CBC 2018 Municipal Candidate Questionnaire

I filled out the CBC Ottawa Municipal Candidate Questionnaire, check out my responses below! To read the full article, click HERE.

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Part 1: Information About You

  • Name: Catherine McKenney
  • How many years have you lived in Ottawa? 31 years
  • How do you identify?  Non-Binary
  • Do you identify as part of a minority group? Prefer Not to Say
  • How old are you? 57
  • How many council or committee meetings have you attended since Sept. 1, 2017?  

I have been to every Council meeting since Sept. 1, 2017 and to every Committee that I sit as a member of: Environment and Climate Protection , Built Heritage and Transportation.  I also have attended every board meeting that I sit on: Ottawa Public Library, Board of Health and Ottawa Community Housing. As well, I routinely attend Community and Protective Services, Transit, Planning  and Finance and Economic Development Committee meetings.

  • When was the last time you took public transit? Choose the statement that best describes you.:

__ I take transit more than once per week.

__ I take transit more than once per month.

_x_ I take transit less than once per month.


Part 2: City Issues

1) In the last term, what was council's single greatest accomplishment? What was council's biggest failure? (Limit answer to 150 words.)


The greatest accomplishment of the last Council was the construction of the new Light Rail Transit line through the downtown.  This along with infrastructure improvements for cyclists and pedestrians will ensure that we are moving toward a more equitable, safe, healthy and sustainable City.  

The biggest failure was holding the property tax increase to only 2%, which was not enough to meet basic community services.

2) In the past four years, property taxes have increased about two per cent each year. Do you have a target for future tax increases? No

2a) What is your target for future property tax increases, as a percentage?  N/A

3) Does Ottawa have an adequate level of policing?  Yes

3a) Would you increase the police budget by more than two per cent? Yes

3b) Please explain why. (Limit answer to 150 words.)

Police resources need to be better focused on areas where we have problems. And we need to do a better job working with our front-line, community officers.  A strong community police model will ensure that issues affecting our neighbourhoods are being addressed.  That being said, we know that the Ottawa Police Services cannot maintain and/or increase the current community police unit and traffic patrols without extra resources.  I would support an increase to the Police budget to ensure a strong community policing model.

4) Do you support cannabis retail shops in Ottawa? Yes

4a) Do you support cannabis retail shops in your ward?  Yes

4b) What role should the city have regulating this new industry? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

Like any business, the City must zone for these businesses so that they are in appropriate locations and properly spaced apart. That means consulting with communities and ensuring that they fit within the neighbourhood, while not increasing traffic or crime. We do that with bars, restaurants and light industrial businesses and we should do so here.

5) LRT is the single largest infrastructure project in Ottawa's history. As the city moves into Stage 2, what would you do differently to improve the plan? (Limit answer to 150 words.)


It is critical that a rail link is established between Ottawa and Gatineau.  If we are serious about reducing traffic travelling through downtown neighbourhoods, we must work toward the rehabilitation of Prince of Wales bridge as a rail, cycling and pedestrian link.

It is also important to ensure that amenities are provided at LRT stations to ensure positive ridership, such as washrooms, convenient and covered bike parking, and well maintained cycling and pedestrian access.

6) How much public money, if any, should the city invest in redeveloping LeBreton Flats? What should the money be spent on? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

The City should not invest in brownfield remediation at this site since it is a federally-owned site and I have made the argument in the past that other levels of government should not expect local taxpayers to pay for remediation.  

The only City investments required for LeBreton Flats is park development through city-wide cash-in-lieu of parkland, capital funding towards affordable housing and other amenities provided through Section 37 benefits.  

7) Do you support supervised injection sites (SIS)? Yes

7a) If the province retracts funding for SIS, would you support the city paying for their operation? Yes

8) Do you support inclusionary zoning as a tool to improve the supply of affordable housing units in Ottawa? Yes

Part 3: Ward Issues

9) What do you love most about your ward? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

I love the people the most. Somerset Ward has an incredible diverse population, whether you look at it through a lens of culture, age, gender, sexuality, or income. That’s why we have so many opportunities here for festivals and events. Each day, as I walk my dogs, or take my daughter to school, or ride my scooter to City Hall, I discover new people and new things to love right here in our neighbourhood.

10) What is your top infrastructure priority for your ward?


Increasing the stock of affordable housing.  We can do so with a robust Inclusionary Zoning policy, by providing city-owned land near LRT stations (this would include the city-owned parcel of land beside the new Central Library), partnering with affordable housing providers to build new stock and rehabilitating and expanding our current housing stock that is at the end of its lifecycle.

10a) What are two other priorities for your ward? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

We must properly fund and construct complete streets on Albert and Slater as well as any opportunity to move toward a ‘complete street’ model when we are rebuilding an intersection or resurfacing a roadway.  Safe and comfortable sidewalks and crosswalks, segregated cycling facilities and good transit will make the downtown even more walkable, bikeable and all-round healthy and sustainable.

Phase 2 of LRT is a key priority.  This will also help to change how we travel in and through the downtown.  

11) Residents often complain about traffic (speeding, congestion, etc.). What would you do to improve traffic in your ward? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

We must continue to find opportunities to make walking and cycling safe and comfortable with proper infrastructure and maintenance to increase our healthy transportation options.  We must also make transit more effective and affordable, especially local transit.

We know that traffic calming measures such as speed humps help to slow down traffic, therefore, we must adequately budget for them.  Most important, we know that proper road design is absolutely key to keeping traffic operating at a safe speed with opportunities for all road users to stay safe. 

12) How would you encourage residents of your ward to recycle more, especially green-bin organics? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

The City needs to work with multi-unit building owners to develop a workable green-bin system for condo and apartment dwellers. It’s been done in other cities, and I know we could do it here.

The City must also look to best practices in other jurisdictions where bag limits, clear plastic bags and other measures have been successful in increasing diversion.

12a) Do you support a city ban on single-use plastic? Yes

Part 4: Governance

13) Do you support posting councillors’ voting and attendance records online and in the city’s open data portal? Yes

14) What would you do to improve the diversity of city staff? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

The city should apply its own Equity and Inclusion Lens when hiring.  By reaching out to underrepresented communities such as racialized, trans, low-income etc., we can ensure that we have a diverse cohort of staff when we plan for succession in management positions.

15) Do you support a women’s bureau? Why or why not? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

Yes. I was one of the Councillors who proposed this and fought for it. We need to examine our policies and programs through a gender lens to ensure that women and girls are equitably served by city services and programs. Women have unique perspectives to contribute to our planning and decision making. We’ve seen this in other jurisdictions, such as Sweden where changes were made to transportation priorities when it was realized that the existing policies did not meet the needs of most women.

16) The city is planning to undertake a ward boundary review. Do you think the city has too many wards, too few or the right number? Why? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

I welcome the ward boundary review, however, I will not support a reduction in the representation of the downtown. Somerset ward is a complex and diverse area of the city, with local residential neighbourhoods, local businesses, an active commercial sector, tourist areas, heritage neighbourhoods, new developments, affordable and supportive housing communities, too few trees and greenspace, inadequate recreational space, and traffic and transportation challenges unique to the downtown.  

Part 5: A Bit More About You

17) Which municipal figure, alive or dead, do you admire? Why? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

I admire my predecessor, Diane Holmes. Diane fought for Ottawa’s downtown communities for decades and she did so with style and strength. From improved affordable and social housing to better planning and development and better parks and recreational programs; from services to seniors to better streetscapes; Diane made a true difference to our communities and we’re a better, more prosperous, and more equitable City as a result of her work.

18) Do you live in the ward you’re running in? Yes

18a) If not, why are you running there? (Limit answer to 150 words.) N/A

19) Tell us about any formal education, training or other credentials you think are relevant to the job of being a councillor. (Limit answer to 150 words.)

I am fortunate to have had a front-row seat in municipal politics for the past two decades.  I worked for two former City Councillors, Alex Munter (Kananta) and Diane Holmes (Somerset).  Prior to being elected in 2014, I worked for eight years as a senior advisor to the Deputy City Manager responsible for all operations at the City.  Since 2014, I have been the Councillor for Somerset Ward and have worked with many community members and organizations to bring progressive change to the ward and to the city.

20) If elected, what single greatest change do you hope to have made in Ottawa or in your ward, four years from now? (Limit answer to 150 words.)

If I had to choose one single change it would be a substantial increase in the number of affordable housing units, including many family size, in close proximity to transit. Housing affordability is critical to building a city that meets the needs of everyone especially those for whom the private market is out of reach.  Safe and affordable housing for singles and families is a human right that each level of government has a responsibility to meet. It is key to addressing overall poverty, addictions, mental and physical health, domestic violence and unemployment.  

Catherine McKenney