• 2017 – From Ottawa the old to Ottawa the Bold

    It was nearly six years ago, during my State of the City address in January 2012, that I announced the creation of the City of Ottawa’s Canada 150 Anniversary TaskForce. This TaskForce quickly gained momentum, and in 2015, it incorporated into the organization we know today: Ottawa 2017. At its helm since 2014, the one and only Guy Laflamme. Through infinite creativity and contagious energy, Guy envisioned and delivered a year of sesquicentennial celebrations that will be part of our history forever.

    Ottawa 2017 did an incredible job of making Ottawa THE place to be to celebrate our Canada’s 150th anniversary. It will be impossible to forget some of this year’s events, which transformed our city, captivated our imagination and elevated Ottawa onto the international scene.

    The 2017 celebrations were ignited on December 31st, 2016 with the lighting of the Ottawa 2017 Cauldron by a First Nations scared fire, which was carried by more than 400 youth from City Hall to Parliament Hill, to reignite the Centennial Flame.

    Following the Ottawa 2017 kick-off was an epic year of celebrations filled with special arts and culture programming, unique culinary experiences, many large sporting championships, and never-before-seen performances and events.

    From seeing athletes hurl down an impressive ice track between Parliament Hill and the Château Laurier at speeds of more than 50km/h during Red Bull Crashed Ice, to experiencing the future LRT system through light and sound with Kontinuum, to being mesmerized by Kumo the giant spider and Long-Ma the dragon-horse as they roamed the streets of Ottawa – this past year has been nothing short of spectacular.

    Throughout the year, Ottawa 2017 has captivated us with blockbuster events like the JUNO Awards and JUNO Week, Mìwàte – the Illumination of Chaudière Falls, Canada’s Table in front of Centre Block, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge on July 2nd, Sky Lounge, the 105th Grey Cup and Festival, and the NHL100 Classic outdoor hockey game.

    But Ottawa’s 2017’s strength was also in numbers, as Ottawa saw record crowds rushing to town this year. Over 230,000 guests celebrated at an astounding 43 national days and events organized by 85 embassies and high commissions during Ottawa Welcomes the World at Lansdowne Park.

    More than 325,000 people made their way underground to the future Lyon Station of LRT for the multimedia show Kontinuum, and got a glimpse into the future of Light Rail Transit in our city.

    But the most impressive crowds we saw were definitely the 750,000 people who immersed themselves into the magic that La Machine brought to our city over four days in July. Long-Ma and Kumo will forever be engraved into our hearts and memories, and their story has changed the way the world views our city.

    This influx of visitors was successfully supported by our region’s hospitality sector – our hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions – who put in a special effort throughout the year.

    Preliminary numbers show that hotel occupancy rates increased on average by 5%, and by 17% in average room revenues. Some downtown hotels were at full-capacity on a number of occasions, and hotels in the suburbs saw a significant increase in occupancy. The Shaw Centre welcomed almost double the number of conventions and delegates this year compared with previous years, with organizations and associations bringing their gatherings to Ottawa in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

    Ottawa’s hotel revenue growth outperformed every other major city in Canada. This clearly shows that our investments have paid off for our tourism sector, and that our hospitality industry is thriving. As we step into 2018, we will continue to work with our tourism partners to keep this momentum going for years to come.

    Now that we bid farewell to 2017 and welcome the New Year, I invite you to reflect on the incredible year that was Canada’s 150th birthday, and how these once-in-a-generation celebrations have forever changed our beautiful city. Thank you for being here, for Canada’s Big Year.

  • City Council approves Budget 2018, keeping its 2% tax cap commitment to Ottawa residents

    Today, City Council approved a balanced, affordable and progressive Budget 2018. The City’s 2018 operating budget will be $3.4 billion and the capital budget $729 million.

    I am proud that for the fifth year in a row, we have honoured our commitment to residents and kept the tax increase at two per cent or less, while also continuing to build a prosperous city that is safe, secure and environmentally sustainable.

    Council received an update from City Treasurer Marian Simulik, with the latest tax revenue information for the year. The City expects it will end 2017 with a surplus, due in part to $10 million in greater than expected assessment growth. Council unanimously voted to use the $10 million to renew additional infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks, bike lanes and buildings. Council will approve the allocation of this spending in early 2018.

    Budget 2018 demonstrates Council’s commitment to growing our city by investing in what matters most to residents: investing in public transit, continued protection of our critical infrastructure and assets, keeping our communities safe and vibrant and making the environment a top priority.

    Highlights of the approved Budget 2018 include:


    • Increase of $2.3 million for winter maintenance, for a total of $68.3 million, to support all modes of winter travel, including the new O’Connor Street and Main Street cycling lanes
    • 8% increase since 2016 for road repair, totalling $8 million, including an increase of $600,000 to repair potholes
    • Increase of $5.6 million for road surfacing, a 17% increase, totalling $39.2 million
    • $5.5 million to expand pedestrian and cycling facilities
    • $3.5 million for the Barrhaven rail-safety program

    Public transit:

    • Implementation of the new deeply discounted EquiFare (50% off the single fare ride), increasing the total EquiPass/EquiFare subsidy to $3.7 million from $2.7 million, an increase of 37%. The EquiFare complements the EquiPass discounted monthly pass, implemented in 2017
    • $9.8 million in additional funding to expand transit service and increase route frequencies for growing areas of the city. Some examples include Wateridge Village in the East end, Abbottsville Crossing in Kanata, Bradley Estates in Orléans and Findlay Creek in the South. The 2018 plan also includes replacing 80 OC Transpo buses, refurbishing 85 more buses and road and signal projects that will improve transit speed and reliability, as well as improving transit stops and stations
    • More than $550 million on construction of the Confederation Line in 2018, creating jobs and a greener future
    • $60 million for preliminary planning and procurement for Stage 2 of the Confederation Line light-rail transit project, which will add 39 kilometres and 23 more stations to Ottawa’s light-rail system, by going faster and farther West to Moodie Drive and Algonquin College, farther East to Trim Road, and farther South to Riverside South and Bowesville, with a link to the Ottawa International Airport

    Community and Protective Services:

    • $1.3 billion in operating expenses for community and protective services, including $293.2 million for Emergency and Protective Services, $695.9 million for community and social services, $300.8 million for recreation, cultural and facility services, and $38 million for parks
    • The majority of the $48.9 million in capital spending will go towards parks, recreation and culture, with $21.4 million earmarked to renew parks and buildings. Highlights include renewing the Nepean Sportsplex, the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex and the Howard Darwin Arena. The City will also replace play structures at Alta Vista Park, Greely West Park, Blue Rock Park and Beaton Park
    • Hiring 14 new paramedics and one additional emergency response vehicle, adding to the 36 paramedics already hired in the 2014-2018 Term of Council
    • Hiring 25 new police officers
    • Additional funding to deliver children’s services: $17.9 million in subsidies to support families most in need of high-quality child care to reduce and/or eliminate the current waitlist
    • Increase of $1 million for agencies that receive renewable community funding, for a total of $23.5 million, and $100,000 of existing funding reprioritized to create a one-time, non-renewable project fund for agencies not currently receiving funding
    • A 3% increase for a total of $11.3 million to base funding for Arts and Culture, allowing the sector to manage inflationary costs and cope with growth and minimum wage pressure
    • Parks and recreation registration fees capped at 2%


    • $12 million to renew the City’s rural infrastructure, including more than $8 million to rehabilitate bridges and bridge culverts
    • $1.8 million for Richmond Bridge on McBean Street, $760,000 for Ashton Bridge on Ashton Station Road, $520,000 for Peter Robinson Road Bridge and $470,000 for Monaghan Bridge on Old Richmond Road
    • $3.1 million to reconstruct and upgrade roads in the rural area, including renewing guiderails

    Affordable housing:

    • $15.7 million to provide more than 100 new affordable rental or supportive housing units and to support accessibility modifications and renovations for more than 100 low-income seniors and people with disabilities


    • $15.1 million more for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services, for a total of $365.2 million. Of this, $201.6 million will go towards renewing and growing the City’s water infrastructure
    • $2 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Green Fleet initiatives and for energy management

    Budget 2018 makes secure and affordable investments in Ottawa’s social and physical infrastructure, which will pave the way to a progressive future for our city and residents. It emphasizes affordability, progressive growth, neighbourhood security, quality of life and environmental sustainability.

    I am proud of the progress we have made together as a city. Our economy grows stronger, we are adding jobs and attracting families and businesses, quality of life for all our residents is improving, and we have secured a sustainable financial blueprint for 2018 and beyond.

  • Ottawa 2017 Volunteers receive Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson, with Councillors Mathieu Fleury and Jean Cloutier, recognized the Ottawa 2017 Volunteers at today’s City Council meeting by presenting them with the Mayor’s City Builder Award.

    Ottawa 2017’s volunteer force is over 2,500 strong and the presentation was to recognize everyone who has volunteered their time over the last 12 months. Over the course of 2017, volunteers have donated in excess of 25,000 hours, spanning over 100 events, including Red Bull Crashed Ice, JUNO Awards, Inspiration Village, Kontinuum, La Machine, Canada’s Table, Ottawa Welcomes the World and Miwàte.

    On a daily basis, Ottawa 2017 volunteers have demonstrated exemplary qualities including strength, initiative, kindness, hospitality, leadership and team spirit. Ottawa 2017 would not have been possible without their support. From working outside for long stretches in minus 30-degree weather during Red Bull Crashed Ice, to plus 30 degrees during 14-hour days with La Machine, they remained dedicated and smiling throughout.

    The volunteers set an example that has inspired everyone who interacted with them, from the Ottawa 2017 team to the millions of people who visited Ottawa during the year. They have set a new standard in volunteerism and their contributions will be remembered for years to come.

  • Senator Murray Sinclair receives the Key to the City

    Ottawa – This evening, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the City to the Honourable Murray Sinclair, Senator, at a ceremony at City Hall. The key was presented to Senator Sinclair in recognition of his illustrious and distinguished career as a Jurist, Scholar, Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and Senator.

    Senator Sinclair, appointed to the Senate in 2016, was Manitoba’s first Aboriginal Judge and Canada’s second. He is known for his representation of Aboriginal people and his knowledge of Aboriginal legal issues. Senator Sinclair led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada which studied the abuse of aboriginal children and youth at Indian Residential Schools. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools.


    “It is an honour to present the City’s highest award to Senator Murray Sinclair. His many contributions as a lawyer, judge and senator have had a positive and lasting impact on all Canadians. His work as Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was invaluable in giving a voice to aboriginal youth and children who have suffered in Residential Schools, and in helping our nation take steps towards reconciliation with First Nations.”
    – Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

    Key Facts

    The Key to the City

    • The Key to the City is Ottawa’s most prestigious award.
    • An ornamental key is presented to esteemed residents, visitors and others whom the City of Ottawa wishes to honour. This practice has a symbolic meaning evoking medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. The key symbolizes the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.
    • Some former recipients include:
    • Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
    • Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands
    • Author Margaret Atwood
    • Photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh
    • The Community Foundation of Ottawa
    • Actress Sandra Oh
    • Ottawa Senators former Captain Daniel Alfredsson
    • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada
    • Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek
    • TV and radio news journalist, Michel Picard

    The Honourable Murray Sinclair

    • The Honourable Murray Sinclair, Senator, served the justice system of Manitoba for over 25 years and was appointed Associate Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Manitoba in March of 1988 and to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba in January 2001.
    • He was Manitoba’s first Aboriginal Judge and Canada’s second.
    • Murray Sinclair served as Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba and as Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).
    • He participated in hundreds of hearings across Canada, culminating in the issuance of the TRC’s report in 2015.
    • He also oversaw an active multi-million-dollar fundraising program to support various TRC events and activities, and to allow survivors to travel to attend TRC events.
    • Senator Sinclair has been invited to speak throughout Canada, the United States and internationally, including the Cambridge Lectures.
    • He has been recognized with numerous awards including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Manitoba Bar Association’s Equality Award (2001) and its Distinguished Service Award (2016) and has received Honorary Doctorates from 10 Canadian universities.
    • The Honourable Murray Sinclair was appointed to the Senate of Canada on April 2, 2016.

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