• Accessibility Day

    Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

    I am very pleased to be here this morning to welcome you to this special event and officially proclaim today AccessAbility Day here in the City of Ottawa.

    I want to recognize my Council colleagues and senior staff who are with us today:

    ·      Councillor Quadri;

    ·      Councillor El-Chantiry;

    ·      Councillor Chernushenko;

    ·      Councillor Deans; and,

    ·      Councillor Wilkinson.

    Senior Staff include:

    ·      Kent Kirkpatrick

    ·      Nancy Schepers

    ·      Rick O’Connor

    ·      Donna Gray,

    ·      Rudy Lindia

    I would also like to sincerely thank the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for their participation in hosting this event.

    I would also like to thank our Accessibility Advisory Committee for their ongoing support as this marks the ninth year of this event in recognition of the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

    In keeping with today’s theme of Building People Places by Designing Accessible Spaces…

    Council and I are pleased to announce that two weeks ago we solidified our commitment with our approval of the City’s very first Accessibility Design Standards.

    The goal of these new standards is to identify accessibility features and criteria in our built environment in order to remove barriers and improve inclusion for our residents.

    The new standards will add to our previous four-year, eight-million dollar commitment to our Accessibility Retrofit Program which is the largest investment for accessibility in the history of the City of Ottawa.

    Recently, the Comprehensive Asset Management report identified funding to remove barriers in city buildings, parks and public spaces.

    Specifically, Council approved a plan to allocate almost $7 million annually for barrier removal.  this is in addition to the funding that is part of the building renewal and retrofit program.

    Although the City is committed to removing barriers in our built environment – I want to be realistic about the magnitude of the challenge.

    It is currently estimated that the cost to remove all barriers at City buildings and parks is in the order of 150-million dollars.

    Everyone in the design and construction industry knows that the cost of retroactively introducing accessibility standards to projects is more expensive than the cost of introducing the standards in the design and planning stages.

    This is why the City’s Accessibility Design Standards have been designed to reflect a reasonable and responsible approach based on existing best practices for considering accessibility early in the planning and design phase.

    This will help improve consistency across the city and is the most prudent and cost effective approach to improving accessibility in our built environment.

    In the New Year, the City will also begin our consultations on our City’s Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.

    We want everyone in our community to tell us how the City can make their neighbourhoods more vibrant and accessible place to live, work, and play.

    By making our city more accessible we will be making neighbourhoods move vibrant and open to everyone.

    We want to make Ottawa the most accessible capital city in the world.

    Designing and planning a community effectively requires community involvement and we are lucky to have talented people like Betty Dion, Gordon Lorimer, Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers, and Dr. Mariam Lankoande from CMHC who are joining us today.

    These individuals have different expertise, but they all share a commitment to creating universal designs.

    Betty Dion has received acclaim for her accessible design work with the Ottawa Airport–which has been rated as one of the best airports in North America—and is currently working as part of our Lansdowne team.

    Arlene Grégoire, who is our Chief Building Official and Director of Building Code Services will speak to the importance of the Ontario Building Code in our designs.

    Nancy Schepers is the Deputy City Manager of Planning and Infrastructure for the City of Ottawa.

    Nancy develops and oversees the implementation of management and growth accommodation strategies for the City’s municipal infrastructure assets, including roads, bridges and transit systems.

    Nancy is responsible for the development and implementation of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Project, and oversees all City of Ottawa Real Estate matters.

    Nancy will provide an overview of what is in the City’s new standards and how they will be implemented.

    Gordon Lorimer, this is an opportunity to share your considerable expertise and to speak about some of the many projects your firm has undertaken with the City.

    For example, you firm’s work on Beaver Barracks Redevelopment, or accessibility issues you considered in the recent work on the Glebe Community Centre Redevelopment.

    Last, but certainly not least, you will hear from Dr. Mariam Lankoande, who is a Senior Researcher in the Policy and Research Division of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

    She will speak to the planning required in removing barriers and improving inclusion in housing.

    Removing barriers and creating inclusive designs is beneficial to our quality of life and economic strength – creating accessible assets and infrastructure to draw new businesses and tourists.

    So, today’s event and discussion are important to get our community engaged and working together to create an accessible city.

    It is a community issue that requires a community solution.

    Because it is going to take a community solution I am especially pleased that we have been able to partner with CMHC to bring you this event today.

    Vivian Chih is joining us today from CMHC.

    Vivian is a corporate representative for Eastern Ontario and has been instrumental in fostering partners across the region to create accessible and affordable housing.

    I would like to invite Vivian to join me and receive the official proclamation.

    Could my Council Colleagues please come forward to assist me.

    (Mayor Watson reads proclamation.)

    Thank you, and I hope today is informative and sparks creativity.

     

  • Budget 2013 approved with the lowest tax change in six years

    Ottawa – City Council has approved a budget for 2013 that delivers the lowest tax change in six years – 2.09 per cent – while at the same time continuing to invest in the municipal services and infrastructure that matter most to residents.

    “This budget addresses the needs of residents and businesses by investing in areas that will enhance existing City services, while maintaining the City’s prudent approach to our long range finances,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “It is no secret that our task this year was made more difficult by provincial changes to social service funding. I want express my gratitude to all those residents who participated in the budget process, as well as commending my Council colleagues on fulfilling our commitment to delivering a predictable tax change.”

    Budget 2013 continues to find efficiencies through the ongoing freeze of Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets and a reduction in the City’s staffing costs of approximately $3.5 million. ServiceOttawa will also deliver an additional $8.8 million in savings in the coming year by providing citizens with more efficient ways to access many City services, such as permits and licenses, online 24/7.

    City recreation fees will remain frozen again next year and 2013 will see the continuation of Ottawa on the Move. This important program of strategic infrastructure investments in road, sidewalk, water, cycling and sewer projects will help build a better city, create needed jobs, and help prepare the city for the coming Light Rail Transit project. The program assists in the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure in all areas of the city.

    “With this budget, resources are allocated appropriately to advance Council’s priorities so that we can deliver responsive and efficient services to the residents of Ottawa,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “The City is focused on delivering Council’s measured plan to fund today’s priorities, while establishing a solid foundation for the years to come.”

    For the owner of an average home assessed at $314,500, the 2013 budget will mean an annual property tax increase of $67 for urban homeowners and $50 for rural homeowners.

    Highlights of the Budget 2013 are:

     – $14 million of continued funding for Council’s poverty and homelessness initiative;

     – $4.6 million of realigned and reallocated funding to offset changes in provincial priorities which will preserve the majority of benefits for the most vulnerable and low income residents, including the creation of a one-time emergency transition fund;

     – $5.5 million to increase the annual contribution to Capital Funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal as recommended in the recently approved Long Range Financial Plan;

     – $4.9 million to improve safety and mobility with new traffic control signals, intersection control measures, pedestrian countdown signals and the Pedestrian Facilities Program and Audible Signal Program;

     – An additional $500,000 for initiatives identified in the Older Adult Plan resulting from last year’s Seniors Summit;

     – $2 million for accessibility retrofit work to existing buildings and parks;

     – $975,000 combined operating and capital funding to increase the forest cover and combat the Emerald Ash Borer, bringing total investment to $1.8 million;

     – New and expanded parks and recreation facilities across the city;

     – $1 million for the review of the Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan;

     – $1 million, combined capital and operating funding for the Arts, Culture and Heritage Plan;

     – 2 per cent increase for social service and health agencies, cultural, community and recreation funding;

     – $2.5 million for ongoing environmental remediation and greening of the City fleet; and

     – $2 million for design work for a pedestrian footbridge crossing the Rideau Canal at Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street.

     – also approved increasing a transition fund from $250,000 to $500,000 to address extreme hardship experienced by individuals in need resulting from the provincial changes in discretionary benefit coverage. The money is being drawn from another area of the Community and Protective Services Committee budget.

    The draft rate-supported budget for water and sewer services for 2013 and 2014 will be tabled at a special Environment Committee meeting in January 2013.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Frank Licari

    Mayor Jim Watson and River Ward Councillor Maria McRae today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Frank Licari for his many years of volunteering with a variety of organizations and for his exceptional service to the Ridgemont Community and the citizens of Ottawa.

    Frank is recognized for his 30-year commitment to the Ridgemont Community Association in various capacities, culminating as president. He was honoured by the City of Ottawa in 2010 when Ridgemont Park was renamed the Frank J. Licari Park in recognition of his achievements in community building, preserving green spaces, and improving local recreation facilities and programs, including wonderful upgrades to the play structure at the park.

    Frank is known for his enthusiasm, commitment and also his modesty. He has inspired many with his volunteer work and dedication to many causes and organizations: Villa Marconi, Little Italy, Ottawa’s Dragon Boat Festival, St. Anthony’s Soccer Club, the Bank Street Redevelopment Plan, the Winter Park Skating Program, Saro’s Softball Team, Clifford Bowey Public School, the United Way, Ridgemont’s hockey and skating programs and much more.

    He also worked with his colleagues and neighbours to initiate the Neighbourhood Watch Program and has organized numerous social functions for area residents, including street dances, community garage sales, and winter carnivals to name a few.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

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  • Speech – Summit of the États Généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa

    SPEECH

    Summit of the États Généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa

    November 18, 2012

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    Hello everyone.

    It is my pleasure to be here with you today on behalf of the City of Ottawa and my City Council colleagues.

    I would like to welcome:

    – The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur

    – The city councillors in attendance

    – The honorary co-chairs:

    – Michelle de Courville-Nicol

    – Mehdi Hamdad

    – Sommet des États généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa volunteers and participants

     

    The États généraux was held at Ottawa City Hall. Today, I am pleased to participate and to give the closing address of the Sommet.

    Several citizen forums have taken place throughout the city since June 2011.

    The organizers stated that the movement was created in the hopes of increasing Francophone representation on the City Council at the next elections.

    I commend this energy and effort.

    I believe that the community gains each time more residents become involved.

    Let’s talk about the major projects in Ottawa.

    The City has over 920,000 residents, of which over 150,000 are Francophones. The City of Ottawa has a higher growth rate than Canada and Ontario.

    MoneySense magazine named the City of Ottawa as the best place to live in Canada for the third year in a row.

    In 2011, Ottawa ranked among the 15 cities with the highest quality of life in the world according to a Mercer study.

    The economic environment has changed since the beginning of my term.

    The provincial and federal governments are working hard to eliminate their deficit.

    This is putting considerable pressure on municipal services.

    The City of Ottawa has set a budget in place that allows us to implement several major projects.

    Prior to my election, I had promised that the property tax increase would be below 2.5% for each year of my term. This year, it was 2.09%. This is the lowest increase in six years.

    The City is preparing to undertake the largest construction project in its history—the Light Rail Transit project.

    It will span 12.5 kilometres from Tunney’s Pasture Station in the west end of Ottawa to Blair Station in the east end of the city.

    It will have 13 stations and a downtown tunnel.

    To improve our roads during the construction, the City is currently undertaking the Ottawa on the Move program.

    This $340 million program will create over 2,500 jobs over the next few years.

    Another one of the City’s major projects is the construction of the new Lansdowne Park.

    Lansdowne will include the refurbishment of the stadium and Civic Centre, the creation of a large urban park and the construction of a mixed-use area that includes shops, offices and residences.

    After all these years of waiting, the project is finally moving forward.

    We are working to ensure that the stadium is ready for the 2014 CFL season and that the other parts of the project will be finished by the summer of 2015.

    Let’s talk about my involvement in the community.

    Over the past year, I participated in over 2,500 community events.

    This amounts to, on average, six events per day, every day for a whole year.

    This is a great privilege for me. This is also my lifestyle choice.

    Since the beginning of my political career, my family, my work, my accomplishments and my challenges revolve around my city, Ottawa.

    It is important for me to be attentive, and I always work with a spirit of cooperation.

    Today, I am meeting you here at the Sommet des États généraux d’Ottawa.

    I would like to take this opportunity to share some information, impressions and ideas with you.

    When I first arrived at City Hall, there was much improvement to be made with respect to the francophonie.

    French is not my mother tongue but, as I often say, I am a proud Francophile.

    I believe it is important to meet the needs of the city’s Francophone community.

    I would like to note that, as part of its mandate, the États généraux has the objective of encouraging citizens to reflect on their roles in the community and their capacity for action.

    My objective as mayor is to be a role model.

    I recognize our Francophone families’ desire to live in French.

    The City is there to help and to provide service in the language of your choice.

    Let’s talk about Francophone services.

    Over the last few years, the city’s services have evolved.

    For example, last year, we installed a new automated stop announcement system in all the 1,000 buses in the City.

    This was a 15‑million dollar investment.

    We made sure that the system to announce all 6,500 bus stops in Ottawa was bilingual.

    The 3‑1‑1 Contact Centre is a fully bilingual service for directing residents’ inquiries regarding City services.

    The Centre has received over 500,000 calls since January, 35,000 of which were from Francophone residents.

    Improvements were made to Ottawa Public Health to the emergency services and children’s services.

    We hired a new bilingual Police Chief, Charles Bordeleau. We celebrated the anniversary of the Franco‑Ontarian flag at Ottawa Police Headquarters this year. We also hired a bilingual integrity commissioner, Mr. Robert Marleau.

    The City offers basic service to residents in the language of their choice.

    The number of complaints made to the City has decreased since last year. 62 complaints were made in 2011—a 29% decrease compared to the previous year. This year, only 42 complaints have been received to date—a decrease of close to 32%.

    I believe that the City’s bilingualism policy works well and that it has the support of the City Council.

    Moreover, the requirement to have a policy on French services is in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999.

    Therefore, under the Act, the City Council must have a policy on French services, and this requirement guarantees the continuity of the policy.

    All services offered by the City to the public are available in the language of your choice.

    Of course, we are not perfect. Adjustments are made every day. And it is with your help that we can make these adjustments.

    Please write me if you feel that a service could be improved.

    I find that the relationship between the community and the City is richer and more complex than your average City Council.

    We help community organizations with the strategic development of their city projects.

    We want them to be present whenever decisions are made.

    For example, over the past six months, my office has held working meetings with several groups, including:

    – The RGA;

    – La Cité collégiale;

    – The ACFO;

    – The school boards;

    – The Arts Court;

    – La Nouvelle Scène;

    – The volunteers for preserving the Silo Vinette;

    – The Centre multiservices francophone de l’Ouest d’Ottawa;

    – The MIFO;

    – The Pan Canadian Forum on Economic Development in Canadian Francophonie; and

    – The organizing committee of the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in our region.

    As co-chair of Invest Ottawa, I made la Cité collégiale a permanent member of the board of directors.

    Invest Ottawa is the new face of economic development in the City.

    Bilingualism is an added value for our region.

    Invest Canada works closely with the RDÉE, the RGA and la Cité collégiale to offer French‑language training programs for our businesses.

    Since my arrival in Ottawa, I have helped organize a Seniors Summit, a Planning Summit and a Youth Summit.

    Over the last year, I participated in organizing a number of events with the Francophone community.

    In February, I organized my first Mayor’s and RGA’s Breakfast with our guest, Minister Denis Lebel.

    This is a new initiative to bring together Francophones from the region and discuss the major issues.

    In March, the 6th Rendez-vous francophone du maire celebrated the 15th anniversary of the SOS Montfort.

    Ms. Gisèle Lalonde and Dr. Leduc gave moving speeches.

    Next year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of LeDroit. You are all invited to come celebrate at City Hall.

    On June 8, 2012, I announced Véronic DiCaire Day in Ottawa with her friends and family.

    For all the work she does as ambassador of La Cité collégiale, I wanted to recognize her career and the work she has accomplished for the francophonie.

    Last March, my office supported the MIFO’s efforts to organize a completely Francophone evening at the Shenkman Arts Centre for the JUNOs.

    We helped put the evening together with the JUNO organizers. I was very proud to be part of the event.

    It was a good example of a national Francophone event that took place here, in our home city of Ottawa.

    I would like Ottawa to host even more major events, and I want to ensure that Francophone organizations are involved.

    For example:

    – The 2012 NHL All-Star Game last winter;

    – The 2013 Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship; and

    – The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

    In 2017, I would like Ottawa to be the destination of choice to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

    The preparations for celebrating Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in our region are also going well.

    It is important to highlight one of Ottawa’s greatest strengths both economically and culturally.

    Each year, Ottawa welcomes over 12,000 new immigrants.

    They bring knowledge and openness to our region that helps us to develop closer ties with the international community.

    It is also with these new members of our community that our local francophonie thrives and flourishes.

    I encourage and commend the work of the États Généraux for inviting Francophone citizens to become involved in all areas of activity in the City.

    It is up to each person to play their part in political, economic, social, sporting and cultural life.

    I encourage you to play your rightful part in our community’s decision-making mechanisms.

    Again, I would like to thank the Sommet organizing committee for inviting me here today.

    Thank you very much.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Margaret (Peggy) Lister

    Mayor Jim Watson and Rideau Rockcliffe Ward Councillor Peter Clark today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Margaret (Peggy) Lister for her outstanding community service as President of Cornerstone Housing for Women, an important community organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless women in Ottawa.

    Peggy has worked to make Ottawa a better place for more than 40 years and is known for her ability to bring people together to accomplish ambitious goals. As President of Cornerstone Housing for Women for almost ten years, she has worked tirelessly to increase affordable housing for homeless women and recently spearheaded the development of an innovative new facility that provides healthcare and support for 42 senior and younger women with complex needs.

    Peggy is a compassionate and motivated leader who has developed the organizational capacity of Cornerstone and has increased its effectiveness in providing results that truly improve the lives of many women in need of assistance. Cornerstone has grown from two to four residences and has also transitioned from the provision of emergency shelter to a more effective and stronger focus on the provision of permanent, safe, affordable housing with individualized support and healthcare services.

    Cornerstone continues to play a leading role in education about homelessness issues and solutions and has been very active in advocacy work and with local coalitions to increase affordable housing in Ottawa. Peggy and her colleagues are committed to a vision where every woman in Ottawa has access to safe, affordable housing in a community that supports and allows each woman to reach her best potential.

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