Somerset Impressions

The other day, I recorded the Somerset Ward debate. I plan to watch it soon, but it’ll have to be at a time when I have an hour and half to devote to a debate in a ward in which I know longer live. I’m not so much interested in all the races as I am interested in having the necessary information to know as much as I can about the future council.

That being said, I thought it might be an interesting exercise to offer my impressions of the Somerset race and then see how much is confirmed or corrected from the debate.

1. This is a crowded field, and has been for a long time. There are five candidates that I would be comfortable have representing the ward In no particular order they are: Thomas McVeigh, Catherine McKenney, Martin Canning, Jeff Morrison and Conor Meade. Denis Schryburt also seems strong, but I have less of a read on him.

2. Early on in the campaign, Canning most caught my attention. For quite a while, he was probably my favourite candidate across all wards. I like his approach, the way he solicited input from the community and his vision. I like that he wants to hear from residents, but also puts forth a coherent platform. I’m not a huge fan of candidates who offer to be little more than a voice for their residents. That’s not leadership.

3. Thomas McVeigh was another one who declared and started campaigning early. I like his platform and his involvement in the community. He also seems like a hard-worker, which is handy in a councillor. Sometimes, I worry he’s a little too business-focused…but that’s a minor quibble.

4. McKenney seems like the front-runner, to me. Her platform isn’t that dissimilar to the other top competitors. She seems to have a good handle on the direction that an urban community needs to go. Her biggest strength might also be her biggest weakness, though. She’s a longtime city staffer. This gives her the experience to understand how the city and council work, and maybe how to work them, but it also makes her a bit of an insider. I’m not sure that’s what the ward or council need. (Side note: there’s a clear issue with women participating in civic politics. We don’t have enough running and we don’t have enough winning. Whether or not she’s my top choice, she should make a decent councillor and working towards some semblance of gender balance would be good.)

5. I don’t know if Morrison has much of a chance. I find he tends not to stand out from the crowd. So far, I don’t think he’s really staked his claim; he hasn’t owned an issue or presented a distinct enough vision.

6. Meade came in a bit later than the rest. He also doesn’t seem to have the established presence that the other four I’ve mentioned do. However, he has a solid platform, and he has an angle. He’s a technology guy, and he has a vision for Ottawa and Somerset as a leading technology centre. He wants to see a transformation to a more digital, more connected city. Some of it may be a bit out of reach, but I appreciate that he offers a vision. (For example: he seems to be the local politician who is most supportive of Uber.)

So there’s my initial assessment. I offer my apologies to the candidates I haven’t really talked about. It doesn’t mean that they’re not viable candidates (though it might). This is just my snapshot of the race right now. If I were voting and had to make a choice, it would be a toss-up between Canning and Meade…but we’ll see how things shake out with after the debate.

3 thoughts on “Somerset Impressions

  1. Pingback: Somerset House Concerns | Steps from the Canal

  2. RE: Blog Somerset Impressions, October 6, 2014.

    After reading your blog I thought I’d send you a quick note that might give you a better read about me and my campaign.

    Born and raised in Ottawa, I have been living in Somerset Ward for almost 30 years. I have been involved in my community from the moment I moved here. I have extensive community experience from all my volunteer work, many of which are listed on my LinkedIn page. In fact, I have continued to live up to my commitments with some of those organizations throughout the campaign. Over the years I have built great working and personal relationships with a number of our current councillors which will be an asset while at the council table negotiating for the needs of Somerset Ward.

    There are some good candidates in the race for Somerset Ward there is no doubt about that. But here is how I stand out from all the others. It is all about going the extra step and thinking about the community as a whole and not just the popular vote getting issues. Let me explain.

    Somerset House: Most of my fellow candidates including myself want Somerset House redeveloped once and for all and as soon as possible. I am the only candidate however that has gone the extra step with a strong voice for not only the popular main street building but have named off a long list of other abandoned buildings across the ward that must also be dealt with. I will work on amending the current by-laws giving the city a much heavier hand on the issue to ensure buildings are not simply left to sit and rot away.

    Harm reduction: Almost all candidates support harm reduction programs and a supervised injection site for Ottawa. I on the other hand, after taking an extensive and personal tour of Vancouver’s Insite in 2009, have since said that Ottawa needed a model of its own and not necessarily what they have out West. That said, I am the only one who has also gone the extra step in discussing the important need for more long-term recovery centres to be located across the Capital. Harm reduction is absolutely crucial to our city but it is just a small step on the long road to recovery and freedom from addiction.

    Main street revitalization: Some of us agree that many of our main streets need to be revitalized such as Bank, Sparks, Somerset to name a few. However, refacing buildings such as Barrymore’s won’t do it. I am the only candidate to commit to developing a co-operative plan to work with our BIAs, local businesses and the community in promoting the City’s core as a viable place to open a business. We must work together in bringing in new businesses to not necessarily compete with those we already have but compliment them. Wouldn’t it be great to have our very own butcher shop, hardware store and once again a movie theatre?

    Public safety is one of the biggest concerns at the doors throughout the campaign. Residents simply do not feel as safe as they would like living downtown for a number of reasons, one of which is the increasing number of shootings and stabbings. I am the only one of the candidates who attended the Somerset Community Police Centre monthly meetings. I am also the only one who has been asking for the community centre to be re-opened over the past few years. One of my top priorities will be to work with the Ottawa Police Services Board and the Ottawa Police Service to bring back the Somerset Community Police Centre.

    I hope this has given you a better idea as to who I am and the strong representative I would be for our community in Somerset. For more on my platform visit

    Somerset Ward is a great place to live, there’s no doubt about it. But together we can make it even better. I know that I am the right person to take on this challenge and with the voters trust and support on October 27th, we can get to work and make it happen.

    Thank you
    Denis Schryburt
    Candidate, Somerset Ward 14

  3. Pingback: The Somerset campaign persists | Steps from the Canal

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