During the 2014 election campaign George made a number of promises which he would fulfill when he was elected councilor of Osgoode Ward. He has made good on almost all of the promises, with only a few that are still being worked on. Here is a partial list of those kept promises.
George worked with the city to sustain Osgoode Ward Youth Association (O-Ya) and to keep the doors open with funding above and beyond what they were getting from the city. He was able to obtain $100,000 from the city’s Strategic Initiative, $25,000 every year for the last four years of his term on council. O-Ya was not only able to keep their program going to protect, educate and work with our youth, but they were also able to expand their program.
George was able to work with the mayor and his council colleagues to expand the city audit subcommittee to a full committee. A subcommittee is ad hoc, but a full committee has a schedule and larger budget, enabling it to meet regularly with more members and more power. George was able to put himself on that committee and was able to review and look over the spending of every department. He therefore is able to make sure everything staff does is accountable, and that they deliver great service in the areas they are mandated.
George was able to get the road renewal money in the ward increased from $29 million in the previous term to $38 million in his term of office, and increase of over 30%. As a result it is the first time that the city started paving and working on inside roads in every one of our villages. It is the first time since amalgamation that a list of side road and residential street repaving has been created. This has already resulted in several previously neglected roads such as Old George and Glenwood being renewed.
The main example of George’s hard work in this area are the shovels in the ground at the under construction Greely Village Centre. It’s the first time after 12 years that the city is working with the developer and the new anchor Sobeys to make sure that this project is happening. George is also working very hard on supporting the new plan for Rideau Carleton by the new partnership that was created two years ago after the RFP was won by the Hard Rock Café. The partnership has an impressive vision of adding a hotel, a 2500 theatre, shops, and expanding the main building into a full blown casino. This will create $218 million of rural construction, 1,800 jobs during construction, and 2,000 jobs to keep it running.
One of the first things George did when he became Councillor was to create the Osgoode Ward Advisory Committee or OWAC. It now has over 40 members and stakeholders from every part of the ward. It is made up of the leaders of community associations, youth associations, senior associations, as well as stakeholders in the farming community, local industry, and many residential community areas that have different interests. OWAC meets on a regular basis every quarter, and has emergency meetings based on high level issues that come up. It not only includes Osgoode Ward, but also some parts of neighbouring wards where there is split interest, such as in Manotick, Finley Creek and Marionville.
In his role as the vice chair of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC), George makes sure that city planners recognize ARAC as the body planning for all the rural issues before they go to planning committee. There was talk in 2014 that they were going to dissolve ARAC, but George will make sure it does not go away. ARAC works the issues that pertain to rural residents and farmers, and it is important to keep it going.
George is very happy to say that the city was not only able to rewrite the policy for the green bin and the garbage collection, but that they were very careful to ensure there was no more cost to the taxpayer on the contract. He heard from his residents the problem of the maggots, and now people will be able to put their garbage in plastic bags into the green bin so the food does not create the maggots. It was not exactly what he wanted, but from the lemon they had they were still able to create lemon aid. As responsible citizens he thinks that we should still recycle and reduce the need for more landfills because nobody wants landfills. The next step is to look at different technology to handle our garbage.
George was instrumental in creating something called traffic calming measures, and through this strategic initiative every Councillor now has $40,000 for traffic calming in their ward. So in Osgoode Ward he added many speed boards, speed signs, and painted speed limits on streets. He also created PXOs (Pedestrian Cross Overs) for seniors and youth, to help make a safer community.
Another thing that George recognized when he came into office was the lack of good paramedic services. He learned that since 2012 the city had stopped hiring paramedics, and after four or five years there was degradation of service and the response time. It did not make sense, because with a city growth rate of about 10% every year you have to keep hiring. You can’t stop just because you met your quota. He worked hard to reverse this policy, and in 2016 the city hired 12 paramedics and bought 5 new cars. They continue to play catch up on the hiring, and he is happy to announce that to date the city has hired 50 more paramedics plus additional cars. He will continue to monitor the response time in our community, and more will be hired as the need increases.
George was also involved with a big review of our policing. The strategic review happened in 2017 resulting in a change of our police area from Boundary Road to Rideau Road. So now instead of the police deploying from Orleans to our area they deploy from Leitrim, giving us more police presence for protecting our ward.
He also worked with the firefighters to ensure they had sufficient funding, and that the mental health component of their work was addressed, including the recognition of PTSD. Another issue George addressed was the green light campaign for volunteer firefighters, and to make sure the community understands how urgent it is for those people to get to their station.
As George promised, the Metcalfe office is now open five days a week. In addition, recognising that our residents need more service, every Tuesday George has an open door from 1 to 5 when people can come and discuss what they want without an appointment.
Before George took office, and beyond the control of the City, the province approved the licence for the garbage facility near Edwards. George was able to work with city staff and with the community to address the issue of additional traffic that was going through part of his ward. He was able to get signal lights on Boundary Road and Mitch Owens Road, proper turning lanes for trucks, and a turning lane for the facility.
George keeps working with organizations such as OWAC, OWBA and OYA, to get community feedback to take to City Hall, making sure that our rural voice is heard. His strong rural input is shown by his vice chairmanship on the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee, and his strong presence on several other city committees such as the Committee of Protective Services, and the Transportation Committee. Using his technical background, he also sits on the IT subcommittee to encourage the city to use technology to help the residents. One of the successes in this area is the on-line fire permits, saving rural residents time and effort.
George has a 100% attendance record on city Council, Committee and Subcommittee meetings.