c_doucet_en-11Councilor Clive Doucet
Ward 17: The Glebe, Sunnyside, Old Ottawa South and Carleton U.

‘Doucet Breaks Rank’ read the headline of the Ottawa Citizen, referring to the fact that the councilor is the only one to have spoken his views on the bus strike independently of city hall. His point: control over schedules isn’t worth the pain all sides are feeling from the strike.

Last week Doucet made the news again when he suggested that the city’s handling of the strike was less then perfect.

Doucet has represented the patch of town from the Glebe to Billings Bridge since 1997. An urban anthropologist by training, he has published several books, including four works of poetry, musings on his acadian heritage and a novel. His latest work, Urban Meltdown suggests that it is politics that are responsible for sluggish action on environmental issues, since councilors cannot get elected without pandering to cars.

Doucet has an excellent record on environmental issues, receiving top marks in Ecology Ottawa and the Sierra Club’s annual report card on city councilors. He got an A in 2008 for voting for a motion to reduce road speed and voting against deferring the purchase of electric buses for OC transpo.

On the light rail system, the literal third rail of Ottawa politics, Doucet favors a two rail electric system that would follow Carling Avenue into Kanata, arguing that such a system has low operating costs and would add a significant number of users to the Ottawa public system, thus attracting federal and provincial funds.

It seems that Canadian politicians don’t wait for Halloween to dress up as their favorite foreign leader. First Stephen Harper spends a couple of years as Bush Jr. Jr., then Danny Chavez brings a bit of South American flava to St. John’s. Now it seems that Ottawa has decided to take up ‘the Chicago way.’

The CBC reported that Mayor Larry O’Brien will be tried for corruption this April on charges that he offered a rival an important job at the National Parole Board in exchange for stepping aside from the 2006 mayoral election. At least he thought ahead: if things go badly for Mr. O’Brien this spring, it would help to have some friends on the national parole board.

Unhappy customers

As the entire greater Ottawa region knows, OC Transpo drivers have been on strike since Wednesday December 10th. Without wanting to go into details, it appears that the main issue of discontent between the drivers and the city is not money but the control of work schedules. The city would like to remove the right of senior drivers to choose their shifts. This is seen as a money saving operation by the city government which would actually make sense. Instead of having senior drivers rack up overtime while younger drivers work thirty or so hours a week, wouldn’t it make sense for everyone to work a standard 37.5 or 40 hour work week like everyone else? I’m just saying…

The bus strike has angered many citizens. While the strike would have vastly disrupted the daily lives of many at any time of year, three factors make it worse at this particular point in time. It is now winter, the first snow storms have come and will keep coming and it sucks to walk two hours to and from work everyday. It’s getting close to Christmas and more people will be moving about to prepare for Christmas. At the same time, the current economic state means more people are more susceptible to watch their pennies and take public transport instead of a taxi. At that, trying to find a taxi has become next to impossible. In the last few days, I’ve read and asked around to try and see what alternatives Ottawa folks have used in lieu of the bus to get around town.

If there are some that I’ve forgotten please add them in the comments section!

1- Carpooling: a lot of work places have begun forums or posted carpooling options for people living in the same neighbourhood. It’s a fantastic idea and a nice opportunity to get to know more people from our work and neighbourhood. At the same time, it’s an initiative that has potential to last beyond the strike.

2- For the brave ones: bicycling. It’s snowed a lot in the last two weeks but some are still using old faithful. I can only congratulate them on their temerity and perseverance.

3- More relaxed parking rules at certain spots for vehicles: You are able to park all day where one-, two-, and three-hour parking is currently permitted. You are not able to park where stopping and parking are prohibited.

4- Bring your work home if you can.

5- Sharing a vehicle through VRTUCAR. Check http://www.vrtucar.com/

If there are any alternatives that I’ve forgotten please add them in the comments section!

Here’s a good website by a fellow blogger to stay in the know on what’s going on with the strike: http://www.transitottawa.ca/