Adam: Bob Chiarelli has a long list of things to fix, but is Ottawa ready for a bang from the past?

There is no doubt that he has track record and experience, but can Chiarelli give the city the fresh breath it needs

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Bob Chiarelli has done it all: Ottawa Regional Chairman, Mayor, MPP and Ontario’s Cabinet Minister. In any case, his record is for life.

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Still, he’s here at 80, and running for mayor again. Why, you wonder? Because, he says, the city is on the wrong track and needs price correction – and he’s the man to do it.

“I feel very much for the city, and it has very serious problems right now. “Everything has gone in the wrong direction, and there are many who are not satisfied with the current municipal government,” he says in an interview. “I can say that no one is running who has as much experience as I do. I can do the job. I have the energy to do it. I know how to get things done. “

Chiarelli’s list of poor management is long. There is escalating debt, which he says has doubled under current management. The city has also developed a large “infrastructure deficit” because it has not kept up with maintenance. The condition of the roads is the worst they have ever been, he says. And while the city is talking a big game about climate change, it has done very little to advance the cause. There is, of course, the LRT failure. And if you want to know, a jewel like Lansdowne Park is “wasted, lost” because of a bad process. “They have lost money at Lansdowne Park and how to start over is completely unacceptable,” he says. Critically, he says the city does not prioritize and it is never clear what it will be.

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Chiarelli says there is an appetite in the city for a new direction, and he received calls from people across the political spectrum asking him to run and “shake things out.” So what about his age? After 12 years with Jim Watson, people may be looking for fresh blood and new ideas. How does an 80-year-old fit into that equation?

Chiarelli says the problem is not about age or new blood, but who has the best ideas and the ability to deliver. “People want to see who has the best ideas and abilities to move the city in a new direction. I say I have the ideas I need to bring to the table. I have been there, I have done it, ”he says.

First, he says, a new council must have the courage to cut costs, and there is nowhere to begin but the inflated urban bureaucracy. Chiarelli, who was the first mayor of the combined city, notes that Calgary and Edmonton, with roughly the same population as Ottawa, employ 5,000 to 6,000 people. Compare that to Ottawa, which has about 16,000 people working for it. At the time of the merger, he says, the city had about 11,000 employees. “We can be more efficient, as they do in Calgary and Edmonton,” he says. Does it mean potential layoffs if he becomes mayor? Not necessarily, he says, because it can be done with attrition. But cost savings need to be on the table.

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In addition, the city needs to stop talking and work hard to bring economic development to the eastern end. This has been a problem even when Chiarelli was regional chairman more than 20 years ago and little was ever done. It remains to be seen what can be done today.

Chiarelli is a veteran politician, and did very well for Ottawa in his time. He will probably be most remembered as the man who cemented the idea of ​​LRT in the city.

Despite his accomplishments, this was also the mayor who was defeated in 2006, not only losing his job to Larry O’Brien, but came in third behind then-councilor Alex Munter, now CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. The question for him is when the campaign will start next year, which Bob Chiarelli would remember. He has name recognition, but the critical question is, do people want to return to a bygone era?

Mohammed Adam is a journalist and commentator in Ottawa. Reach him at nylamiles48@gmail.com.

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