2016 promises to be a big year in our city and before embarking on a year of important work to build a better Ottawa, I wanted to take a look back on the year we have just left behind.
October of 2015 brought with it Council’s one year anniversary since our election as well as the 5 year anniversary since my election as Mayor in 2010. Your continued support remains an honour which I never take for granted and I am committed to working hard to maintain your trust moving forward.
One of our guiding principles as a Council this past year – as it has been in the 4 that preceded it- is to find the balance between being prudent with taxpayers dollars in the present while making the necessary investments to ensure our city’s enduring prosperity. This means being rigorous in setting our priorities and honest in understanding that we cannot be all things to all people.
On December 9, Council passed our 2016 budget which adheres to this principle. With a 2% tax increase – consistent to what I promised in the 2014 election – we continued record investments in social housing, arts, cycling, roads (both urban and rural), and sidewalks. We also moved ahead on the single largest infrastructure investment in our city’s history since the building of the canal: our Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.
2015 saw important milestones reached as the first phase of LRT continues to be built on-time and on-budget. 2015 also brought with it commitments from the two other levels of government to fund second phase of LRT which will see extensions east to Place d’Orleans, south the Riverside South, and West to Bayshore and Baseline at Algonquin College. We have never been closer to being a city fully connected by LRT and I am looking forward to finishing the work needed to realize this in the coming years.
2015 was an incredible year for sports in Ottawa. First, our city was swept up by the excitement of the Senators improbable run to the playoffs. Second, our new professional baseball team, the Ottawa Champions, took the field for their inaugural season. Third, our Ottawa Fury soccer team made it all the way to the NASL championship game after a great season. Finally, our Ottawa REDBLACKS made it to the Grey Cup after a late touchdown in the Eastern Final that few will forget. Our team may have fallen short in that final game but they made our city proud and I join many in anxiously awaiting next year’s season.
I hope that you have all been able to spend time with your families over the holidays and I look forward to continuing to serve as your Mayor in 2016.