• Mayor Watson looks ahead to a “Year of Momentum” in 2015 State of the City address

    OTTAWA – At the first City Council meeting of the year today, Mayor Jim Watson provided a look ahead to significant projects and milestones in store for Ottawa in 2015. The annual State of the City address is an opportunity for the Mayor to provide an update on projects and priorities related to the City of Ottawa.

    “2015 will be a year of momentum,” said Mayor Watson. “It’s an exciting time to be in the nation’s capital, with many significant city-building projects and milestones underway or on the horizon.”

    Mayor Watson outlined the continuation and completion of community improvement projects this year, including:

     – Continuation of construction of key Confederation Line features such as the downtown tunnel and Belfast Yards

     – Opening of the Coventry Road pedestrian and cycling bridge in February

     – Continued construction of the Somerset-Donald pedestrian and cycling bridge between Sandy Hill and Vanier

     – Creation of new murals at Highway 417 underpasses at Bank Street, as well as Carling (west of Kirkwood)

     – Beginning construction on the Bayview Innovation Centre, and the expanded Arts Court and Ottawa Art Gallery

     – Opening of Miracle League of Ottawa’s accessible baseball field

    Residents will also have the opportunity to experience several milestone events in the months ahead, such as:

     – A Confederation Line O-Train LRT showcase in February and March at the Aberdeen Pavilion, including a full-sized mock-up of the new Alstom Citadis Spirit train

     – A public engagement meeting on a new central library in March

     – A Tourism Summit that will focus on long-term growth strategies for Ottawa’s tourism industry

     – The Mayor’s Rural Expo will be made a permanent event, following the first two successful editions

     – The FIFA Women’s World Cup at Lansdowne and the Canadian Little League Championships in Barrhaven

    Mayor Watson also shared two significant civic recognition initiatives that will be coming forward in 2015:

     – Awarding of the Key to the City to former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in March

     – Beginning the process to create an appropriate memorial to the victims of the September 2013 bus-train accident

    “I look forward to collaborating closely with Members of Council and the community on these projects and more over the coming months,” said Mayor Watson. “Together, we will build momentum towards a more liveable, caring, vibrant and prosperous city.”

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Margaret Knight

    Mayor Jim Watson and Councillors Rick Chiarelli and Mark Taylor presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Margaret Knight today in recognition of more than 35 years of running free breakfast and lunch programs at the Foster Farm Community Centre, as well as volunteering with several other community charitable organizations.

    Often long before sunrise, five days a week Mrs. Knight is at Foster Farm’s kitchen preparing breakfast for 40 to 45 children and planning two lunches weekly for about 35 adults. Her breakfasts give the children a nourishing, filling start to their day, and her lunches aren’t a simple soup and sandwich – she prepares full meals like turkey or chicken dinners, homemade lasagna and shepherd’s pie, all with vegetables and dessert. If the available funds on any given day don’t stretch far enough, she often buys additional supplies with her own money.

    And her generosity doesn’t stop when she leaves Foster Farm. She’s also an enthusiastic volunteer at the Britannia Woods, Morrison Gardens and Starwood nursing homes and St. Vincent’s Hospital. She assists physically challenged members of the community to get to church on Sundays; she prepares Christmas hampers; and on Fridays, she delivers Meals on Wheels.

    The residents who nominated Mrs. Knight say her welcoming and caring nature contribute at least as much to the community as her volunteer work. She not only provides meals, she provides companionship. She loves to introduce people who are alone to others, and she creates a positive atmosphere of sharing and encouragement.

    margaretknightcb

  • State of the City 2015 – Speech

    Good morning.

    I want to wish all Members of Council a very Happy New Year. I hope you had a restful Christmas and holiday season.

    Because – as you know – we have a very busy year ahead of us.

    Much of that work will begin next week as we table our first draft budget of the term.

    I want to thank all Members of Council for providing their input into this year’s budget process.

    I have appreciated hearing first-hand the priorities you have for your ward, and your areas of interest as we work together over the next four years.

    I also want to thank the public for providing their ideas, whether it is directly to their ward councillor or to my office through the consultation process.

    My friends, 2015 will be a year of momentum.

    By this, I mean that we will build on the momentum started in the last few years…

    And we will continue to focus our energies towards building an even better city.

    Let me give you a few examples by looking back at our most recent accomplishments.

    City Council unanimously approved the Stage 2 LRT project and Transportation Master Plan.

    We decided to move forward with Arts Court and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    And we continued work on key features of the Confederation Line… shaping the future of Ottawa’s transportation system.

    Over that same time, we saw the opening of several significant investments in our city’s quality of life.

    This includes big mobility improvements such as…

    The Vimy Memorial Bridge in Councillor Qaqish’s ward…

    And the Airport Parkway Bridge in Councillor Deans and Brockington’s wards…

    We’ve added new community space in our fastest growing areas, including:

    The Richcraft Sensplex East in Councillor Tierney’s ward…

    The Francois Dupuis Pool in Councillors Blais’s ward…

    The Richcraft Recreation Complex in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward…

    The Minto Recreation Complex in Councillor Harder’s ward…

    The new Greely library in Councillor Darouze’s ward…

    And the expansion of the Goulbourn Recreation Centre in Councillor Qadri’s ward.

    In Councillor Chernushenko’s ward, we can’t forget the beautiful new Lansdowne Park… a magnificent improvement being enjoyed by residents and visitors from all over.

    Looking ahead… 2015 will have no shortage of cranes and bulldozers.

    Signs of momentum are all around us.

    I think you will be able to get a sense of this at our upcoming LRT showcase at Lansdowne Park, taking place in February and March.

    Throughout our history, Lansdowne Park and the Aberdeen Pavilion were witness to significant moments in our country’s and our city’s history.

    Many of these moments had to do with new products and innovations.

    For example, in 1877, Ottawa’s Thomas Ahearn gave the first demonstration of a telephone at Lansdowne Park.

    In 1892, he exhibited a series of new electrical equipment such as an early electric oven and electric water heaters.

    Today, these are commonplace items.

    But at the time, these were life-changing innovations that made the world a better place.

    And tomorrow, another great innovation will be unveiled at the Aberdeen… the world-class Alstom Citadis Spirit train.

    Ottawa residents have heard about this LRT project for more than a decade.

    Only recently, they began to see progress at construction sites in several locations in the city.

    Tomorrow, it becomes truly tangible.

    You will be able to not only SEE the train, but FEEL the train.

    You will be able to sit inside, look out the windows, and get your first experience of the Confederation Line.

    This will be a turning point for LRT in Ottawa, as thousands of people visit the train over the coming weeks.

    Residents and visitors will be able to visit the LRT showcase starting Friday, and it will be open every day from 8 am to 8 pm.

    And I’m so excited that we will be able to share this experience with the public.

    Our vision for light rail has much to do with momentum.

    When we inaugurate the Confederation Line in 2018, we want to turn around and pick up the shovel to break ground on the Stage 2 LRT project.

    As we continue with the Environmental Assessments for the project this year, we will continue to improve our plan to extend LRT farther east, west and south.

    Working with our Transportation Chair, Councillor Egli, we are moving forward with this city-transforming project.

    Ottawa deserves a world-class transportation system like this one, and I would argue that it is long overdue.

    Think about it for a moment.

    When you look at the world’s OTHER G7 capital cities…

    Paris, Berlin, Rome, Toyko, London, and Washington…

    Ottawa has the distinction of being the only one that has yet to build a significant rapid rail system for its commuters and visitors.

    Even domestically, Ottawa is still catching up.

    Over the last 10 years we have spent debating and refining the Confederation Line, Calgary and Vancouver opened a combined 42 kilometres of new rapid transit lines.

    Now, Ottawa has momentum.

    And together, we are delivering better transportation for the capital city of the greatest country in the world.

    My friends…

    When you look at what’s to come over the next 12 months, you get the sense that Ottawa is on the cusp of something special.

    There has never been a more exciting time to be in the nation’s capital.

    Together, we are building new institutions that will shape and define our city for generations to come.

    This year, construction will move forward on two major facilities: the new Arts Court and Bayview Innovation Centre.

    Located in the wards of Councillors Fleury and Leiper, these will be truly regional facilities that will be enjoyed by residents across the city.

    With these, we will support and celebrate our city’s most talented creators.

    They will be unique community gathering places where we can nurture Ottawa innovation.

    On the canvass or on the drawing board… in the theatre or in the marketplace…

    Our artists and entrepreneurs tell the story of Ottawa we all know and love.

    A city that is dynamic, progressive and capable of great things.

    We need to create places that are worthy of our city’s talent, ambition and potential.

    In 2015, we will embark on a new project that will do many of the same things: A new central library.

    With the right plan and the right partnership, I believe we can deliver a truly world-class facility for the nation’s capital.

    This will be a complex project that we want to do right.

    As a first step, Councillor Tim Tierney and I, along with the library board, will host a public engagement meeting in March of this year.

    We will bring together the community, as a first step, to begin this important conversation.

    What features does it need?

    What opportunities can it bring?

    How can it build on our strengths?

    This will be one of several community engagement opportunities as we take these steps forward as a city.

    I want this process to represent everything our new library should be: Open, collaborative and dynamic.

    I’m pleased to also announce today that we will make the Mayor’s Rural Expo a permanent event.

    Working with Councillor Moffatt, Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, we will work to make this the best year yet.

    We launched this event two years ago, which seeks to bridge the rural-urban divide by showcasing the outstanding people and products of our rural areas.

    And we do so in conjunction with Food Aid Day, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.

    City Hall will also host a Tourism Summit in 2015.

    The purpose of this summit will be to develop long-term growth strategies for our city’s third-largest industry.

    We know 2017 will be a banner year.

    But how do we avoid the “2017 hangover” in 2018 and beyond?

    As the private sector builds more hotels… and our event organizers host larger events… how do we ensure our tourism industry can continue to attract large numbers?

    In 2015, we’ll also continue to roll out our Ottawa 2017 brand across the city in order to build local momentum.

    Under the leadership of our new 2017 Co-Chairs, Councillors Fleury and Cloutier, we will continue to raise awareness and excitement among our residents and visitors.

    Ottawa 2017 has established a strong presence at the Ottawa Train Station in recent months, and you will see similar signage go up at the airport, city streets and local businesses.

    This will also include an exciting expansion of our 417 underpass mural program.

    This year, we’re seeking MTO approval to create murals at two new locations under the 417:

    At Bank Street between Councillor McKenney and Councillor Chernushenko’s wards…

    And at Carling, west of Kirkwood, between Councillor Leiper and Councillor Brockington’s wards.

    As we saw from the first set of murals this past year, this program provides us with an easy way to brighten up our neighbourhoods.

    We’ll build momentum towards building a more liveable city this year as well.

    We will open a pedestrian and cycling bridge over the 417 near Coventry Road in just a few weeks.

    This will connect Councillor Cloutier’s ward with Councillor Nussbaum’s ward.

    Councillor Fleury will be happy to see construction continue on a much-needed bridge over the Rideau River to connect Somerset and Donald Streets.

    It will open next year, providing an important east-west connection to existing active transportation infrastructure.

    These two bridges I’ve mentioned will close gaps in our transportation network.

    They’re also how we’ll make walking and cycling safer, more convenient options.

    Families in West Carleton will see the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre expansion open later this year.

    Councillor El-Chantiry and the community have worked hard on this project, which will see new library space, a multi-use room and a fitness room added.

    We make community improvements like these… we will make environmental investments as well.

    The City of Ottawa is proud to partner with Ecology Ottawa on its “Tree Ottawa” project over the coming years.

    Together with the community, we will plant 1 million trees in time for 2017.

    I think this will be a wonderful way for our community to work together… and pass along the gift of cleaner air and better tree cover to the next generation.

    Whether it is on the environment or other on issues, we can do more when we work together.

    A great example of this has been the strong collaboration we are seeing on addressing guns and gangs in our city.

    The Ottawa Police Service has been working with Crime Prevention Ottawa and other community groups to take action.

    I’d also like to thank Councillors Chiarelli and Taylor for bringing together residents in their wards to speak openly and honestly about the challenges we face as a city.

    We all have a role to play, and the City will continue to show leadership on this file in the months ahead.

    Also in 2015, I look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the City of Gatineau.

    I have been working more closely with the Mayor of Gatineau, Maxime Pedneau-Jobin, than ever before.

    We attended each other’s inauguration ceremonies and together placed a wreath at the War Memorial this past Remembrance Day.

    In 2015, we’ll continue to collaborate on issues of mutual interest including transportation and transit between and within our two great cities.

    I will be meeting with Mayor Pedneau-Jobin again in Gatineau in the first half of 2015 to continue strengthening our partnership.

    2015 will be a big year for baseball and other sports.

    Our CanAm baseball team will take the field at the Ottawa Baseball Stadium, thanks to the support of Members of Council such as Councillor Monette.

    We look forward to cheering on our Ottawa Champions during the warmer weather in May.

    The Miracle League of Ottawa’s fully accessible baseball field will also be completed this year in the ward of Councillor Mitic, our Sports Commissioner.

    We’re very proud that Canada’s second fully accessible baseball facility will open for children and young adults with special needs.

    Of course, Ottawa will host the Canadian Little League Championships this summer in Councillor Harder’s ward.

    This will be yet another event to showcase our city to families from across the country.

    On an even larger scale, we can’t forget the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming to Lansdowne in June.

    This will give Ottawa a priceless international audience, as we host some of the best soccer players in the world.

    This exposure is so important for our city’s reputation and the long-term growth of our economy.

    We remain optimistic in on our outlook for economic growth for the coming year.

    In December, the region’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, still below the national rate of 6.6 percent.

    But we are reminded by the departure of retailers such as Target that no city is immune to bumps along the road.

    We must also remember that our population is growing faster than the national average, and with it comes the added pressure of ensuring there are good jobs and a high quality of life.

    I believe we are on the right track.

    Invest Ottawa is continuing to do great work as it approaches its third anniversary.

    Our entrepreneurs and startups are being given the support they need to prosper and grow.

    Our Economic Development and Innovation department will renew its strategy in 2015.

    It will begin to introduce new tools and programs, to ensure City Hall can be a true partner with the private sector in its mission to create jobs and grow our economy.

    To reflect on two briefly…

    We will soon create a way for local businesses to pilot their technologies or products in municipal operations.

    This program was inspired from an inquiry raised by Councillor Hubley during the last term of Council and I think it is a great one.

    Soon our Economic Development department will act as the point of contact for any local startup business that wishes to pilot new technologies.

    From there, they will choose a select number of innovations annually.

    If we can help a business refine a technology before it moves into mass production, by acting as a test case, I think we should carefully consider it.

    The benefit to the City can include reduced costs and an innovative way of delivering services.

    The benefit to our local entrepreneurs could include the ability to test and refine a technology before it goes to market.

    I think this will be a win-win.

    A second new economic initiative will have to do with taking a serious approach to attracting and retaining talent.

    In 2015, we will begin to do this by developing a strategy and talent attraction toolkit

    This will allow us to market our city more clearly as a great place to live and do business.

    We need to remember that we’re competing against other cities for the best and the brightest.

    Why should a family choose to come to Ottawa instead of Toronto, Montreal or Calgary?

    How do we appeal to the interests of the most highly coveted, highly educated worker, as well as their spouse and children?

    Ottawa is very good at tourism marketing – the kind of messaging that will attract someone for a long weekend.

    But THIS kind of message will be focused on attracting people for a lifetime.

    Ottawa has a great story to tell, but I think we need to do a better job of telling that story.

    I want to close my remarks by sharing two significant civic projects coming up in 2015.

    The first has to do with the terrible bus-train crash of 2013.

    In partnership with Councillor Harder, we will begin the process of creating an appropriate memorial for the six neighbours we lost on that fateful September day.

    We will approach this project carefully and respectfully, as we understand that emotions are still very raw.

    The second civic recognition has to do with Daniel Alfredsson, former Captain of our Ottawa Senators.

    As you know, Daniel retired last month after 18 years in the NHL.

    On the ice, he was our captain.

    In the community, he was a leader.

    From the Ottawa Senators Foundations, to the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, he devoted his time and his energy to making our city a better place.

    He embraced Ottawa the same way that we embraced him.

    And for that…

    Today, I’m pleased to announce that Daniel has accepted my offer to receive the Key to the City in a ceremony in March.

    This is our city’s highest civic honour, and one that he has earned for everything he has done for Ottawa.

    Colleagues…

    2015 will bring us challenges and projects both big and small…

    The effects of which will define our city for generations to come.

    I look forward to collaborating closely with you on these important steps over the year to come.

    And together, we will build momentum towards a more livable, caring, vibrant and prosperous city.

    Thank you.

  • West Ottawa Board of Trade – Mayor's Breakfast 2015

    Thank you very much, Rosemary / Greg.

    My thanks to the West Ottawa Board of Trade, your Chair, Greg Weatherdon, and your Executive Director, Rosemary Leu, for inviting me to join you this morning.

    It is wonderful to see many familiar faces here today.

    First off, I would like to extend my best wishes for the New Year to all of you and your families.

    I hope the holidays provided opportunities to spend time with friends and family, and re-energize for the year ahead.

    I also wanted to extend my congratulations on your newly amalgamated Board of Trade.

    Bringing together the old West Ottawa Board of Trade and the Greater Nepean Chamber of Commerce will be a great help to businesses that serve the Nepean, Kanata, Goulbourn and West Carleton communities.

    Business organizations like the West Ottawa Board of Trade are tremendously important to our city.

    Right now, our city is looking to diversify our economy, and part of this is lending support to our local businesses and entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

    We know that local business and entrepreneurs are critical to our economy.

    And we want them to succeed.

    As the West Ottawa Board of Trade heads into a new year and a new era for your organization, I encourage you to continue to keep up the great work, and strive to continue to build on this success.

    Speaking of success, 2014 was a busy, yet successful year for the City of Ottawa.

    I was proud to have been re-elected as Mayor of Ottawa, to lead a Council that is a good mix of veteran and new members and who I am looking forward to working with over the next four years.

    One of our first tasks as the new City Council will be the 2015 Budget.

    As was the case over the last four years, we are aiming to continue to bring stability and predictability to the City’s finances.

    I kept my promise not to raise taxes above 2.5 per cent per year over the past four years.

    In fact in 2014 we brought in the lowest tax rate in 7 years.

    And I intend to keep my promise not to raise them above 2.0 per cent per year for the coming four years.

    Some have said these, or any, increases are too much and that a tax freeze or a tax rate cut are better.

    This is easy to say…but not very realistic in practice.

    You would need to cut services or put off key projects for years or even decades.

    Look at the major projects completed or underway in the City:

    – LRT Confederation Line and the expansion of the O-Train

    – Major infrastructure renewal through Ottawa on the Move

    – New fire stations in Stitsville and Barrhaven

    – New recreation facilities like the Minto Recreation Centre – Barrhaven, or the Richcraft Recreation Complex here in Kanata, or a second ice surface at the Goulbourn Recreation Centre.

    With frozen or cut taxes would come choosing which of these not to pursue.

    And while slashed taxes sound good in principle, you can’t ignore the fact that we’re a growing city, with growing needs.

    We are a big city and it is critical that we make the necessary investments in our city’s future while providing services in the present.

    Services like police, fire, paramedics, libraries, parks and many more every day.

    All of these things cost money.

    While you can’t have everything you want, you have to find the right balance.

    And I think we have done a good job at finding this balance.

    We are committed to a reasonable tax rate increase of no more than two per cent per year.

    This will keep us fiscally disciplined, while allowing for the necessary investments in our City’s future.

    The 2015 draft operating and capital budgets will be tabled at a special meeting of City Council on February 4.

    There is plenty of opportunity for residents to participate in the budget process.

    We have launched an online pre-budget public consultation – residents can provide their input by sending an email to budget-2015-at-ottawa-dot-c-a.

    You can also send us your opinions through Twitter by using the hashtag #ottbudget.

    If you would rather give us your input in person, four regional public consultations will take place, with the two of most interest to you here today being:

    – South – Wednesday, February 11, 7 to 9 p.m., Nepean Sportsplex, Hall A, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue, Nepean

    – West – February 10, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata

    In addition, all Standing Committees of Council, along with the Transit Commission, the Police Services Board, the Library Board, and the Board of Public Health will hold meetings to consider the 2015 draft budget for their respective areas and to listen to public delegations on the budget.

    So, I encourage you to get involved with the budget process, as we work towards Council’s consideration of the final budget recommendations at its meeting on March 11.

    Another thing that I am excited to talk to you about today is the excellent work that is coming out of Invest Ottawa.

    The strides Invest Ottawa has made in three short years are incredible.

    The organization has become such a critical part of our business community that during the recent election campaign I committed to increase funding to the organization by $370,000 each year.

    This increased funding will help Invest Ottawa bring even more significant economic benefits to our city.

    I’m pleased that we have a Kanata businessperson, David Ritonja from Alcaltel as the Chair of the Board.

    Just last week, myself, along with some of my Council colleagues, had the opportunity to visit the Invest Ottawa offices to get a first-hand look at some of the initiatives they’re currently working on.

    While there, we heard about some of Invest Ottawa’s highlights over the past three years:

    – More than 2,250 jobs facilitated

    – More than $213 million in investments attracted by start-up portfolio

    – More than $200 million in investments attracted to Ottawa (including foreign direct investment)

    – Helped more than 260 companies grow globally

    – Welcomed more than 50 visiting foreign delegations to Ottawa.

    The key point is that we at the City need to do everything we can to diversify and strengthen our local economy.

    We will always have a strong public service presence from three levels of government, but the effect of Federal job cuts are very real and it’s up to us to take the initiative to pick up the slack.

    One of the reasons I enjoy speaking to groups like yours is for this very reason.

    Local business is vitally important to our communities and our city as a whole.

    We want – and need – our local businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.

    And we want the City to be seen as rolling out the red carpet, and not the red tape.

    The success of Invest Ottawa makes me hopeful that we are on our way to achieving this goal.

    Together, we are creating new jobs.

    We are attracting investments.

    We are supporting local business, through mentorship, workshops and partnerships.

    It feels like every week I’m being invited to the opening of a new business, and, very often, these groups have been helped by Invest Ottawa.

    A great example of this is Rumidifier.

    Jeri Rodrigs, from Kanata, had an idea for an eco-friendly humidifier.

    He took that idea to Invest Ottawa who helped him turn it into a business plan.

    And now he manufactures the Rumidifier in Stitsville.

    It has become a great retail success.

    It’s a great “made in Ottawa” story.

    The Rumidifier is now sold at Home Hardware, Costco, and Home Depot among others, and its sales continue to grow.

    When I see products like this and visit these great local businesses, I’m proud of our local economy and reminded that our city possesses the most innovative and talented individuals in the country.

    One of the most exciting projects – and one that involves Invest Ottawa –– is the creation of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    The Centre will be a hub for innovation, collaboration and creativity, helping to support and nurture local start-ups so that they grow and succeed.

    The Centre will also help us create jobs, as well as attract more investment, including foreign investment, to our city.

    The City is appreciative of the funding that the Province of Ontario has committed to this project, as well the support demonstrated by the local business community;

    This includes members of the Centre’s Board of Directors and the Chair, Steve West, President of Nordion from right here in Kanata.

    I look forward to seeing this initiative move forward this year.

    As we continue to grow our economy, we need to ensure that our city and its infrastructure can handle this growth.

    That’s why we have invested a record amount of money in our infrastructure through the Ottawa on the Move project.

    I’m sure here in the city’s west-end, you have seen the evidence of Ottawa on the Move.

    Through this program, we have invested $340 million in road, sidewalk, cycling, sewer and watermain infrastructure.

    This investment has resulted in a lot of construction, which, I understand, can be frustrating at times.

    However, this is the definition of short-term pain for long-term gain.

    We’ve made improvements to:

    – Carling Avenue,

    – Baseline Road,

    – Woodroffe Avenue

    – Richmond Road.

    We’ve renewed roads like:

    – Huntmar Drive

    – Bayshore Drive

    – Eagleson Road

    And we’ve completed a significant number of sidewalk, bridge, cycling and watermain improvements.

    These efforts will help bring our infrastructure and entire transportation system up to the level needed before the opening of the Confederation Line.

    We are making great progress on the Confederation Line – a project that will transform the way people move around our city.

    This is important to our city in so many ways – from an economic standpoint…from a congestion standpoint…from a tourism standpoint.

    I mention tourism here because Ottawa is currently preparing to host one of the most significant events it has ever seen – the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

    Our Ottawa 2017 Task Force continues to build momentum, ensuring Ottawa will be THE place to be to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

    We expect a 20 per cent increase in tourism in 2017.

    An additional 1.7 million guests will be a huge boost for the hospitality and retail sectors.

    However, Ottawa is much bigger than Parliament Hill, and our vision extends far beyond the downtown core.

    We are planning events for the whole city over the course of the entire year, from large international events to local community-driven celebrations and legacy initiatives that will bring enduring benefit to our communities.

    Our most recent announcement encapsulates all of these.

    I announced in November that Ottawa will host the 2017 Canadian Videogame Awards.

    In addition to the awards gala, which will take place at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, we are planning a videogame competition that will provide an immersive and interactive experience for residents across the city.

    Semi-final and final games will even be broadcast onto the exterior walls of several large buildings across the city.

    I think this is a novel concept that will really appeal to our younger residents.

    This 5-7 day event will bring in more than

    $1 million for the local economy.

    However, it will do much more than that.

    It will show Canadian families that Ottawa is dynamic and youth friendly, and it will showcase Ottawa as a centre of excellence for software development.

    You will hear more announcements like this in the year ahead.

    So, stayed tuned…

    We have consulted with hundreds of organizations and community leaders about the types of activities that will make 2017 the event of a generation.

    We are currently engaged with our federal and provincial partners and the private sector to secure funding and finalizing details on several big announcements.

    As these roll out, I think many residents will opt to take stay-cations in 2017.

    There will just be so much to see and do right here at home.

    With only 23 months to go, now is the time that you should be actively planning how you will leverage 2017 to grow your business and build your community.

    And if your industry has an event that we could bring to Ottawa, let us know.

    Just email ottawa2017@ ottawa-dot-c-a.

    Together, we will invite the world to experience Ottawa like never before and celebrate Canada’s 150th like nowhere else.

    And we will deliver a celebration that brings lasting benefit to our city.

    So, there’s no question that it is an exciting time to live in Ottawa.

    We have a lot to look forward to both this year and in the coming years – the Confederation Line, 2017 celebrations, the Innovation Centre the FIFA Women’s World Cup and increased support for our local businesses and entrepreneurs.

    We are also a growing city, as those of you here in the west end know well.

    With this growth comes the need to provide good, reliable services across the entire city, and, as Mayor, along with my Council colleagues, we are honoured to serve this great community in this exciting time.

    Residents were clear in the election that they want a Council that works well together to find creative solutions to our city’s challenges.

    We have done a good job of this over the past four years, and will continue to do so going forward.

    Let me conclude by thanking you – the men and women of Ottawa’s west end business communities – for the long hours and risk you take each and every day to keep your businesses going, and for employing the hundreds of citizens you do.

    I wish you all the very best in 2015, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Thank you.