• Mayor Watson announces support for proposed federal measures to improve transit operator safety

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson today announced his support for Bill C-533, recently tabled by the Member of Parliament for Wascana, Honourable Ralph Goodale, as well as Bill C-402 presented by the Member of Parliament for Burnaby—New Westminster, Peter Julian. The bills are focused on addressing assaults on transit operators by amending the Criminal Code to make assault of on-duty transit operators an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. Mayor Watson will work with Transit Commission Chair Diane Deans to table a motion at the next City Council meeting on November 13 to formally support the federal bills.

    “Our transit operators have chosen to serve the public by getting us home safely – they deserve to be respected and to have a safe work environment,” said Mayor Watson. “I am pleased that ATU Local 279 is supporting the legislation. I hope my Council colleagues will join me in supporting this bill in an effort to improve safety for our operators and passengers.”

    Mayor Watson shares Mr. Goodale’s view that assaulting a transit operator is especially serious because it also puts riders at risk. According to Mr. Goodale, this principle has already been expressly recognized by Canadian courts as a basis for imposing a higher penalty with the objective of specifically denouncing and deterring such conduct. Across Canada, 2,061 bus drivers were assaulted in 2011, with attacks ranging from being spat on and punched in the head, to knife attacks and sexual assault. Locally, OC Transpo recorded 59 incidents of violence against drivers in 2012.

    Ensuring the safety and security of its customers and employees is a paramount priority for OC Transpo and is integral to the business of providing safe and reliable transit service. In August, the Transit Commission rolled out a 10-point safety action plan, which includes an expanded Night Stop program and several public awareness efforts. Further, vehicles are equipped with safety features such as emergency phones, a Transitway surveillance system with over 400 closed-circuit TV cameras, passenger assistance alarms and direct radio links between operators and the OC Transpo control centre.

  • Draft Budget 2014 proposes lowest percentage change in 7 years

    Ottawa – Today City Council tabled Draft Budget 2014, which delivers a stable financial plan that respects taxpayers’ expectations of its municipal government to live within its means, improve service delivery and invest strategically in initiatives which will shape the community in future years.

    Draft Budget 2014 proposes a 1.9 per cent tax rate, which is the lowest in seven years, and below the 2 per cent cap City Council directed on May 8, 2013.

    “This Draft Budget 2014 builds on the hard work of the last three years”, said Mayor Jim Watson. “It demonstrates to the residents of Ottawa that we are making real progress on issues that matter to people in neighbourhoods all across the City.”

    The budget proposes that the City continue its freeze on recreation fees, the Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets, the Mayor’s salary and garbage fees. The City will reduce its workforce again this year, this time by 55 Full Time Equivalent positions. In addition, no new debt will be added to the capital budget in 2014.

    “Meeting the 2 per cent cap directed by City Council has challenged staff to make the hard decisions that are required to ensure we continue to improve service delivery to residents as well as meet Council’s strategic priorities.  I commend City staff for meeting that challenge head on with a responsible financial plan for 2014,” said City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick.

    Highlights of Draft Budget 2014 include the following:

     – Roll-out of “MyServiceOttawa”, an online account that allows residents and businesses to securely access multiple City services and information in one place 24/7;

     – Pay and view billing information for tax and water bills and ability to apply for a number of licenses and permits online;

     – Complete the third year of the $340 million Ottawa on the Move 3-year infrastructure program;

      – Open the new Lansdowne for the return of CFL football and provide $2 million in funding for the implementation of programming, part-year operations and one-time funding for new capital items;

     – Continue widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line;

     – Invest $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks;

     – Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections;

     – Invest $750,000 to implement improve pedestrian infrastructure to better connect residents to transit, schools, parks and other key destinations;

     – Increase investment in cycling safety and facilities by $2 million;

     – Limit the average transit fare increase to 1.9 per cent which falls within Council’s cap of 2 per cent or less;

     – Support the arts and culture through an additional $500,000 in the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan and a $1.6 million investment in the Arts Court Redevelopment Project;

     – Build, open and upgrade new parks, recreation and cultural facilities in neighbourhoods across the city, including the opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata and the Minto Recreation Complex in Barrhaven;

     – Continue Council’s annual investment of $14 million in the Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan;

     – Invest an additional $1.2 million to fight the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer and to increase forest cover across the city;

     – Invest $3.9 million in the Smart Energy Program to reduce the City’s energy costs;

     – Invest $2.5M  for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment for fire fighters;

     – Replace defibrillators used by front-line Paramedics and used as part of the Public Access Defibrillator Program at a cost of $2.2 million;

     – Invest $2 million in accessibility improvements to City buildings and parks; and

     – Increase investment in Economic Development by $350,000 to attract more events and visitors.

     – The 2014 Rate budget was adopted by Council on February 27, 2013 as part of the multi-year budget policy.  Staff will be submitting a report to the Environment Committee at its November 19 meeting.

    To comment and provide feedback on draft Budget 2014:

     – Attend one of the four regional public consultations

     – Register as a public delegation at a Standing Committee budget review meeting

     – E-mail budget2014@ottawa.ca

     – Use the Twitter hashtag #ottbudget

     – Contact your City Councillor

     – Call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or fax 613-560-2126

     – Visit ottawa.ca/budget2014 for further information

  • Report recommends Arts Court redevelopment and Ottawa Art Gallery expansion

    Ottawa – In a report to be considered by the Finance and Economic Development Committee on November 5 and by City Council on November13, City staff are recommending a project for the redevelopment of Arts Court and expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG).

    The proposed $34-million capital project is the culmination of a long-standing vision for a municipal arts centre for the visual, performing, literary and media arts and for the revitalization of Ottawa’s downtown and will be financed with no new borrowing.

    “The proposed redevelopment of Arts Court and expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery will create a significant showcase for our region’s artists while creating jobs and helping to attract tourists to the City of Ottawa,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “I am very pleased that we have found a way forward, working with our community partners, to realize this important term of Council priority while using existing City funds. I am also pleased that the project can proceed without the need to incur any new debt.”

    In 2011, City Council approved the implementation strategy for the Ottawa Arts Court Redevelopment project and in 2012, Council approved the Renewed Action Plan on Arts, Heritage and Culture, confirming this as a priority project for the City.

    The proposed OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project will include:

    – a new and larger Ottawa Art Gallery;
    – a new 250-seat multi-purpose and film screening room within the new OAG space
    – a new 120-seat black box theatre and four classrooms for the University of Ottawa
    – repurposing of space vacated by the OAG and reallocation to the major media arts partners
    – development of a connection between new construction and existing buildings on four floors to establish a truly integrated and functional facility.

    Upon approval, the City will implement the procurement process for the design and build development of the facility and for the sale of private sector tower development rights.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Mr. Harley Bloom

    Mayor Jim Watson and Ward Councillor Tim Tierney, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Mr. Harley Bloom for his outstanding community service, philanthropy, and for his enthusiasm and dedication in organizing numerous events that have benefited our city.

    Mr. Bloom has given back to his community for over 25 years in various capacities. As an avid business man, he has been a consummate supporter of local high school cooperative education programs, and has supported many community organizations including the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society and the Ottawa Food Bank.

    As a community leader, he has served as a long-standing director of the Gloucester Agricultural Society and Gloucester Fair where he has been on the Board for over 30 years including treasurer, executive director and past president. He has also been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Orléans for over 20 years including past president.

    Mr. Bloom undertook the prominent role as project manager for the Kiwanis Adventure Playground, with his goal of bringing both children and adults together to build the largest accessible playground in Ottawa at Millennium Park in Cumberland Ward. The main fundraiser developed for this park, which has become one of his biggest accomplishments to date, is the creation of “Skreamers” a haunted experience for kids of all ages. Organized through the Kiwanis club of Orléans, it has now become a year-long commitment employing more than 175 youth volunteers and dozens of Kiwanis Club members and their families. In 2011, Harley led the club in expanding the play village at the park by adding a new accessible play structure.

  • Mayor’s 2014 Budget Address

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    Introduction

    Good morning colleagues.

    Today I have the pleasure to Table the 2014 Draft Budget for the City of Ottawa.

    As in preceding years, I want to thank each and every one around this Council Table.

    Thank you for your input into this document which you all provide year round.

    Thank you for your commitment to making our City a better place in which to live, to work, and raise a family.

    And thank you, also, to our City Manager, the Deputy City Managers and City Treasurer who work hard each day to provide the services that mean so much to our residents, businesses and neighbourhoods.

    I also want to thank the hundreds of citizens who came to visit me and other Councillors when we did the “Mall Tour” of pre-budget consultations in September.

    It is always good to hear directly from citizens who do not always have the time or inclination to attend a formal City Council Committee Meeting or public forum.

    There was a gentleman who suggested we cut our workforce and have greater investment in industry to create jobs…this budget does that.

    There was a new student at Carleton who wants us to spend more money to clean up the Ottawa River…our money is ready to roll…we are just waiting for our Federal and Provincial partners.

    Grandparents told me that they were happy about the freeze on parks and recreation fees because it allowed their grandchildren to enrol in sports and dance classes.

    Others said to keep bus fares down, while some wanted to see salaries frozen.

    At one of the rural Fairs I attended one gentleman from West Carleton who is involved with the 4-H Club asked why we could not make their annual $5,000 grant permanent, rather than having to fill out an application each year. Good idea and we will make it happen.

    As always, lots of ideas and opinions.

    All of the input is appreciated and most people also understand that we cannot do everything all at once.

    But, they appreciated our desire to listen and, in general, told me that the direction this Council has laid out is good.

    Lowest tax rate change in 7 years

    Earlier this year we asked staff to raise the bar another notch in our effort to control the tax pressure on our residents.

    We set a maximum limit of 2.0% for any rate increase in 2014.

    I am happy to be able to tell you that Budget 2014 will see us hold the line to an increase of 1.9%

    This is the lowest increase in 7 years and means that we, as a Council, have exceeded our target each and every year of this mandate.

    2014budgetgraph

    I can also report that our partners – Ottawa Police Services, Transit Services, the Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Public Health  –  have once again constrained themselves within Council’s maximum increase cap.

    The same will apply to Transit Fare increases – and I am pleased to report that, pending the approval of the Transit Commission, average fare increases will be kept to 1.9% – a far cry from the 7.5% of 4 years ago.

    And I want to take a moment to congratulate – Chair Diane Deans of the Transit Commission, Chair Jan Harder of the Library Board, Chair Diane Holmes of the Ottawa Public Health Board and Chair Eli El-Chantiry of the Ottawa Police Services Board – for their work and strong effort to bring financial stability and predictability to the operations of all these City partners.

    Also, a special word of thanks to the GM of Transit, John Manconi; the Chief of Police, Chuck Bordeleau; our Library CEO, Danielle McDonald; and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Isra Levy for all their work.

    If approved, Budget 2014 will also freeze the waste collection charge at $82 per household and I want to thank the Chair, Councillor Maria McRae and all of the Environment Committee for their efforts guiding the environmental work of this Council.

    This budget will see a continuation of the freeze on Mayor’s Office and Councillor Office administrative Budgets, as well on my own salary.

    And for the fourth consecutive year we will maintain a freeze on parks and recreation fees, making life a little more affordable for parents and families with children in league sports or fitness programs and for all who take part in any of the hundreds of City classes offered.

    Budget 2014 also proposes, for the third year in a row, a reduction of 55 FTEs at the City of Ottawa.

    This continued focus on reining in staff growth comes in spite of the fact that we are also adding new facilities to provide more services to our residents.

    The Barrhaven Minto Recreation Complex will require 63 new FTEs as we begin operations in this magnificent new facility.

    And, I should also note that we are all looking forward to the official opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata.

    This great new facility represents a $40 million investment on behalf of and to support Kanata and West Carleton residents.

    We are able to provide added personnel for these new facilities without a boost to overall staffing as a direct result of our Service Ottawa initiative.

    In 2014, Service Ottawa will return more than $4.7 Million in net savings to our bottom line.

    And we will provide more convenience to our residents and business in the process.

    The Budget also proposes to continue to increase our Contribution to Capital, as was laid out in the Long Range Financial Plan.

    Next year that increase will be more than $ 15 million, with $10.4 million coming from the city-wide portion of this Budget.

    As a Council we have been prudent.

    We have invested wisely in Ottawa on the Move, for instance.

    We have restrained tax increases, while continuing to provide the basic services people really need.

    Our measured approach will pay dividends to the City in the future.

    Financial Health

    This Budget maintains the City of Ottawa’s strong fiscal position.

    Our credit ratings remain high and unchanged.

    Moody’s has provided its highest rating at Aaa and Standard and Poor’s is AA+.

    The Treasurer has reported that Ottawa’s net total debt per capita is second lowest amongst major cities including – Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal – based on the most recent numbers available.

    In September, the Treasurer reported that, in Q2 of 2013, capital budget adjustments resulted in a reduction of $19.1 million in debt financing requirements.

    Our firm hand on the tiller means that we will not be adding any new debt in the 2014 capital budget.

    But, we cannot stand still and our infrastructure needs of a burgeoning city require us to continue to invest in renewal, as well as growth.

    Of course, City borrowing is also subject to both Provincial and Council restrictions.

    In Ontario, municipal debt may only be used for capital expenditures, not for operating costs and any borrowing is limited to 25% of all revenues raised by taxation and other fees and we remain far below that level.

    Council has also previously established an upper limit on debt repayments on tax and rate budgets at 7.5% of City raised revenue.

    Debt repayments in 2013 will be approximately 5.4% of all City raised revenues – again, well below the target.

    And, as I mentioned a moment ago – there will be no new debt added in the 2014 capital budget.

    The City is in good financial shape.

    Progress

    Budget 2014 will see us stay the course as it delivers solid progress to our residents.

    Many projects are underway.

    Lansdowne is coming to life.

    We see this now with work on all aspects of the project.

    The Stadium where the magnificent new wooden veil is taking shape.

    The move and reinvigoration of the Horticulture Building.

    The start on the new Great Lawn and urban park and all the new features it will contain.

    And, while we are all excited to see this revival taking place, I do want to take a moment to thank the people of the neighbourhood.

    They are living through a great disruption to their everyday lives.

    Our project managers have done their very best to reduce the intrusion as much as possible.

    The innovative use of an on-site concrete production facility has meant thousands fewer trucks on the streets in the area, for instance.

    But…no matter what is done…there will still be disruption.

    On behalf of all of us, I thank residents for their patience and understanding.

    And I want to thank Councillor David Chernushenko for his constant efforts and engagement on this project on behalf of his residents.

    The same thanks is also due to our neighbours in the eastern reaches of this great City.

    The transportation network is going through every bit as much a renewal as Lansdowne.

    And people living in Orleans, Navan, Blackburn Hamlet, Cumberland and all other points east have had their daily routines interrupted and adjusted as, working with our provincial partners, we fix the split and see the widening of the 417 come to reality.

    I say a special thank you for the resourcefulness and ingenuity that people are showing as they adapt to the work and re-routings that are an inevitable part of improving existing roadways.

    Councillors Bloess, Monette, Blais and Tierney have been steadfast in seeing that the interests of their residents are first and foremost every step of the way and their insight has also been important to the planning and execution of all the work.

    Mobility and transportation are important to any community and the local economy.

    And our investments in these changes today will make for a better future.

    Again, on behalf of all of Council, I say thank you for your understanding and patience, wherever you live in the City.

    Ottawa on the Move has been a remarkable program for our City.

    And there is one more year to go as we complete this most ambitious homemade infrastructure improvement program in Ottawa’s history.

    Under this program we have seen projects completed on time and on budget in every Ward in the City.

    And this is happening as we begin the real work on the biggest infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history.

    Phase 1 of our LRT is finally under construction.

    It is a project that will remake our City for the future.

    The first phase of light rail transit will move people about our growing community more efficiently, more comfortably and in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

    It is a project that is the first piece of the puzzle that will see us expand transit to all parts of our city in the coming years.

    Yes, it is long overdue, but everyone on this Council should be proud that the shovels are in the ground and work is underway.

    As we watch the investment of dollars across the City we also need to keep our eyes firmly on the future.

    Just as in our first three budgets, Budget 2014 proposes a number of strategic investments that will benefit our residents as we continue to grow and mature as a major Canadian urban centre.

    That means recreation and mobility needs must be met in addition to all the other demands that citizens may have.

    This Council has invested in our neighbourhoods with parks projects across the city.

    This will continue in 2014

    Ward 1 residents and Councillor Monette will be pleased to see a proposed commitment to Cardinal Creek 18A and Petrie Landing Park II.

    Councillor Bloess and Innes Ward will see investment in Trails Edge Park 1.

    Councillor Harder will see funding allocated for Forest Park in Havencrest and Fraser Fields Linear Park.

    Councillor Blais and residents of Cumberland Ward will see design funding for the Francois Dupuis Community Centre and investment in Millennium Park.

    The Greely Village Centre Park in Councillor Thompson’s Osgoode Ward is in Budget 2014.

    As is the Forest Park in Chapman Mills, for Councillor Desroches and residents in Riverside South.

    Councillor Hubley will see investment in the Monahan Landing Park and expansion of the Meadow Breeze Park.

    Councillor Qadri’s ward will see funds invested for the design and 1st phase of construction of a 3.24 Ha community park in the Blackstone Community.

    And Councillor McRae will receive funding for rejuvenation of the Carleton Heights Park to benefit the many seniors and young families in this area of River Ward.

    We should also note that our City’s libraries are well-loved, and well-used, closing in on 33.6 million uses by year’s end.

    And there will be an increase of nearly $1M to the library’s budget that will support their initiatives.

    Like the expansion of the Constance Bay branch in Councillor El-Chantiry’s Ward in partnership with the local community association and Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.

    The implementation of new technologies at 5 additional branches – Carlingwood, Cumberland, Greely, Greenboro and the Main Library.

    And planning for renewal and modernization at yet 2 more branches – Rosemount and the Main Library.

    And, in keeping with the times, a permanent $50K increase to the materials budget for the purchase of eBooks.

    I am also looking forward to the opening of the $10 million expansion of the Beaverbrook Branch in Kanata in the summer 2014 in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward.

    And our colleagues, Councillors Clark and Fleury, will be particularly pleased to note the $8.2 million commitment to the Donald/Somerset pedestrian bridge and all that it will add to the community.

    These are just some of the investments that we are making in the quality of life of our residents for the future.

    At the same time we continue to put much-needed resources into the upkeep of our current infrastructure.

    Community and Protective Services, under the Chairmanship of Councillor Mark Taylor, will see, among other elements, an investment of approximately $2.2 million for defibrillator replacement.

    These units are life-savers – as we have seen in several instances – and even more important to the fabric of community life as our population ages.

    Fire Services will invest $2.5 million in self-contained breathing equipment that is so integral today’s modern firefighting techniques.

    Forestry Services will see investments of $1.2 million in operating funds for Forest Cover initiatives which involve management of the Emerald Ash Borer challenge, increasing overall forest cover and improved maintenance standards, including tree planting programs.

    Forestry also will see $1.175 million in capital investments for lifecycle tree renewal and replacement of trees at the end of their life, storm damaged or subject to Emerald Ash Borer.

    This funding supports programs like Trees in Trust and the Green Acres Rural Reforestation program.

    Taken together these investments represent another indication of this Council’s strong and continuing commitment to Forestry Services.

    And in another environment-based effort the Public Works Smart Energy Program will continue to roll out with $3.9 million further funding for 2014.

    When complete the program will see implementation of more than 100 energy saving capital measures within existing City facilities.

    The program is on track to yielding $1.2 million dollars in annual savings by the end of 2013 and is also on track to exceed the anticipated simple pay back of 5 years.

    Infrastructure investment will continue in 2014.

    There is an investment of $11.6 million for the detailed design work on the Western Transitway from Bayshore Station to Moodie Drive in Councillor Taylor’s Bay Ward.

    Councillor Wilkinson’s residents will see a $31 million investment for the construction of a new four lane roadway to extend Campeau Drive from Didsbury to Huntmar.

    As part of this year’s $45 million investment in road resurfacing Councillor Chiarelli’s College Ward will see work on, to name a few, Baseline Road, Iris Street, Meadowlands Drive, and Westcliffe Road.

    In the same way, Alta Vista residents in Peter Hume’s ward will see work on Baycrest Drive, Dauphin Road, and Kilborn Avenue, while residents of Diane Holmes Somerset Ward will see work on Booth and Slater streets.

    Life cycle renewal of the Prince of Wales Dr. and Nepean Creek bridge culvert in Councillor Egli’s ward will be completed with an investment of $1.2 million and water and sewer work on Sherry Lane and Brent Avenue will require $3.9 million.

    Funding will be available to carry out life cycle renewal and seismic upgrades for the Fitzroy Station Bridge over Carp River in Councillor El-Chantiry’s ward of West Carleton-March.

    An investment of $2.6 million in Councillor Moffatt’s Rideau-Goulbourn Ward will see the replacement of storm sewers, roadways, curbs and sidewalks along Rideau Valley Drive between Rogers Stevens Dr and the bridge.

    Similarly, in Councillor Tierney’s Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward funding is necessary for life cycle renewal of the overpass at Old Montreal Rd and Cardinal Creek and it will be provided.

    Councillor Chernushenko and Capital ward will see integrated road and sewer work on First Ave. between Bronson Ave. and O’Connor, including sewer, water mains and sidewalk and full road rehabilitation for large parts of this $7.0 million project.

    Councillor Diane Deans and residents in the Greenboro area near Tapiola Crescent will see a $1.5 million investment to correct settling roadbeds caused by a poor soil base.

    In Kitchissippi Ward, Councillor Katherine Hobbs and residents will see combined sewers are being replaced with separate storm and sanitary sewers in the Rex and Kerr area and this work requires an investment outlay of $3.9 million.

    Ottawa on the Move was created and funded by this Council two years ago.

    We have invested $340 million and leveraged that into more than $500 million in total project work from 2012 to 2014.

    In those three years we created employment here in the City, in addition to investing wisely in our future.

    By the time we are done we will have seen more than 400 projects across the City.

    City staff has worked hard to deliver these projects on time and on budget.

    And that is what we have seen.

    Ottawa on the Move has seen a number of major projects, including the two-year $30 million Bronson Avenue reconstruction project; the Churchill Avenue “complete streets” remake for $21 million and the Woodroffe Avenue reconstruction with an investment of $8 million.

    At the same time Ottawa on the Move meant investments totalling over $100 million for resurfacing work on Highway 174, Ogilvie Road, Carling Avenue, Eagleson Road, Blackburn Hamlet Bypass, Galleta Side Road, and Albion Road, to name just a few.

    But, all of this Asset Management is just one part of the job here at City Council.

    Service Ottawa

    We have also been implementing Service Ottawa as I mentioned earlier.

    In 2014 there will be even more coming from this initiative.

    “MyServiceOttawa” for residents and businesses will launch.

    This will allow residents and businesses to create their own electronic account to securely access multiple City services and information in one place.

    It will include the ability to do many things, like:

    – apply and pay for a number of licenses and permits including: pet registration, business licenses, open air fire permits and numerous other permits;
    – view and pay billing information for tax and water bills;
    – search and view the status of service requests (open or closed);
    – view and manage garbage and recycling collection calendar;
    – manage subscriptions to City e-newsletters; and
    – view City social media feeds such as Twitter; and much more.

    All of this effort is designed with one thing in mind – to improve service delivery to residents and businesses across the City.

    I want to thank Councillor Tierney and the Members of the IT Sub-committee for their work on this important effort to bring about technological advances that will help us to better serve the public.

    At the same time, under the direction of the Chair of our Planning Committee, Councillor Peter Hume, our Planning Department has been stepping up to the plate and improving service delivery.

    We have cut processing times for various applications, as the most recent Performance Report indicated, and we will be continuing to work to make dealing with the City of Ottawa a pleasure not a chore.

    We promised a Guaranteed Application Timelines Initiative (GATI) covering 5 different development application types at the Planning Summit last year.

    As of August there had been 89 applications under this GATI program and 96% were handled within the Council-established timelines – and each of the 3 that missed the timelines had extenuating circumstances – but, will still receive credits for their next similar application.

    Economic Development

    Economic activity is the lifeblood of the community.

    And here, we as a Council, have also signalled and delivered on a new direction.

    The City of Ottawa Economic Development and Innovation Department has had a year of achievement punctuated by internal departmental successes and those of Invest Ottawa.

    To name just a few:

    – A $15 million dollar Innovation Agreement with the Province of Ontario

    – The Capital Investment Track (CIT) program guides key investments through the City’s requirements in a timely manner

    – Between January and June, Invest Ottawa facilitated 654 new jobs, attracted $25M in foreign investment and $26M in investment for portfolio companies

    – The new Major Events Office was able to attract an additional nine events in 2013, as well as successfully winning bids for 4 future events

    In fact, the Major Events Office has been a big success story

    We have seen the fruits of their efforts with the Women’s World Hockey Championships, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Championships, the Duathlon World Championship, the Canadian Comedy Awards, the Canadian Gymnastics Championships, the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship, to name a few.

    The combination of bids won and events hosted in 2013 resulted in an estimated $45M of economic benefits for the local economy and that does not count the coming Canadian Figure Skating Championships, which will be at the Canadian Tire Centre in January of 2014.

    Our name is spreading as a great place to bring an event.

    But, when opportunity knocks, as we all know…

    You still have to get up and answer the door.

    To that end, Budget 2014 seeks your approval to increase the budget for the Major Events Office by $350,000.

    This will allow us to capitalise on the opportunities at hand and to be better prepared to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

    It will take us to the next level of our strategic objective to “bid more, win more, host more”

    Conclusion

    Colleagues, this budget is about delivering progress and getting the job done for our residents.

    It is about moving into the next year of our term of Council knowing that we have met many of the commitments that we made together.

    Knowing that we provide needed services – Police, Fire, Paramedic, transit, waste collection and recycling, snow removal and road maintenance, libraries, Public Health, drinking water, parks and recreation, 6,000 km of roads and 2,000 km of sidewalks, waste water handling and purification and much, much more – every day for families across this great city

    What we have before us is a balanced package to move our City forward.

    We are doing what we said we would do while investing in our infrastructure so that our residents can count on those services they need in the future.

    I believe that this proposed Budget 2014 continues the solid work that we have done in the last three years.

    I hope that you will be able to share in that assessment as you review the details in the coming weeks at Committee deliberations, in public consultations and here at Council itself.

    This budget, when all is said and done, is about progress.

    Progress in keeping taxes low.

    Progress in building and maintain infrastructure and city assets.

    Progress in making our city an even better place to live, work and visit.

    And progress that allows our residents to say that they live in one of the cleanest, greenest, safest cities in Canada, if not the world.

    Thank you

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Ms. Laura Bouchard

    Mayor Jim Watson and Ward Councillor Peter Clark, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Ms. Laura Bouchard for her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to providing residents of Ottawa with local, organic, and secure food sources.

    Laura Bouchard is described by those who know her as a visionary. She believed that people within cities could live differently by taking unused land and making it productive and sustainable by growing vegetables and selling them to the people who lived here.

    Over the past two-years, Laura has overseen a two acre farm consisting of land sprinkled throughout front and back yards around the city providing young and old alike with knowledge and experience about farming, growing and preparing healthy organic food. Her produce has made it on to numerous dinner plates throughout Ottawa, which includes donations to the Ottawa Food Bank, the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, and to other residents in need.

    Laura has become a valuable resource for new entrepreneurs by teaching them how to start a business on a shoe-string including small business marketing. She also shares her skills with volunteers and those who want to learn more about organic gardening. She truly is an inspiration and has become the voice for urban agriculture.

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  • Mayor’s Remarks: Stage 2

    CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

    Thank you all for coming.

    I’ve invited you here today to talk about how our city will grow and the fundamental tool that public transit offers us for intelligent planning.

    And how – if we are smart – we can use our public transit investments to make sure our transportation system will serve Ottawa as we grow in the years to come.

    This Council began its term by fundamentally taking the reins on light rail.

    It had become clear that the project we inherited – the so-called cross-country, deep-dive route that had been planned – could not be constructed for the established budget.

    Any cost overrun would be very much our problem.

    The federal and provincial contributions were each capped at $600 million.

    Already the City would be shouldering $900 million of the $2.1 billion originally budgeted to complete the Confederation Line.

    So we knew, as a Council, that we needed to correct course – because we had to pay every penny of cost increases.

    The Confederation Line deals with the downtown bottleneck that is strangling productivity increases in the transit system.

    It lays the foundation for a move to broaden the benefits of Light Rail Transit and expand on the important project now under construction.

    Increasing costs on the Confederation Line would mean fewer resources available for these extensions.

    We simply could not allow the project to bloat.

    So we took action.

    It was about 10 months ago when we gathered in this room to unveil the final Confederation Line designs.

    The Queen Street alignment achieves a better transit result with shallower, more accessible stations.

    This, along with an innovative competition – one now being copied by other municipalities – brought the budget back into line.

    The result, obtained with the very successful design-build-finance-maintain contract signed last year, has since proven the importance of Council’s actions.

    We are finally going ahead with light rail.

    On time.

    On budget.

    Fixed price.

    Tunnel and all.

    With construction now underway, I could not be more proud of the result we achieved.

    This Council has put in place a new framework of fiscal prudence.

    Before we went ahead with the Confederation Line, Council commissioned a long-term affordability review of public transit.

    These operating costs continue to challenge us at budget time, so before starting with the Confederation Line we wanted to review our long-term financial model to ensure we had a strong plan.

    A plan – not just for the first stage of LRT – but also for stages to come.

    We set tough tests for this transit affordability review.

    We looked at everything we were planning to build under the current Official Plan for public transit over the next 38 years – including the Confederation Line – covering both capital and operating costs.

    We respected the 2.5% tax cap set by this Council.

    Transit fares were held to the rate of inflation.

    We did not allow any shifting of additional road moneys into public transit.

    I want to underscore that point – we did not change the balance of investment toward transit and away from roads – and with today’s TMP we continue with this same balance of roads and transit without allowing any shift.

    So the affordability test we established was very tough.

    And this is, by the way, the first time this kind of comprehensive review of Ottawa’s public transit affordability has ever been done.

    Further, this is the first time, that all of our City’s planning efforts are coming together at the same time:

    The Official Plan… Infrastructure Master Plan… and the Transportation Master Plan, which includes the pedestrian and cycling plans.

    These major planning efforts are interconnected, so it makes sense that we ensure synergy between them at such a crucial point in our city’s history.

    The Transportation Master Plan we will release later today has at its foundation all of the tough affordability tests we continue to apply to maintain the framework of fiscal prudence that we have all committed to on this Council.

    A framework that is fair for taxpayers and fair for transit users.

    So let me tell you how we’ve changed things to ensure we have a realistic plan… a plan that does not over-promise.

    And one that we can deliver while continuing to live within our means.

    First, we changed the way estimates are being done for projects.

    Too many tenders were coming in over the early estimates used in our financial planning.

    We are being more comprehensive in the estimate process now, so our early financial planning is more realistic.

    We changed the way these estimates come together to include ample contingencies.

    We now look at the earliest stage to include estimates for property and utilities that we realistically will have to cover.

    Second, we are placing an affordability lens on the planning choices right from the beginning.

    This is an innovation in realistic planning on which Ottawa is leading the way.

    We are proposing a TMP that, for the first time, fits within what we can afford and is built from the beginning to produce the biggest bang for the buck.

    Third, we have taken a far more conservative view of how much it will cost to run our transit system.

    We have built in the flexibility to match service with increased ridership and are assuming the highest cost scenario.

    We have been far more conservative about the fairbox revenue we have in the model, so we know we will do at least that well.

    We are taking this approach so that we have a solid base and when we do better at earning new transit riders, our budget picture will just improve.

    Rather than building a model that counts on future success, we will aim for better, but not count on better.

    So we have taken the affordability model for transit to the next step.

    The tough tests from our first affordability review are now buttressed further by even far more conservative assumptions.

    This is part of building a Transportation Master Plan that won’t over promise and under deliver.

    With that framework of financial prudence in place, today I am going to focus on the transit plan because it is so central to ensuring we can maintain excellent mobility.

    Later today, the joint Transportation Committee and Transit Commission presentation will provide more detail on the road, sidewalk and cycling plans also included in the TMP.

    It will be an integrated plan designed to improve our entire network and make our community more livable for the benefit all users.

    We will move ahead to complete needed improvements for the bus system.

    This includes a new Transitway from Bayshore to Moodie and from March to Terry Fox to connect Kanata.

    There will be new measures to speed buses in the east along Blair, connecting La Cité into our rail network as well.

    And we are fully funding these improvements without waiting any longer for federal and provincial contributions.

    In the TMP, you will see a host of transit priority measures to improve reliability and shorten travel times.

    These are all planned to be 100% municipally funded and not cost shared as they have been in past plans.

    So we have a strong bus package.

    We also have a strong cycling plan.

    We are focused on completing a network around the city so that more people can safely choose to take a bike where they are going.

    This means tackling key priority cycling links with improved facilities, leveraging our existing assets, and connecting missing links to community destinations across the city.

    Our cycling plan includes what many in our community and around the Council table have been looking for.

    Improving our road network is also a priority because realistically most of our trips are in personal vehicles.

    Let me give you a few examples.

    We will move quickly to increase traffic flows through key intersections along Prince of Wales – at Merivale, Fallowfield, Deakin, and at the Hunt Club bridge.

    After that, we will move to fix the log-jam north from there to Colonnade Road.

    We will also move on a major project – a four-lane extension of Greenbank from Cambrian to Jockvale.

    This will ease the bottleneck that currently exists and would otherwise increase with the opening of the new rec centre and as well as planned development further to the south in Manotick and Richmond.

    We will move quickly on the implementation of Chapman Mills Drive, the widening of Brian Cobourn from Navan to Mer Bleu, and the Kanata South Link widening.

    This will create more options for commuters to get in and out of these fast-growing communities in our south, east and west.

    We will also complete upgrades in areas where development has outpaced some parts of our road network such as sections of Klondike and Country Club Roads.

    Every Councillor will be pleased to hear that we will move quickly to restore predictable travel times on the Airport Parkway where it bogs down between Hunt Club and Brookfield with new HOV and taxi lanes.

    And our commitment to improve roads in rural areas is steadfast in this plan.

    I am confident we have a strong set of priorities for our roads projects funded largely by growth and development charges.

    The pedestrian plan will work on key links as well to recreation, schools, shopping, and leisure activities.

    We will review pedestrian safety where there are community concerns – as we’ve heard on Merivale Road and Scott Street.

    We will continue to build smarter streets as we rehabilitate older roads to include good pedestrian links and more safe cycling options.

    We will take our first steps to mainstreeting Cyrville.

    For the first time, the full capital plan includes an envelope for the funding of the pedestrian crossings, such as the bridge from Donald to Somerset for which several Councillors have been champions – including Councillors Clark and Fleury.

    Funding for these projects will be included in the draft budget later this month.

    And in addition to stand-alone projects, we will take a pragmatic and integrated approach to designing more complete streets – whether through growth or renewal – to better service all users and to make life on our streets more vibrant.

    Where roads can better serve and more effectively service pedestrians, cyclists or transit, we will do so, but only where there is value in doing so in a manner that is practical, flexible and prudent.

    Which leads us to the focus of my remarks this morning.

    Stage 2…

    Our plan to spread the benefits of light rail right across our city.

    Light rail transit is our most powerful smart growth tool.

    When we are clear as a city about where Light Rail rapid transit will be into the future… we have a powerful effect on how our city grows.

    Unlike a bus route, rail transit routes do not periodically change.

    So the community can plan.

    Businesses can plan.

    And we get smarter growth.

    The more quickly we move forward with strength and certainty on transit, the more attractive and reliable the system becomes.

    And as options increase, more families will choose transit over the expenses of buying a second car.

    Excellent public transit opens more possibilities for more people than you might think.

    So… let’s start our discussion of Stage 2 of LRT with how much our fiscal plan contains for public transit growth projects, as opposed to renewals.

    In previous TMPs, our plans for transit have assumed cost sharing with the federal and provincial governments, and that continues to be the case, as with other major municipalities in Canada.

    After we complete the investment of $2.1 billion dedicated to the Confederation Line, we can afford $3 billion between now and 2031.

    That is the envelope for growth-related transit projects that we can afford in our conservative financial plan.

    But light rail improvements are not the only public transit infrastructure that we need to include in our budgeting.

    Over the next ten years, we will service new growth with $500 million in bus transit improvements in the form of new Transitway links and priority lanes.

    As I mentioned earlier, these links will no longer be dependent on receiving two-thirds funding from senior orders of government.

    We want to move ahead with these projects without further delay.

    Today I am pleased to present to you a plan for Stage 2 that can, I believe, form a rally point for all levels of government and for our own Council.

    This period in our city’s development is similar to the build out of the Transitway decades ago – a time of major investment for decades of reward.

    We want to gain the full benefit of LRT to enable a shift to a more sustainable transportation future.

    And through this Stage 2 plan…

    We will shift LRT up an entire generation.

    Building on the Confederation Line…

    I am pleased to announce today that the Stage 2 plan moves decisively to spread the benefit of Light Rail to the west, east and south.

    Together.

    map_stage2_bil

     

    This plan responds to Council’s direction and desire to build on the work we are doing now to dramatically improve the O-Train.

    I want to take you through each segment of Stage 2 in some detail.

    First, let’s look west and southwest.

    We’ve put a lot of time and energy into working with the community to find a route through to the west.

    The Richmond Underground will provide the rapid rail transit extension that we need.

    I want to thank Councillors Hobbs, Taylor and Egli for their strong leadership here.

    Making good use of our existing Transitway infrastructure, we will continue with electric light rail west of Tunney’s Pasture, where it will stop at upgraded versions of the stations we have today at Westboro and Dominion.

    From Dominion Station, the route will travel down the former CP rail corridor to quickly enter the cover of a tunnel to maintain access to the waterfront.

    We will bury and enclose the line near residents to ensure continued views and quiet enjoyment for homeowners along the corridor.

    And we will continue to work with the NCC to meet their requirements.

    This underground section will continue to a new open-air station just past Cleary.

    We have moved the station at Cleary slightly to the west and reduced its footprint to take into account input during our public meetings.

    From Cleary, the tunnel will descend gradually before crossing under Richmond Road, stopping at a second new open-air station at New Orchard, before traveling underground to Lincoln Fields.

    These two stations will provide new, convenient rapid transit service for west end residents.

    And perhaps most significantly, the Byron Linear Park will be protected from one end to the other.

    Some residents may say “why should we pay for that to be underground?”

    The answer is clear to me…

    We have to move through some very well established neighbourhoods here… and we need to do right by them.

    Light rail needs to be implemented in a way that enhances the existing character of those communities and benefits the residents and businesses there with far better transit access.

    From Lincoln Fields, I support moving quickly to deploy light rail west to Bayshore Shopping Centre and south to Baseline.

    Beginning with the south route, we will travel from Lincoln Fields under the Queensway, through a new station at Iris, to Baseline.

    Finally, we will bring the significant investment we already have in Baseline Station into service as we link Algonquin College, Carleton, the University of Ottawa, and La Cité.

    Now that’s an education powerhouse in the capital connected by rapid transit.

    And with the quick and frequent feeder bus service to the growing southwest Barrhaven community, down the already built dedicated Transitway, we will dramatically improve the transit experience for the fastest growing areas of the city and make it more affordable to carry more passengers.

    I want to thank Councillors Harder and Desroches for the advancing of increased service for their constituents.

    Now let’s look at the route from Lincoln Fields to Bayshore.

    There had been a busway planned for this section that would have faced near immediate demand for conversion to LRT.

    So instead of building for buses – looking at wasteful and disruptive conversion costs – and then going to rail, we are going to leapfrog to better transit for the west now.

    From Lincoln Fields, the route to Bayshore will split off to the south of Woodroffe High School from the line to Baseline that I just described.

    The train then runs through an expanded Connaught Tunnel past the existing Pinecrest Bus Garage.

    Thanks here again to Councillor Taylor for improving on the plan to account for the concerns of people in the Roman Avenue area.

    As with the Richmond Underground, working with the community we’ve found better solutions.

    From there the line will run onto the City right-of-way just north of the Queensway, stopping at a new Queensview station.

    This will serve the area’s residents and businesses, including Hewlett Packard and the Leon’s.

    This will also include a new walking bridge across the Queensway, which will connect the rail line to the Pinecrest Shopping Complex, the new Ikea to the south, and other nearby businesses.

    From Queensview, the route makes an additional stop on the west side of Pinecrest to serve the residential communities north and south before continuing on to Bayshore Shopping Centre.

    Once at Bayshore, the line will tie-in to the bus network infrastructure where a new Bayshore-to-Moodie dedicated busway will connect with the existing west BRT and the new March to Terry Fox busway I described earlier.

    This will provide continuous rapid transit to Kanata, something advocated by Councillors Hubley and Wilkinson.

    Now… to the south.

    Building on the $59 million improvement underway now to increase service, we will make further enhancements to the O-Train to serve communities in the south and growing ridership along the line.

    We will open the system to serve more areas by adding stations at Gladstone, Walkley Road, and South Keys, creating more convenient options for people to make transit a part of their day.

    And we will extend the line to Leitrim and Bowesville and provide expanded park and ride facilities to support commuting from Barrhaven and Riverside South to those stations.

    This will be a full grade-separated route with new structures to cross Leitrim, Lester and Bowesville roads.

    My thanks to Councillors Deans and Desroches for their strong push for further expansion south now, not later.

    And to Councillors Hobbs, McRae and Holmes for underscoring the importance of added stations to serve the residents along the O-Train line more directly.

    Finally…to the east.

    We will complete the conversion of the light rail line from Blair Station through to Place D’Orleans.

    Four new stations will be put in place: at St. Joseph, Jeanne D’Arc, Orleans Drive, and Place d’ Orleans.

    The construction of LRT along our existing highway alignment will also free up the existing lanes used for buses today.

    During the EA process we will look at how to use these former bus lanes to expand the highway for HOV lanes.

    Currently, 60 per cent of Orleans residents who work downtown use transit each weekday.

    That takes a lot of articulated and double decker buses we won’t have to fill with diesel or replace at the end of the decade if we get moving more quickly.

    But this is not just about daily commutes to downtown.

    When complete, 90 per cent of Orleans’ residents will live within five kilometers of light rail.

    And moving quickly will be a game changer for renewed economic growth in the east end as rail will open access and tie the east to the downtown and beyond.

    Councillors Blais, Monette, Tierney and Bloess have been real leaders for balanced economic development.

    The east has suffered over the last ten years with shifting federal employment patterns.

    We want to work with the Government of Canada to locate jobs in the east and to attract employers there to support balanced growth.

    Bringing the benefits of light rail east to Place d’Orleans will make that difference.

    Last month, we announced a major employment complex has been attracted to north Orleans.

    I believe Stage 2 will give us what we need as a team to make the case for bringing more federal and private sector jobs to Orleans.

    In sum what I have just laid out can be built for less than $2.5 Billion.

    This includes:

     – $400 million to get to Lincoln Fields from Bayshore
    – $980 million to get to Baseline from Tunney’s Pasture
    – $500 million to finish getting to Orleans
    – $100 million for further O-train enhancements; and
    – $500 million for the trains and expanded storage facilities needed to serve the full system.

    This should be a package we can all agree to get a move on.

    Stage 2 of light rail will build on the benefits of the Confederation Line for our city as a whole.

    We could go slowly and build each segment of the network over a protracted period of time, suffering wasteful and disruptive conversions along the way…

    Or we can move ahead and use public transit to help define how we grow.

    We could muddle through paying for another twenty or thirty years of long-haul buses…

    Or we can make the most of LRT by completing the network to realize the benefits more quickly.

    Instead of phasing these extensions to 2031, what I am proposing as Stage 2 is a single LRT project.

    A project that will bring rail west to Bayshore and Baseline… south to Bowesville… and east to Orleans.

    It would all be done together… well in advance of any previous schedule this city has ever seen.

    That means if our federal and provincial partners come to the table with their share of funds, we could have this impressive system up and running within five years of completing the Confederation Line – as early as 2023.

    Like all major municipalities with large transit projects, these are plans we can only undertake together.

    We all know the old saying:

    When you stand still, you fall behind.

    The leading municipalities in this country are ready with clear plans for cost sharing of needed transit improvements.

    Let me be clear, coming together with a strong plan and a united voice is the way we will succeed.

    Together… with our partners Ontario and Canada, we need to get ahead of growth and use transit planning, as so many other cities around the world have done, to develop in a healthy way.

    Together, we can move up light rail an entire generation.

    By completing this, we will add 35 kilometers of new rail and 19 new stations that will improve public transit, attract new customers and contain costs.

    We’ll have a system that can handle the growth instead of struggling with increasingly crowded buses and increasingly divisive budget battles.

    We will have a system that is reliable and on-time because the main spines will be dedicated and freed from competing with traffic.

    We can replace most of our articulated bus fleet with more efficient trains that will be quieter and far less polluting.

    We can get more than 450,000 buses a year off the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway.

    Best of all, our city will be connected with a light rail transit spine from east to west to south.

    As our community ages, it will help to keep our citizens out and about.

    Big celebrations that our capital city hosts, like Canada Day, will have a lot less transportation frustration.

    Beyond connecting our post secondary institutions, as I’ve mentioned, the network will stretch from our fastest growing communities in the east, west and south.

    It will connect six major shopping malls, many hotels from the Delta to the Hampton to the Westin, not to mention our libraries, arts facilities and recreational facilities.

    All connected with an upgraded transit experience—safe, modern, comfortable and accessible light rail—that will help define for the better how we grow and develop as a healthy urban municipality.

    Let’s move forward…

    East, west, south…

    Together.

    And let’s define our own success as a community.

    Thank you.