• New Rideau River crossing to connect Overbrook and Sandy Hill

    Ottawa – Ottawa’s reputation as a walking- and cycling-friendly city got another boost today with the start of construction on a new pedestrian and cycling bridge. Spanning the Rideau River, the new link will connect Donald Street in the east with Strathcona Park and Somerset Street in the west. Mayor Jim Watson was joined by Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of City Council’s Transportation Committee, as well as Councillors Mathieu Fleury and Peter Clark to break ground on the project.

    “Every resident in every corner of the city is starting to see the results of Ottawa on the Move,” said Mayor Watson. “This bridge will connect neighbourhoods, enrich communities on both sides of the Rideau River and provide more options for residents and their families to move about in our growing city.”

    The bridge will connect the neighbourhoods of Overbrook and Vanier with Sandy Hill and the University of Ottawa. The bridge will cut down commuting time for cyclists and pedestrians, creating better access to existing multi-use paths and the nearby services and businesses in adjoining neighbourhoods.

    “When this bridge is completed in the summer of 2016, it will establish stronger ties between communities and a safer connection to the University of Ottawa and the downtown core,” said Chair Egli. “It will also serve to unite existing parks along Rideau River’s eastern and western shores, giving families easy access to greater green space in the heart of the city.”

    For cyclists, this bridge will establish a more comfortable and convenient link to downtown pathways along the Rideau Canal and the Western Parkway as well as the East-West Bikeway. It will also provide a considerably easier route for westbound cyclists who currently contend with a challenging uphill ride across the busy Cummings Bridge on Montreal Road.

    With a budget of $9.2 million, the Somerset-Donald Street Bridge is an Ottawa on the Move project. Ottawa on the Move is about keeping our community and economy moving forward through strategic investments in a number of transportation, water, and sewer projects to build a better city and create jobs.

  • Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge opens, significantly improving connectivity for Riverside South and Barrhaven residents

    Ottawa – Today, the Harper Government, the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa celebrated the opening of the new Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge. This new bridge, which spans the Rideau River between River Road and Prince of Wales Drive, provides new transit, traffic, cycling and pedestrian connections between the Riverside South and Barrhaven communities.

    This 143 metre long bridge carries four general purpose lanes, two auxiliary turning lanes, two dedicated transit lanes, two on-road cycling lanes and sidewalks in each direction. The dedicated transit lanes will provide efficient OC Transpo services as an alternative to the private automobile while on-road cycling lanes and sidewalks will promote active transportation measures.

    The bridge will also contribute to public safety by enhancing emergency response capabilities to both Riverside South and Barrhaven communities.

    “The Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge has been my top priority for constituents in Barrhaven, Manotick, and Riverside South,” said the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, P.C., M.P. Nepean-Carleton. “That is why I helped obtain one-third of the funding needed from the federal government. I am very pleased to celebrate the completion of this long awaited and much needed infrastructure project for the tens of thousands of residents who will benefit from it. Through this project, and others like it, the Harper Government is creating new jobs and stimulating the local economy.”

    John Fraser, MPP for Ottawa South, noted that, “Infrastructure is not about bricks and mortar. It’s about people. We remain committed to improving quality of life and creating new opportunities for prosperity through sustainable long-term investments in infrastructure.”
    “This new bridge will help reduce commute times, facilitate new transit connections and provide a beautiful new piece of architecture for the nation’s capital,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “This is another great example of what can be accomplished when the federal, provincial and municipal governments work together to deliver transportation infrastructure.”
    The total cost of the Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge Project was $50 million. The Federal and Provincial governments are each funding a third of the project’s eligible costs, to a maximum of $16 million each, under the Building Canada Fund. The City of Ottawa is contributing the remaining funding.

  • City of Ottawa maintains Triple-A credit rating for second time in four months

    Ottawa – The City of Ottawa has maintained its “Aaa Stable” credit rating after a recent review by Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s had last affirmed the City’s Triple-A credit rating in April 2014, at which time it rated Ottawa’s financial outlook at the higher end of Canadian municipalities, with a lower-than-average debt burden.

    “This is a reflection of sound financial stewardship by this Council and City staff, and the prudent and respectful use of public money,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We have brought our financial house in order by striking the right balance: keeping taxes and user fees low while continuing to invest in programs and projects that enhance quality of life.”

    In Moody’s April report on the City of Ottawa’s financial outlook, it recognized the City’s strong financial governance, such as “prudent and forward-looking policies and multi-year capital plans” and “conservative debt and investment policies, which limits the city’s exposure to market-related risks.”

    Earlier this month, when Moody’s revised the Province of Ontario’s outlook from “Aa2 Stable” to “Aa2 Negative,” it announced that it would review the credit ratings for certain related organizations in Ontario, including the City of Ottawa.

    Given the very close macroeconomic and financial linkages between the Province and lower-tier governments, Moody’s rating methodology combines an assessment of the credit strength of related organizations, such as cities and universities, with an assessment of the credit strength of the “sovereign” government, in this case Ontario. Moody’s also assesses the degree to which the local government is dependent on assistance from the senior government.

    While Moody’s changed the rating outlooks from stable to negative for five related issuers, it affirmed the ratings and stable outlooks for 14 related issuers, including the City of Ottawa.

    Moody’s says that the creditworthiness of these municipalities, including high dependence on self-generated revenue, strong reserve levels and a track record of managing operating pressures, provides these municipalities with the ability to withstand a potential downgrade of the Province.

    The rating agency noted that several municipalities, including Ottawa, are rated at or above the rating for the Province and that the pressures currently facing the province, notably weak revenue growth and inability to achieve planned expenditure growth restraint, are not expected to negatively impact these municipalities.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Catherine Burns

    July 9, 2014 – Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Katherine Hobbs presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Catherine Burns today for her outstanding contribution to culture in Ottawa through her work as a founder and builder of the traditional-song and contra dance community over the past 25 years.

    As a founder and tireless volunteer with the Old Sod Society and Ottawa Contra Dance, Catherine has been instrumental in building a vibrant community of musicians, singers, callers and dancers who enjoy affordable dances, concerts and workshops year-round.

    Aided by other volunteers, she runs approximately 50 community song-and-dance events a year for the Old Sod Society. She has recently founded a family dance series for parents and children, as well as a monthly community dance series, and provides training for volunteer local callers through the Ottawa Callers’ Collective.

    She has been a volunteer caller for contra dances at Winterlude, the Ottawa Folk Festival, the Grassroots Festival and Westfest, among other community events. She has recently expanded her calling to dances she has designed for local adults with disabilities.

    Contra dance refers to several partnered folk dances and has its origins in English, French and Irish country dance styles of the 17th century. The dance is designed and led by a caller. The music for contra dances includes Irish, Scottish and French-Canadian folk songs. The fiddle is the key instrument, but guitar, mandolin and other acoustic instruments are also used.

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  • Downtown Moves wins recognition with four awards Primary tabs

    Ottawa – Downtown Moves, the plan for how people will move around Ottawa’s downtown core in the future, has won four awards from national, international and regional planning associations.

    “We are building a better city, creating practical transportation links and enhancing the public spaces for our residents and their families, block by block,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “I congratulate the Transportation Committee and Planning and Growth Management staff for their work on this successful project.”

    “We are building an integrated transportation system downtown with strong pedestrian links, good vehicular access, much better cycling facilities and greatly improved street landscapes. Downtown Moves delivered the plan to make this happen and we are implementing it,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of Transportation Committee. “The impact of this plan is City-wide too as the demonstration street designs developed for Downtown Moves were used to help shape the City’s approach to “complete streets” planning for today and the future.”

    The four awards received by Downtown Moves are:

     – The Canadian Institute of Planners 2014 Award for Planning Excellence in sustainable mobility, transportation and infrastructure.

     – The 2014 National Citation Award from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.

     – The Award of Merit for Visions and Master Plans from the 2013 Ottawa Urban Design Awards.

     – The 2013 Merit Award in the International Downtown Association Achievement Awards.

    Downtown Moves was implemented by the Transportation Planning Branch of the Department of Planning and Growth Management. The plan demonstrates how streets can be effectively redesigned and rebuilt once 47,000 commuters are arriving downtown each morning via the Confederation Line light rail in 2018, rather than on the heavy surface bus traffic of today.

    The plan is available at ottawa.ca.

    The first major initiative to come out of the plan is the Queen Street Renewal Project where construction is scheduled to begin this summer.