Katherine Hobbs is a native of Ottawa, born at the former Grace Hospital on Wellington Street West. She attended public school in Montreal and returned to Ottawa as a teenager. She is an alumnus of the University of Ottawa, Business Administration and earned a Certificate in Internet Marketing from the University of British Columbia. She held various management positions at Bell Canada before being transferred to Toronto where she subsequently worked as a senior manager at The Bank of Nova Scotia, and a Director at Nortel Networks and Aastra Telecom. She has lived, studied and worked in a number of cities including Vancouver and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. In 2010 she ran for City Council and was elected to represent Kitchissippi Ward, assuming office on December 1, 2010.
Her experience overseas in Africa was instrumental in leading Katherine to becoming further involved in various aspects of community service. She taught English to Grade 2 – 6 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After a year of teaching and travelling in such a beautiful but challenging third world country, she returned to Canada in 2003. But she returned with a different perspective on the importance of municipal services. At least twice a week there was no electricity where she lived, water was often not running in the house, and household waste was not picked up. In the capital city many roads were not paved, and travelling in the countryside food was often in short supply or not available. All the things we may take for granted having at our disposal – proper roads, clean water, sewer systems, garbage pickup, electricity and basic health services. That experience was the genesis for an increased awareness and appreciation of the services residents of the City of Ottawa enjoy without worry. She continued her volunteer service in Ottawa by becoming a global educator for CHF (Canadian Hunger Foundation) travelling to schools from Navan to Stittsville to provide presentations to students on sustainable development, and encourage their efforts in helping those who need a guiding hand to sustainable projects within Canada and elsewhere in the world.
Katherine’s interest of working for the community on Council was born out of a number of special interests:
Community & Parks: Katherine looks for projects in parks to suit different ages, as she feels there is a lack of infrastructure in parks for older youth in the urban areas. A dream is to build an indoor skateboard park, and as such is interfacing with skaters for ideas to formulate a long term plan for a facility in Kitchissippi.
Community & Cycling: In 2010 Katherine took part in Ride the Rideau, a 100km bike tour to fund some of the most important research in the fight against cancer that raised $1.72 million. She has taken to the saddle for the 50 kilometer Biking for Bubbies event in support of the Hillel Lodge. Katherine has a long affiliation with cycling in the Capital, and that interest has lead to making many changes on the streets of Kitchissippi. The Ward can now boast that it has the most cycling infrastructure on its roads in the entire City of Ottawa.
Community & economic stability: Economic development is a critical focus in any City, and of prime concern to Katherine. She is proud that Kitchissippi Ward is home to 42,000 jobs. To that end highlighting opportunities for arts and cultural activities, promoting tourism and supporting and promoting Kitchissippi’s local business are always top of mind. Katherine approves initiatives on Council that further the strength of the City’s economy.
In 2012 Mayor Jim Watson appointed Katherine the co-chair for the City of Ottawa task force for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017. In addition to the main working committee she sits on four sub-committees of the task force alongside representatives from Tourism Ottawa, the Ottawa Senators, Ottawa’s Convention Centre, Ernst & Young Centre, Ottawa and Gatineau Festivals and many other key business partners and members of the community. Collectively the goal is to work on ensuring Ottawa is the place to be in 2017, leveraging existing events, engaging the private sector and establishing legacy projects.
Community & Arts & Culture: Supporting our artists and artisans enriches our lives and is an investment that is good for the economy. She actively takes part in many cultural activities and events. In 2011 she held an appreciation event for Kitchissippi visual artists, and announced a public art opportunity exclusively for them. She represented the City at Dance Canada’s International Awards in 2012. She is a member of Capital Crime Writers, a local non-profit writing organization that fosters new writing talent, and was the chair of the Bloody Words National Mystery Writers conference in 2009. In 2011 year she performed in the Savoy Society’s production of Mikado, and in 2012 the HMS Pinafore to raise the profile of amateur theatre in Ottawa. She performed on stage at the NAC alongside a number of other Ottawa personalities for the event “Don’t Give up Your Day Job”, a fundraiser for the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. The event raised $8,500 for the festival. Katherine learned how to foxtrot in order to compete against Liz Manley, Carolyn Waldo, Kurt Stoodley and other Ottawa personalities in a fundraiser for Easter Seals Kids. “Dancing with the Stars” raised close to $30,000 to send disabled children to camp.
Past volunteerism: Through the years she has consistently volunteered for a number of activities that drive positive change, and many are listed throughout this text. She is also a former advisor for a Junior Achievement Company, and a foster volunteer for the Humane Society.
Accountability: As a City Councillor Katherine feels her key role is to be accountable to the residents of Kitchissippi for the decisions she makes. Following is an overview of some of those key decisions:
She voted to set 2.5% as the maximum annual property tax increase for her term of Council.
Community and Protective Services: Katherine voted in favour of moving forward with the Older Adult Plan, and took part in the Mayor’s Seniors Summit (October 3, 2011) to affirm the City of Ottawa’s commitment to the older adult population and provide a forum for seniors and City of Ottawa elected officials/staff to begin a discussion on service improvements in key areas. She voted on the adoption of the older adult action plan (Q2 2012) that contained concrete and prioritized actions (short, medium and long term) aimed at positively supporting this population now and in the future.
In June 2012 she voted in favour of including ‘improving arts and heritage’ and ‘improve parks and recreation’ as draft 2011-2014 Term of Council priorities. Subsequently she voted for the renewed Action Plan for Arts, Heritage and Culture in Ottawa, and redeveloping Arts Court in downtown Ottawa for $40.5 million.
She voted to protect 850 community parks with a bylaw saving parkland for public recreation purposes and voted to freeze recreation fees early in 2011.
She voted in favour of funding the Cycling Safety Improvement Program with $80,000 capital funding and $120,000 operating costs in the 2012 budget. She voted for complete streets programs on Churchill and Main Street to provide safe segregated cycling lanes on busy streets. She voted in favour of the Laurier segregated bike lane being made permanent.
Health: She voted to make Ottawa’s parks, playgrounds, beaches, sports fields and all other outdoor areas owned by the City of Ottawa smoke free. Additionally she voted to make all outdoor bar and restaurant patios smoke free.
Planning: Katherine was instrumental in ensuring community Infill Guidelines came to fruition and voted to put them in place in 2012. The guidelines offer better protection to existing mature neighbourhoods in areas such as setbacks and tree protection.
She put in a motion to SAY NO to a development application behind the Parkdale Market at 233 Armstrong as it was not in alignment with the Wellington West CDP. Her colleagues agreed with her, and ultimately all of Council voted with Katherine against the staff recommendation to build the 18 storeys.
In addition to attending Council meetings twice a month, Katherine is a member of the:
Confederation Line Working Group
Board of Health
Governance Renewal Sub-Committee
Community and Protective Services Committee 2010-2013
Film Development Corporation Board
Westboro BIA board member
West Wellington BIA Board Member