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College ward residents still in limbo despite appearance of embattled councillor at City Hall

Even the councillors watching over Rick Chiarelli's ward, in his absence, don't know what is going on with him.
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Ottawa City Councillor Scott Moffatt, December 2018. Mike Vlasveld/ OttawaMatters

It was a media circus when councillor Rick Chiarelli sauntered through Ottawa's City Council Chamber doors, and it ended with a quick getaway -- through a back door after the council meeting. 

He barely spoke during the meeting, and didn't answer any questions, either from media members or his council colleagues. 

This has placed the City of Ottawa in a tough spot, as no one really knows what this means for College ward residents. 

In September, council passed a motion that put councillors Allan Hubley and Scott Moffatt in charge of overseeing the ward, and as of Thursday, that remains in place. At least, that's what they think. 

"We still don't know what the relationship is between [Chiarelli] and the constituents and the office right now," said Scott Moffatt. "From what I gather, this is not a full time councillor at the moment. So, given that reality, the residents of College ward deserve representation."

Moffatt explained that he's been left in the dark about the situation. 

"I don't know if councillor Chiarelli will continue to come to council meetings. I don't know if he will go to committee meetings. I don't know if he will meet with community associations. I don't know anything," said Moffatt. 

Mayor Jim Watson noted that this uncertainty has left College ward with out a permanent voice at city council. 

"I don't know if [Chiarelli] is back at work. I don't know if he's going to come back to the next meeting [or] what he's going to do," said Watson. "But his constituents suffer as a result." 

Watson also explained that his appearance in council chambers caused members of council and staff to feel very uncomfortable on Wednesday. 

"When he came in, you saw no one, basically, wanted to speak with him because they're disgusted by these allegations that we've seen and heard about in the news media," said the mayor.

Councillor Moffatt pointed out that, normally during council meetings, people get up and walk around and talk to their colleagues, but there wasn't much of that happening down on Chiarelli's end of the table, Wednesday morning. 

Moffatt said it may be because people don't know how to handle the situation. 

"There's a lot here. There's a medical health claim. There's claims from the staff. The many claims from the staff that worked in his office and folks that he interviewed," he explained. "There's his assertion [from Chiarelli] that none of it happened. There's a lot going on, there's a lot in the mix and not everyone feels super comfortable with the whole situation." 

While the city awaits the results of an investigation by the Integrity Commissioner into sexual misconduct allegations against the College ward councillor, Moffatt has agreed to stay on as a contact person for the ward until he's told otherwise. 


Jenn Pritchard

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