Ottawa

Menard only councillor seeking vacant spot on planning committee

Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard has put his name forward to fill a vacancy on the city's powerful planning committee, one created when Coun. Jan Harder stepped down as chair following a damning report by the integrity commissioner.

Opening created when Coun. Jan Harder stepped down following damning report

While Coun. Shawn Menard is the only councillor seeking the vacant spot on the city's planning committee, created after former chair Coun. Jan Harder stepped down, he's not guaranteed the appointment. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Only one Ottawa city councillor has put his name forward to fill a vacancy on the city's powerful planning committee, one created when Coun. Jan Harder stepped down as chair following a damning report by the integrity commissioner.

Although Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard is the sole councillor seeking Harder's seat, he's not guaranteed the position.

Menard, who ran for council in part on a platform that included reining in developer influence, will need to be voted in by a majority of council at Wednesday's meeting.

Menard had expressed his interest in being part of the committee back in 2018, when he marked it as his first choice after he was elected. 

"The recent revelations about Councillor Harder by an integrity official in Ottawa have only reinforced the need to see change to the planning process in Ottawa, and the close relationships developers have fostered for years with decision makers deciding on development projects worth billions over our four-year term," Menard said by email.

3 councillors vying to chair committee

The report by integrity commissioner Robert Marleau detailed the relationship between Harder, planning consultant Jack Stirling and Stirling's daughter Alison Clarke.

It suggested that hiring the registered lobbyist and his daughter to work for Harder's office created a perceived conflict of interest.

While the report recommended Harder's removal, the long-time councillor announced she'd be stepping down as chair before that could take place.

While Menard is the sole councillor seeking Harder's spot at the committee table, councillors Glen Gower, Jeff Leiper and Scott Moffatt all hope to fill her role as chair.

Back in 2019, Menard recommended breaking the planning committee in two, in hopes of creating more representative decision-making.

If appointed, the councillor said he hopes to bring more "discussion, debate and needed constructive criticism" to the committee.

"It could use fairer representation based on geographic representation and where development applications occur," Menard told CBC Saturday night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Tunney reports for CBC News in Ottawa. He can be reached at joe.tunney@cbc.ca

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