Denis Schryburt was so excited about filing his papers to run for Ottawa City Council he couldn’t stop shaking.
“I was the first one at city hall last week to register,” he said in a Jan 9 interview with Xtra. “I was shaking because I was so excited. A friend of mine was there taking pictures, and he said, ‘You’re shaking too much.’ I said ‘I know, I’m so excited.’”
Schryburt’s name is well known in both LGBT circles and the broader Ottawa community. He’s the community co-chair for the Ottawa Police Service’s LGBT liaison committee, a co-founder of TotoToo Theatre, a former president of PTS and past vice-president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association.
From his day job as a civil servant to volunteering in the arts, for charities and supporting local business, Schryburt says he always focuses on trying to serve his community.
“I was born and raised in Ottawa; so were my parents, and the city has been fantastic to us,” he says. “We’ve lived a good life here. From a very early age my parents [told me] it’s important to give back.”
Winning the Somerset Ward 14 seat won’t be easy. The current councillor, Diane Holmes, has held her seat since 2003. She confirmed to Xtra she’ll be filing papers to run “in the next couple of weeks” and will begin door-to-door campaigning for the Oct 27 election in May.
“She’s very well liked,” says Schryburt, who was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal last year for his community contributions. “Definitely it will be a challenge, but I look forward to it.”
As an out gay man, Schryburt says he’s passionate about representing all his constituents. Here’s what he has to say about some of the issues.
Promotion of the Village has improved since it became part of the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), Schryburt says. Like others, he was also glad to see the Capital Pride parade back on Bank Street.
Bank Street revitalization
He’d like to work with the BIA, city council and community partners to revitalize the rest of Bank Street that falls in Ward 14. From more boutiques to larger stores selling practical items like clothes, constituents should be able to shop in their own community and the area needs to see an increase in foot traffic to help local businesses, he says.
Light rail will be great for residents and businesses alike, but until it’s up and running, Schryburt would like to see bus fares come down slightly, especially for seniors. He’d meet with fellow councillors to figure out how to do this without increasing taxes.
Although he toured Insite in Vancouver a few years ago, Schryburt says he’s not convinced Ottawa needs a supervised injection site. Pointing to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, he says he’d like to see partnerships between the city and addiction treatment centres to provide long-term, in-patient rehab for people who want to stop taking drugs.