Ottawa
2 min

What kind of a city?

Dare to envision and then prepare to vote

In a few short days, we’re all going to find ourselves pulled toward the theatrics on Parliament Hill as Little Stevie Harper and his gang of government haters do their best to deny the vital nutrients (ie funding and legislation) needed to sustain a socially progressive Canada.

You can count on Capital Xtra to be there, doing our best to bring you the breaking news in both our paper edition and on this website.

But let’s not let the freak show in the Big Top distract us from what’s important to sustain and build a thriving local queer scene in Ottawa. Personal politics and local politics are the most important of all our levels of interaction. Our lives, individually and collectively, are lived out in our bedrooms and play parties, our sports teams and bars, our bathhouses and parks, our women’s parties and coffee houses, our porn palaces and sex toy retailers, our theatres and art galleries.

You’ll notice that most of those fall under the jurisdiction of city hall’s bylaws or your personal choices.

It’s city hall that decides the state of the local arts and culture scene. It’s city hall that chooses whether to recognize the existence of a Rainbow Village on Bank St. It’s city hall that decides whether to respect that there’s a queer community in this city rather than just a collection of queer individuals. It’s city hall that decides whether our festivals are treated by the same rules and privileges as other festivals. It’s city hall that makes it possible to create a denser urban core that can support a thriving, fun street life like that enjoyed by queers in Toronto and Montreal.

It’s city hall that can decide whether to harass gay parties more than other licensed events, as happens now. It’s city hall that will decide whether to give financial and other support to create a queer community centre, as has happened in other cities. And it’s city hall that places a priority on public transit, affordable housing, condominium development and other vital quality of life issues.

It’s this year’s city election, in short, that we should all be paying attention to.

What kind of a city do you want to see? Sit down for a moment, close your eyes, and picture the kind of city you’d like Ottawa to be. Where does our community fit into your plan?

Now, take a look at the campaigns of the three leading mayoralty candidates, those who have a realistic chance of winning-Alex Munter, Bob Chiarelli and Larry O’Brien. They’ve each got websites and Munter also has podcasts on his favourite topics.

Now, figure out which ward you live in. And research who is running in your ward and check out their visions. The city website can help you figure this out. Voting day is Nov 13. Find out if you’re on the voters list and how to get on if you’re not (it’s easy enough, really).

Next issue, we’ll have interviews with the three mayoralty candidates and with gays lesbian, bisexuas and trans candidates.

And don’t forget to mark your daytimer for the Mayoralty Debate sponsored by Capital Xtra, Egale Canada and the Ottawa-Gatineau Pride Committee. It’s Fri, Oct 27, from 6-9pm in Andrew Haydon Hall (commonly known as the council chambers) at city hall, 110 Laurier St. The focus is queer issues. There’ll be lots of time for you to ask your questions (we filled the room for the last federal election, so come early for best seating). Munter, Chiarelli and O’Brien have committee to coming.

By the way, the night before the debate is the Capital Xtra Community Achievement Awards ceremony. It’s 7-10:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s your chance to thank our local volunteer heroes (you can nominate them as well). See you at both events (and don’t forget about our Transgress Writer’s Festival Fri, Oct 6 at the Library and Archives Canada).

This city is the sum of all the actions we each take. By daring to dream, and then doing the work it takes to get there, we can create a queer Ottawa worthy of the amazing individuals who choose to live here.