• International Women’s Day

    International Women’s Day is a day on which we honour all women for their accomplishments and pay tribute to inspiring women who have led – and continue to lead – the way forward towards a more equal and just society.

    It was my immense pleasure to welcome her Excellency Susan Jane le Jeune d’ Allegeershecque,  British High Commissioner, her Excellency Kareen Géraldine M.L. Rispal, Ambassador of France and her Excellency Sabine Anne Sparwasser, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany as distinguished speakers at my Annual International Women’s Day Celebration this morning at City Hall. The three women are pioneers in their field as they are the first women appointed to their diplomatic positions, and an inspiration for the next generation of leaders.


  • 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.

  • My remarks at the Bike Ottawa AGM, October 2, 2017

    Check against delivery

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

    Bonsoir Mesdames et Messieurs.

    It is a pleasure to join all of you this evening for the Bike Ottawa Annual General Meeting.

    I would like to thank Bike Ottawa, your President, Gareth Davies, and your Board, for welcoming me tonight.

    I don’t have to tell any of you that Gareth is a tireless cycling advocate here in Ottawa, who was recently named the recipient of this year’s Bruce Timmermans Award for the individual category.

    Gareth, thank you for your hard work bringing people together to collaborate and make cycling safer in Ottawa.

    We have a lot of experience in the area of cycling here with us tonight, and I want to thank all of you for being here and for sharing your insights with us.

    For more than three decades, Bike Ottawa has been promoting cycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly form of active transportation.

    We are fortunate to have a tremendous, diverse and active cycling advocacy community within our city.

    Rarely a day goes by without an individual or advocacy group contacting their Councillors Office, my office or staff to ask for improvements or to address issues.

    It is this type of ongoing collaboration that leads to tangible improvements on the ground.

    In fact, the initial deployment of automated bike counters in 2009 was thanks to one of your volunteer-led initiatives.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bike Ottawa for their continued advocacy of cycling in Ottawa, and for their partnership to make cycling even better in our city.

    As a growing city, we have many competing interests that I hear about from residents, stakeholders and Councillors every day.

    And I am proud of the progress we have made as a cycling-friendly city.

    Being a cycling-friendly city includes not only the healthy benefits of an active lifestyle, but also the reduction of congestion for all commuters, by getting people out of their cars and onto the bike lanes and pathways.

    We are investing more than ever in active mobility and we are increasing our emphasis on awareness campaigns around issues impacting cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

    Just last year in Budget 2017, we included more than $8 million of investments in cycling infrastructure through the Community Connectivity Program, the Cycling TMP Cycling Strategic Initiatives and through investments in paved shoulders.

    This investment will help us reach our goal of adding another 72km of cycling facilities to the City’s growing network by 2018.

    Budget 2017 also included:

    • $1.5 million to implement projects in the Pedestrian Plan;
    • $5 million for various sidewalk improvement projects across the city.

    When combined with funding from other levels of government – the total investment directly attributed to cycling and major bike/pedestrian structures within this Term of Council will hit $80 million.

    This is a historic, record investment in cycling and active transportation.

    To put that in perspective, this is compared to $27 million spent in the last Term of Council – which represents a 270 per cent increase.

    While there is more work to do, this is something we can be very proud of.

    This is in addition to the cycling facilities that are constructed as part of road renewal and new road construction programs.

    One such example of this is the new Main Street cycle tracks, part of our complete streets plan.

    These cycling tracks, as one neighbour told me, humanized our streets.

    The commitment to active mobility is a true partnership, with the Federal and Provincial governments.

    Their support has helped us leverage local resources, which has translated into tangible improvements citywide.

    The NCC is also a partner as they work to expand their network through the greenbelt, as well as make ongoing investment to fill-in missing links.

    These relationships are important, as we need their collective help in creating a fully connected network.

    We are actively working with our partners to eliminate ‘missing links’ in the cycling network and some major cycling/pedestrian infrastructure projects that are making a significant difference in our city include:

    • The Adàwe Crossing, connecting Overbrook and Vanier with Sandy Hill and the downtown core;
    • The O’Connor Street Bikeway;
    • The Main Street Bike Tracks that I mentioned earlier and;
    • The Mackenzie Avenue cycle track, a unique partnership between the City, the NCC,

    In addition, construction just started on a new $21 million dollar pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Rideau Canal, from Fifth Avenue to Clegg Street.

    My thanks to Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre and to Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre, for their tireless efforts on this exciting project.

    The Clegg Street Bridge will not only provide pedestrian and cycling connections to Lansdowne Park, but it will also improve access to Hurdman and Lees LRT 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 via Riverdale Avenue.

    We also made a bold step towards a more cycling-friendly city in 2011 with the Laurier Bike Lanes pilot project.

    This 1-kilometre long cycling facility almost immediately became one of the top routes for cycling commuters, including students through the busy downtown core.

    Today, the Laurier Bikes Lanes are a key part of a 12-kilometre link from Vanier to Westboro, with only one remaining gap of less than 100 metres, which will be addressed after the LRT bus detour is removed.

    The Laurier Bikes Lanes are part of a longer continuous facility that has hit peaks of 4,000 cycling trips in a single day – which is wonderful news!

    For instance, since the Laurier Bike Lanes were installed, on average 34,632 monthly trips have been recorded on this important East-West route for cyclists, totaling 2.6 Million bike trips since their opening in 2011.

    I have also heard from many residents – and not just cyclists – about the major impact that the Adàwe Crossing is having on their lives.

    The crossing is being heavily used both by cyclists and pedestrians – in fact, as of last night, we have recorded 1.477 million crossing since its opening in December 2015.

    Just under half of those crossings were made on bicycle.

    With a new public sports centre soon to open at the former site of the Rideau Tennis Club, which will bring more sports to the 105-year-old facility, we are sure to see this number grow moving forward.

    Within the Greenbelt, we have already achieved a five per cent cycling modal share, and we are on track to meet our target of 8 per cent by 2031.

    By 2018, The Cross-Town Bikeway network will be 70 per cent completed within the wards depicted above once implemented.


    In addition to the investments and progress made specifically on cycling and pedestrian connectivity, our Light Rail Transit project will also have a significant positive impact on cycling across our city.

    Starting next year, we will see new cycling infrastructure coming on-line as part of the Confederation Line project.

    Integrating the Stage 2 LRT alignment and stations with local pedestrian and cyclist networks was one of the key principles of the project.

    Two excellent examples of leveraging the LRT corridor to extend the cycling network are:

    • The new pathway between the Rideau River at the University of Ottawa Lees Campus, which runs directly downtown; and
    • As part of the Stage 2 LRT extension – a major new pathway inter-connecting the Doug Thompson and Sawmill Creek pathways which together provide a connection to Osgoode Village.

    These are just two examples of how staff is working to integrate a multi-use pathway system into the planning of our future rapid transit system.


    Although cycling commuting is typically concentrated where population density is the highest in the inner wards, the demand for improved cycling facilities is also being felt across the city and within suburban and rural communities.

    To meet this growing demand, this year you will see the construction of important new pathway linkages in the suburban areas, including:

    • The Shefford Road Pathway;
    • The Trans-Orleans Pathway;
    • A link between Harthill Way and Halley Street in Barrhaven;
    • As well as safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians along sections of Campeau Drive.

    This opens up active mobility options for nearby residents – to get to work or to explore the areas in which they live.

    In addition, cycling can become an important first link for long-range commuters when they use our new LRT system.

    That is why we are working to ensure strong connectivity to public transit and improved bike storage and parking at transit hubs, such as new bike shelters and enclosed bike parking areas.

    As you would know, getting more residents in the habit of cycling to transit can free-up park and ride spots, reduce congestion and make the combined trip more attractive than taking your vehicle downtown.

    This year, we have also taken the first steps in promoting the rural areas as cycling destinations.

    As you can see behind me, we have developed three major pathway corridors across our rural areas – the Prescott-Russell Pathway; the Doug Thompson Pathway; and the Ottawa-Carleton Pathway – and we are expanding the network of roadways with paved shoulders to facilitate cycling.

    Cycling Safety

    I know that an issue on top of mind of many cyclists is also cycling safety.

    The good news is that the collision trends related to cycling are decreasing and moving in the right direction.

    But we know there is always more work to be done in this area.

    There are still too many bad motorists, and yes, bad cyclists.

    We need to continue to educate and to enforce all traffic rules for both.

    In high volume areas, new design standards and complete streets are providing more separation and protection for cyclists.

    Behind me is an image of a new protected intersection at Dynes Road and Fisher Avenue.

    This will be the first fully protected four-way intersection in Ottawa, which should be fully operational by the summer of 2019.

    Improving safety requires the development of new habits and awareness by all road users – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

    We need to work in partnership to ensure that our roads are safe for everyone

    I am encouraged at what we have achieved together – particularly since 2011.

    In 2013, Ottawa became the first city in Canada to receive the Gold Bicycle Friendly Community Award, and we continue to be a leader in cycling infrastructure.

    Looking ahead, our focus will continue to be on network connectivity, increasing quality and safety of facilities and intersections, and making cycling and active transportation effective options for accessing public transit.

    I am confident that we will continue to work together towards these common goals.

    Thank you. / Merci beaucoup.



  • Mayor Watson’s statement on recent verbal abuse case in City Long Term Care home

    I am appalled and furious with this news about elder abuse in one of our long term care homes. This behavior will not be tolerated and I am fully supportive of the immediate dismissals of those involved in this outrageous and callous behavior.

    I have asked staff to bring in a third party to review all aspects of our long term care residences and report back with all concerns and recommendations in a timely fashion.

    Jim Watson
    Mayor, City of Ottawa

  • Mayor Watson recognizes that now is the right opportunity to transform housing

    Ottawa — As the federal government is’ expected to launch the National Housing Strategy (NHS) this fall, Mayor Jim Watson recognizes that it could be a once in a generation opportunity to transform affordable housing in Canada.

    “Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of the liveable, sustainable and caring cities we aspire to build. Despite this, a million and half Canadian households are unable to find a home they can afford and nearly 235,000 individuals will experience homelessness this year. Housing has become less affordable at virtually every income level,” said Mayor Jim Watson, a member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC).

    The BCMC has laid out detailed solutions to Canada’s affordable housing crisis in their submission to the federal government: National Housing Strategy: Getting it Right, which calls for Ottawa to prioritize repairing and building new affordable and social housing and to leverage local innovation to ensure long-term sustainability.

    Mayor Jim Watson added that “The federal government is listening to municipalities and responded by pledging $15 billion for the NHS in Budget 2017. Getting this strategy right is the next critical step. And while our recommendations are extensive, at their core is common sense.”

    The federal agreements that developed much of Canada’s 600,000 social housing homes didn’t adequately account for long-term repairs, and today’s non-profit providers generally lack the revenue and funding for maintenance and repairs. Similarly, there was never a clear plan to replace low-income rent subsidies as federal agreements expire. Housing providers urgently need federal funding for repairs—BCMC estimates at least $615 million annually —and a commitment to replace expiring rent subsidies.

    “This is a one-time opportunity to lay the foundation for decades to come. We believe that remarkable progress within reach. Ottawa is ready to bring our local expertise to the table and play a meaningful role, in partnership with all levels of government, to ensure we get it right,” concluded Mayor Jim Watson.

    The City of Ottawa is a member of the Federation of Canadians Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC). BCMC represents 22 of Canada’s biggest cities, offering a forum for policy development on a range of issues affecting our largest centres. Through FCM, the mayors’ caucus partners with the federal government in nation-building through city-building.

  • Hockey bet with the Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio

    The Ottawa Senators will open their second round playoff series against the New York Rangers in Ottawa at 7:00 pm on Thursday, April 27. As it is has now become tradition during for playoff games, I’ve established a friendly bet with the opposing team’s Mayor.

    The Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio and I have placed a hockey bet that our respective teams will emerge victorious for this series.

    The losing Mayor will:

    • Send a delicious food item from their city to the winning Mayor (New York bagels / Golden Palace egg rolls)
    • Wear the winning team’s jersey for half a day
    • Plant a tree native to the winning city’s team in their own city

    Go Sens Go!

  • Happy International Women’s Day

    Today, March 8 2017, is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to honour all women for their accomplishments and to pay tribute to inspiring women everywhere who have made a difference in the lives of others and who have led – and continue to lead – the way forward towards a more equal and just society.

    It’s also an occasion to recognize that women all over the world have brought positive change to many facets of life, but that they continue to face challenges in the fight for gender equality.

    2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage in Canada, when the right of women to vote in political elections was granted to a limited female franchise. Ever since 1917, Canadian women across our country have been continuously fighting for the rights all women and for gender equality.

    To commemorate this anniversary, Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is Equality Matters. Gender equality means that everyone can benefit from the same opportunities and be treated equally, regardless of their gender.

    Our society and communities are much stronger when we have female leaders in the workplace, shared participation in home life and women involved in the democratic process through political leadership roles. We invite you to reflect on why gender equality matters to you, and share those thoughts with family, friends and colleagues.

    I wish you all a Happy International Women’s Day!

  • Visit Ottawa’s rural attractions this year!

    One of my favourite things about Ottawa is its particularly large geographical scale. But despite having a total land surface of 2758 km², it is easy to travel from our vibrant urban neighbourhoods to family-centric suburbs to rural and farming areas in 20 minutes. family-centric suburbs and.This year, visit Ottawa’s rural attractions!

  • My poem for Mayor Naheed Nenshi – 2016 Grey Cup bet

    As tradition would have it, the Mayor of Calgary, Naheed Nenshi, and I placed a bet on who would win the 2016 Grey Cup: the Ottawa RedBlacks or the Calgary Stampeders. As we all know, the Ottawa RedBlacks came back from Toronto with the 104th Grey Cup in hand. To honour our bet, my good friend Mayor Nenshi wore the RedBlacks’ jersey at his City Council on December 5, sent over a dozen donuts from Jelly Modern Doughnuts, donated to the Ottawa Food Bank and read a poem I wrote for him aloud during his Council meeting. I look forward to next year’s Grey Cup bet, and to our RedBlacks defending their championship right here in Ottawa, as we host the 2017 Grey Cup!

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star
    How I wonder why the Stampeders were subpar
    Up above the world so high
    Are the RedBlacks, I can’t lie

    When my hopes of winning were gone,
    And all I could shout was come-on!
    Mayor Watson showed me the light
    And said “don’t worry, you’ll be alright”

    Once again, Ottawa proved to be the bigger shark
    And blew us right out of the park
    I should have been chanting Go RedBlacks Go!
    And high-fived their mascot Big Joe

    The truth is, I envy Ottawa
    The whole city leaves me in awe
    They do everything better than Calgary
    And their people are lovely and merry

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
    I’ve learned my lesson from Mayor Jim
    I know better now, next time I’ll listen to him

  • Canada was named the number 1 country to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet

    I’m very proud to see that Canada was named the number 1 country to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet. With Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations just around the corner, our Nation’s Capital is ready to host the biggest party ever thrown for our great country. Be here for Canada’s Big Year!

    Read Ottawa Tourism’s News Release below:

    Ottawa Tourism elated Lonely Planet recognizes Canada as #1 place to visit in 2017
    Capitalizing on Ottawa’s year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday

    OTTAWA, October 25, 2016—Ottawa Tourism lauds the decision by Lonely Planet, announced today, to name Canada as the #1 country to visit in 2017. As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday next year, Ottawa is the only city to plan a full year’s worth of celebrations. Under the direction of Mayor Jim Watson and with the leadership of Guy Laflamme and his team at the Ottawa 2017 Bureau, Ottawa will be THE place to be in Canada in 2017.

    “Ottawa Tourism has been working closely with Mayor Watson and the Ottawa 2017 bureau throughout the planning process for next year’s celebration,” says Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. “Our team has been promoting Ottawa 2017 for quite some time now, in our leisure marketing, convention sales, travel trade, travel media relations and social media efforts. The Lonely Planet announcement provides yet another boost to the worldwide awareness of what is planned.”

    “As mayor of our nation’s capital, I’m very proud that Canada has been recognized as THE place to visit in 2017,” says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “We have put a lot of time and resources in creating and promoting our exciting year-long program of events for Canada’s 150th birthday, and this recognition confirms that our efforts have indeed captured the attention of the media worldwide.”

    “The travel experts at Lonely Planet recognize that Canada will be a destination beyond compare in 2017, with festivities to mark our country’s 150th anniversary from coast to coast to coast,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau. “Ottawa in particular, will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences to celebrate this important milestone for our country.”

    Ottawa Tourism will leverage this recognition of Canada as it promotes such blockbuster events as

    • the lighting of an Ottawa 2017 cauldron at Ottawa City Hall to kick off a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that will extend to Parliament Hill on December 31, 2016;
    • the world championship Red Bull Crashed Ice event in March;
    • a series of 17 epic stunts and gatherings throughout the capital called Ignite 150 that will take place throughout the year and include a yoga session on a barge floating down a local waterway accompanied by a live orchestra, a movie on a downtown terrace rooftop, Sky Lounge, a gourmet experience 150 feet in the air, and more;
    • the Juno Awards (celebrating the best in the Canadian music industry) March 27-April 2, 2017;
    • a summer-long free underground multimedia experience in a future light rail transit tunnel downtown;
    • a series of 20 unique one-day outdoor events called Agri 150 taking place over the course of the year in rural Ottawa;
    • Inspiration Village, a free display using shipping containers in the ByWard Market neighbourhood from May 20 to September 4 to highlight each of Canada’s provinces and territories;
    • the first-ever Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge offering picnic spots overlooking Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River on July 2;
    • the North American premiere of La Machine’s roving, larger-than-life mechanical spider and dragon roaming Ottawa streets July 26-30, 2017;
    • the Grey Cup championship football game in November; among other reasons to visit Ottawa in 2017.

    For a full list of next year’s events, visit www.ottawa2017.ca.

    Ottawa Tourism provides destination marketing, strategic direction and leadership in cooperation with members and partners to service the travel media and attract visitors, tours and conventions to Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region. Its vision is to build recognition of Ottawa as an outstanding four-season tourism destination.


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