Budget 2017 Speech
Budget 2017- An affordable and caring City
Last June, Council directed that I work with our new City Manager, Steve Kanellakos, to deliver a budget that keeps the City on a path of fiscal prudence.
I am pleased to report that we are bringing forward a balanced budget for 2017 – while also setting the table for a balanced budget in 2018.
We have listened to residents through the budget consultation process and we have built that feedback into the draft 2017 Budget.
What we heard so far is that residents want progress on a number of fronts, including:
- An affordable City for all Ottawa residents;
- A caring City that uses its assets and resources to help residents succeed;
- A sustainable City – with a commitment to transit, and active mobility as central pillars of our current and future quality of life;
- A city that is re-focused on strengthening the core municipal services that residents rely on;
- A prosperous and vibrant City, where the arts, culture and festivals play a dynamic role in diversifying our region’s economy – particularly as we head into 2017; and
- A City that has an investment plan for innovation and job creation.
Although we are looking forward to continuing our ongoing discussions on the budget — I am pleased with the level of public consultation that has occurred to date.
There have been six multi-ward, Councillor-led consultations, as well as two single-ward consultations, in September and October.
To date, the City has received budget ideas and feedback from residents, key partners and stakeholders through a variety of ways, including the Councillor-led Budget consultations, the Budget planning tool available on ottawa.ca, the City’s social media channels, through 3-1-1 and via email at email@example.com.
As of November 3rd, there were 1419 visits to the budget planning tool, with 245 completed responses. My thanks to Councillor Tim Tierney for initiating this new public engagement tool.
All of the feedback, from all of the channels, has been consolidated and reviewed in the development of the 2017 Draft Budget.
There are a number of new initiatives in Budget 2017 that will strengthen our social safety net – investments that will help residents succeed tomorrow and for years to come.
Over the course of the last two years, we have been part of a meaningful debate about the challenge of providing residents with a more affordable transit pass.
Members of Council and the Transit Commission have listened to the calls for the City to fill this funding gap for residents falling through the existing support programs offered by OC Transpo.
Today, I am pleased to announce that the City, working closely with the Chair of our Transit Commission Stephen Blais, will introduce a transit pass for residents with low incomes.
The regular adult general pass will cost $113.75 in 2017.
The new pass will cost $57 a month – a 50% discount from the cost of the adult monthly regular pass.
This new pass will be called the EquiPass.
A single person using the EquiPass will save $56 each month — or about $672 each year — leaving more money available for other basic necessities such as food, clothing and accommodations.
A family of two using the EquiPass will save $112 each month, for an annual savings of $1,344.
An estimated 4,700 transit users below the low-income cut off currently use a monthly pass and would be eligible for the EquiPass.
OC Transpo will introduce the EquiPass beginning in April 2017 with implementation details coming early in the new year.
This is the City’s largest one-time increase in financial support to residents living below the low income cut off for public transit in the City’s history.
I strongly believe that this is a big step forward in building the type of City that we all want – a city that gives residents with low incomes the opportunity to benefit from public transit at a deeply discounted monthly fare.
It will also create an even more affordable City for residents seeking employment, single parents, recent immigrants settling in Ottawa and for those residents temporarily out of work due to injury.
And we are able to accomplish this — while maintaining existing prices for other transit customers and while keeping our 2% tax cap commitment.
This year’s budget will include a $500,000 reserve to respond to demands that might outpace our budget projections.
The new EquiPass will cost the City $2.2 million on an annual basis when fully implemented.
The new pass will enable more residents to use our public transit system – and we are prepared to deal with this anticipated growth.
As you may remember, earlier this year Council asked the province to contribute funding for the transit pass for residents with low incomes – and we will continue to seek provincial funding moving forward.
However, due to the result of assessment growth beyond what was forecasted, we are in a position to jump start this program – and we will do this while continuing our efforts to encourage the province to help us provide an even deeper discount in the future.
We are able to fund the new EquiPass without eliminating other supportive passes. For example, some have suggested getting rid of the seniors pass or increasing the price for adult fares – and I do not support these proposals at all. Our proposal doesn’t punish one group to help another.
Budget 2017 also enacts Council’s decision to eliminate the Express Pass premiums effective January 1, 2017, for 28,000 transit customers.
This will lead to a reduction in fares for many residents from Kanata, Barrhaven and Orleans who previously had to pay express pass premiums.
I want to thank suburban councillors who advocated strongly on this issue in particular Stephen Blais, Allan Hubley, Bob Monette, Marianne Wilkinson, Jan Harder and Michael Qaqish.
I would like to now return to the important issue of better serving our transit customers as we prepare for the opening of the Confederation Line in 2018.
We have heard from our rural and suburban Councillors that too many residents are finding it hard to commute to work or school because their peak hour buses are full.
Budget 2017 does two things on this front.
- In collaboration with the Government of Canada, we are acquiring 17 new buses to meet growth demands, at a cost of $18.4 million dollars.
- And secondly, we will be protecting $1.75 million dollars in the base budget to provide approximately 950,000 new customer-trips each year.
These new peak hour routes will serve the fast growing communities of:
- Stittsville / Kanata South
- Kanata North
- Barrhaven South
- Barrhaven and Riverside South
- Leitrim, Findlay Creek, and Blossom Park
- Lowertown and Sandy Hill
- Rockcliffe Lands and
- Orléans, Chapel Hill South and Avalon
These investments will provide transit customers from growth areas with more options to get into and out of the downtown core more easily at peak hours.
These new routes will start in late 2017 after we take delivery of our new buses and will lay the foundation for future growth in ridership for the Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT.
This expanded service will support the City’s investment in the Confederation Line by increasing capacity to get to and from the LRT from busy parts of the City.
As we move to increase the number of buses and improve bus routes, we are also keeping a steady focus on our long-term affordability plan.
Because of Council’s steadfast commitment to the Confederation Line and Stage2 LRT, both the Provincial and Federal Governments are investing with confidence in the future of transit in Ottawa.
As a result of the funding from all three levels of government, Budget 2017 includes the important planning and design work needed to build Stage 2 LRT– a $90 million dollar investment – of which $67 million will be spent in 2017.
Ottawa residents will be watching LRT come to life over the next few years.
We are working hard to maintain the momentum to extend LRT – farther west to Bayshore and Algonquin College, farther east to Trim and farther South to Riverside South and Bowesville, with a link to our International Airport.
We all know that a connected City will support our region’s economic success for generations to come.
Stage 2 will enable us to expand Ottawa’s LRT network with more than 50 kilometres of rail.
Budget 2017 also commits $3 million dollars to the Bayshore to Kanata LRT Environmental Assessment – a critical milestone in the future expansion of LRT farther west.
I want to thank West end Councillors – including Councillors Taylor, Wilkinson, Hubley, Qadri and El-Chantiry for their strong advocacy. I would also like to thank Member of Parliament Karen McCrimmon for helping to secure the federal funding for this Environmental Assessment.
We will also continue work on West Transitway Extension with $47 million in funding. It will give transit customers a better experience between Bayshore Station and Moodie Drive, thanks to new dedicated transit lanes, which will get buses out of mixed traffic.
I want to thank all Members of Council for the tremendous teamwork that has allowed our City to make so much progress in such a short amount of time.
We have accomplished more in 6 short years of LRT planning and construction than we ever dreamed possible.
Thanks to this level of cooperation and commitment, we are able to speak with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence to our provincial and federal partners.
But transit is only one piece of keeping our City moving and improving our quality of life.
Budget 2017 also continues our Council’s strong support for active mobility.
- It includes over $8 million of investments in cycling infrastructure through the Community Connectivity Program, the Transportation Master Plan, the Cycling Strategic Initiative and through investments in paved shoulders.
This will add more than 38 km of cycling facilities to the City’s growing network.
- Budget 2017 also includes $1.5 million to implement projects in the Pedestrian Plan.
- Over $52 million for active mobility investments through the (Public Transit Infrastructure Fund); and,
- $5 million for various sidewalk improvement projects across the city.
When combined with funding from other levels of government – $73 million will be invested in cycling this Term of Council vs. $27 million in the last term.
This represents a 270 per cent increase over the last Term of Council – something we can be very proud of.
This partnership is allowing the City to advance a number of key cycling projects that will connect the existing cycling network to our public transit network.
I wish to thank the many Councillors including Transportation Committee Chair Keith Egli and cycling advocates Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper, Mathieu Fleury, David Chernushenko and Tobi Nussbaum for their support.
2017 will also see us break ground on the new $21 million dollar pedestrian and cycling bridge at Clegg Street.
This project is possible thanks to a strong partnership with the Government of Canada and we are confident that the Province of Ontario will also commit to this project in the near future.
My thanks to local Minister Catherine McKenna for her advocacy on this important community link and to Councillor David Chernushenko for his strong support of this bridge.
The Clegg Street bridge will not only provide pedestrian and cycling connections to Lansdowne Park; it will also improve access to Hurdman and Lees Light Rail Transit Stations.
The bridge will create an alternate crossing to the Bank Street Bridge, connect the downtown bike network to Old Ottawa East and Main Street and will improve access to the Old Ottawa South North-South Bikeway via Riverdale Avenue.
I am pleased to report that Budget 2017 also heralds some very significant investments in the core municipal services that matter most to residents.
We have already heard from our Chair of Ottawa Police Services, Eli El-Chantiry, that Ottawa Police Services is adding 75 new police officers over three years – including 25 officers in 2017.
Paramedic services will also see significant investments of 43 new front-line service providers between 2016 and 2018 – with Budget 2017 delivering 24 new paramedics in 2017.
We anticipate that this will lead to improved response times – particularly in our rural and suburban wards.
Through the consultation process, we also heard that winter maintenance is an important issue for residents.
I am sure that you can all remember last winter as our public works staff grappled with extreme weather events that delivered one quarter of our total annual snow fall in just 18 hours.
Ottawa spans more than 90km from west to east and has one of the largest municipal transportation networks in Canada.
To meet this challenge, Budget 2017 delivers a $4.5 million dollar increase to the base budget for winter maintenance for a total increase of $9 million dollars over the last two years.
Maintaining our roads is not only a quality of life issue for commuters and transit users, it is also critical to the long-term success of our economy.
Budget 2017 also invests $23 million for upgrades to rural roads – allowing the City to repair or resurface over 110 kilometres of roads in 2017 in the rural area.
This will include just over $2 million in matching funding by the Federal Government to provide facilities for safer cycling routes for rural residents.
My thanks to the rural councillors, Scott Moffatt, Stephen Blais, Eli El-Chantiry and George Darouze for their advocacy.
City-wide funding for tax supported assets, including roads, structures, buildings and parks, continues to increase in line with Council’s Comprehensive Asset Management direction from $79 million in 2015 to $97 million in 2016 and $104 million in 2017.
There is also an additional $1 million top-up over the next two years to our Rural Road upgrades, allowing us to repair more roads in our four rural wards.
In total, the City is forecasting that $1.1 billion will be spent on capital – or City building – projects in 2017. For every $1 billion invested in new infrastructure
10 000 person years of employment, including 5,500 new jobs in the construction sector are created in the local economy. This level of capital investment provides strong and immediate support to the local economy and will encourage growth, protect jobs, and improve household and business confidence.
We also heard loud and clear from residents, including the tens of thousands of families who use our City’s Parks and recreation facilities on a weekly basis, that access to quality recreational facilities is viewed as a core municipal service.
Budget 2017 increases the 4-year investment in parks and recreation capital renewal to $16.5 million, up from $6 million in the last Term of Council. My thanks to Councillor Riley Brockington for making sure this significant increase is included in the draft budget.
There will also be funding for growth projects funded by development charges to improve facilities across the City, from the building of the Francois Dupuis Recreation Center, to the addition of new facilities including Canterbury Covered Outdoor Rink, the Greely Skateboard and BMX Park, and the Riverside South Recreation Complex.
In our efforts to attract more visitors and business to our city post 2017, we will turn our attention to hosting major national and international events.
This past spring I hosted a Tourism Summit, with Councillor Jean Cloutier, to look for opportunities to sustain our momentum in the years to come.
Towards that end, Budget 2017 includes funding to support Ottawa’s bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games, spearheaded by our Sports Commissioner Jody Mitic.
This could be our next 2017, and winning the Canada Summer Games would see us leverage funds from the Provincial and Federal governments to invest in our aging sports infrastructure while we get ready to host tens of thousands of visitors in July and August of 2021.
I want to take a few moments to outline how Budget 2017 will help support the economic transformation of our City.
More and more, Ottawa is being promoted for its quality of life; as a hub that’s attracting people who want to enjoy all that our City has to offer.
Budget 2017 will invest in Canada’s 150th anniversary, allowing us to proudly celebrate the greatest City in the greatest Country.
I don’t have to tell any of you that Ottawa really is the greatest city to raise a family, to work in, to invest in, or simply to visit.
Next year, the world will be watching as we celebrate 2017, and these celebrations will bring lasting economic benefits to our city.
With what we have planned, we are expecting a 20 per cent increase in tourism in 2017, which translates into an additional 1.75 million visitors.
This influx will bring a significant boost for our local hospitality and retail sectors.
For every dollar that Budget 2017 invests in our nation’s 150th anniversary, other partners are coming to the table with more than 4 matching dollars.
I call that a pretty good deal for Ottawa taxpayers – one that will create jobs, fill hotel rooms and restaurants, and forever transform the way we see our City and ourselves.
This investment is part of a bolder and more aggressive vision of how we see our City’s future – and a stronger vision of how we see ourselves.
Ottawa is no longer the sleepy government town where restaurants in the core used to close shortly after dinner time.
Instead, we have become a City where people are excited to visit – they linger to enjoy the vitality of our downtown core – because there are now so many interesting things to see and to do in Ottawa.
For too many years, we accepted the notion that the Federal Government alone would drive our economic prosperity.
There are tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and innovators who call Ottawa their home.
In 2017, we officially open the Innovation Center – a showcase for our City’s best and brightest – creating the jobs of tomorrow today.
Many are in high tech, many are in government and many are in the tourism and service sectors.
And more still work in the increasingly dynamic arts, culture, heritage and festivals networks.
Working with our partners at Ottawa 2017, we were able to create two special funds to help nurture and grow our local talent and events through these celebrations.
In partnership with Ottawa 2017, $500,000 in funding will be provided for two new initiatives, the first $250,000 fund will support the long-term marketing and growth of our festivals, while the second $250,000 fund will support exciting arts, culture and heritage projects chosen by the community.
We heard from the arts communities that they need our support and we listened.
We are proud to partner with our local festivals and arts organizations to make 2017 even more memorable for our residents and visitors.
There is no doubt that 2017 will be a tremendous year for our local artists and arts organizations.
For over 30 years, local arts leader Peter Honeywell – along with thousands of artists and art enthusiasts – hoped and worked for a new municipal art gallery and a new hub for the local arts scene.
In 2017, we will proudly witness the opening of the new Ottawa Art Gallery, which will be approximately three times the size of the existing space.
Many of the City’s hidden gems, including the donated works of the Firestone collection, will be enjoyed by Ottawa residents and visitors alike when the new OAG opens in the fall of 2017.
In the following year, we will open the redeveloped Arts Court facility, along with the new Black Box Theater – developed in partnership with the University of Ottawa.
The OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project represents a public-private investment of over $100 million.
The public sector component, valued at $38.8M is funded by the City of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, and other partners including the Ottawa Art Gallery and the University of Ottawa. The City is contributing $17.67M, drawn from the city-wide reserve fund. The Province of Ontario has provided $7.3M in funding.
It is my hope that shortly we will hear from the Government of Canada on our request for federal funding for the Arts Court project, which will allow us to advance this project even further.
Because there is so much happening in Ottawa in 2017, a number of groups have shared their concerns that we don’t want 2018 to be a big “hangover year.”
Of course, we won’t be able to replicate the excitement of 2017 – we may not see this level of excitement again in our lifetime.
However, we can be smart about how we invest to maintain the momentum of our local arts and cultural organizations into 2018 and beyond.
That is why I am pleased to announce that Budget 2017 will contribute $150,000 in base funding to launch the Arts Momentum Fund – aimed at ensuring that we continue to showcase and promote our region’s finest talent not only locally, but to the Province, to Canada and to the world for years to come.
This fund will serve to bring out the best in Ottawa’s arts, culture, heritage and festivals.
We are ready as a community to shine on the world stage.
The Arts Momentum Fund will be adjudicated by local community leaders on the same model as our Ottawa 2017 partnership for funding arts, culture and heritage projects.
Given the long-term nature of this goal, I am also proposing the same base investment of $150,000 in 2018 through this new Arts Momentum Fund.
With Council’s support, the Arts Momentum Fund will mean a total of $300,000 annually in new base funding for the arts by the end of the 2018 fiscal year, an investment that will be rapidly recouped by increased tourism to Ottawa and increased economic activity in our City.
This is in addition to the proposed increase of 1.5% or $145,000 in new base arts funding for 2017.
So in addition to the Ottawa 2017 funding and the new Arts Momentum Funding, we will invest a record $11.2 million in on our arts and festivals programs this year.
Under the leadership of the Chair of Ottawa Public Library, Councillor Tim Tierney, Budget 2017 also includes $2 million in funding to enable us to continue the important work of planning our new Central Library.
In Ottawa, we work in concert with community agencies who are valued partners in the delivery of essential, basic services to residents in neighborhoods across our city.
Although we are an affluent city, at some point in our lives – for many of us – accessing the most basic necessities can be a challenge.
That is why we invest $22 million in community funding to 94 agencies that run hundreds of essential programs across the entire City – and this funding is leveraged by dollars from other sources, including investments from donors and other levels of government.
Through the efforts of these agencies, the City also leverages over 23,000 community volunteers.
Hundreds of thousands of residents are helped through these crucial community programs and services each year.
We have heard from community service providers that a growing number of pressing needs of families and individuals are going unmet because of our city’s rapid growth.
That’s why the 2017 draft budget includes an increase of $610K in new base funding for the 94 agencies that run these vital services. The $110K is to increase the inflationary provision from 1.5 to 2 per cent, and $500K to help funded agencies sustain services while dealing with growing needs and pressures.
This additional funding will support people in need with things that many of us take for granted, such as a hot meal, laundry services or a hot shower, a safe place to get away from violence or simply for clothing like mittens, hats and scarves.
This funding will also support agencies that deliver health care referrals, street outreach, counseling, employment services and mental health supports.
This funding is complemented by our ongoing $16 million annual commitment towards the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, in addition to the Child Care modernization and social assistance reform.
I want to thank in particular Councillor Mark Taylor, our special liaison for housing and homelessness, Councillor Michael Qaqish, our special liaison for refugees and Chair Diane Deans for their strong advocacy for these additional funds.
Ottawa will also benefit from recent federal and provincial funding for housing.
Specifically, Ottawa has received from the Federal and Provincial Government: $2.8 million from the homelessness Partnering Strategy; $16 million for Social Housing Repairs; $19 million for the Investment in Affordable Housing Program; $12 million through the Social Housing Apartment Retrofit Program; $3 million for the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative and almost $4 million for a Survivors of Domestic Violence Pilot.
We will also be working to reduce youth homelessness through the provisions of rent supplements and unemployment supports.
Just last week, the province of Ontario announced an additional $38 million for Ottawa through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative in 2019-2020.
Ottawa has demonstrated local leadership within the housing and homelessness sector, fostering strong partnerships, and implementing progressive initiatives.
We are well positioned to leverage new funding opportunities that may be rolled out as part of the federal Phase Two Social Infrastructure Program.
With Budget 2017 Ottawa will also be taking action on the Environment.
The City of Ottawa has targets to reduce electricity consumption by 6% and natural gas by 15% by 2020.
Towards that end, the City of Ottawa supports Energy Evolution, a community-led plan to transform Ottawa into a thriving city powered by clean energy.
Energy Evolution includes more than 80 community partners such as the City of Ottawa, Hydro Ottawa, Enbridge, EcoDistrict, Ecology Ottawa, Museum of Science and Technology and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
Energy Evolution – formally known as the Renewable Energy Strategy — is a Term of Council priority aimed at increasing energy conservation, energy efficiency, and supporting renewable energy in Ottawa – including solar and wind generation.
Budget 2017 will provide $300,000 in strategic funding that will be used to build on existing stakeholder initiatives, and leverage provincial and federal climate change investments expected in 2017 and 2018.
Examples of specific projects could include, but are not limited to:
- Implementing a Heat Recovery Plan for City Hall that would draw excess heat from the data centre and Rink of Dreams and redirect it back into the building; and,
- Piloting a community financing program for a complete energy retrofit of an Ottawa Community Housing multi-unit residential building.
These are just a few examples of partnership opportunities that could be enabled through the Energy Evolution Strategy. Potential projects will be confirmed in a Progress Report to Environment Committee in early 2017 under the leadership of Councillor Chernushenko.
The second major environmental initiative that will be funded through Budget 2017 is the Urban Forest Canopy Cover project.
A healthy urban tree canopy not only helps to reduce the urban heat effect during our hot summer months, but it also absorbs odors and pollutant gases, and filters particulates out of the air we breathe.
The Urban Forest Canopy Cover project will produce the tools necessary to guide decisions, and ultimately maximize investments in urban trees across the City.
By protecting our tree monitoring and reporting, we can make more informed decisions to protect and expand our urban canopy cover.
In 2017, the City has 125,000 new trees planned to take root, increasing the forest cover in urban, suburban and rural areas.
These trees will also assist in replenishing areas that were ravaged by the Emerald Ash Borer.
We will also be making a one-time contribution of $200,000 to the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Acquisition Fund.
In addition, the City will mark 2017 with the 150 Maple Grove Project – planting a grove of 150 Canadian maple trees as a living legacy of our celebrations in every ward.
Other investments include: the expansion of light rail transit projects; investments in Transportation Demand Management Strategy for employees in the National Capital Region; and of course, the continuation of sustainably-designed neighborhoods where residents have access to multiple transportation options including safe active transportation routes. Councillor Jan Harder should be commended for the excellent work she and her team have undertaken in Building Better Suburbs.
Hydro Ottawa, our key partner in environmental initiative, is the largest municipally-owned producer of green power in the province of Ontario, generating enough renewable energy to power 62,000 homes annually.
Through a partnership with Energy Ottawa, the LED street light conversion project will continue city-wide.
This project will reduce the City’s electrical use for street lighting by 50% and will reduce our annual electricity costs.
By the end of this project, up to 58,000 street lights will have been converted to LED.
The Federal and Provincial governments have recently been making some exciting new investments in municipal infrastructure and services.
In addition to the federal gas tax funds, both the federal and provincial governments have announced new program funding for transit, for water and wastewater and for housing.
These funds enable the City to move forward on Council’s long-term plans and address some priority needs.
So far, Ottawa has received commitments for $311 million in new or enhanced transit projects, $115 million in water and wastewater projects, and $35 million in affordable and social housing projects – all of which must be substantially completed by the end of 2018.
This is in addition to the June, 2016 commitment by the Province of over $1 billion for Stage 2 LRT and for the Trim and Airport extensions.
As you know, City Council nurtures ongoing, formal relationships with many community partners and stakeholder groups like the Alliance to End Homelessness, the Community Health and Resource Centres, the Council of the Arts, Arteast Ottawa and the Aboriginal Working Group, just to name a few.
Our commitment to long-term planning and the strength of these ongoing partnerships has positioned Ottawa to respond quickly to the federal and provincial calls for projects.
For the 2017-2018 horizon, federal and provincial funding is allowing much-needed public transit infrastructure to proceed ahead of schedule, including $1.5 million for new sidewalk links to improve connections with public transit, and another $3.5 million for sidewalk renewal across the city, $4.3 million for Multi-Use Pathway Renewal, $30 million for Transportation Demand Management and Bus detours during LRT construction, to name just a few.
Budget 2017 shows what we can accomplish as a City when we work as a team and set clear goals.
I am very proud of the balance we have achieved.
I am proud of the degree of collaboration we have shown as a City team to develop this budget.
This year, we have also witnessed a renewed sense of cooperation with stakeholders and other levels of government.
By working together, we have been able to align mandates to leverage outcomes for residents and to invest in the social and physical infrastructure of our city.
These investments have been designed to be inclusive for all residents.
We challenged our City Manager – Steve Kanellakos – to deliver a balanced budget for the remainder of this term.
The new management team and our very capable General Manager of Corporate Services and City Treasurer, Marian Simulik and Deputy Treasurer, Isabelle Jasmin, worked diligently to find the funding for these important priorities.
I want to thank you Steve, Marian, Isabelle and your teams for your hard work and for the dozens of meetings we had on Budget 2017.
I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to thank the entire team in Corporate Services for delivering this balanced budget.
Steve – I want to personally thank you for your work and leadership in helping to balance the City’s books and for making what I know were tough decisions in an open and responsible way.
You were able to find the required savings while impacting less than 1% of the City’s workforce.
The work of your team has reset the foundation of our budget so that Council and the City can reinvest in the core city services that matter most to Ottawa residents.
And you have followed Council’s guidance of delivering a balanced budget within the framework of a city-wide 2% tax cap.
I want to take a few minutes to reflect on what this means to Ottawa residents.
Striving to maintain an affordable City is not a slogan.
Living within your means is a challenge for thousands of Ottawa residents on a daily basis.
In Ottawa, there are 293,065 individuals or families that receive a municipal tax bill.
I don’t know many that pay their taxes in two lump-sum payments…
Most people pay their taxes in installments or as part of their mortgage payment.
We all know that the City of Ottawa can’t control how much taxes increase from other levels of government or the rate of inflation – but the biggest element we have direct control over is property taxes.
That is why I am very proud that this Council set and is honouring its 2% tax cap.
I am proud that we are keeping our promise on taxes because there are tens of thousands of seniors living on fixed incomes in our City…
And the last thing any of us want to hear about is a senior being evicted from their home due to high property taxes.
I am proud that we are keeping our 2% tax cap promise because there are thousands more – young homeowners just starting out – who are being hard hit by MPAC market value assessment that will already increase their taxes significantly. This is happening in many wards across Ottawa such as Kitchissippi, Rideau-Gouldbourn, Capital, Stittsville and Kanata North.
In fact, the hardest hit ward is Kitchissippi, where the average MPAC increase is over 7%.
Budget 2017 is proof that we can have an affordable City for all, while investing in the things that matter most to our residents.
We are showing that we CAN and WILL balance the competing demands of being both an affordable city and a caring city.
I want to thank all Members of Council who contributed ideas to the 2017 Budget process, including many great ideas from their residents.
I also want to thank all Chairs and Committee members for their input to date and for the work ahead to facilitate their budget through their respective committees.
Your leadership has been instrumental in getting us to this draft 2017 Budget.
I want to remind all Councillors why I am so adamant at keeping our budget and our city affordable.
Many Councillors in fact campaigned on keeping taxes at or below the rate of inflation.
Inflation is now running at 1.3%.
What I am proposing is a reasonable compromise between those who want no specific limit on taxes and those who want less than two per cent.
I would like to close by thanking my own team in the Mayor’s Office for working closely with our City Manager on Budget 2017.
Budgets have and will continue to be about setting priorities. It’s about being up front with constituents and not trying to be all things to all people.
Budgets are about the kind of City we want to strive for – one that is thoughtful and progressive — and one that is affordable.
I believe that Budget 2017 achieves these goals and I look forward to our ongoing public consultation and your input as we begin the budget process.