Speech: Ottawa's Economic Outlook
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Thank you for joining us this morning.
I always enjoy the opportunity to speak directly to the women and men who are helping drive Ottawa’s economy.
And this week is a particularly special one because…
On Sunday I returned with a 40 person delegation after a successful 8 day visit to Beijing and Shanghai.
Tomorrow is the third anniversary of my election as mayor.
And yesterday we tabled our 2014 budget…
Bringing in the lowest tax rate in seven years…
While protecting good basic services for Ottawa families.
Anniversaries give us the chance to reflect on the past…
But also to look ahead to the future.
Over the last 1,058 days since taking office, I have connected with residents in every corner of our city.
Whether it is at an office opening in Orléans …
A Farmer’s Market in Carp…
Or getting tweets from someone on route 95.
I enjoy hearing first-hand the issues and experiences our residents are having.
At the bus stop, park or library in their neighbourhood.
With their commute from work, their trip to school, or whatever it is that’s on their mind that day.
And it is through these interactions that I am reminded every day why I wanted to serve again at the municipal level.
I ran because City Hall needed stable leadership.
It needed certainty, predictability, reliability.
It needed to earn back the confidence of a city too familiar with cancelled contracts, council squabbles and endless dithering.
Today I want to update you on how far we’ve come, where we are today, and why I’m so excited about the future.
And I want to speak about two areas in particular: building the transportation system Ottawa deserves and how we’re supporting our business community.
Firstly, I believe that transportation is fundamentally an economic issue.
On an individual level, yes, it’s about spending less time commuting and more time at the dinner table with your kids.
But as mayor I also look at this from 30,000 feet.
Congestion strangles productivity.
Goods and people need to keep moving.
And time lost in traffic is money lost on the balance sheet.
Currently, and broadly, Ottawa is in very good shape.
Forbes Magazine has called us the one of the least congested, fastest growing and affordable cities in North America.
Ottawa is doing very well.
But I want us to remain ahead of the pack in the years and decades to come.
This begins with revitalizing what we already have: critical infrastructure such as our roads, sidewalks and sewers.
When I meet with mayors from around the country, everyone seems to have an infrastructure horror story or a long list of improvements that need to be funded.
Long-neglected infrastructure is reaching a boiling point.
Working together, we made our case to the federal and provincial governments ahead of their last budgets.
And I am pleased to report that our efforts were successful.
The federal government has announced $53.5 billion over 10 years for infrastructure.
The province has committed to more than $35 billion in infrastructure investments over the next three years – and will begin discussions soon for a permanent fund.
In Ottawa, we will make our case for our fair share.
To clean up the Ottawa River…
To rebuild our roads…
And to invest in transit.
Just as we were through the last stimulus program, we will continue to be good partners.
The City of Ottawa alone has already invested $340 million over the past three years — and we’re prepared to invest even more to stay competitive.
Because you can’t move into the future without taking care of what you already have.
But once that job is done, you don’t rest on your laurels.
As the adage goes…
“When you stand still, you fall behind.”
You need to continue to make progress.
Our residents cannot afford – nor do they deserve – 1960s solutions to 21st century problems.
We need to constantly look at new ideas and new technologies to make our lives better.
And this is why we are building a world-class light rail transit system.
The first phase – the Confederation Line – has been under construction since earlier this year.
We’ve started to dig the tunnel – to rid our downtown of the bottleneck of buses during rush hour.
A 12.5 kilometre line – 13 stations – from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road.
The Confederation Line is the largest Ottawa infrastructure project since a fellow named Colonel By started to build the canal 187 years ago.
It’s almost impossible to believe, but in about four years, where we’re standing today, there will be trains running pretty much beneath our feet.
At peak, your train will run every four minutes.
A transit system worthy of a G8 capital city.
But we don’t want to stop there.
And we won’t stop there.
Because I watch the debates happening in other cities… and it sounds an awful lot like Ottawa four years ago.
Councils and communities divided over what to do next.
Should it be buses?
Sure, debate is healthy.
I think that our light rail plans have become much better because of healthy community discussions.
And you never want to rush a decision.
But there comes a point where you need to take a stand and determine a way forward… or risk losing even more time, money and productivity.
In Ottawa, we are more than ready to take that next step.
When I spoke with residents in the spring and summer, a common theme started to emerge:
“Thank you for finally getting light rail started… but where is it going next?”
Earlier this month, I answered this question.
In the proposed next phase, we will deliver light rail to the east, west and south.
19 new rail stations.
35 kilometres of new rail.
In one city-transforming project.
Let’s take a quick look.
Once the Confederation Line is complete in 2018, we want to get the shovels in the ground for the next phase and have it complete within five years.
In the west… we would extend the line from Tunney’s Pasture to Baseline and Bayshore Shopping Centre.
From Bayshore, we would invest in new bus infrastructure for Kanata and beyond.
West-end residents are well-served by this plan – in fact – about 55% of the rail budget will be spent to extend rail west of Tunney’s Pasture.
To the south, we would add new rail stations and extend the O-Train line to Bowesville.
To the east, where 70% of commuters use public transit, we would extend the line from Blair to Place d’Orléans.
I have actually enjoyed the debate on light rail in recent weeks.
Because it’s no longer whether we should have light rail or not.
It’s a debate about where it should go next.
And this is a great debate to have.
I’m proud of this plan because it will drastically reduce commute times for Ottawa residents.
And for their kids.
And their kids too.
Monday through Sunday.
A quick statistic for you….
By 2023, if we were to just stick with the Confederation Line with no other extensions… about 430,000 people… or just over 40% of the city would be within 5 kilometres of a rail line.
But if we do build the next phase…
As I believe we should…
That number jumps to 700,000, or 67% of the total city population would be within 5 kilometres of light rail.
This is a game-changer for the nation’s capital.
I’m also very proud of this plan because it’s affordable.
It’s fully costed.
And it is based on conservative estimates of what we can afford… with inflation built in.
This isn’t a pie in the sky plan.
This can happen.
If we work together – with the provincial and federal governments – Phase 2 could be up and running within 10 years, or five years after the first phase.
But that part is crucial.
The federal and provincial governments were excellent team players with the first phase of light rail.
We are counting on them to continue to be our partners.
Shortly after announcing our plan, certain local Members of Parliament were a bit reluctant to share our excitement.
One even suggested we write to Santa Claus for federal funding for the project.
Well, you know, Santa made a pre-Christmas visit to Toronto and gave them $660 million for a three-stop subway extension…
Compare that to our Stage 2 plan which adds 35 kilometres of new rail and 19 new stations in all parts of our city, I would say our plan delivers more kilometres and more stations times 6!
I expect our local MPs will work with us to ensure our city gets its fair share as well.
Our request will be in line with every other big city in Canada – proportion to our size.
They have $53.5 billion earmarked for infrastructure over the next 10 years.
Our ask will be $975 million, which includes construction inflation.
That’s less than 2% of the total Federal allocation.
Our City’s population represents 3% of the Canadian population, not including Gatineau.
For the largest geographic big city in the country, with the fourth-largest population.
We just want our fair share.
Because projects like this one are bigger than any one Mayor, Premier or Prime Minister.
Politicians should plan for the next generation, not the next election.
In the years to come, we will be making our case that our plan… our effective, affordable plan… deserves to be supported.
So while other cities are marred in decades-old debates, we will be ready at the table.
One hand… for the handshake.
The other with a shovel in it… ready to go.
Now, I can stand here and extol the wonders of transit and Ottawa’s future light rail transit system.
But what I really want to get across when it comes to transportation is the shift in mentality.
Because this shift will separate the cities who will follow, from the cities who will lead.
The debate of roads vs. transit or drivers vs. cyclists is one of the distant past.
Our economic future is too important to resort to such old-school arguments.
Sure, there are many who refuse to even dream of themselves on a bike or a bus, or a train.
Here is what I tell them: One more person on a bike or a bus or a train… is one less car in front of you on the Queensway.
Think back several years ago to the bus strike.
No transit for 53 days.
We need to stay ahead of the curve on these issues or risk falling into gridlock.
It is in our economic interest to get more people on the bus, and more people walking and cycling.
This is our common vision of the future of Ottawa’s transportation system.
A world leader – whether you’re driving, cycling, walking or taking transit.
Now let’s talk about the talented women and men going to and from work every day, and our City’s economic development progress.
Our collective goal – in both the public and private sectors – is that we want to make Ottawa a sought-after location for business leaders and the best and the brightest workers.
And 2013 has been a great year in this regard.
Ottawa has been and will continue to a be a community that is dominated by public service.
And we know the elephant in the room – federal job cuts – will slow down some parts of our economy.
But that is one more reason why we have to be even more aggressive in our drive to expand our economy.
Through our Economic Development and Innovation department under the leadership of Saad Bashir, the City of Ottawa is supporting business owners and their ideas by giving them the tools they need to get the job done.
In March of this year, the City secured a $15-million in funding from the Province to develop an innovation complex – our version of Waterloo’s Communitech or Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District.
The City has also committed to providing $15 million of in-kind contribution towards the project.
Located at the City owned Bayview yards – where the Confederation Line and O-Train intersect – this new facility would be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.
Think about it: support agencies, professional services, business acceleration, incubation centres – the perfect way to showcase Ottawa’s entrepreneurial spirit.
We’re also moving forward with smart Community Improvement Plans.
After extensive consultation with the business community, we’re implementing two key plans: an urban revitalization plan for a portion of Carling Avenue… and an employment plan for Orléans.
These plans offer incentives for businesses in order to bridge gaps that exist in our employment patterns.
We want all areas of our city to reach their full potential.
I want to speak about Orléans for a moment.
The jobs to residents balance has traditionally been off in this area.
A lot of hard-working families, not a lot of high-quality jobs.
Over the last 10 years, the east has suffered with shifting federal employment patterns.
And on top of this – the balance has been off between Orléans and the rest of the city when it comes to employment.
Our Community Improvement Plan for Orléans will help fix this.
The plan provides financial incentives for property owners to encourage the redevelopment of their properties to house businesses.
Eligible projects must target a minimum of 15 net new knowledge-based jobs within 10 years of project completion and result in a minimum of 15 immediate net new jobs at time of project completion.
This plan will spur economic development and, in turn, job growth.
We will attract knowledge-based employment to strengthen Orléans as a “live, work, play” destination.
And we want to work with the Government of Canada to locate jobs in the east and to attract employers there to support balanced growth.
When you consider these concrete actions, bringing Stage 2 of light rail to Place d’Orléans makes a lot of sense.
It is a recipe for future economic prosperity in the east end.
For this part – and other parts of the city – we are bolstering our employment lands marketing efforts.
We are planning to work with local companies to better market their employment lands to companies.
We will continue to tell a strong story to potential investors around the world who are evaluating locations for their Canadian expansions.
And we will prove to them that… if we see potential – the City of Ottawa will not hesitate to go to bat for you.
Let me give you another example.
During last year’s address, I was pleased to announce an innovative new program called Capital Investment Track.
The program guides priority investments through the City’s requirements in a timely manner, by providing companies with an Account Manager from the Economic Development and Innovation department.
It’s a concierge service for businesses that have the potential to bring in a significant number of high-quality jobs.
Claridge was this program’s first client and the City was able to deliver timely and customer-sensitive service, for their proposed hotel in the Byward Market.
The CIT program is helping to ensure that the company can meet its construction deadlines and open its doors in 2015.
Through this project, approximately 80,000 labour hours in the construction sector and 100 permanent jobs in the hospitality sector will be created.
The City also exercised the spirit of the CIT program by facilitating five smaller scale development projects that fit the CIT lens.
Because we can recognize potential when we see it.
Our most recent successes are as a result of the City of Ottawa more than doubling the budget for Economic Development in this Council’s first budget.
Budget 2014 – announced yesterday – proposes to go even further by increasing the base budget by more than 10 per cent.
Yes, we are restraining our spending and overall, for the 3rd year in a row we have reduced our FTE count.
But at the same time we need to make strategic investments in Ottawa’s future economic success.
New investments in 2014 include raising our stake in the award-winning Major Events Office partnership with Ottawa Tourism.
In 2013 alone, we have generated more than $40 million in economic impacts for our city.
We want to see this number grow aggressively
To do this, we will work with our excellent partners in the tourism and hospitality industries to attract even more events.
As you can see from the work of our Economic Development and Innovation department…
Sometimes, economic leadership means rolling up your sleeves and doing some heavy lifting for your city.
But sometimes it means creating winning conditions for businesses – then getting out of the way and let the private sector do what it does best.
This is why we created Invest Ottawa.
Just 21 short months ago, we opened the door to a quiet little office on Aberdeen Street.
Now, it is absolutely booming.
It seems that every week I am invited to meet with a hot new start-up company or a growing business celebrating an expansion.
As many of you in business can agree with, it is important to celebrate these milestones.
The 1,000th customer.
The first big client.
Or our biggest milestone: Ottawa turning the corner and becoming something better.
I want to thank Bruce Lazenby and his team for the tremendous work they’re doing to support our local business owners and put Ottawa on the map.
And doing so during a time of economic uncertainty and deep federal job cuts.
Through their efforts, they are helping our small and medium sized businesses create that new economic engine I talked about during last year’s Economic Outlook address.
Invest Ottawa has had an outstanding year to date.
In the first two quarters of 2013, Invest Ottawa:
• facilitated 654 new jobs
• attracted $25M in foreign investment and $26M in investment for portfolio companies,
• received 21 visiting foreign delegations
• and led 10 outgoing trade missions…
Bruce and his team were front and centre during our 10-day trade mission to China last week, which consisted of more than 40 senior business, academic and tourism leaders from Ottawa.
I was pleased to participate in the signing of significant agreements and memoranda of understanding to deepen our relationship with one of the world’s most opportunity-filled economies.
We estimate that there will be at least $35 million in benefits as a result of our Team Ottawa mission to China.
These initiatives offered a wide range of benefits for Ottawa’s economy in 2013 and will continue supporting Ottawa’s strong performance.
Our success was most recently highlighted by Ottawa outperforming all international cities for economic growth potential, by ranking first in the Martin Prosperity Institute 2013 Global Cities Index.
And Invest Ottawa just recently was recognized as having the Best Foreign Direct Investment Strategy at the American Cities of the Future Awards
We’re making progress.
And you can see proof of that with new job and development around the city.
You need only drive a minute or two to see a crane up.
Let me conclude by some of the latest developments.
Rideau Centre expansion: $360 million
Bayshore Centre expansion: $200 million
Tanger Outlet Mall construction: $120 million
Lansdowne Park redevelopment: $450 million
We are experiencing an economic development boom that Ottawa hasn’t seen for decades.
You know, I think that sometimes we are too hard on ourselves.
Canadians by their nature are not really the bragging types – and that can be true about Canada’s capital.
But let me leave you with a few objective measurements about the city we call home.
Bruce and Invest Ottawa are just finishing an “Ambassador Kit” for Ottawa’s business community that highlights some facts that often even our own residents don’t know about.
I used a few of them in China last week at a keynote speech for the Canada-China Business Council.
I boasted about Ottawa having more PhD’s per capita than any city in Canada – second only to Boston in North America.
We continue to best our Canadian peers in surveys – ranking first place – in areas such as best cities to live in, most sustainable cities, most connect cities, and most affordable cities.
When you look at these impressive results, you can quickly see… we have so much going for us.
We have so much to be proud of… and it’s clear we’re on the right track.
Working together, we are building confidence in our ability to get the job done.
At the same time, we’re building our city for the next generation.
You know, I can’t predict the future.
But I believe history will look back on 2013 and see a year of progress.
Progress on light rail;
Progress on balanced, affordable budgets;
Progress on a new focus on economic development and job creation;
And progress on making Ottawa – our Nation’s Capital, an even better place to live, work, play and visit.