LRT, limited rental units big issues for upcoming municipal election

The call for young people to engage in politics is a cry one can hear on both sides of the border, increasingly in the U.S. with the upcoming midterm elections. But there’s an upcoming election here in Canada that I think we, as students, need to pay more attention to, and that’s the municipal election taking place in Ottawa on Oct. 22.

Ottawa has two universities and a college, which means there are plenty of students who, if they get politically engaged, can make a real difference and work as a powerful voting block.The student voice needs to be heard in this city, and the ballot box is a great way to do so.  

Two issues being discussed that I believe pertain to students’ interests most are transportation, and the shortage of affordable rental accomodations.

The latest delay of LRT construction makes it a pertinent election issue. Many are upset with the alleged lack of transparency within the mayoral office, due to the recent speculation  that the mayor, Jim Watson, knew about the delays at the end of August but held off on telling OC Transpo to not change bus routes, which they had done in September to prepare for the expected LRT.

For many students that complain about delays with OC Transpo and the LRT system, or who have problems with the way public transit is generally run in the city, through going to the ballot box and canvassing for councillors who share your sentiments, you can make actual change.

There’s a shortage of rental accomodations in the city, and with the recent eviction of low-income tenants from the Heron Gate community, this issue has intensified. Developers are increasingly building high-income condos and gentrifying older buildings, squeezing out low- and middle-income tenants.

I’ve personally experienced the struggle of trying to find a low-cost place to live near the university while competing with hundreds of other students looking for the exact same thing. In the end, we either get stuck with high-cost, low-quality units that are close to campus, or we have to move out to Gatineau. And then, the bus we take is delayed or breaks down. Because it’s OC Transpo.

Students should be getting involved in the upcoming municipal election, not just because it’s our civic duty, but because if enough of us vote, we may be able to make real change. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t already done so, to look-up the promises of candidates and find one that aligns with your values.

Those who really want to be engaged in the political process can also volunteer with different councillors and mayoral candidates. Working in a campaign is not only good on a resume, but also an enriching experience in general, which allows you to really educate yourself on the campaign process.

The Rideau-Vanier Ward, which contains ByWard Market, Sandy Hill, Vanier, and Lower Town, is the ward holding the University of Ottawa. The current councillor is Mathieu Fleury (you may have seen his campaign signs in and around campus). He’s running against Salar Changiz, Thierry Harris, and Matt Lowe. For the mayoral election, there are twelve candidates, with the incumbent Jim Watson running for reelection.

In case you want to volunteer or learn more, information for the councillor offices follow:

Mathieu Fleury

Tel: (613) – 580 – 2482

Email: Mathieu.Fleury@ottawa.ca

Website: www.mathieufleury.ca

Thierry Harris:

Tel: (613) – 265 – 4655

Email: thierry@thierryharris.ca

Website: www.thierryharris.ca

Matt Lowe and Salar Changiz do not have websites or contact information available, but you can read more about all of the candidates here.