven per cent of the vote. 

Her website says Kmiec is running because she is concerned over the direction the provincial government is taking the education system. 

On August 17, Natalie Rowe also ran to be trustee in Zone 3. 

Because of ward boundary changes, Knoxdale-Merivale will be put into a different district once this term is over.