Mayor’s 2014 Budget Address
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Good morning colleagues.
Today I have the pleasure to Table the 2014 Draft Budget for the City of Ottawa.
As in preceding years, I want to thank each and every one around this Council Table.
Thank you for your input into this document which you all provide year round.
Thank you for your commitment to making our City a better place in which to live, to work, and raise a family.
And thank you, also, to our City Manager, the Deputy City Managers and City Treasurer who work hard each day to provide the services that mean so much to our residents, businesses and neighbourhoods.
I also want to thank the hundreds of citizens who came to visit me and other Councillors when we did the “Mall Tour” of pre-budget consultations in September.
It is always good to hear directly from citizens who do not always have the time or inclination to attend a formal City Council Committee Meeting or public forum.
There was a gentleman who suggested we cut our workforce and have greater investment in industry to create jobs…this budget does that.
There was a new student at Carleton who wants us to spend more money to clean up the Ottawa River…our money is ready to roll…we are just waiting for our Federal and Provincial partners.
Grandparents told me that they were happy about the freeze on parks and recreation fees because it allowed their grandchildren to enrol in sports and dance classes.
Others said to keep bus fares down, while some wanted to see salaries frozen.
At one of the rural Fairs I attended one gentleman from West Carleton who is involved with the 4-H Club asked why we could not make their annual $5,000 grant permanent, rather than having to fill out an application each year. Good idea and we will make it happen.
As always, lots of ideas and opinions.
All of the input is appreciated and most people also understand that we cannot do everything all at once.
But, they appreciated our desire to listen and, in general, told me that the direction this Council has laid out is good.
Lowest tax rate change in 7 years
Earlier this year we asked staff to raise the bar another notch in our effort to control the tax pressure on our residents.
We set a maximum limit of 2.0% for any rate increase in 2014.
I am happy to be able to tell you that Budget 2014 will see us hold the line to an increase of 1.9%
This is the lowest increase in 7 years and means that we, as a Council, have exceeded our target each and every year of this mandate.
I can also report that our partners – Ottawa Police Services, Transit Services, the Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Public Health – have once again constrained themselves within Council’s maximum increase cap.
The same will apply to Transit Fare increases – and I am pleased to report that, pending the approval of the Transit Commission, average fare increases will be kept to 1.9% – a far cry from the 7.5% of 4 years ago.
And I want to take a moment to congratulate – Chair Diane Deans of the Transit Commission, Chair Jan Harder of the Library Board, Chair Diane Holmes of the Ottawa Public Health Board and Chair Eli El-Chantiry of the Ottawa Police Services Board – for their work and strong effort to bring financial stability and predictability to the operations of all these City partners.
Also, a special word of thanks to the GM of Transit, John Manconi; the Chief of Police, Chuck Bordeleau; our Library CEO, Danielle McDonald; and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Isra Levy for all their work.
If approved, Budget 2014 will also freeze the waste collection charge at $82 per household and I want to thank the Chair, Councillor Maria McRae and all of the Environment Committee for their efforts guiding the environmental work of this Council.
This budget will see a continuation of the freeze on Mayor’s Office and Councillor Office administrative Budgets, as well on my own salary.
And for the fourth consecutive year we will maintain a freeze on parks and recreation fees, making life a little more affordable for parents and families with children in league sports or fitness programs and for all who take part in any of the hundreds of City classes offered.
Budget 2014 also proposes, for the third year in a row, a reduction of 55 FTEs at the City of Ottawa.
This continued focus on reining in staff growth comes in spite of the fact that we are also adding new facilities to provide more services to our residents.
The Barrhaven Minto Recreation Complex will require 63 new FTEs as we begin operations in this magnificent new facility.
And, I should also note that we are all looking forward to the official opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata.
This great new facility represents a $40 million investment on behalf of and to support Kanata and West Carleton residents.
We are able to provide added personnel for these new facilities without a boost to overall staffing as a direct result of our Service Ottawa initiative.
In 2014, Service Ottawa will return more than $4.7 Million in net savings to our bottom line.
And we will provide more convenience to our residents and business in the process.
The Budget also proposes to continue to increase our Contribution to Capital, as was laid out in the Long Range Financial Plan.
Next year that increase will be more than $ 15 million, with $10.4 million coming from the city-wide portion of this Budget.
As a Council we have been prudent.
We have invested wisely in Ottawa on the Move, for instance.
We have restrained tax increases, while continuing to provide the basic services people really need.
Our measured approach will pay dividends to the City in the future.
This Budget maintains the City of Ottawa’s strong fiscal position.
Our credit ratings remain high and unchanged.
Moody’s has provided its highest rating at Aaa and Standard and Poor’s is AA+.
The Treasurer has reported that Ottawa’s net total debt per capita is second lowest amongst major cities including – Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal – based on the most recent numbers available.
In September, the Treasurer reported that, in Q2 of 2013, capital budget adjustments resulted in a reduction of $19.1 million in debt financing requirements.
Our firm hand on the tiller means that we will not be adding any new debt in the 2014 capital budget.
But, we cannot stand still and our infrastructure needs of a burgeoning city require us to continue to invest in renewal, as well as growth.
Of course, City borrowing is also subject to both Provincial and Council restrictions.
In Ontario, municipal debt may only be used for capital expenditures, not for operating costs and any borrowing is limited to 25% of all revenues raised by taxation and other fees and we remain far below that level.
Council has also previously established an upper limit on debt repayments on tax and rate budgets at 7.5% of City raised revenue.
Debt repayments in 2013 will be approximately 5.4% of all City raised revenues – again, well below the target.
And, as I mentioned a moment ago – there will be no new debt added in the 2014 capital budget.
The City is in good financial shape.
Budget 2014 will see us stay the course as it delivers solid progress to our residents.
Many projects are underway.
Lansdowne is coming to life.
We see this now with work on all aspects of the project.
The Stadium where the magnificent new wooden veil is taking shape.
The move and reinvigoration of the Horticulture Building.
The start on the new Great Lawn and urban park and all the new features it will contain.
And, while we are all excited to see this revival taking place, I do want to take a moment to thank the people of the neighbourhood.
They are living through a great disruption to their everyday lives.
Our project managers have done their very best to reduce the intrusion as much as possible.
The innovative use of an on-site concrete production facility has meant thousands fewer trucks on the streets in the area, for instance.
But…no matter what is done…there will still be disruption.
On behalf of all of us, I thank residents for their patience and understanding.
And I want to thank Councillor David Chernushenko for his constant efforts and engagement on this project on behalf of his residents.
The same thanks is also due to our neighbours in the eastern reaches of this great City.
The transportation network is going through every bit as much a renewal as Lansdowne.
And people living in Orleans, Navan, Blackburn Hamlet, Cumberland and all other points east have had their daily routines interrupted and adjusted as, working with our provincial partners, we fix the split and see the widening of the 417 come to reality.
I say a special thank you for the resourcefulness and ingenuity that people are showing as they adapt to the work and re-routings that are an inevitable part of improving existing roadways.
Councillors Bloess, Monette, Blais and Tierney have been steadfast in seeing that the interests of their residents are first and foremost every step of the way and their insight has also been important to the planning and execution of all the work.
Mobility and transportation are important to any community and the local economy.
And our investments in these changes today will make for a better future.
Again, on behalf of all of Council, I say thank you for your understanding and patience, wherever you live in the City.
Ottawa on the Move has been a remarkable program for our City.
And there is one more year to go as we complete this most ambitious homemade infrastructure improvement program in Ottawa’s history.
Under this program we have seen projects completed on time and on budget in every Ward in the City.
And this is happening as we begin the real work on the biggest infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history.
Phase 1 of our LRT is finally under construction.
It is a project that will remake our City for the future.
The first phase of light rail transit will move people about our growing community more efficiently, more comfortably and in a more environmentally sustainable manner.
It is a project that is the first piece of the puzzle that will see us expand transit to all parts of our city in the coming years.
Yes, it is long overdue, but everyone on this Council should be proud that the shovels are in the ground and work is underway.
As we watch the investment of dollars across the City we also need to keep our eyes firmly on the future.
Just as in our first three budgets, Budget 2014 proposes a number of strategic investments that will benefit our residents as we continue to grow and mature as a major Canadian urban centre.
That means recreation and mobility needs must be met in addition to all the other demands that citizens may have.
This Council has invested in our neighbourhoods with parks projects across the city.
This will continue in 2014
Ward 1 residents and Councillor Monette will be pleased to see a proposed commitment to Cardinal Creek 18A and Petrie Landing Park II.
Councillor Bloess and Innes Ward will see investment in Trails Edge Park 1.
Councillor Harder will see funding allocated for Forest Park in Havencrest and Fraser Fields Linear Park.
Councillor Blais and residents of Cumberland Ward will see design funding for the Francois Dupuis Community Centre and investment in Millennium Park.
The Greely Village Centre Park in Councillor Thompson’s Osgoode Ward is in Budget 2014.
As is the Forest Park in Chapman Mills, for Councillor Desroches and residents in Riverside South.
Councillor Hubley will see investment in the Monahan Landing Park and expansion of the Meadow Breeze Park.
Councillor Qadri’s ward will see funds invested for the design and 1st phase of construction of a 3.24 Ha community park in the Blackstone Community.
And Councillor McRae will receive funding for rejuvenation of the Carleton Heights Park to benefit the many seniors and young families in this area of River Ward.
We should also note that our City’s libraries are well-loved, and well-used, closing in on 33.6 million uses by year’s end.
And there will be an increase of nearly $1M to the library’s budget that will support their initiatives.
Like the expansion of the Constance Bay branch in Councillor El-Chantiry’s Ward in partnership with the local community association and Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.
The implementation of new technologies at 5 additional branches – Carlingwood, Cumberland, Greely, Greenboro and the Main Library.
And planning for renewal and modernization at yet 2 more branches – Rosemount and the Main Library.
And, in keeping with the times, a permanent $50K increase to the materials budget for the purchase of eBooks.
I am also looking forward to the opening of the $10 million expansion of the Beaverbrook Branch in Kanata in the summer 2014 in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward.
And our colleagues, Councillors Clark and Fleury, will be particularly pleased to note the $8.2 million commitment to the Donald/Somerset pedestrian bridge and all that it will add to the community.
These are just some of the investments that we are making in the quality of life of our residents for the future.
At the same time we continue to put much-needed resources into the upkeep of our current infrastructure.
Community and Protective Services, under the Chairmanship of Councillor Mark Taylor, will see, among other elements, an investment of approximately $2.2 million for defibrillator replacement.
These units are life-savers – as we have seen in several instances – and even more important to the fabric of community life as our population ages.
Fire Services will invest $2.5 million in self-contained breathing equipment that is so integral today’s modern firefighting techniques.
Forestry Services will see investments of $1.2 million in operating funds for Forest Cover initiatives which involve management of the Emerald Ash Borer challenge, increasing overall forest cover and improved maintenance standards, including tree planting programs.
Forestry also will see $1.175 million in capital investments for lifecycle tree renewal and replacement of trees at the end of their life, storm damaged or subject to Emerald Ash Borer.
This funding supports programs like Trees in Trust and the Green Acres Rural Reforestation program.
Taken together these investments represent another indication of this Council’s strong and continuing commitment to Forestry Services.
And in another environment-based effort the Public Works Smart Energy Program will continue to roll out with $3.9 million further funding for 2014.
When complete the program will see implementation of more than 100 energy saving capital measures within existing City facilities.
The program is on track to yielding $1.2 million dollars in annual savings by the end of 2013 and is also on track to exceed the anticipated simple pay back of 5 years.
Infrastructure investment will continue in 2014.
There is an investment of $11.6 million for the detailed design work on the Western Transitway from Bayshore Station to Moodie Drive in Councillor Taylor’s Bay Ward.
Councillor Wilkinson’s residents will see a $31 million investment for the construction of a new four lane roadway to extend Campeau Drive from Didsbury to Huntmar.
As part of this year’s $45 million investment in road resurfacing Councillor Chiarelli’s College Ward will see work on, to name a few, Baseline Road, Iris Street, Meadowlands Drive, and Westcliffe Road.
In the same way, Alta Vista residents in Peter Hume’s ward will see work on Baycrest Drive, Dauphin Road, and Kilborn Avenue, while residents of Diane Holmes Somerset Ward will see work on Booth and Slater streets.
Life cycle renewal of the Prince of Wales Dr. and Nepean Creek bridge culvert in Councillor Egli’s ward will be completed with an investment of $1.2 million and water and sewer work on Sherry Lane and Brent Avenue will require $3.9 million.
Funding will be available to carry out life cycle renewal and seismic upgrades for the Fitzroy Station Bridge over Carp River in Councillor El-Chantiry’s ward of West Carleton-March.
An investment of $2.6 million in Councillor Moffatt’s Rideau-Goulbourn Ward will see the replacement of storm sewers, roadways, curbs and sidewalks along Rideau Valley Drive between Rogers Stevens Dr and the bridge.
Similarly, in Councillor Tierney’s Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward funding is necessary for life cycle renewal of the overpass at Old Montreal Rd and Cardinal Creek and it will be provided.
Councillor Chernushenko and Capital ward will see integrated road and sewer work on First Ave. between Bronson Ave. and O’Connor, including sewer, water mains and sidewalk and full road rehabilitation for large parts of this $7.0 million project.
Councillor Diane Deans and residents in the Greenboro area near Tapiola Crescent will see a $1.5 million investment to correct settling roadbeds caused by a poor soil base.
In Kitchissippi Ward, Councillor Katherine Hobbs and residents will see combined sewers are being replaced with separate storm and sanitary sewers in the Rex and Kerr area and this work requires an investment outlay of $3.9 million.
Ottawa on the Move was created and funded by this Council two years ago.
We have invested $340 million and leveraged that into more than $500 million in total project work from 2012 to 2014.
In those three years we created employment here in the City, in addition to investing wisely in our future.
By the time we are done we will have seen more than 400 projects across the City.
City staff has worked hard to deliver these projects on time and on budget.
And that is what we have seen.
Ottawa on the Move has seen a number of major projects, including the two-year $30 million Bronson Avenue reconstruction project; the Churchill Avenue “complete streets” remake for $21 million and the Woodroffe Avenue reconstruction with an investment of $8 million.
At the same time Ottawa on the Move meant investments totalling over $100 million for resurfacing work on Highway 174, Ogilvie Road, Carling Avenue, Eagleson Road, Blackburn Hamlet Bypass, Galleta Side Road, and Albion Road, to name just a few.
But, all of this Asset Management is just one part of the job here at City Council.
We have also been implementing Service Ottawa as I mentioned earlier.
In 2014 there will be even more coming from this initiative.
“MyServiceOttawa” for residents and businesses will launch.
This will allow residents and businesses to create their own electronic account to securely access multiple City services and information in one place.
It will include the ability to do many things, like:
– apply and pay for a number of licenses and permits including: pet registration, business licenses, open air fire permits and numerous other permits;
– view and pay billing information for tax and water bills;
– search and view the status of service requests (open or closed);
– view and manage garbage and recycling collection calendar;
– manage subscriptions to City e-newsletters; and
– view City social media feeds such as Twitter; and much more.
All of this effort is designed with one thing in mind – to improve service delivery to residents and businesses across the City.
I want to thank Councillor Tierney and the Members of the IT Sub-committee for their work on this important effort to bring about technological advances that will help us to better serve the public.
At the same time, under the direction of the Chair of our Planning Committee, Councillor Peter Hume, our Planning Department has been stepping up to the plate and improving service delivery.
We have cut processing times for various applications, as the most recent Performance Report indicated, and we will be continuing to work to make dealing with the City of Ottawa a pleasure not a chore.
We promised a Guaranteed Application Timelines Initiative (GATI) covering 5 different development application types at the Planning Summit last year.
As of August there had been 89 applications under this GATI program and 96% were handled within the Council-established timelines – and each of the 3 that missed the timelines had extenuating circumstances – but, will still receive credits for their next similar application.
Economic activity is the lifeblood of the community.
And here, we as a Council, have also signalled and delivered on a new direction.
The City of Ottawa Economic Development and Innovation Department has had a year of achievement punctuated by internal departmental successes and those of Invest Ottawa.
To name just a few:
– A $15 million dollar Innovation Agreement with the Province of Ontario
– The Capital Investment Track (CIT) program guides key investments through the City’s requirements in a timely manner
– Between January and June, Invest Ottawa facilitated 654 new jobs, attracted $25M in foreign investment and $26M in investment for portfolio companies
– The new Major Events Office was able to attract an additional nine events in 2013, as well as successfully winning bids for 4 future events
In fact, the Major Events Office has been a big success story
We have seen the fruits of their efforts with the Women’s World Hockey Championships, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Championships, the Duathlon World Championship, the Canadian Comedy Awards, the Canadian Gymnastics Championships, the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship, to name a few.
The combination of bids won and events hosted in 2013 resulted in an estimated $45M of economic benefits for the local economy and that does not count the coming Canadian Figure Skating Championships, which will be at the Canadian Tire Centre in January of 2014.
Our name is spreading as a great place to bring an event.
But, when opportunity knocks, as we all know…
You still have to get up and answer the door.
To that end, Budget 2014 seeks your approval to increase the budget for the Major Events Office by $350,000.
This will allow us to capitalise on the opportunities at hand and to be better prepared to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday in 2017.
It will take us to the next level of our strategic objective to “bid more, win more, host more”
Colleagues, this budget is about delivering progress and getting the job done for our residents.
It is about moving into the next year of our term of Council knowing that we have met many of the commitments that we made together.
Knowing that we provide needed services – Police, Fire, Paramedic, transit, waste collection and recycling, snow removal and road maintenance, libraries, Public Health, drinking water, parks and recreation, 6,000 km of roads and 2,000 km of sidewalks, waste water handling and purification and much, much more – every day for families across this great city
What we have before us is a balanced package to move our City forward.
We are doing what we said we would do while investing in our infrastructure so that our residents can count on those services they need in the future.
I believe that this proposed Budget 2014 continues the solid work that we have done in the last three years.
I hope that you will be able to share in that assessment as you review the details in the coming weeks at Committee deliberations, in public consultations and here at Council itself.
This budget, when all is said and done, is about progress.
Progress in keeping taxes low.
Progress in building and maintain infrastructure and city assets.
Progress in making our city an even better place to live, work and visit.
And progress that allows our residents to say that they live in one of the cleanest, greenest, safest cities in Canada, if not the world.