• 3rd Annual Meeting of the Alliance to End Homelessness: Address by Mayor Jim Watson


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    It’s a pleasure to be here with you this morning I see a lot of familiar faces and good friends, many of whom I have had the chance to work with over the years. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today about one of the challenges our City faces that is closest to my heart. I’ve been involved in tackling the complex and difficult problem of homelessness throughout my entire career in public service.

    First in 1991 as a board member of City Living then as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As Minister, I was honoured to sign the largest Federal-Provincial Housing agreement in Ontario’s history. In total, $1.2 billion flowed into Ontario communities to help build and repair thousands of affordable housing units. Doing something about homelessness is not just a file for me. It is not just another check box in my platform. Doing something about our homelessness problem is something that moves me – something that drew me to public service in the first place.

    So as I look out around this room I see friends in a common cause. There is simply nothing more difficult for me than to think of a child going to bed unsure of where they will sleep the next night – without a roof and room and place to call home. There is nothing more heart breaking to me than to think of the struggle of a mother or father unable to provide that protection and stability. I am moved to do something to fight for those trying to set their lives right, deal with addiction or mental health issues or financial distress, to get the dignity of home back in their lives.

    The face of homelessness is unique in every city in Canada. Ottawa is no different, in that it is different here. We have our own network of social housing providers, shelters, organizations building new affordable housing and people providing support for the homeless. And that network faces challenges and opportunities unique to Ottawa. To face those challenges we need to work together with energy, passion and knowledge. We need to apply resources and do so strategically in a constantly changing environment. We need to be smart about making the biggest difference in Ottawa for those who need our help urgently.

    Now as many of you will know our City Budget was tabled on Wednesday. I was honoured by my colleagues with the responsibility of starting our budget deliberations with an intelligent and balanced plan. A plan that respected the effect higher taxes can have on keeping a home while doing more to help people who are without a home.

    A caring community – that was a major theme of the Budget I tabled.

    Now I know that some have written since that the budget poured more money “into the bottomless pit of social spending.” But let me just say plainly – I disagree. Building out city means balance and it means turning our back on that kind of cynicism. I was proud that the Budget set a strong financial foundation and looked to eliminate waste. But I am equally proud that the Budget brought new resources and focus to protecting our children.

    We set aside $300,000 in base funding to help with children and youth facing mental health crisis and at risk for suicide. We’ll be doing that by funding the Youth Services Bureau’s new mental health drop in clinic, allowing it to open three days a week instead of just one. We’ll also be coming to the table on the already united efforts of the YSB, CHEO, the Royal Ottawa and direct community service providers helping children, families and youth in crisis.

    I am also especially proud to have put in place significant new resources for us to work with in addressing homelessness and poverty. In the Budget we provided two key envelopes that I promised during the campaign. First, we have set out a $10 million annual allocation in the operating budget to be dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty. This is not one-time money, but funds built into our city’s base budget.

    Second, we have set aside each of the next four years new capital funding for building new housing and renovating existing units; totalling $4 million a year from the capital budget. Those funds will give us the foundation to work together to make a difference. I will be actively working with Councillor Peter Hume, Chair of Planning – who now has responsibility for housing policy; Mark Taylor, our new Chair of Community and Protective Services who has lead on social services and Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches our new Ottawa Community Housing Chair.

    We will engage with you and our city staff to put forward to Council a strong plan for this money- focused on making the biggest difference we can.We have pressing needs.

    A few realities we face in Ottawa bring this home:

    – The length of stays in shelters is increasing overall

    – The number of homeless youth is increasing

    – Larger families that lose their homes have been facing very long stays because there are not enough large social housing units

    – Our wait list is now over 10,000 men and women waiting for affordable housing

    We have real challenges. But we are also coming together with new and renewed collaboration. We have begun to work around a common table to produce a more integrated approach. I look forward to results from the strong new working group that is aimed at integrating common effort to achieve common goals.

    I want to thank:

    – Sue Garvey from Cornerstone

    – Dan Sabourin from YSB

    – Jim Devoe from Caldwell

    – Marion Wright of CMHA

    – Ray Sullivan from CCOC

    – Our own Jo-Anne Poirier of Ottawa Community Housing

    – Val Hinsperger of Nepean Housing

    – John Dickie from the Ontario Landlords Association

    – Ishbel Solvason from Ottawa social housing network

    – Karen Sexsmith of Cooperative Housing Association

    – Lorraine Bentley of Options By Town for coming together with Janice and Stephen at the City for this important collaborative work

    Instead of working in silos we are coming together around more systems thinking so we not only get people out of the cold and into a home, but we keep them moving forward to a better life. That can mean counselling, mental health support, help with addictions, being there for women fleeing abuse. It also means moving people from shelters at times of crisis, to stable bases, to homes to call their own – and doing so as a team – with a loving and principled community network.

    The Provincial government, of which I was a part, is giving us new flexibility. We recognized that undue focus on rules and programs was costing us. We faced up to the fact that years of bureaucratic strings were tying people’s hands. Instead of losing $43 of provincial support for someone in a shelter when we succeed in moving them out of crisis, we’ll be able to keep the support in an overall envelope. This will allow us to keep individuals moving forward from crisis to stability.

    I am proud to have been part of showing that new flexibility. And I am excited about making the most of it now that I am back to help lead our City as Mayor. I look forward to working with you to strengthen and build on a team approach. Together with you, over the next year we will build an integrated Housing System Plan. It will, for the first time, set out our common objectives and our united route to achieving those results.

    You in this room, will be central to fashioning that plan. You in this room – the work you do – will animate that plan and give it life. Together we will take advantage of the local control we’re being given to get better results.

    Now city government cannot do it all. We have limited resources and we face many demands. We rely almost exclusively on property taxes and fees. So we will need to continue to push the Provincial and Federal government to make investments in housing and renewal. With more than 22,000 housing units already in place, many of which need upgrades, there is going to be more need than we can meet by ourselves.

    I will work with you as a champion on this and I will fight by your side to get more investment in housing. We clearly need a National Housing Strategy in Canada, because we are the only country in the G-8 without one. But there are some areas that municipal government actually has some leavers – and ones that can make a real difference.

    Affordable rental housing is in short supply in Ottawa. Our rental vacancy rate is very low, about 1.5%, and we are not seeing new affordable rental housing developments coming forward very often. I want to work with you to address that – to do what we can to encourage the development of rental housing throughout the city. The fact is that many people are not at a phase in their lives where they can realistically take on ownership of a house or a condo.

    Rental accommodation is an essential part of the housing mix for a healthy city. I believe that by speeding approvals and supporting rental developments, strategically applying capital grants and rent supplements, we can make significant headway here. I look forward to working with you on that and bringing energy along with Peter Hume the Chair of Planning Committee to getting more rental housing built in our community.

    So those are some initial thoughts in what I hope will be a four year conversation – a four year collaboration.

    I thank you again for inviting me here today to start that conversation. To each of you, in closing, I want to say thank you for what you do. Each of you is involved in helping your fellow human being. On behalf of a grateful city, I thank you for what you do and what you give of yourself to make our City a better place.

    Thank you

     

  • Budget 2011 Speech

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    Fellow Council members, today we begin the 2011 budget. Establishing our fiscal framework is the single most important task we will do this year. This budget sets the foundation for budgets to come. Having spoken to each of you about your priorities, your desire for more collaboration and civility, I am confident this Budget delivers and sets a new tone.

    I appreciate the trust you all placed in me before Christmas in granting me the mandate to work with the City Manager to table a draft budget that meets our commitment to restraint but equally our commitment to improved services. I want to thank the amazing management team and their staff who worked through the holidays and put in some very long hours. Today I’m pleased to deliver the fruits of our work through December and early January for your consideration.

    Living within our means

    My fellow Council members the Budget before you delivers on the commitment to keep our tax increase below 2.5% – in fact the proposed tax increase is 2.45%. This budget puts in place processes that will yield savings this year, but will give us even more savings over time. In rural Ottawa, the rate is 2.4% – the lowest for our rural communities in several years.

    I am pleased to report that Police Services has also put forward a budget with a 2.5% target as we set out in December and that was directed by the Police Services Board. I wish to thank Police Board Chair Eli El-Chantiry and Chief Vern White for their efforts. The Ottawa Public Library has also delivered a budget that lives within the budget target. My thanks to Library Board Chair Jan Harder and Chief Librarian Barbara Clubb. I expect that both Boards will adopt the recommended Budget over the next month.

    There will be tough choices and changes to be made. Together with senior management we are also proposing more than $44 million in management efficiencies, reductions in corporate overhead and budget solutions – that, had we not taken these steps, would have resulted in at least a 6.5% tax hike.

    To begin, we as the elected officials need to lead by example. As the Mayor I have directed that my own office budget be cut by 10%, or just over $80,000, and frozen my own salary. I am not asking you as Council members to follow my lead with such a deep cut. However, this Budget plan does not provide for an increase to Councillors’ budgets or to the salaries of Council members. Senior staff will also lead by example with compensation restraint that will contribute to our overall savings target saving $1.7 million this year and $1.7 million next year.

    Across the board, we are imposing a corporate-wide reduction of $300,000 to discretionary spending including conferences, business travel, and luncheons. This will mean for example lunch will not be provided in the green room behind council chambers. Training will not be affected, but there will be sharply curtailed business travel for senior officials including Council.

    We will reduce our reliance on outside legal service and external consultants. Overall we will reduce our reliance on outside consultants and managed legal services to eliminate tax pressure of almost $1 million a year.

    As part of our efforts to reduce costs and promote a paperless city, we will be reducing the printing of recreation and cultural guides and investing instead in on-line promotion of Ottawa recreational and cultural activities. I was surprised to learn that the city produces 49 separate guides each year at a cost of $400,000. The Web is now the global standard for communication; harnessing its power is not only good for the environment, but ensures that residents and visitors have the most up-to-date information on the City’s activities, no matter where they are. We will strengthen our use of community newspapers and the Web while reducing the money spent on printing, advertising and promotion for an overall saving of almost a million dollars a year.

    I am not a believer in formula driven spending, or budgets based on some rule of thumb rather than serious management. In this budget we expect growth pressure to be absorbed in some measure. Managers will be empowered to affect change and to make adjustments in standards where they believe it is sensible to absorb growth costs.

    This Budget restores the sensible practice of building reserve funds instead of raiding and draining them. The snow removal fund will be restored with a projected $6 million in funding this year. As possible we will continue to build this fund. We will achieve a $1.3 million cost savings in our winter operations in line with the reduced needs we have seen over time, more modern salt equipment and improved practice. We will do this while strengthening our ability to deal with the worst Mother Nature can throw at us.

    This budget increases contributions to capital this year by 2.9%. Throughout the coming year we will undertake together a comprehensive capital review.

    Better, more affordable service

    Although this budget delivers on our 2.5% promise, the budget must also be about value. It is about wasting less while improving service. So let me move now to some really impressive improvements in this Budget. This Budget includes $15 million in new technologies that will save money, while driving better service. The service improvements resulting from the “Service Ottawa” initiative will cut through the red tape at City Hall, making it easier for citizens to access the services they pay for through their property taxes.

    Let’s take an example some of you highlighted during the election. Today, booking an arena to play hockey with friends involves calls to the City and waiting to be called back to find out what’s available and when. An application is then faxed to the resident, filled out and signed and faxed back. I think we can do better.

    This will be a thing of the past by the end of next year. As a result of our Service Ottawa investment, a resident will be able visit Ottawa.ca, take a virtual tour of most City facilities with video and pictures, search geographically, check available times at each site, book the facility, agree to the terms and conditions online, pay online and have the reservation receipt emailed to their home computer. And all of this will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    This modernisation saves you time, frustration and money as a taxpayer. But it saves your city time and money, too. A true win for everyone. And it won’t stop there. Business people will be able to apply for their small business licence or renew the one they have online – without ever leaving their place of business. You will be able to apply for and receive the full range of permits through your home or business computer. That is modern government and modern service. I look forward to more solutions from our IT subcommittee including a review of our software licences for savings next year.

    A special point of pride for me is the fact that this Budget provides for a 4-year, $8 million campaign to improve accessibility of our City for the disabled and for our aging population, including power-assisted doors, improvements to elevators, ramps and door width enlargements. This is the City’s largest campaign ever to improve accessibility to ensure we can all enjoy our City facilities. In addition to this, another $1.5 million will be spent this year alone to make our city safer including the deployment of more audible signals, pedestrian countdown signals, and new street lighting. This year I will be hosting a senior’s summit to continue the momentum in addressing the needs of our changing demographics.

    Our Para Transpo fleet carries over 800,000 passenger trips each year. In 2011, we will begin a $13 million tender for the complete renewal of our Para Transpo fleet with all new vehicles. This renewal of the Para Transpo fleet is part of our commitment to provide comfortable and safe transportation for the frail elderly and people with disabilities, who are unable to use public transit.

    As part of the 2011 budget, recreation fees across the city have been frozen. At the same time we will accelerate investment in developing and improving community recreation facilities. This Budget provides for a brand new complex in Barrhaven that will include a twin-pad arena, a 25 m indoor community pool, a full-service community centre including a gymnasium, and outdoor facilities such as a play area and an outdoor sports field. It provides for moving the domed sports field now at Lansdowne to a new year round sports field that will serve the community for decades to come. Investment in new “Ecochill” environmental ice systems and second ice pads at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex and a plan for similar upgrades at the Potvin Arena in Gloucester are provided. This Budget provides $1 million of capital each year over the next four years for recreational facility upgrades that we will be asking Council to target over the coming years to improve our places to play.

    This year’s budget provides significant new investment for our emergency and protective services. A total of 24 new staff will be added to the paramedic service. Two new fully supported ambulances will be on the streets this year. Almost $15 million of new capital is being deployed this year for our fire and paramedic services. Two new fire stations in Barrhaven and Stittsville will come on line this year and the Budget provides for 45 new full time fire fighters. With the staffing of the Stittsville fire station we complete the phase in of Stittsville into the urban service zone.

    Planning and work will continue over the coming years on Light Rail and we are looking forward to a successful deployment of the single largest capital project of any type in Ottawa’s history. But for the rest of this decade and beyond, the bus system will be the backbone of what moves our community. Budget 2011 brings unprecedented focus to improving bus service and setting it on a sustainable footing.

    Our support for the transit service will increase again this year to an all time high with a $392 million operating budget and $310 million in new capital authority. We are providing more than $161 million in new capital authority this year on projects that will improve the bus system. We will spend $2 million this year as part of a 4-year, $10 million plan to expand park and ride facilities in Orleans, Barrhaven and Kanata. This year authority is provided to undertake $63 million in Transitway improvements including our share of the funds for the important bypass of today’s bus bottleneck from Bayshore to Moodie. I will work with the federal and provincial governments to ensure they provide their share of these projects quickly.

    This Budget is about more express service and smarter routing. A better service does not mean more milk runs through every neighborhood stopping every 200 meters and crowding through the downtown bottleneck. It means express service that runs on time reliably even when there is a storm or a traffic snarl. The Transit Commission, under Councillor Deans’ chairmanship, will work with staff to reduce the cost of operating the OC Transpo system, to carry the same number of customers at a lower cost. There will be opportunities to increase productivity by carrying customers on larger transit vehicles, for instance by expanding the capacity of the O-Train or by buying more double-decker buses.

    This investment in the renewal and modernization of the bus system is the single most important initiative in this Budget. We will be making better use of resources by welcoming 74 new bus drivers to improve service, reduce our overtime and get more service hours for the same money. We are implementing the results of the American Public Transit Association’s comprehensive best practices peer-review to correct inefficiency that has crept into our network over time. These changes will save time. They will also save $7.2 million this year and $22 million next year while improving system reliability and overall rider experience. If we fail to make these changes our bus system alone will drive annual an tax increase of 1.5-2% all on its own. We need to act to set our transit system on a sustainable financial footing.

    We will do all of this while restricting fare increases of the past. After three years of consecutive 7.5% fare increases, this budget respects the pocketbooks of transit users and restricts fare increases to 2.5%. This Budget also expands free transit for seniors now available Wednesdays. Free transit for seniors will be extended and made available after 12 noon on Mondays and Fridays as well, to increase the flexibility for our seniors to get around be it to get groceries, attend medical appointments or enjoy themselves with friends. This new service will commence at the beginning of April.

    This year we will also embark upon some long-delayed and much needed major improvements to our roads network. Almost $30 million will be spent over the next two years on extending and expanding Trim Road in Orléans, another $17 million on the east-end extension from Navan to 10th Line Road and $9.5 million on St. Joseph Boulevard. We will also fund our share of the important interchange on the 417 at Hunt club to allow east end commuters heading south to bypass traffic headed downtown. The Alta Vista corridor linking the General Hospital campus to Riverside Drive, a $55 million project, will finally be started this year. This will be a crucial transportation corridor and will relieve congestion on Alta Vista Drive and Smyth Road.

    We will fund $28 million in investment this year to address the sewage backup problem in Kanata and safeguard those homes so punished by the flooding effects of heavy rains and basement sewer backups. I want to thank Councillor Hubley for his help over the holiday period in making sure this problem was addressed.

    And finally, we introduce a new $2 million annual budget for economic development. This envelope will be available for Council to target smart and high-impact, job-creating initiatives.

    A Caring Community

    This Budget plan achieves our target – no more than a 2.5% tax increase – without cutting back on funding to our community partners. We will stand by our partner agencies that provide a host of vital social services. This means no cuts in funding, and providing an increase for cost of living increases as well as some modest increases in the base funding. Arts groups, often threatened with cuts a budget time, can rest assured that in this Budget you will not experience any cuts to your funding.

    As many of you know while I served as the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I was pleased to work with AMO President Peter Hume to sign an unprecedented agreement to upload cost off city governments. This year that agreement will remove some $25 million in annual costs. In keeping with my commitment during the campaign, this Budget provides a new $10 million poverty and homelessness annual fund. This envelope will be available for Council to direct over the coming year into measures to help the poor and homeless, including rent supplements and provision of new beds in shelters. In addition to this, we are adding $4 million in capital funding each year for four years to invest in new and renewed housing stock. I look forward to working with Councillor Desroches as well, in his capacity as Chair of Ottawa Community Housing.

    We will strengthen public health and our resilience in the face of new health threats like H1N1 or antibiotic resistant bacteria. This new package provides a $560,000 boost to Ottawa Public Health to enable better response to emerging health threats. Councillor Holmes will help with these initiatives in her role as Chair of our new Board of Health.

    The 2011 budget contains a number of initiatives for Long-Term Care, totaling almost $1 million. In addition, new funding is here to prevent infectious diseases in long-term care facilities and retirement homes. New funding is here to improve the safety and security of our seniors in care.

    This Budget plan has a special focus on safeguarding our children. We will provide for a new program to prevent head and brain injury among our youth. Almost 6000 children and youth under the age of 20 visit Ottawa ERs because of head injuries and of these, about 400 are hospitalized. We aim to do something about this problem.

    This last year, we had a sad and sobering reminder of how vulnerable our children can be. In November, twice as many children were admitted into CHEO for mental health crises compared to the same period last year. A $300,000 annual allocation is devoted in this Budget to buttressing community efforts to help our families fight the problem of youth suicides in partnership with the Youth Services Bureau, ROH, CHEO and on the ground service providers.

    This budget also invests $750,000 dollars to be used for non-profit community childcare agencies for major and minor capital projects. This funding will be used to assist these centres to keep children learning and playing in healthy and safe environments.

    Part of having a caring community is caring for our environment.

    The 2011 budget includes a $2.8 million envelope for making our city a cyclist-friendly city. This will allow Council to move ahead with targeted improvements to cycling in the City within the fiscal framework.

    As part of our Smart Energy Initiative, almost $2.5 million has been approved for 2011 to improve our energy efficiency and to reduce our carbon footprint. We are deploying solar on City buildings. I also want to bring special focus to our Hydro to ensuring that we make it easy for our residents to take up the opportunity of Ontario’s feed-in renewable energy program. We aren’t making fast enough progress on this and I am determined to become the number one city in the province in this area.

    Councillor McRae and our newly created Environment Committee will be called upon to move this agenda forward with her colleagues.

    Our forestry program will benefit from an increase of $1.5 million to support the Growing a Healthy Forest initiative and to deal with threat of the Emerald Ash Borer. An additional $1.2 million in capital funding will be provided for new trees. This initiative plans for, protects, and nurtures a healthy forest in our nation’s capital.

    This Budget introduces a new $500,000 annual environmental envelope to be used for priority initiatives. Following Council direction, we will also be devoting some of our year end surplus this year to our new fund for acquiring environmentally sensitive lands.

    Taken together, I hope you will agree that this document is a budget to be proud of and that, once committees have worked to improve aspects and make adjustments within the envelopes provided, it can be passed as strong package for our future together. This budget delivers on the 2.5% target that many of us committed to in the election. It does this while balancing reductions with long-term investments that will ensure a safe and prosperous city. Our taxpayers want more and better service. They have a right to expect that from us and to see that done responsibly.

    In the coming weeks we will have 5 public meetings across the City, every committee will review the Budget and take public delegations, and I will hold a savings Town Hall on March 1st to gather additional ideas for saving more money this year and next.

    Once again I want to thank each of you for giving me, my office and City Staff the opportunity to start this Budget process on the right foot and with a balanced, responsible package. I look forward to working with you to improve it further and to a successful four years together.

  • City tables draft 2011 Budget under 2.5%

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Kent Kirkpatrick, City Manager, today presented a draft budget that proposes a tax increase of 2.45%, slightly below the 2.5% maximum total tax increase directed by the newly elected Council on December 15, 2010.

    Draft Budget 2011 recommends a tax increase of 2.45% for urban home owners and commercial properties and 2.4% in rural areas. The average urban home will see an increase of only $75 this year for City services – this is considerably less than the average urban tax increase for the last few years: $135 in 2008; $166 in 2009; $125 in 2010; and, $75 in 2011.

    The Ottawa Public Library Board and the Ottawa Police Services Board have also tabled budgets in line with 2.5%.

    The total tax-supported 2011 budget is $2.4 billion in operating spending and $622 million in new capital spending.

    The proposed budget offers enough flexibility to adjust spending plans when emergencies or unusual spending requirements occurs and a small surplus for 2010 has allowed the City to restore a previously depleted reserve fund – the winter maintenance reserve fund. Both responsive and responsible, it delivers a budget that will enable the City to manage and live within its means, provide better and more affordable services, attend to our more vulnerable residents and care for the environment.

    “The draft budget tabled today sets the foundation for the fiscal framework for the next four years,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The residents of Ottawa and this new Council have clearly demanded that we manage in a more prudent and predictable way – while preserving and improving important public services. While there are tough decisions to be made, I am confident that the review of the budget details over the next few weeks will result in a balanced package that will serve us well in the future,” he added.

    Highlights of Budget 2011 include:

    – Freezing of recreation fees for activities for the first time since amalgamation;

    – Provisions to expand the free transit period for seniors from Wednesdays only to include Mondays and Fridays after 12 noon;

    – $2.8 million per year for new cycling initiatives across the City;

    – 22 front line paramedics with two new, fully equipped ambulances and two new technicians to keep the ambulances on the streets;

    – 45 new firefighters to staff two new fire stations;

    – $161 million towards projects and programs to improve and streamline the bus system;

    – A $10 million investment in Housing and Poverty Reduction initiatives that is in addition to a $4 million capital investment for housing initiatives;

    – $2 million allocated for economic development initiatives;

    – 74 new bus drivers to improve service and reduce overtime;

    – $500,000 funding envelope for priority environmental initiatives;

    – $28 million to address the flooding and sewage back-up problems in the west end;

    – Capital spending plan that focuses on transit investments, the renewal of roads and sewers and new parks and recreation facilities;

    – Advances key initiatives including: the Ottawa River Action Plan, Light Rail and Lansdowne redevelopment;

    – $4.8 million in 2011 towards the first phase of funding for a new $48 million recreation complex in Barrhaven South; and,

    – Capital works over the next few years to improve Ottawa’s road network, including: $30 million expansion of Trim Road in Orleans; $17 million on the east-end extension from Navan Road to 10th Line Road; $9.5 million on St. Joseph Boulevard; our share of the Highway 417 interchange; and, $55 million for the Alta Vista connection to Smyth Road.

    “This year’s budget process has been and will continue to be a dynamic one that has retained the rigour of past budget reviews and has brought with it a different and productive approach to identifying budget challenges and solutions,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “This is the first time that Council has given the mandate to the Mayor and the City Manager to work together to table a draft budget. This productive dialogue generated challenging discussions across the corporation that demanded the commitment of many staff. The product represents a balanced, reasonable and forward thinking proposal for Council’s consideration.”

    Standing Committees and Boards will meet to listen to public delegations, review and recommend draft budgets to Council for consideration and adoption March 8 to 10.

    In addition, the Mayor will host a Spending Control Town Hall Meeting on Taxes on March 1 at Ottawa City Hall starting at 7 p.m.

    To comment on Budget 2011, residents can call 311, e-mail 311@ottawa.ca or fax 613-560-2126. All information related to Budget 2011 is available at ottawa.ca/budget2011.

    -30-

    For a comment from the Mayor:

    Bruce Graham
    613-580-2424 x. 14299
  • Speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Primary tabs

    Let me begin by congratulating the new chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Mr. David Donaldson and thanking Tim Redpath, your outgoing chair.

    This is my first major speech since being sworn in on December 1st. Over the past six weeks, this Council has already shown it can come together in a spirit of cooperation to effect the change that Ottawa voted for.

    There is a real sense of collaboration already apparent. A new dedication to work together. But the challenges are only beginning and we’ll face our first serious test tomorrow with the tabling of our first budget that will govern our work together over the coming year. I know that my fellow council members will help me deliver on both a new commitment to prudent spending but also a renewed focus on the better services our residents want and deserve.

    I am very proud to have been elected to lead a great group of representatives at City Hall. We have on Council a solid mix of experience and new energy. With ideas and ingenuity, we’ll set the course and deliver. The public sent us all to City Hall with a very strong message: It’s time to pull together. We are focused on working together to strengthen our municipal government and on delivering the vital services taxpayers have a right to expect.

    And I am pleased to say that we are off to a running start.

    Working together, we have already:

    – Established a new transit Commission, that will for the first time consist of councillors and members of the public

    – Implemented a discretionary spending freeze and a hiring freeze on non-emergency personnel

    – Created a reserve fund for environmentally sensitive land

    – Struck a new Environment Committee to bring greater focus to the importance of making Ottawa a green, sustainable place to live

    – Created the Finance and Economic Development Committee, FEDCO, to bring greater focus on economic development in our city

    – Brought forward a comprehensive integrity package that includes the creation of a lobbyist registry; an integrity commissioner; and a new policy to post expenses online beginning this month

    I am especially pleased to say that on December 15th, City Council unanimously passed a motion to keep taxes predictable and dedicated itself to cap tax increases at no more than 2.5%, As a Council, we understand the importance of living within a tighter fiscal environment. Families in our communities live within their means, and they rightfully expect their municipal government to do the same.

    We want more than restraint. We expect excellent value and we need to be able to rely on good services. In our first two Council meetings a lot has already been accomplished, and I am proud of that. Early on, it’s already clear that when we work together, we get more done. It won’t always be perfect, and we certainly won’t agree on everything. But through respectful dialogue and discussion, we know, as a team, that we can deliver more for the people of our City.

    Tomorrow’s tabling of the 2011 budget will be the first major test for both me and my Council colleagues. Establishing our fiscal framework is the single most important task we will undertake this year. It sets out our course for the coming year.

    It establishes our goals and priorities. And, it sets the foundation for budgets to come. This budget is about our entire city – from Cumberland to Constance Bay from Ottawa’s downtown to Watson’s Mill – and beyond. I have had the benefit of receiving advice from each councillor on the special needs and priorities of our residents. Along with City staff I will be privileged to present a Budget that will strike the balance and will mark the start of a new era.

    We will not be putting things off, or sweeping them under the carpet. We will be facing the challenges and looking to the long-term health of our community. The unprecedented leadership demonstrated by council, unanimously committing to keep tax increases to 2.5%, will give the City Manager a roadmap for the next four years. And while I can’t reveal what’s in tomorrow’s budget, needless to say, I have been working night and day to ensure my campaign pledge will be embraced and respected.

    I believe this will put Ottawa on the path to becoming a sustainable community for the long term. There are tough choices to be made in this Budget, but that’s why we were elected. It is tough in business right now and people worry about their jobs. In some families, a parent may spend more than half a year in between jobs, because employment opportunities are harder to come by and business is cutting back. Families want us to hold the line on taxes and we need to make the right decisions now. Restraint in some areas, difficult decisions in others – but most importantly, the decisions that our City has to make to put us on a sustainable path for the future.

    We have to make these decisions because we care for our children, and our families. Because we care for our environment and our health. Because we care for our businesses and our hard earned tax dollars. And because we care for the quality of services that make Ottawa such a great place to live. Tomorrow’s budget will reflect these values.

    After the budget is tabled, there will be opportunities for improvement and public engagement. I will hold the first ever Spending Control Town Hall Meeting. My Town Hall will be a chance for individual members of the public to come forward with specific and realistic ideas to contain costs and to innovate. Those that merit consideration will be sent to appropriate staff or committees for follow-up for this budget or future ones.

    This Town Hall Meeting will take place March 1st at 7pm at Ottawa City Hall. While many of our delegates to committees appear and ask for more funding, this unique Town Hall will be dedicated to realistic and practical ways to save money. I am committed to engaging taxpayers in the budget process, and I believe this Town Hall Meeting is a valuable and important addition to the five multi-ward consultations and committee hearings that will take place throughout the City in February and March.

    I want to thank the Chamber, and its members, for the work you do. You are vital to the fabric of our City – creating jobs, making it work, creating a payroll and watching the bottom line. My door is always open to the Chamber, and I look forward to speaking with you at regular meetings and working with you as we build a more prosperous Ottawa together. You are the job creators and the engine of our prosperity.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to discuss some important opportunities for our City when it comes to economic development. I look forward to renewing common cause among the agencies and organization that help to make Ottawa’s economy grow. We will renew that common table of The Ottawa Partnership (TOP) and bring everyone together again to push new common goals. Once again, we will see the Chamber working hand in hand with our Business Improvement Areas, Ottawa Tourism, our post secondary partners, OCRI and other private sector leaders.

    Reinvigorating this partnership will deliver economic opportunities for our small businesses and our City, and I look forward to personally chairing the TOP meetings. Of special interest to me is the often ignored importance of our tourism advantage. Tourism is the third largest industry for our city and contributes significantly to the local economy.

    Over the next seven years we have a unique and exciting opportunity to mobilize around the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. I believe that we need to be in a position to welcome the country and the world to this incredible celebration and engage our business community to assist us in this important journey. And as the Capital twinned with Beijing, we are especially well positioned to benefit from Canada’s new status as an approved destination for travellers from the world’s most populous and fastest growing nation.

    I expect us to be actively engaged with Ottawa Tourism, specifically focusing on the attraction of major events. Ottawa has successfully hosted numerous major events, including: the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships, 2008 Skate Canada Internationals, 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup Canada, and the 2001 Brier, to name just a few, and I would like to see us build on this. We also need to leverage incredible assets like our new convention centre opening this spring.

    A gem along the Rideau Canal, the convention centre will bring prestige and dollars to our City while serving as a major hub for national and international conventions. All of us have a responsibility to fill this marvellous new convention center with events, and that will take a team effort. Small businesses, the backbone of our city, will be the driving force behind this initiative.

    Their strength drives our quality of life and provides us with many exciting and dynamic opportunities. As we move forward within our new fiscal framework, I will establish a council of Business Improvement Areas. In today’s environment, where both the knowledge-based work force and investment capital are highly fluid, our challenge is to find ways to relentlessly retain and grow this knowledge resource.

    We have vibrant young companies that are growing and leading the next wave of high tech success. You can count on me to be a champion for our businesses and entrepreneurs. I am in your corner and stand ready to be Ottawa’s marketer in chief whenever I am needed. I understand the need for a vibrant private sector, partnership and a team approach to getting things done.

    There is a new tone of collaboration. A new “can do” attitude. This new group of Council members will deliver for you and with you. And I thank you for inviting me to speak to about the great future I know we are building together in Ottawa.

    Thank you.

     

  • Speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

    Let me begin by congratulating the new chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Mr. David Donaldson and thanking Tim Redpath, your outgoing chair.

    This is my first major speech since being sworn in on December 1st. Over the past six weeks, this Council has already shown it can come together in a spirit of cooperation to effect the change that Ottawa voted for.

    There is a real sense of collaboration already apparent. A new dedication to work together. But the challenges are only beginning and we’ll face our first serious test tomorrow with the tabling of our first budget that will govern our work together over the coming year. I know that my fellow council members will help me deliver on both a new commitment to prudent spending but also a renewed focus on the better services our residents want and deserve.

    I am very proud to have been elected to lead a great group of representatives at City Hall. We have on Council a solid mix of experience and new energy. With ideas and ingenuity, we’ll set the course and deliver. The public sent us all to City Hall with a very strong message: It’s time to pull together. We are focused on working together to strengthen our municipal government and on delivering the vital services taxpayers have a right to expect.

    And I am pleased to say that we are off to a running start.

    Working together, we have already:

     – Established a new transit Commission, that will for the first time consist of councillors and members of the public

     – Implemented a discretionary spending freeze and a hiring freeze on non-emergency personnel

     – Created a reserve fund for environmentally sensitive land

     – Struck a new Environment Committee to bring greater focus to the importance of making Ottawa a green, sustainable place to live

     – Created the Finance and Economic Development Committee, FEDCO, to bring greater focus on economic development in our city

     – Brought forward a comprehensive integrity package that includes the creation of a lobbyist registry; an integrity commissioner; and a new policy to post expenses online beginning this month

    I am especially pleased to say that on December 15th, City Council unanimously passed a motion to keep taxes predictable and dedicated itself to cap tax increases at no more than 2.5%, As a Council, we understand the importance of living within a tighter fiscal environment. Families in our communities live within their means, and they rightfully expect their municipal government to do the same.

    We want more than restraint. We expect excellent value and we need to be able to rely on good services. In our first two Council meetings a lot has already been accomplished, and I am proud of that. Early on, it’s already clear that when we work together, we get more done. It won’t always be perfect, and we certainly won’t agree on everything. But through respectful dialogue and discussion, we know, as a team, that we can deliver more for the people of our City.

    Tomorrow’s tabling of the 2011 budget will be the first major test for both me and my Council colleagues. Establishing our fiscal framework is the single most important task we will undertake this year. It sets out our course for the coming year.

    It establishes our goals and priorities. And, it sets the foundation for budgets to come. This budget is about our entire city – from Cumberland to Constance Bay from Ottawa’s downtown to Watson’s Mill – and beyond. I have had the benefit of receiving advice from each councillor on the special needs and priorities of our residents. Along with City staff I will be privileged to present a Budget that will strike the balance and will mark the start of a new era.

    We will not be putting things off, or sweeping them under the carpet. We will be facing the challenges and looking to the long-term health of our community. The unprecedented leadership demonstrated by council, unanimously committing to keep tax increases to 2.5%, will give the City Manager a roadmap for the next four years. And while I can’t reveal what’s in tomorrow’s budget, needless to say, I have been working night and day to ensure my campaign pledge will be embraced and respected.

    I believe this will put Ottawa on the path to becoming a sustainable community for the long term. There are tough choices to be made in this Budget, but that’s why we were elected. It is tough in business right now and people worry about their jobs. In some families, a parent may spend more than half a year in between jobs, because employment opportunities are harder to come by and business is cutting back. Families want us to hold the line on taxes and we need to make the right decisions now. Restraint in some areas, difficult decisions in others – but most importantly, the decisions that our City has to make to put us on a sustainable path for the future.

    We have to make these decisions because we care for our children, and our families. Because we care for our environment and our health. Because we care for our businesses and our hard earned tax dollars. And because we care for the quality of services that make Ottawa such a great place to live. Tomorrow’s budget will reflect these values.

    After the budget is tabled, there will be opportunities for improvement and public engagement. I will hold the first ever Spending Control Town Hall Meeting. My Town Hall will be a chance for individual members of the public to come forward with specific and realistic ideas to contain costs and to innovate. Those that merit consideration will be sent to appropriate staff or committees for follow-up for this budget or future ones.

    This Town Hall Meeting will take place March 1st at 7pm at Ottawa City Hall. While many of our delegates to committees appear and ask for more funding, this unique Town Hall will be dedicated to realistic and practical ways to save money. I am committed to engaging taxpayers in the budget process, and I believe this Town Hall Meeting is a valuable and important addition to the five multi-ward consultations and committee hearings that will take place throughout the City in February and March.

    I want to thank the Chamber, and its members, for the work you do. You are vital to the fabric of our City – creating jobs, making it work, creating a payroll and watching the bottom line. My door is always open to the Chamber, and I look forward to speaking with you at regular meetings and working with you as we build a more prosperous Ottawa together. You are the job creators and the engine of our prosperity.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to discuss some important opportunities for our City when it comes to economic development. I look forward to renewing common cause among the agencies and organization that help to make Ottawa’s economy grow. We will renew that common table of The Ottawa Partnership (TOP) and bring everyone together again to push new common goals. Once again, we will see the Chamber working hand in hand with our Business Improvement Areas, Ottawa Tourism, our post secondary partners, OCRI and other private sector leaders.

    Reinvigorating this partnership will deliver economic opportunities for our small businesses and our City, and I look forward to personally chairing the TOP meetings. Of special interest to me is the often ignored importance of our tourism advantage. Tourism is the third largest industry for our city and contributes significantly to the local economy.

    Over the next seven years we have a unique and exciting opportunity to mobilize around the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. I believe that we need to be in a position to welcome the country and the world to this incredible celebration and engage our business community to assist us in this important journey. And as the Capital twinned with Beijing, we are especially well positioned to benefit from Canada’s new status as an approved destination for travellers from the world’s most populous and fastest growing nation.

    I expect us to be actively engaged with Ottawa Tourism, specifically focusing on the attraction of major events. Ottawa has successfully hosted numerous major events, including: the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships, 2008 Skate Canada Internationals, 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup Canada, and the 2001 Brier, to name just a few, and I would like to see us build on this. We also need to leverage incredible assets like our new convention centre opening this spring.

    A gem along the Rideau Canal, the convention centre will bring prestige and dollars to our City while serving as a major hub for national and international conventions. All of us have a responsibility to fill this marvellous new convention center with events, and that will take a team effort. Small businesses, the backbone of our city, will be the driving force behind this initiative.

    Their strength drives our quality of life and provides us with many exciting and dynamic opportunities. As we move forward within our new fiscal framework, I will establish a council of Business Improvement Areas. In today’s environment, where both the knowledge-based work force and investment capital are highly fluid, our challenge is to find ways to relentlessly retain and grow this knowledge resource.

    We have vibrant young companies that are growing and leading the next wave of high tech success. You can count on me to be a champion for our businesses and entrepreneurs. I am in your corner and stand ready to be Ottawa’s marketer in chief whenever I am needed. I understand the need for a vibrant private sector, partnership and a team approach to getting things done.

    There is a new tone of collaboration. A new “can do” attitude. This new group of Council members will deliver for you and with you. And I thank you for inviting me to speak to about the great future I know we are building together in Ottawa.

    Thank you.