In his proposal to “push the reset button” on City spending, the Mayor favours a quasi-political party to support his budgetary goals. He is emphasising the point that while he, as mayor, has only one vote, citizens of Ottawa have two – one for mayor, one for council. He is looking for “CEO” type power to lead a budget fight, hoping for a zero-percent increase in property taxes during his next four-year term.
A key feature of Mayor O’Brien’s budget plans is basically a freeze on City spending, achieved partly by limiting department budgets, and a non-unionised employee pay freeze over the next two years. Mayor and Councillor salaries will be frozen for the next four years. He will also implement a “Value for Money” review of all city programs and services, consider privatising Para-Transpo, and open up the city’s books for public scrutiny on the city’s website.
To keep Ottawa moving, Mayor O’Brien will push for a modern train service between Ottawa and Montreal, and Ottawa and Toronto, an independent commission to run OC Transpo, and two major new projects – a new bridge over Kettle Island to Quebec, and a ring-road around the city.
Mayor O’Brien takes credit for his efforts to upgrade Ottawa’s sewage system, thus helping to clean up the Ottawa River, the Lansdowne Park project, and the approval for an east-west LRT plan. He praises the city’s environmental accomplishments. “Our record with the Ottawa River Action Plan, our LRT plan, and the Green Bin Program are prime examples of action rather than politics.” He criticises, however, plans to install solar power projects for the city, claiming that the costs are too high for such technology. Instead, he proposes the conversion of the city’s garbage into alternate forms of energy. “It may not be as trendy as solar, but Plasco is showing us that it works, both environmentally and financially.”