• Trick or Treat with the Mayor!

  • Congratulations Ottawa Champions, 2016 CanAm league Champions!

    Ottawa Champions fans joined me and my fellow City Councillors today to celebrate the Ottawa Champion’s first CanAm league victory!

    Nearly 300 people attended a rally held in Jean Pigott at City Hall, along with players from the Ottawa Champions team and members of the Ottawa Champions office. It was great to hear from David Gourlay, President of the Ottawa Champions and from Sebastien Boucher, local Ottawa Champions player, as they outlined the highlights of their season and the impact Baseball is having in our community.

    The rally concluded with my proclamation of September 19 as Ottawa Champions Day in Ottawa, and with a photo and autograph session with the Ottawa Champions. Even Champ the mascot was part of the fun!

    I’d like to thank all the fans who came out today to congratulate the team on winning the Can-Am League title, and I look forward to celebrating many more of their successes with you.

    Let’s go Champions, let’s go!

  • City of Ottawa and Ottawa Champions baseball team invite residents to join in honouring Max Keeping on Saturday

    The City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Champions baseball team are inviting residents to remember popular local community builder Max Keeping, by filling the RCGT Park baseball stadium for the ball game on Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m., when the Champions will host the Rockland Boulders.

    The game will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. with a short ceremony renaming the Coventry Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge over Highway 417 the Max Keeping Bridge in honour of the late broadcaster, community booster, longtime booster of baseball in our city, and tireless advocate and fundraiser for vulnerable and sick children and youth in Ottawa.

    Mr. Keeping helped raise more than $100 million for organizations such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Roger’s House, the United Way, the Boys and Girls Club, Operation Come Home and the Cancer Foundation.

    In recognition of his generosity, the Ottawa Champions will donate $1 to CHEO from each ticket to the July 16 game that is purchased in advance.

    Mayor Jim Watson and David Gourlay, president of the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, encourage residents to buy a ticket, enjoy the ball game as the Champions play the Rockland Boulders, and take a moment to remember Max — a local hero who changed countless lives for the better.

    The Max Keeping Bridge connects the Overbrook community, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (baseball stadium), the Via Rail station and the future Tremblay Station of the O-Train Confederation Line.

  • North American Leaders Summit 2016

    On Wednesday, June 29, 2016, I had the privilege and honour to welcome and meet United States President Barack Obama here in Ottawa, during the North American Leaders Summit. The American leader met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. Together they discussed and developed strategies for clean energy, economic growth and collaboration between the three countries.

    In the receiving line, President Obama and I talked about my tie, the Obama cookie, but most importantly, the need to continue to welcome Syrian refugees in our countries. President Obama concluded his visit by addressing the Parliament of Canada House of Commons with a powerful and compassionate message of unity and respect between our nations.

    I’d like to thank Global Affairs Canada for sharing photos of the greeting.

    Mayor Watson 1 Mayor Watson 2 Mayor Watson 3 Mayor Watson 4 Mayor Watson 5 Mayor Watson 6 Mayor Watson 7

  • Downtown Ottawa is open for business with free special bus service and free two-hour parking

    This weekend, Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury and I encourage you to to spend some time in downtown Rideau and in the ByWard Market to support our local businesses and the people who work there. We want to make it easy to get to the core, so the the City will provide two hours of free parking on Sunday June 19 and 26, and free shuttles on those same Sundays from Trim, Eagleson and Fallowfield Park & Rides. More information is available by clicking here.

    We would also like to thank the crews who have been working day and night to rebuilt Rideau Street. Thank you.


  • My message in the wake of the Orlando tragedy

    It was with great sadness that I learned this morning of the horrible tragedy that happened in a nightclub in Orlando overnight, where the lives of 50 members of the LGBTQ community were taken. This was the deadliest shooting in the history of the United States. My condolences go to the families and friends of the victims, and to our American friends who are mourning this loss.
    I have been advised that a vigil organized by Capital Pride will be held at 8 p.m. this evening at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street. As a show of solidarity to those who are mourning this loss within their community, I have asked that the Pride flag be flown in front of the Heritage Building, and that the American flag be flown at Marion Dewar Plaza, both until sundown on Thursday, June 16. 
    We are fortunate to live in a city and a country that embrace diversity, and where people are free to love who they wish to love. But this act of hate and terror reminds us that we must keep making progress until this climate of acceptance is extended to all members of the LGBTQ community around the world.
    There is simply no reason for this senseless act of violence. We will keep those affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, and we wish them strength in their battle against hatred, discrimination and extremism.
    Jim Watson
  • Historic transit win for Ottawa residents

    On June 3, the Province of Ontario announced an investment of $1 billion towards the City’s Stage 2 LRT initiative, plus 50 per cent of the cost associated with extending the O-Train system to the airport and from Place d’Orléans to Trim. This is a total investment of $1.16 billion. This is an historic vote of confidence in the future of the City of Ottawa.

    This is also the single largest one-time infrastructure investment by the Province of Ontario in the economic transformation of our city.

    My stated goal as Mayor of the City of Ottawa, working with my Council colleagues, is to ensure that we continue to expand our LRT system to meet the needs of our residents – we don’t want to put shovels away in 2018 once the Confederation Line is complete.

    With the Province’s support, we can keep building on this momentum as we work to extend LRT farther west to Bayshore and Algonquin College, even farther east to Trim, and farther south to Riverside South and to the Ottawa Airport.

    The Province’s investment strengthens our ability to deliver a reliable, world-class, environmentally sustainable LRT system.

    By reducing traffic congestion and better connecting our city, this project will support our region’s economic success – boosting Ottawa’s competitive edge and the ability of local firms to compete with the world, while welcoming a greater number of visitors from around the globe with a modern light rail system that will enhance the visitor experience in our magnificent city.

    Stage 2 will see us further expand Ottawa’s O-Train network to a system with more than 50 kilometres of rail. The reach of this investment will bring 70 per cent of the city’s population to within five kilometres of a station by 2023.

    This is a game-changer for Ottawa – for our local economy, for our environment, for spurring smart growth, and for our quality of life.

    It will provide fast, comfortable and convenient connections between our residential areas, our largest employment areas, major retail outlets, and key cultural and recreational destinations.

    It will also support our efforts to build an education and innovation powerhouse, anchored by our four post-secondary institutions – the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College and La Cité Collégiale.

    As for improving the quality of life for our Ottawa residents – we know an hour spent in gridlock is an hour away from family and other much more productive endeavours.

    Stage 2 will take more than 10,000 cars off the road, it will dramatically reduce the number of buses on our streets and roads, and will help fight gridlock in our fast-growing city.

    The system will integrate stations into the urban fabric of our neighbourhoods and will improve walking and cycling, as well as providing a transit system that is accessible to all.

    Friday’s funding announcement symbolizes the progress we have made as a city.

    I am very proud that Council unanimously carried the proposal to build the Confederation Line, followed by the unanimous decision to build Stage2.

    Without that teamwork, we would not be here today.

    I am also proud of the tremendous support we have received from the people of Ottawa since launching our proposal to bring LRT to Ottawa and to build it with a downtown tunnel.

    Demand for LRT is growing across our city as residents seek a sustainable alternative to the worsening gridlock.

    Ottawa used to be the laughing stock of the province after north-south rail was cancelled. That is no longer the case.

    We are moving forward with a bold plan with the unwavering support of the Province of Ontario. In the coming months, we will work with the Government of Canada to secure their contribution to Stage 2 LRT as well.

    My commitment to the residents of Ottawa is to stay the course and pull out all the stops to see this vision through.

    The Province’s funding commitment is a very important stop en route to our goal of building a world-class transit system for the residents of Ottawa.


  • Remembering Heather Crowe, Smoke-Free Ontario advocate

    From time to time I’m asked, particularly by students, what one action I’m most proud of as a politician.

    And I always answer that it was having the opportunity to implement the Smoke Free Ontario Act, as Ontario’s first minister of Health Promotion back in 2006.

    But while I had the honour of making sure this important law was implemented, the true credit for this ground breaking piece of legislation rests with a humble, and courageous waitress named Heather Crowe.

    Heather was a kind, soft spoken hospitality worker who I first got to know when she waitressed at The Newport Restaurant on Richmond Road in Westboro.

    She had worked for 40 years in the restaurant industry, and never smoked a day in her life.

    Yet for those four decades she was exposed to that awful blue haze known as second hand smoke.

    It seems unbelievable today, but it wasn’t that long ago that you could light up a cigarette in virtually any public place such as a dining hall or a bar. How many remember that famous line when entering an eatery: “smoking or non-smoking section?”

    Heather was diagnosed with stage 3B non small cell lung cancer in the upper lobe of her left lung in 2002.

    Yet instead of bemoaning the fact that she had a serious health challenge, she quickly became one of the most effective advocates for a smoking ban in public places.

    She traveled the country and spoke to politicians, service clubs, and anti smoking groups and eventually had the opportunity to speak with Dalton McGunity, who at the time was Leader of the Opposition and putting together his platform for the 2003 campaign.

    Due to her passion and personal story, her quest for a smoke free Ontario found its way into McGuinty’s platform. The campaign promise made its way into a bill, which passed and became law on May 31, 2006.

    I can still recall the outrage some restaurant and bar owners had towards the legislation, saying that it would kill their business and that thousands would lose their jobs.  Of course this did not happen, and today there are more people working in these establishments than ever before.

    Sadly, Heather passed away in 2006 just a few weeks before the legislation came into effect, but thanks to her advocacy and her own personal courage and fight, Ontario lead the country with the toughest and most progressive anti smoking legislation. A decade after her passing, her voice is as strong as ever.

    On May 31, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Smoke Free Ontario Act, and I know that this one act has and will continue to save lives of both patrons and hospitality workers who are no longer subjected to the dangers of second hand smoke.

    So when I have the opportunity to talk to students about what I’m most proud of, I also take the time to thank Heather for her courage and determination. Her actions have given waiters and waitresses the right to go work in a safe and healthy environment, while eliminating the risk of second-hand smoke illness and death in the workplace.

  • Mayor’s Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors

    I am hosting my Annual Canada Day Celebration for Seniors on Friday, July 1 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne Park. 1015 Bank Street, Ottawa.

    Tickets are required for entry and to claim prizes. There is limited free parking for ticket holders from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tickets are available now by calling the City of Ottawa at 613-580-2424, ext. 25683 or by emailing protocolrsvp@ottawa.ca by Wednesday, June 22. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, with a limit of two tickets per person.

    A limited number of tickets will be available to couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

    I look forward to seeing you there!

    Click on the image below to see the poster and additional information.

    Canada Day EN


  • More transportation choices: Ottawa opens the door to companies like Uber and Lyft, while modernizing taxi regulations

    I’m pleased to tell you that Ottawa has become one of the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt regulations for Private Transportation Companies like Uber and Lyft. ‎We’ve also cut fees and red tape on the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate. The new regulations come into effect on September 30.

    If a Private Transportation Company like Uber or Lyft want to operate in Ottawa, they’ll be required to follow some common-sense rules:

    • Commercial insurance
    • Police checks for drivers
    • Vehicle inspections
    • 11¢ per-ride licensing fee (to cover the cost of administration)
    • Per-ride fee to support accessible services such as Para Transpo (to be negotiated; in lieu of directly providing 15% wheelchair-accessible cars)

    At the same time, we’ve heard from taxi drivers and passengers that the status-quo is simply not working. That’s why we’re removing several restrictions on the taxi industry to allow it to compete and innovate:

    1. Allow taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
    2. Eliminate the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
    3. Reduce the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96)
    4. Waive the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
    5. Allow companies run their own customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver multi-week course at Algonquin College
    6. Eliminate interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles (more flexibility)
    7. Increase maximum vehicle age from 8 to 10 years (more flexibility)

    I have every confidence that the traditional taxi industry can compete under these new rules, especially as they retain the exclusive right to pick up street hails, use taxi stands and receive payment in cash.

    You may have heard some of the traditional taxi industry’s concerns about the original proposal. Their feedback led to a number of changes to the proposed rules to deal with Private Transportation Company issues such as enforcement, compliance, taxes, and delaying the implementation date for several months.

    The City’s role is not to ban competition. We should set fair rules for all transportation categories, and then allow you, the customer, to make your own informed choices. Ottawa should be a place where competitive, effective transportation options are available for all.

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