Candidates make their pitches for city council: Martin Canning, Somerset

On Thursday, Aug. 28, OBJ issued an open invitation to all candidates in the upcoming municipal election to answer one simple question: Why should the business community vote for you?

As the responses come in, one will be published online each day, and be included in our daily email newsletter. Send your response to editor@obj.ca.

Today’s response is from Martin Canning, Somerset.

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Thank you to the Ottawa Business Journal for the opportunity to express how, as councillor for Somerset Ward, I would work in partnership with the Ottawa business community to navigate the change taking place across the city.

Somerset Ward is unique as it brings in people from all across the city to work and play, creating limitless potential. The way I see it, and the way many others do, Ottawa is on the cusp of a change and Somerset Ward has the opportunity to be the epicentre of that change. It’s a shift away from old stagnant rules and thinking, and towards a new Ottawa that’s vibrant and lively; the way a G7 capital ought to be.

My campaign is built upon the fundamental belief that old school ways of thought and old leadership approaches are no longer working. We need to reboot the instruments of government. We can no longer fight change and fight growth in Somerset Ward. Instead, our community needs to fight for something. That includes an innovative and creative local economy in which businesses thrive and are part of the community fabric.

This is one reason I worked hard fighting for an EcoDistrict in downtown Ottawa. An EcoDistrict is a neighbourhood where property owners, businesses and organizations work together to reduce environmental impacts, generate cost savings and create dynamic social spaces. EcoDistricts also have a strong community component and engage residents, employees and associations in decision-making. In an EcoDistrict, building renovation and collaboration create quality jobs in construction, energy management and clean tech while providing strong environmental and social benefits.

This is a relatively new movement that started in Portland, Oregon and has spread to Seattle, Washington, Boston and several other U.S. cities. Ottawa is the first city in Canada to officially create an EcoDistrict. I worked with a small group of committed community leaders to make this dream a reality. Our EcoDistrict will change the way that we develop our city.

Social enterprise and the creative economy are also bright lights in the growing new Ottawa landscape, for example the technology company Uber. I’m running to make Ottawa the most liveable, affordable and sustainable city in the country. Uber’s expansion into the Ottawa market is consistent with the values of my campaign, and the community is clearly in favour.

Uber began as a high-end transportation service, but has expanded to a lower-cost and affordable alternative to local taxi services. UberX, now available in Ottawa, allows people to become micro-entrepreneurs, allowing for increased economic opportunity and job creation in our community. This will result in more affordable transportation choices for Somerset Ward residents, a key commitment in my platform, the New Ottawa Plan. According to current pricing models, an UberX rider could save 40 per cent off a standard taxi fare. We need a city-wide dialogue encouraging a more affordable tax and pricing system, and greater fairness for taxpayers. UberX could be the catalyst we need to start having this conversation.

Over the past nine months, I’ve knocked on more than 25,000 doors in downtown Ottawa to see what concerns residents of Somerset Ward have. They told me two issues are important to them: urban planning and transportation. While it may seem that these two issues are disconnected from the business community, it turns out they are inextricably linked.

Through engaging with community stakeholders early in the process, new developments can be built taking into account the needs of business owners and residents. Through the development of mixed-use communities, local businesses will see increased foot traffic, leading to more money being spent in their shops.

I will act to formalize Ecology Ottawa’s active transportation audit, creating more complete streets, including better cycling infrastructure, and make them “sticky” so that residents are spending more time in local businesses. This will increase revenues to these businesses that are integral to who we are as a city, and create a place where other businesses will want to open.

Elgin Street is due for a reconstruction and I will ensure that it becomes one of the finest streets in Canada, in particular for our 2017 celebrations. To achieve this, I will convene a public consultation group with businesses and community stakeholders to ensure that both business and resident needs are met.

In addition, in my platform, I’ve committed to expanding municipal partnerships in the local economy. Great cities are built on seizing opportunities and making sure the results benefit everyone in the community. That means opening up an on- going dialogue between business, government and community partners to ensure a thriving local economy is sustainable for future generations.

One concrete proposal to achieve this it to work with local nonprofits, businesses and community stakeholders to convene two or more public stakeholder meetings with potential amenity providers and explore incentives and next steps to attract affordable, local, good food initiatives, and key amenities to under serviced areas of our community. It’s something I’m committed to doing if elected.

As councillor, I will continue to support initiatives such as Apartment613’s Support Local month, which highlights the many incredible businesses in Ottawa. It is these businesses that help create the fabric of our city.

My philosophy is that business is an integral part to the new Ottawa that is emerging. By voting for me on Oct. 27, the Ottawa business community can be sure to have a strong ally that will bring their needs to council and fight to ensure their continued growth and success.

Martin Canning

Candidate, Somerset Ward

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Previously published:

Aug. 29 - Katherine Hobbs, incumbent, Kitchissippi

Sept. 2 - Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi

Sept. 3 - Marc Aubin, Rideau-Vanier

Sept. 4 - Thomas McVeigh, Somerset

Sept. 5 - Cam Holmstrom, Rideau-Rockcliffe

Sept. 8 - Catherine McKenney, Somerset

Sept. 9 - Mathieu Fleury, incumbent, Rideau-Vanier

Sept. 11 - Jeff Morrison, Somerset

Sept. 23 - Marianne Wilkinson, incumbent, Kanata North

Sept. 24 - Jason Kelly, Gloucester-South Nepean

Oct. 6 - Susan Sherring, Gloucester-South Nepean

Oct. 7 - Tobi Nussbaum, Rideau-Rockcliffe

Oct. 8 - Meladul Haq Ahmadzai, Gloucester-Southgate

Oct. 10 - Catherine Fortin LeFaivre, Rideau-Vanier

Oct. 14 - Conor Meade, Somerset