Catherine McKenney: I will be Ottawa’s champion — including for our small businesses

MCKENNEY
Mayoral candidate Catherine McKenney, who uses they/them pronouns, has served two terms as the councillor for Somerset Ward, worked with former Councillor Alex Munter and as a strategic advisor to the Deputy City Manager.
Editor's Note

 OBJ reached out to all of the mayoral candidates to ask their views on the city’s business community and its priorities. We will be presenting their responses, in their own words, over the next several days. Next up: Mark Sutcliffe.

By Catherine McKenney

As mayor, I will be Ottawa’s champion-in-chief, including for our local business community. I will make the City work for small businesses by easing red tape and regulations to let businesses thrive.

From Kanata to Cumberland, and from Stittsville to Sandy Hill, we need vibrant neighbourhoods and mainstreets across our city. As mayor, I will ensure City policy supports these spines of our communities as integral commercial hubs.

I will also work with Invest Ottawa to attract quality employers to the Ottawa region over the next four years. They will be drawn to my vision of Ottawa as the healthiest, greenest and best-connected city.

Small businesses are essential to the economic health of Ottawa and should not be stumbling after an unprecedented past two years. I will work to reduce red tape to ensure that can happen. 

I commit to service delivery timelines for permits and inspections. I will also create a culture of transparency around these services within the City, including posting them publicly and reporting annually on if these targets are met. We need to use data to better understand how small and medium-sized enterprises use City services and how they can be better supported. 

I will maintain the cancellation of patio fees and work with BIAs to allow for expanded patios throughout the city. I will maintain or further reduce the property tax subclass on smaller businesses. 

I will involve BIAs in pilot projects, planning and consultation in the development of mainstreets. And I will ensure BIAs have proper and timely access to City staff and resources, including through consultation on all key initiatives with an impact on mainstreets (e.g., e-scooter parking). 

By tapping into BIAs’ “eyes on the street” view of what businesses are experiencing, the business community will benefit. The Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas, which brings a city-wide perspective, will meet regularly with the mayor’s office.

A vibrant, thriving downtown is also critical. Some 65 per cent of the tenant base in Ottawa is leased by public service entities that, during the pandemic and beyond, are more inclined to permit employees to work from home or a hybrid model. Ottawa faces a situation where some downtown office vacancy rates are high. I commit to working to revitalize the downtown core by encouraging commercial space to be converted to  housing, arts spaces and restaurants, among other attractions.

I am running for mayor to make Ottawa the greenest, healthiest, and most connected city in Canada. More details will be released on my platform in the coming weeks. 

Stay tuned for the next column, written by mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe.

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