The Urban Ring Wards 7, 8, 9, 10, and 16

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By Mike Levin

The wards surrounding the urban core consist of distinct and diverse neighbourhoods that represent some of the highest concentrations of seniors, expanding ethno-cultural communities, college students and high concentrations of residents who own their own homes. The largest municipal performing arts venue, Centrepointe Theatre, is located in College ward and a $9.5 million expansion of the facility is slated for completion in March 2011. 

Three wards have attracted record numbers of candidates. With Alex Cullen's announcement that he would run for Mayor, ten candidates filed their nomination papers. Cullen's shift back to the Bay Ward contest at the end of August, shook up the field and a final group of eight will be listed on the ballot. College Ward also has a slate of eight candidates. This is in sharp contrast to the 2003 election where incumbent Rick Chiarelli was acclaimed and 2006 where only two challengers were registered. With the announced retirement of Gord Hunter in Knoxdale-Merivale, the list of hopefuls continued to grow with ten registered at the close of nominations in September. Gloucester-Southgate and River Wards each have four candidates vying for the position of Councillor.

Candidates in Bay Ward (Ward 7 - Carlingwood, Britannia) represent a population which earns less and is significantly older than the Ottawa average. This is reflected in incumbent Alex Cullen's local priority to make arts programs and events "accessible to lower income families." For the city, Cullen would like to see the construction of a concert hall, renovations of Arts Court and a new home for the Ottawa Art Gallery. Terry Kilrea believes there should be "no new funding for arts projects" unless money can be gleaned from projects already in the city's budget. He does see a need for a new multipurpose building that could be used for arts projects and events. Oni Joseph and Shawn Little chose not to respond to questions.

College Ward (Ward 8 - Craig Henry, Bells Corners) also has an aging population and is high in residents for whom English is not their first language. Incumbent Rick Chiarelli chose not to respond to questions. William McKinnon is concerned about the diminished importance of arts right across the country. In his ward, Centrepoint is a key focus. "We need to start bringing more youth in to keep it alive, and that means youth programming where none exists today." He believes the City should find more funding for all arts programming to bring it "back from commercial to creative." Lynn Hamilton and Catherine Gardner chose not to respond to questions.

Knoxdale-Merivale Ward (Ward 9 - Crestview, West Hunt Club) has an immigrant population higher than Ottawa's average and tends to younger age groups. There is no incumbent in this ward, and all candidates contacted feel a pressing need for facilities and programs. Keith Egli sees accessibility to performance, training and recreation opportunities as his highest priorities. This means better use of Nepean Sportsplex and Centrepoint (just outside his ward). Egli would also like to see the City create an overall arts program like the Arts Investment Strategy/Festival Sustainability Plan that exists for national museums in Ottawa. James Dean says "anything that gets youth involved would get my support. You have to make things affordable, whether it's sports or singing." He sees this as a primary role of schools. James O'Grady would advocate for an allseason amphitheater in the ward that could be used for arts performance, "something to give people a reason to walk or cycle to a destination and make it more fun." He is also disappointed that the City has revoked funds for a new concert hall.

Gloucester-Southgate (Ward 10 - Walkley, the airport) has one of the youngest age demographics in the city as well as a high proportion of residents whose mother tongue is not English. Incumbent Diane Deans is the honorary chair of the Arts and Heritage Plan renewal team. "We've got to refresh this plan," is Deans' arts priority. The nature of her ward demands a focus "where we can develop more cultural-engagement projects for youth at-risk." She says she will also push for a new cultural centre in the south end. Wade Wallace says "I'm not hearing arts being mentioned as a political issue. Maybe that's a bad thing." He is in favor of creating projects, like a graffiti wall, that would engage youth, and hopes to get schools more involved. He does not favor moving the Ottawa Art Gallery to Lansdowne Park. Libby Obina sees the ward's multiculturalism as key. "We should leverage this to create after-school programs. I teach dancing and singing, and I see how this lightens children up and makes them work together."

River Ward (Ward 16 - Fisher Heights, Mooney's Bay) has an increasingly lower income and immigrant population. Incumbent Maria McRae chose not to respond to questions. Nadia Willard sees arts as a platform for community building: "It is important that (residents) have a place and means to gather and share ideas. I believe that community spaces need to be available." This would require more public arts programs to help build collaborative skills, and these must involve artists, not just bureaucrats. Michael Kostiuk chose not to respond to questions.