• Mayor’s City Builder Award – Jean Séguin

    Deputy Mayor Bob Monette and Councillor Stephen Blais presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Jean Séguin today in recognition of his many years of leadership and volunteer contributions in the Vars community.

    From 2006 to 2009, he spearheaded the participation of Vars in the City’s Neighbourhood Planning Initiative pilot project. Many of the programs and projects currently underway in Vars flow from the community plan that was developed during this process.

    As the immediate past president of the Vars Community Association and a tireless booster of his community, Mr. Séguin volunteers his time and considerable diplomatic talents to initiatives including the Marketmobile, the Vars summer youth camp program, the local rink, the community garden, renewal of the Cenotaph war memorial, and the establishment of a community Christmas sing-along and the lighting of the village Christmas tree.

    He works with the Anglican and Catholic parishes, French and English service organizations, funding partners from the private sector and at all levels of government, and any benefactor he can find who is willing to help the community to move forward on its priority projects. While Vars has been literally on the map for 130 years (as of 2016), and Mr. Séguin is working on pulling together a history of the community, he also focuses stakeholders on the great future that the village has ahead of it.

    jeancitybuilder

  • Algonquin College joins U-Pass program, now 71,000 students-strong Primary tabs

    OC Transpo, Algonquin College and Algonquin Students’ Association officials signed a Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) Agreement today. Algonquin College is the fourth local post-secondary institution to adopt the U-Pass, which will make Ottawa’s U-Pass program one of the largest and most successful in Canada with 71,000 participants.

    “We are proud to work with our college and university students to make transit more affordable and convenient,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Through the U-Pass program and investments like light rail transit, student transit will continue to improve in the years ahead.”

    Starting this September, approximately 16,000 eligible students at Algonquin will pay an incidental fee of $192.70 per semester for a U-Pass, compared with $403 (regular routes) or $497 (regular and express) for four months of adult transit passes.

    “We’re pleased to welcome Algonquin students to the U-Pass program, offering huge savings for existing riders,” said Ottawa Transit Commission Chair, Councillor Stephen Blais. “Transit is the convenient, environmentally sustainable way for students to commute, and we hope the U-Pass will attract even more Algonquin students to let OC Transpo do the driving.”

    Algonquin College will be well-served by the Stage 2 light rail transit project, with a stop at Baseline Station. From there, students and other west-end residents will be able to get on the O-Train Confederation Line to travel downtown or as far east as Place d’Orléans. The Stage 2 project includes 30 kilometres of rail and 19 new stations, and will link Ottawa’s three largest post-secondary institutions by rail.

    “Our first priority at Algonquin College is student success,” said Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen. “Providing safe and reliable transportation for our students will enable them to travel to the campus and around the city — one less concern during a busy term. Progressive cities and post-secondary institutions know how important this is.”

    “I would like to thank Algonquin students for making their voices heard and for being patient during this process,” said Algonquin Students’ Association President Christina Miller. “Thanks to your support, U-Pass is finally here!”

    Eligible students at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and St. Paul University already have U-Passes that are active for the fall and spring semesters. In total, this fall, 71,000 local college and university students will receive a U-Pass as part of their incidental student fees.

  • City Council approves 2015 budget

    Ottawa – City Council today approved the 2015 Operating and Capital Budgets, limiting the total residential property tax increase to 2 per cent, while moving ahead with significant city-building projects such as Light Rail Transit, Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    “This budget was designed to ensure Ottawa maintains momentum on the major initiatives already well underway across the region that are helping to enhance our reputation as a progressive, thriving and growing city,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “A new crime prevention strategy and increases to affordable housing are also among the budget’s centrepieces.”

    The 2015 budget promises investment in affordable housing, community facilities and crime prevention, while keeping taxes and user fees affordable. The transit fare increase has been capped at 2.5 per cent and recreation fees will increase by no more than two per cent. The garbage fee remains frozen for a third consecutive year.

    “The 2015 Budget does a good job of balancing competing interests and desires, while ensuring the provision of day-to-day services and important infrastructure,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “I want to thank residents, the Mayor, Councillors and staff for all their input and effort in the development of the budget.”

    Budget 2015 promises key investments that improve Ottawa’s reputation as a liveable city for all residents and businesses:

    A Caring City

    – Fund a strategy for crime prevention and gang activity.
    – Increase funding for maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets.
    – Enhance and increase funding for the School Crossing Guard Program.
    – Deliver funding for commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.
    – Involve the City in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.

    A Sustainable City

    – Support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will see the expansion and improvement of cycling networks and multi-use pathways across the city to make cycling a safe and convenient option for residents.
    – Move the Ottawa River Action Plan forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, putting in place the last elements of funding from federal partners to match investments from the City and Province.
    – Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000 to $1.3 million.

    A Prosperous City

    – Modernize Ottawa’s transit system through Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2).
    – Continue the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture, which is the backbone of the City’s planned light rail network.
    – Prepare for the transition from construction of the Confederation Line to full operations in 2018.
    – Launch the Western Transitway expansion as the City continues to seek funding for Stage 2 of the Light Rail Transit system that will extend to neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south.

    An Affordable City

    – Limit the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase to 6 per cent, as approved in the latest Long Range Financial Plan.
    – Freeze garbage fees for the third consecutive year.
    – Limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service, including increasing bus routes and approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.
    – Reduce 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) City positions, excluding the Ottawa Police Service.

    For more information about the Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2015.

  • Blog: 100 Days

    First of all, I want to thank the residents of Ottawa who have sent me their well-wishes over the past few weeks. It has not been easy for me to be away from City Hall while I recover but the phone calls, letters, emails, Twitter and Facebook messages, and kind words have meant a lot to me.

    Although I have been away, the work of Council continues and I’m happy to note that we have now marked 100 days in office.

    In November, the students of Algonquin College voted to join the OC Transpo U-Pass creating one of the largest and most inclusive U-Pass programs in Canada.

    In December, Council supported two of my governance-related election commitments with the elevation of the Audit Committee to a full standing committee and the creation of the position of Sports Commissioner.

    On these endeavours and others, I have been encouraged by the constructive, collaborative tone around the Council table. Working together, we are keeping life affordable, while investing in key community needs to ensure Ottawa remains the best place to live, raise a family, and grow a business.

    Doing so requires predictability from our tax system and I am proud to have kept my electoral promise of low tax rate changes in the recently passed 2015 budget. This budget ensures our continued financial stability while pushing forward on several significant city-building projects like LRT, the revitalized Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    The top priority for my second term remains our LRT system and two project milestones were reached in these first 100 days: We opened the new pedestrian and cycling bridge near Coventry Rd. and unveiled a model LRT train at the Aberdeen Pavilion. The former will connect Overbrook residents to the coming LRT station at Tremblay while the latter is giving residents a taste of what the future of transit in Ottawa holds in store. I’m happy to report that construction on the Confederation Line remains on time and on budget and that the Environmental Assessments are ongoing for Stage 2.

    Speaking of which, the 100 day Western LRT Working Group that John Baird and I began reported last week that they had agreed upon a route for the Western LRT extension. This is an affordable and pragmatic route that will serve the residents of Ottawa well and enhance access to the Ottawa River. My thanks to the members of the 100 Day Working Group along with Minister Pierre Poilievre for their hard work and commitment to this project.

    Looking ahead, on March 31 the City will host and important public engagement session to hear from residents about a new central library. Later this year, tourism and hospitality stakeholders will gather at City Hall for a Tourism Summit, another one of my election commitments.

    Over the coming months, I am looking forward to working with Council to set the Term of Council priorities. I will advocate for economic development, road safety, and affordable housing to be central in these priorities.

    Our term is off to a great start and I am confident that working together we will build a more liveable, caring, vibrant, and prosperous city over the next four years.

  • WLRT Corridor Recommendation

    I am writing to update you on the work undertaken by the NCC-City Working Group regarding the western light rail transit (LRT) corridor.

    I am pleased to inform you that the Working Group has reached an agreement in principle, which was announced at a joint press conference with the NCC this morning.

    This agreement meets all of the City of Ottawa’s objectives in its unanimously-approved Transportation Master Plan and will remain within our affordability plan for the project. We would also be able to keep our long-standing commitment to the community to protect the Byron Linear Park and Rochester Field while providing even better access to the waterfront.

    Background

    In late November 2014, I met with then-Minister John Baird to discuss our Stage 2 LRT project. At that meeting, we had a very constructive discussion about this important project. We agreed to a 100-day dialogue between the City and the NCC to find a mutually satisfactory solution for the western extension of the Confederation Line between Dominion and Cleary.

    In December, the City of Ottawa and the NCC formed a joint Working Group to address this issue. The City representatives on the Working Group were Transportation Committee Chair Keith Egli, Transit Commission Chair Stephen Blais, Bay Ward Councillor and Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor, and City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

    I want to thank Councillors Egli, Blais, and Taylor for their hard work alongside our City Manager and our partners at the NCC. This was a very intensive review process which was supported by technical and urban planning expertise, and one that led to a historic outcome today.

    I also want to thank Minister Pierre Poilievre for his leadership. He was named Minister Responsible for the NCC during this process and brought the same constructive tone as his predecessor to this important partnership.

    The solution

    The Working Group has recommended a solution that would allow the western LRT extension to be fully buried under realigned Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway lanes between Dominion and Cleary stations. You will be pleased to learn that this solution would remain within the City of Ottawa’s project budget envelope.

    This solution would bring many benefits for the City of Ottawa, the NCC, local residents, and indeed all Canadians:

    – Protection of the Byron Linear Park and Rochester Field;

    – Minimal visual impact on the landscape and experience by users of the corridor

    – Continuous access to the corridor lands and 38% more usable shoreline parkland

    – Improved cycling and pedestrian access via two new crossings under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

    – Retention and enhancement of the mature forest, lands and landscaping elements

    – An eventual reduction of nearly 500,000 bus trips annually on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

    Of course, these highlights are on top of the city-wide benefits of our larger Stage 2 LRT project, which includes 30 kilometres of rail and 19 new stations. We hope to break ground on this world-class project once the Confederation Line is operational in 2018, which will help us deliver reduced commute times, cleaner air, and a stronger economy.

    Into the future, this recommended route would perfectly complement the NCC’s vision to create a new linear park of national significance along the waterfront.

    Moving forward

    Residents will be able to provide public feedback as part of the public outreach activities planned for the Confederation Line west LRT extension Environmental Assessment (EA) process:

    Monday, March 30
    Evening (time to be announced)
    Ottawa City Hall
    Jean Pigott Place

    This will be an open house to review the 100 Day Working Group Solution between Dominion and Cleary Station.

    The NCC will discuss the solution and the results of the public consultation session at its Board of Directors meeting in April.

    The Transportation Committee and Council will have the opportunity to review and discuss the results of the EA processes for all Stage 2 projects, including the Confederation Line west extension in June. The EA report will provide a recommended alignment for each of the corridors based on a technical review and results of the public consultation sessions for these extensions.

    The materials presented today, including a visual of the proposed alignment can be found online at ottawa.ca/stage2.