Councillor says amalgamated Ottawa should split up

An Ottawa city councillor says it's time for the Ottawa to admit that amalgamation isn't working by allowing the city's combined municipalities to break up.

An Ottawa city councillor says he's had enough of trying to combine the city's urban and rural interests.

Clive Doucet, the councillor in the city's urban Capital Ward, says it's time for Ottawa to admit that amalgamation isn't working by allowing the city's combined municipalities to break up.

The amalgamated relationship began when 11 municipalities combined to become the City of Ottawa in 2001.

The rural and urban municipalities that came together were formerly known as Cumberland, Gloucester, Goulbourn, Kanata, Nepean, Osgoode, Ottawa, Rideau, Rockcliffe Park, Vanier, and West Carleton.

"They just have different priorities," said Doucet, speaking of Ottawa's rural communities. "Maybe they're better served not being in the amalgamated city."

Doucet was originally a supporter of amalgamation in the 1990s before area municipalities came together under one roof.

But now, he says that the city has to admit the practical limitations of the plan that once sounded so good.

One of Doucet's criticisms is that he doesn't think rural councillors should carry an equal vote on issues that affect only Greenbelt residents – for instance, Wednesday's city hall conversation about transit.

"It turned into this long and very difficult debate with an outcome that I don't think anybody was really happy about," said Doucet.

He said that part of what makes such transit debates difficult with urban councillors is that the four rural councillors don't pay an urban transit levy but have votes that are weighted equally with those who do.

But as much as he thinks rural and urban councillors are pulling in different directions, it's Ottawa's rural residents whom Doucet is hoping to appeal to with his plea.

His plan is to bring rural residents together in a referendum in 2010 and then through that referendum, submit an application to the province so that demerger can begin.