Council votes down adding Deans to powerful finance committee
Newly selected Coun. Cathy Curry appointed to most positions held by Kanata North predecessor
Ottawa city council voted down a motion to appoint veteran Coun. Diane Deans to the finance and economic development committee, opting instead to add the newly selected representative for Kanata North, Coun. Cathy Curry.
A month ago, council appointed Curry to replace Jenna Sudds, who vacated the seat for the west-end ward after she was elected MP for the area in the September federal election.
On Wednesday morning, council was set to discuss a motion to appoint Curry to most of the positions Sudds previously held, including membership on the finance committee.
However, Coun. Rawlson King, who also sits on the Ottawa Police Services Board, moved a motion to add Deans to the finance committee — a powerful group that includes committee and commission chairs, and is led by Mayor Jim Watson.
"It would be prudent of council to recognize the significant financial portfolio of the Ottawa Police Service by ensuring representation on the finance and economic development committee," King said in his motion.
Coun. Carol Anne Meehan, who also sits on the police board, agreed.
"This makes an awful lot of sense given, I think, the sensitivity of a lot of issues that we're dealing with with police right now," she said. "It makes sense to have a seasoned councillor who sits on, I would say, one of the most important boards in the city right now."
Coun. Scott Moffatt pointed out the police services board chair does not get a seat on the finance committee, and doesn't have an ongoing direct relationship with the city, other than the fact council approves the police budget. The previous chair, Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, was on the committee, but his role as a deputy mayor gave him automatic membership to the group.
"If your position is that you want a certain councillor on [the finance committee], just put that motion forward," Moffatt said to his colleagues who supported Deans' appointment.
Curry says she needs a voice for Kanata North
Other councillors pointed out that Curry, who used to chair the public school board and is a member of the board of directors at CHEO, eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa, has experience with large budgets and committee work.
For her part, Curry said she "would have a hard time voting against Kanata North, having a spot on that committee."
But Coun. Jeff Leiper said it wasn't right to speak about a ward having a place on the finance committee.
"Every ward in this city has its own unique challenges and unique contribution to the community," he said. "Kitchissippi does not have a guaranteed spot on on [the committee] despite the development that's occurring there, and I wouldn't ask for it."
In fact, no representatives of inner city wards sit on the committee.
Coun. Riley Brockington pointed out councillors were not asked if they would be interested in the positions that became available when Sudds resigned her seat, though he approved of Deans on the commitee to introduce some more "geographic representation."
In the end, council voted against adding Deans to the finance committee.
Curry was appointed to the committee, as well as to the planning committee, transit commission, IT sub-committee, and the board of Hydro Ottawa for the rest of the term. The city won't replace Sudds as deputy mayor unless a specific need arises before the municipal election in the fall of 2022.