Democracy at City Hall

Many qualified candidates are seeking election to represent us

Judy Rinfret

Since Mathieu Fleury unexpectedly announced he would not seek re-election as City Councillor for Rideau Vanier, aka Ward 12, 10 candidates are vying for his position. They are: Patrick Auguste, Hicham Boutaleb, Burthomley Douzable, Tyler Cybulski, Julie Fiala, Jwane Izzetpanah, Kim Leclerc, Alex Osorio, Stéphanie Plante, and Laura Shantz. Ward 12 has more candidates running than any other ward in Ottawa. Voting takes place on or before Monday, October 24.

The last term of City Council has been fraught with accusations, shortcomings, and a lack of civility. Since Ottawa will have a new mayor and at least 11 new councillors, we may hope for better local government.

IMAGE posed questions, which could be answered in either English or French, to nine of the Rideau-Vanier candidates (one did not provide contact information). The answers from the five who responded (pictured above) are published below.

It is not only surprising but also inspiring that so many worthy candidates have the interest and courage to seek election. We owe it to ourselves and to them to vote. We encourage the nine who are not elected to continue to contribute to the wellbeing of our community and maintain their passion for municipal affairs.

IMAGE: Why do you want to be the municipal councillor for Sandy Hill?

Tyler Cybulski: Sandy Hill is a historical treasure in the heart of the city. We are currently witnessing the persistent problems in the ByWard Market and Rideau Street spilling over into Sandy Hill at an alarming rate. Additionally, we are lacking effective by-law enforcement in Sandy Hill. As councillor, I hope to address both of these issues to ensure that the community maintains its charm and history.

Julie Fiala: I want my life to make a difference in the lives of others. I love our ward and I want to make it an even better place. We can make change together with creative problem-solving and more listening to residents. As residents, we are experts on the community already, and we are equipped with all the necessary skills and knowledge to make it amazing! It already is.

Alex Osorio: I would love to represent the Sandy Hill community because I do believe that it must be a safe, thriving, and inclusive ward. Our residents deserve representation that will get things done — not just fancy words — but a councillor that can get their boots on and hands on. I am that person. Our ward needs to be clean and safe. As your next city councillor I will work hard to secure safety and cleanliness as a top priority.

Stéphanie Plante: I have been involved in community building and engagement since I moved to Ottawa in 2004, always in the Rideau-Vanier area. I believe in the 15-minute neighbourhood but think we need to shore up some foundational services in our ward to ensure no one is left behind. This goes for everything from housing, Francophonie, parks, to transit etc.

Laura Shantz: I want to be the councillor for Sandy Hill and Ward 12 because our city needs progressive change to ensure that Ottawa is a city for everyone. We need new voices and diverse experiences at City Hall to create a future that is more inclusive, greener and where residents feel that their voices are heard. Through my work with marginalized residents, my advocacy efforts around public transit and food security, and my research and work experience in housing and homelessness, I have the skills to make positive change for our community


IMAGE: What do you think are the most important municipal issues in Sandy Hill and how do you propose to deal with them?

Tyler Cybulski: The concentration of social services downtown has been a strain on adjacent neighbourhoods. We need to reconsider what programming we are offering and where those services are located. In addition, our next council must acknowledge and address the rampant drug use and homelessness issue that have taken over downtown. Sandy Hill is being impacted by both of these problems.

Julie Fiala: Sandy Hill is a complex and multi-faceted community. Increasing the quality of life of residents means different things to different people and changes street to street. However, this being said, the most immediate concern is tackling drug addiction which plays a big role in homelessness and contributes to mental health issues, crime levels, and poverty.

Many residents have noted increased public drug use and drug paraphernalia left behind in the streets and Strathcona Park. Some of these problems stem from the growing demand for emergency shelters and associated support services, like drop-in centres. Going forward, we need to house people immediately using alternative models and shared housing strategies to restore dignity and give them a fighting chance to rebuild their lives. In parallel, we need to increase access to mental health services and support workers to combat chronic homelessness and addiction.

Alex Osorio: After speaking with so many residents and listening to their concerns, safety is a top priority. Our residents want and need to feel safe. With the growing opioid crisis and growing homelessness residents don’t feel safe. I will work with OPS to ensure crime is brought under control and residents feel safe.

Our ward must be clean. Residents want their streets not to be a garbage place for everyone. Our taxes are high enough and we must stretch every dollar and get our streets clean. The safe injection sites are a concern for residents. I am not in favour of giving more needles, instead programs and services should be introduced to get these people off their addiction and reintegrate back into society.

Stéphanie Plante: Many municipalities have put efforts into recruiting family physicians and those efforts have paid off. I want the City to consult with physicians to see how we can make Ottawa an attractive place for family physicians to work and stay.

I am passionate about la Francophonie and want to ensure the continued flourishing and sustainability of the French language. I will work with our local school board trustees to ensure this including doing outreach to parents and residents who wish for their children to learn and master French as well as represent Francophone issues at City Council, including more French daycares. I will also work tirelessly to fight against linguistic insecurity and will consult with First Nations and Inuit residents for projects in our ward.

Rideau-Vanier is special because we have a diversity of residents but it has become unaffordable. We need to ensure the longevity and vitality of our public housing options and ensure that those who want to live here can afford to do so.

Residents have told me over and over that they want streets that accommodate “stroller to walker” especially in the winter, access to public toilets, water fountains, more public art and less garbage. If elected I will champion this at City Hall.

There is no plan B for our planet. We need reliable and affordable public transit, active transportation options and greenspaces. We need to protect our tree canopy, ensure our parks, bikes lanes and sidewalks are inviting and accessible places for everyone.

I support promoting and protecting Ottawa’s history and small businesses to ensure our biggest tourist destination has dynamic restaurants, thriving markets, unique retail, and of course public art!

Laura Shantz: Intensification is changing Sandy Hill. The community is growing and this growth needs to reflect the diversity of the neighbourhood, so that families, students, and seniors of all income levels have a place that they can feel proud to call home. I will ensure that Sandy Hill is a vibrant place for everyone by maintaining our parks and green spaces, protecting the mature tree canopy, and ensuring that property standards are maintained, especially in rental buildings.

Addictions and mental health issues are daily concerns. Harm reduction services save lives, and we need these services city-wide to meet demand and take pressure off Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. I will address the negative effects that neighbours experience from drug use, through improved Needle Hunters service in parks, more needle receptacles and improved street cleaning. I want to see a social work response to addictions and mental health issues: the tools we have now do not address root causes. I will push for public toilets in parks and along Rideau Street that are open at all hours to ensure everyone can access a toilet when needed.

Sandy Hill’s relationship with the University of Ottawa and its students is another challenge. I want to increase engagement between the residents and the university through the Town and Gown committee and through the University’s role as a landowner and landlord for our local housing co-operatives and Bernadette Child Care Centre. I want to ensure that these community institutions have a secure future in our neighbourhood.

For more information about Ottawa’s upcoming election:

Visit: You can scroll to Ward 12 where all candidates and contact information, including websites, are listed.

Watch: The Rogers Ward 12 debate on YouTube,

Read: Ward 12 candidates answer a CBC Ottawa survey:

Please vote on or before October 24. Visit the City’s website (above) to find out where, when, and how.