Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Welcome changes proposed for parks policy

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On Tuesday at Planning Committee, we'll consider a staff review of the City's cash-in-lieu (CIL) of parkland policy that proposes several welcome reforms. Kitchissippi has been one of the largest recipients of CIL money in recent years. While the resources have been put to beneficial use, the proposed tweaks will result in some needed improvements.

Press coverage of the review has focused on the proposal to prohibit using the funds for self-promotion by politicians. In the wake of recent headlines about how some wards' funds have been used, I'm very supportive of this recommendation.

More substantively, though, I'm particularly pleased with a couple of key changes.

First, it's been suggested that Councillors can now use CIL funds to advance repairs to equipment like play structures. I'm wholly supportive. There are some parks such as Mahoney in our ward that are badly in need of repairs. Currently, the CIL policy doesn't allow for funds to be used to advance repairs to infrastructure covered by our asset management plan. Good in theory, the reality is that too many projects fall "under the line" each year for needed repairs. This change could help address that.

Secondly, I'm very pleased to see the adoption of a proactive approach by our planners to assist in creating longer-term plans for how the funds are to be used. We have more priorities than money in Kitchissippi for park improvements, and prioritizing what's next in an equitable and transparent way is a challenge. I've been open that it will be at least 18 months before we've replenished our parks fund after advancing some commitments from the previous term. I'm completely in favour of developing a plan for what comes next. To that end, and knowing that staff are seeking to pilot the development of the first plans, I'll be asking staff to include Kitchissippi as one of the first pilot candidates.

We've achieved significant benefit from the use of parks funds in recent years, but the kitty is empty and our long-term plan at this point amounts to a laundry list of potential next uses for funding. The changes proposed by staff will help right the ship.

Posted July 5, 2015