Choice for transportation chair 'Watson Club' at work, councillor says

Coun. Tim Tierney's tentative appointment to the helm of Ottawa's transportation committee is already coming under fire as another attempt to shut downtown councillors out of the mayor's inner circle.

Coun. Tim Tierney chosen to head committee that oversees roads, transit network planning

Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney has been chosen to chair the city's transportation committee. The selection needs the final approval of city council. (Laura Osman/CBC)


  • On Wednesday, council voted 17-5 to name Coun. Tim Tierney chair of transportation committee.

Coun. Tim Tierney's tentative appointment to the helm of Ottawa's transportation committee is already coming under fire as another attempt to shut downtown councillors out of the mayor's inner circle.

Tierney, the councillor for Beacon Hill-Cyrville, will replace Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais, who stepped down from the committee chair's role to run in the provincial byelection in Orléans.

The transportation committee oversees the city's roads, sidewalks and cycling infrastructure, as well as parking and long-term transit network planning. 

Tierney, who put his name forward to replace Blais, was appointed by a vote of 10-1 Tuesday at a special combined meeting of the city's nominating and finance and economic development committees.


Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper, the transportation commitee's vice-chair, also put his name forward, but there was no vote on his candidacy after Tierney was selected, according to a process the city clerk said had been followed in the past.

Mayor Jim Watson applauded Tierney's appointment.

"I think members were very impressed by how Tim has handled the library file. It's a big file. It's our second-largest infrastructure file, and there's a lot of infrastructure that goes with the transportation committee," Watson said.

'Watson Club' is back: Menard

But for councillors who don't sit on the city's powerful finance and economic development committee (FEDCO), it was another disappointment.

FEDCO, which is chaired by the mayor and made up of chairs of the city's other standing committees, operates like Watson's cabinet. Urban councillors who weren't appointed to FEDCO expressed frustration when the roles were doled out at the start of the term, and say they're still frustrated.

"I was elected here to represent people, and we're getting the short shrift when it comes to committee meetings despite having eminent qualifications," said Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard after Tierney's selection Tuesday.

"I think what's happened here is the Watson Club is back again, and they are producing the results that they want to see for getting decisions through at these committees. It's not about representation of the regions of Ottawa."


Coun. Catherine McKenney pointed to Leiper's keen understanding of transportation options and climate change, and said he would have been an ideal choice to take on the major job of updating the city's list of transportation priorities.

Tierney's plate full

Tierney already has a seat on FEDCO as a member-at-large, and as vice-chair. He also chairs the Ottawa Public Library board, is vice-chair of planning committee, and sits on the transit commission and the IT subcommittee.

Watson said it would be up to Tierney to give up a role if he feels that workload is too great.

Councillors selected Coun. Jenna Sudds to take Blais's seat on the board of Hydro Ottawa's holding company. Councillors Rawlson King and Shawn Menard had also wanted that role.

The matter isn't settled: McKenney said there's a motion in the works to nominate Leiper to chair the transportation committee instead of Tierney. It will be presented when the selections go to council for final approval next week.


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