• Motion to introduce an equitable single fare transit option

    On October 4, 2016, Councillor Stephen Blais, Chair of the Transit Commission, and I announced the creation of a new EquiPass, to help create a more affordable city for all residents of Ottawa.

    On March 10, 2017, OC Transpo launched the EquiPass – priced at $57 per month – a 50 per cent discount from the regular adult monthly pass.  Since the EquiPass was launched in March, over 2,300 eligible residents have applied and been approved for the EquiPass.

    Today, we are calling on the Transit Commission to work closely with OC Transpo to create an equitable single fare option, as part of the 2018 budget, for residents and families who meet the low income threshold, as defined by Statistics Canada.

    In consultation with stakeholders, and given the early success in the implementation of the EquiPass, we feel providing a single fare option is the next logical step in the evolution of the EquiPass. These changes will help us reach ‎our goal of expanding inclusive and equitable fares for eligible Ottawa residents.

    We are proposing that the new single fare – to be called the “EquiFare” or “EquiTarif” – be funded through the 2018 Budget process. We are asking the Transit Commission to work with OC Transpo on an equitable single fare for implementation in 2018.

    Our goal is to continue to show that we can and will balance the competing demands of being an affordable city and a caring city.

    To this end, Councillor Blais will introduce a motion at Transit Commission on Wednesday directing staff to further develop this program and to bring forward a recommendation to be considered as part of the 2018 budget process

    Sincerely,

    Jim Watson                                                               Stephen Blais
    Mayor, City of Ottawa                                             Councillor, Cumberland Ward

  • Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose

    Province to Introduce Bill to Help Ensure Safe Access to Women’s Health Clinics

    Ontario is taking steps to help protect women who are seeking reproductive health care.

    In fall 2017, the province plans to introduce a bill that would, if passed, create “safe access zones” at specified health care facilities that offer women’s reproductive services. The zones would help ensure the safety and privacy of women, visitors and health care workers travelling to and from these facilities.

    Over the coming months, Ontario will consult with health care, legal and advocacy groups to develop details of the new law.

    Quick Facts

    • Both British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador have legislation in place that restricts protest activities around women’s health care facilities to help keep patients and staff safe.
    • In Ontario, there are currently several court injunctions in place to protect the safety and privacy of women and health care professionals by restricting protest activities in and around specific locations in the province.
    • Abortion is funded in Ontario as an insured service under the Health Insurance Act.

    Additional Resources

    Quotes

    “Every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own heath care – and they deserve to do so freely, and without fear. That’s why our government is taking steps to introduce a bill that would help give women and their health care providers safe and reliable access to women’s health care facilities.”
    Yasir Naqvi
    Attorney General

    “For many years, people seeking reproductive services at clinics across Ontario have been subjected to escalating hostility and aggression — adding tremendous stress to what may be an already difficult time in their lives. I welcome any government action that could give peace of mind to these folks and the people who care for them.”
    Catherine Macnab
    Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Ottawa

    Click here to read the complete Release.

  • The Very Reverend Father Ghattas Hajal receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson, River Ward Councillor Riley Brockington, and Gloucester-South Nepean Ward Councillor Michael Qaqish presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award at City Council today to the Very Reverend Father Ghattas Hajal, the Dean and Pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral. Father Ghattas has served at the Holy Altar for 40 years and is recognized as a City Builder for enriching the life of the Cathedral and its faithful with his pastoral experience and leadership.

    Father Ghattas was born in Lebanon and ordained to the Holy Priesthood on the Great Feast of Pentecost, May 27, 1977. In 1990, he and his family departed Lebanon to build a new life in Canada. He established Saint Mary’s Church in Montreal where he was their first priest in charge. In 1992, Father Ghattas assumed the pastorate of Saint Elias Cathedral in Ottawa. Under his leadership, the membership increased significantly to 1,800, the new church was completed, and the mortgage paid off. In addition to his pastorship, Father Ghattas holds other leadership positions in the Orthodox Church, namely: Dean of Canadian Deanery of the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada, and Upstate New York, President of the Eastern Orthodox Clergy Association of Ottawa, Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Ignatius of Antioch for the Diocese of Ottawa, Eastern Canada, and Upstate New York, Chaplain of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship of Carleton University, and Member of the Interfaith Steering Committee of Ottawa.

    Father Ghattas is an active and outspoken pillar in the Ottawa Lebanese community. His passion for his Orthodox faith and Lebanese heritage are a beacon that guide the entire Lebanese community in Ottawa, not just his parishioners. Under his guidance, the Ottawa Lebanese Festival, chaired by George Hanna, has provided thousands of attendees with an opportunity to experience a glimpse into Lebanese culture and the Orthodox Cathedral. Father Ghattas always found joy in dancing, and every July at the opening ceremony of the Ottawa Lebanese Festival, he proudly and patriotically dances carrying the Lebanese flag. His impact on the Lebanese community, and all that encounter him has been extremely positive.

     

  • Mayor’s Rural Expo and Food Aid BBQ

    June is fast approaching, and the annual Food Aid BBQ and Mayor’s Rural Expo is right around the corner, taking place on Friday June 2 at City Hall. This year’s event will be special, as it is included as one of the FCM conference tour stops. We anticipate up to 100 municipal leaders from across the country to attend. I look forward to this unique day, which provides an opportunity to showcase all that rural Ottawa has to offer in a downtown setting.

    The event is sponsored by Bell Media (CTV, 580 CFRA and Ottawa’s New Country 94). Vendors selling and promoting rural goods and services will be on site starting at 10 a.m. The Ottawa Food Bank’s BBQ lunch, serving THE WORKS burgers will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at a cost of $10. The celebrity milking contest will begin at 12:15 p.m. and Southbound Boots, a local Ottawa band, will be performing live over the lunch hour.

    All lunch proceeds are donated to the Ottawa Food Bank for the purchase of local beef for those in need in our community. I hope to see you all there!

  • Giving Communities a Stronger Voice In Development

    Ontario to Overhaul Land Use Planning Appeals System

    Ontario is taking action to overhaul the province’s land use planning appeals system to give communities a stronger voice and ensure people have access to faster, fairer and more affordable hearings.

    In the coming weeks, legislation will be introduced to create the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, which would, if passed, replace the Ontario Municipal Board. The new tribunal would be mandated to give greater weight to the decisions of local communities, while ensuring that development and growth occurs in a way that is good for Ontario, including Ottawa, and its future.  This would be achieved by eliminating lengthy and costly “de novo” hearings for the majority of planning appeals. The term “de novo” has been used to describe how the Ontario Municipal Board deals with appeals of municipal land use planning decisions, by considering the same issue that was before the municipality as though no previous decision had been made.

    Ontario would also make planning appeals more accessible to the public by creating the Local Planning Appeal Support Centre, a new agency that would provide free information and support, which may include representation at the tribunal for citizens who want to participate in the appeal process.

    The new legislation would include additional measures to transform Ontario’s land use planning appeals system, including:

    • Exempting a broader range of major land use planning decisions from appeal, including new Official Plans, major Official Plan updates and detailed plans to support growth in major transit areas.
    • Establishing a mandatory case conference for complex hearings to encourage early settlements, which would help reduce the time and cost of appeals and create a less adversarial system.

    The proposed changes follow extensive public consultations, beginning with the release of a consultation paper in October 2016. The government received more than 1,100 written submissions and held 12 town hall meetings across the province that were attended by more than 700 people.

    Improving the land use planning system is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

     QUOTES

    “We want to ensure the land use planning system is working effectively for everyone. Our proposals would empower communities and municipalities to better determine how their neighbourhoods develop in the future.”
    — Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs

    “Land use planning directly impacts Ontario families and their communities. And so, it is important that residents feel empowered and supported in the decision making process. We want to make sure that the voices of Ontarians are heard by all levels of government and that is why we will soon introduce reforms that would put people and communities first.”
    — Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario

    “Land use planning is an important tool for the sustainable long-term growth of our city. We’re pleased to see the province of Ontario take action to ensure that the land use planning appeals system is more efficient and supportive for residents. We look forward to reviewing the proposed legislation to help ensure timely and balanced hearing outcomes in Ottawa.”
    — Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

     

    QUICK FACTS

    • The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal would be an independent tribunal that makes decisions at arms’ length from the government. If the legislation passes, it would replace the Ontario Municipal Board, which began in 1906 as the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board.
    • In 2015-2016 (the most recent year for which data is available), 1,460 matters were referred to the Ontario Municipal Board from across the province.

     ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

     

    Ministry of Municipal Affairs
    ontario.ca/municipal-news
    Mark Cripps, Minister’s Office, 416-585-6842
    Conrad Spezowka, Communications Branch, 416-585-7066
    Ministry of Attorney General
    ontario.ca/attorneygeneral-news
    Clare Graham, Minister’s Office, 416-326-7071
    Emilie Smith, Communications Branch, 416-326-2210
  • My letter asking for a review of the proclamations and flag raising policies at the City of Ottawa

    Rick O’Connor, CMO
    City Clerk and Solicitor
    Office of the City Clerk and Solicitor
    City of Ottawa

     

    Mr. O’Connor,

    I would ask that you undertake an immediate and comprehensive review of the proclamations and flag raising policies at the City of Ottawa.

    I would ask that you provide your recommendations on any changes to these policies within a month.

    Jim Watson
    Mayor
    City of Ottawa

  • Glenn Mooney receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Osgoode Ward Councillor George Darouze presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award at City Council today to Glenn Mooney for his many years of service with Camp Quality, a national charitable organization devoted to providing free camp experiences and year-round programming for children with cancer.

    Glenn Mooney is Director of Camp Quality of Eastern Ontario and he and his wife Pam have been involved with the organization for over 18 years. Camp Quality Canada is part of an international family of organizations originally founded in Australia in 1983 and brought to Canada in 1988. Its mission is to provide programs to support children with cancer and their families, an area not being addressed by any other organization. The aim of Camp Quality is to provide uplifting experiences for kids with cancer, and the primary focus is the incredible opportunity to create a program of empowerment, encouragement and, most importantly, fun for these amazing children.

    Glenn projects a warm, cheerful attitude to campers, parents, volunteers, and everyone he interacts with. He resolves conflicts and handles other difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact. He loves people, works hard, and always tries to lift the spirits of those around him. His willingness to take on difficult projects, such as raising the tens of thousands of dollars required to run the camps, and coordinating with teams of volunteers to see them to succeed, is impressive.

     

  • Property tax deferral program for residents impacted by Ottawa area flooding

    The Ottawa River is now seeing higher water levels over the past few weeks resulting from the snow melt from the northern areas of the Ottawa River and higher than average rainfall over the past month.

    This has resulted in significant flooding in the low-lying areas that are adjacent to the Ottawa River resulting in the flooding of some pathways and roadways.

    To date, about 310 homes in the City of Ottawa have been directly affected by flooding and 75 families have been displaced.  275 of those homes are in West Carleton, 25 are in Cumberland and 10 are in Bay Ward.

    While various city staff assist residents during this time, Revenue staff are preparing to mail out the final property tax bills to all residents of the city of Ottawa.  The property tax bills will be placed in the mail in approximately one week.

    I am proposing that those residents affected or displaced by the flood have their final property tax due dates deferred to December 7, 2017 to mirror that of the City’s Farm Grant Program.  This will provide some temporary relief to residents most affected by the flood during this time of need so they can focus on  rebuilding their lives and properties.

    Over the course of the next few months,  properties affected by the flood  will be identified and a process developed to extend the due dates.

    I have asked Councillor Stephen Blais (Cumberland), seconded by Councillor Mark Taylor (Bay), to introduce a motion at Council on Wednesday that will direct staff to develop the tax deferral program over the course of the next 30 days and to bring it back to Council via FEDCO for final approval.

    I will be asking that Council waive the Rules of procedure to allow for immediate consideration of this motion and to fast-track the implementation of the tax deferral program for residents impacted by the 2017 flood.

     As Councillor El-Chantiry has been personally affected by the flooding, he has advised us that he has a conflict of interest in this matter, so please do not include him in your discussions on this initiative.

  • Information sessions for Ottawa residents affected by spring flooding

    The City of Ottawa will host information sessions for residents affected by the spring flooding.

    In attendance will be representatives from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa’s Public Works and Environmental Services Department and the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which is responsible for the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program.

    Time and locations:

    Tuesday, May 9

    • 1 – 2 p.m. Nepean Sportsplex, Hall C and D, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue
    • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. R.J. Kennedy Arena, Main Hall, 1115 Dunning Road, Cumberland
    • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Fitzroy Harbour Community Association Community Centre, 100 Clifford Campbell St, Fitzroy Harbour

    Wednesday, May 10

    • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre, 262 Len Purcell Dr, Woodlawn

    If residents can’t attend any of the information sessions, they can visit  ottawa.ca for more information.

    Information about the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program is available at Ontario.ca/disasterassistance.

  • My statement on the Province of Ontario’s announcement on reforming the Ontario correctional system

    I strongly support the Province’s decision to start from scratch and build a new multi-purpose holistic correction facility in the City of Ottawa. I am pleased to see that the Province will be implementing a correctional services environment anchored in evidence-based decision-making, and will address how best to serve Ontario’s diverse inmate population.

    The new facility will be instrumental in the rehabilitation and reintegration of those individuals who are in the correctional system’s care and custody.

    I am also pleased to see that the Province will be updating the legislation to help improve outcomes and clearly set the goals for reform and treatment for inmates.

    The City of Ottawa looks forward to collaborating with the Province and assisting with all planning requirements.

    Click here to read the Province of Ontario’s News Release.

     

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