• Budget 2014 approved with the lowest tax change in seven years

    Ottawa – City Council has approved the Budget for 2014 that delivers a 1.9 per cent tax change – the lowest change in seven years, and below the 2 per cent cap directed by City Council on May 8, 2013. The budget respects taxpayers’ expectations that its municipal government live within its means, improve service delivery and invest strategically in initiatives that will help shape the community’s future.
    “The approval of Budget 2014 is a testament to the dedication of Council and staff to be both prudent and strategic with our financial resources,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Ottawa is continuing to grow and it is imperative that we spend wisely, with both short- and long-term goals in mind.”
    Budget 2014 continues the freeze on recreation fees and the Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets, and garbage fees will remain at the same level as in the previous year. As well, the City will reduce its workforce for the third straight year, with the removal of 55 Full-Time Equivalent positions. In addition, no new debt will be added to the capital budget in 2014.
    “The numbers laid out in this budget are directly linked to Council’s priorities,” said City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick. “It is a responsible fiscal plan that considers present day needs of Ottawa residents and sets a strong foundation for Ottawa’s future.”
    Highlights of Budget 2014 include:
     – 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 apply for a number of licenses and permits online;
     – Complete the final year of the $340 million Ottawa-on-the-Move 3-year infrastructure program, including   $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks;
     – Open the new Lansdowne for the return of CFL football and provide $2 million in funding for the implementation of programming and part-year operations;
     – Continue widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line;
     – Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections;
     – Invest $750,000 to implement and 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;
     – Support 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 and upgrade 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 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 $2.5 million for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment for firefighters;
     – Replace defibrillators used by frontline 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 existing City buildings and parks, and;
     – Increase investment in Economic Development by $350,000 to attract more events and visitors.
    For more information about Budget 2014, visit ottawa.ca.


  • City Council approves Arts Court redevelopment and Ottawa Art Gallery expansion

    Ottawa – City Council today approved the Arts Court redevelopment and the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) expansion, marking the culmination of a longstanding vision for a municipal arts centre for the visual, performing, literary and media arts and for the revitalization of Ottawa’s downtown.

    The $34-million capital 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.

    The project will be financed with no new borrowing and without incurring any new debt.
    The City will now initiate the procurement process for the design and build phase of the facility and for the sale of private sector tower development rights.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Guy Robitaille

    Mayor Jim Watson and Alta Vista Ward Councillor Peter Hume today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Guy Robitaille for a lifetime of community service and service to his country, which began with his valorous leadership in battle while very seriously wounded, in Sicily in July 1943.

    Guy Robitaille, 93, was born in Lévis-Lauzon, Québec, in 1920. He and his seven siblings were orphaned in 1936, and soon after, at age 16, he joined the army and was transferred into Québec’s Royal 22e Régiment, the Van Doos.

    He became an officer in 1941 and was sent to the battlefields of WWII in July 1942, just after marrying his childhood sweetheart Annie Fox.

    In July 1943, as he led three platoons up Santa Maria hill in central Sicily, he was hit three times with bullets and shrapnel, but continued to command his troops as they over-ran four German defensive positions near the summit. He was awarded the Military Cross for Bravery. The citation that accompanied the medal reads: “for bravery, courage and leadership in battle”.

    After five operations and a year of recovery in various hospitals, he returned to service in the army. After duty in France, Belgium, Kansas, Washington D.C. and Montréal, he was posted to Ottawa, He and Annie bought a house on Bonnie Crescent in Ottawa’s west end, where they raised two daughters and a son. He retired from the Forces in 1960 and joined the federal civil service, working for the Official Languages Commissioner.

    After retiring from the civil service in 1971 at age 65, he became a much-loved volunteer at a daycare for pre-schoolers in Copeland Park.

    He moved to the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Care Centre in 2010, where he is President of the Veterans’ Council. He delivers newspapers to fellow residents and helps wherever he can. The children from the Copeland Park daycare still visit him at the Perley and Rideau Centre. His wife of almost 70 years, Annie, passed away in March 2012.