• Committee responds to long-term care reviews by recommending immediate $1.8 million for 35 new staff, critical equipment and technology upgrades

    Ottawa –Today, the Audit Committee and the Community and Protective Services Committee each received independent reviews of the City’s long-term care homes. At the Audit Committee, Auditor General Ken Hughes presented a review of the management of medications and an investigation into the reporting of a 2017 incident at a long-term care home. At the Community and Protective Services Committee, Greg Fougère, a consultant hired by the City to review its long-term care homes, presented his findings, which followed 240 interviews over several months.
    These reviews are the third and fourth independent reviews of the City’s long-term care services following the issuance of a Compliance Order to the City by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The other two reviews were the Compliance Plans approved by the Ministry and a comprehensive stakeholder engagement exercise. All four reviews took place over the same time, from late 2017 to early 2018. The results that came from each review were consistent, and complemented or built on the others. Each of the reviews and resulting work plans were shared with stakeholders, along with regular updates.  The constant feedback loop allowed staff to review and refine their work plans to reflect the findings and recommendations of the reviewers, and address the gaps identified.     
    The result is a consolidated work plan with 84 specific recommendations in the areas of staffing, quality improvements in policies and programs, investments in capital and technology infrastructure, communications, and resident care and service delivery improvements. Of the 84 recommendations, 18 have been completed, 43 are in progress and 23 have not yet been started.
    The Community and Protective Services Committee heard that additional staff are needed to ensure that residents receive more personal and nursing care than they do now. The Mayor and Chair Diane Deans moved that 35 additional support staff be hired as soon as possible in 2018, with an immediate, part-year investment of $800,000. This motion was approved by the Committee.                     
    This is in addition to the recommended $1-million capital investment for urgent equipment upgrades of items like beds and lifts, and for staff training and improved technology at the long-term care homes. The Finance and Economic Development Committee will consider this recommendation tomorrow.
    While many of the 84 recommendations do not have budget implications, staff will bring forward any additional funding needed to implement the work plan through the 2019 budget process.
    “I am pleased that we could bring forward this proposal to immediately hire 35 additional Personal Support Workers, which will help us address some of the most pressing challenges identified. I wish to thank City staff and Greg Fougère for their efforts on this file, and I look forward to working with them to ensure we provide better services to our seniors living in long-term care homes.”
    Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa
    “The Auditor General has done thorough, timely work with two audit reports involving the City’s long-term care homes. I thank the Auditor General and his team for work that will result in more support for our staff, stronger management and better service for the more than 700 residents of our long-term care homes.”
    Councillor Allan Hubley, Chair, Audit Committee
    “Our external expert, Greg Fougère, has produced valuable insights into the strengths and areas for improvement in the City’s long-term care. The city needs to address the concerns raised in a comprehensive and timely manner. I thank the staff who have worked so hard to maintain quality care in our homes through this period of examination. I thank our residents, their families and the hundreds of volunteers who help in the homes for their ongoing support through a challenging time. Our goal is to improve care and support staff to provide the best possible quality of life for residents.”
    Councillor Diane Deans, Chair, Community and Protective Services Committee
    The Committee’s recommendation for urgent investment in the front-line staff that provide direct care to residents, along with the capital funds being recommended tomorrow, will allow staff to move more quickly on the changes that are needed to close the gaps in our long-term care homes. If approved by Council, this will make a material difference to our residents, their families and our staff beginning this year.”
    Steve Kanellakos, City Manager
  • Memo To Councillors Regarding Long-Term Care

    Like many, we were deeply concerned to hear about the recent incidents involving the City’s Long Term Care Homes. We have been assured that safeguards are in place to prevent future occurrences. As you may know, the City was recently issued a “Director Referral Order” from the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    Since the incidents were first reported on June 29th, 2017, the City has worked on a plan to respond to these serious incidents. Consultation with stakeholders, including residents and families within each of the City’s four long-term care homes, is planned for this fall.

    That being said, the purpose of this memorandum is to let you know that we have asked staff to bring forward a formal presentation at Community and Protective Services Committee no later than September 21st on the ongoing work that is underway to address recent concerns in the City’s Long Term Care facilities.

    Specifically, we have requested that the City Manager outline:


    • A detailed accounting of what is involved in a “Director’s Referral Order” from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care;
    • The plan in place to ensure adequate and appropriate supervision of non-regulated staff by registered nursing staff per the College of Nurses best practice guidance document;
    • The strategy to ensure all staff who provide direct care to residents do so in accordance with the resident’s plan of care;
    • An outline of the specific strategies underway to appropriately care for residents with dementia of various cultural backgrounds;
    • Details of the plan to provide in person training for staff on the prevention of abuse and neglect, mandatory reporting and the licensee’s policy to promote zero tolerance of abuse and neglect of residents;
    • An update on the plan to be submitted following the meetings and town halls that the City of Ottawa has scheduled to identify opportunities to improve care and services to residents and prevent abuse and neglect of residents.  Please detail how the plan will identify the specific strategies that will be implemented by the City of Ottawa in our municipal homes.
    • The policies and procedures in place for all long-term care homes in the Province of Ontario through the regulations required by the Long-Term Care Homes Act 2007 (LTCHA) including the regular and random compliance inspections conducted by the Ministry;
    • The protections outlined in the City Long-Term Care Residents’ Bill of Rights;
    • The role of Accreditation Canada, which conducts peer reviews to assess the quality of programs with a team of assessors completing on-site visits every four years to review operations from several aspects to validate that required operational practices and standards are being met. Provide the record of the City of Ottawa’s Long-Term Care homes in terms of these reviews and compliance records;
    • A detailed review of the requirements for proof of education for all staff hired in LTC to meet the legislative qualifications for the appropriate positions and outline how staff must submit a police records check in order to work with the vulnerable sector before they start working in the Home;
    • Detail the comprehensive orientation required of staff before they assume their duties within the Home. Ensure that the review covers all vital safety and security processes to effectively and respectfully provide direct and indirect care to residents;
    • Detail the annual training for staff including Abuse-Prevention training;
    • Outline the processes and procedures that are in place to ensure employees understand how to recognize abuse, how it can be prevented, and what to do if abuse is witnessed.
    • A full accounting of how staff are required to review the Home’s practice annually and acknowledge that they have read and understood the LTCHA’s requirements and how this is enforced.

    After the consultations this fall are completed, we have asked that Members of Council be briefed on the extent of the planning, outcomes of these meetings and next steps towards implementation.

    We have asked the City Manager to personally oversee this review and report back to Members of Council through the standing committee process. We continue to be deeply concernd about the issues that have been raised about the treatment of some of our most vulnerable citizens. We would like to remind Members of Council that the “Director’s Referral Order” is in relation to the incidents originally reported in June and are not a result of new or recent incidents.

    Please contact the City Manager directly if you have specific concerns regarding this request for review.



  • Trick or Treat with the Mayor!

  • Mayor Watson announces transit pass for low income residents

    Ottawa — Today, Mayor Jim Watson, along with the Chair of the Transit Commission Councillor Stephen Blais, announced that a low income transit pass will be included in the City of Ottawa’s 2017 budget.

    The low income transit pass will be available at a significant discount on the adult general monthly fare for those residents who are at or below the income cut-off (LICO) as defined by Stats Canada. It will be available to residents with an annual individual income of approximately $20,000 or less, or a family income of approximately $38,000, for a family of four. The specific discount of the pass will be revealed when the budget is tabled at Council on November 9.

    This announcement comes after a year during which options to provide a low income transit pass were thoroughly debated in our community. Time and again, Ottawa residents have indicated that they support the City’s efforts towards providing lower income residents with affordable access to transit.

    “The low income transit pass will provide a more viable transit option for our working individuals who live on low wages,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Significant progress needs to be made wherever and whenever we can to make Ottawa a better place to live for all our residents. By offering a low income transit pass, the City is helping those who would otherwise not be able to afford to get around the City, either to maintain or find meaningful employment, or access healthcare.”

    The low income transit pass will be offered as a new type of monthly transit pass and will not be subsidised by the cost of other transit passes. City Council’s policy on the amount that OC Transpo collects from its riders versus the amount it collects from taxpayer contributions to transit will remain the same.

    “Introducing a new transit pass for low income residents will reinforce OC Transpo’s commitment to providing world-class, affordable transit for all Ottawa residents,” said the Chair of the Transit Commission, Councillor Stephen Blais. “This new transit option will help us create an even more affordable City for unemployed residents seeking employment, single parents, recent immigrants settling in Ottawa, or those temporarily out of work due to injury.”

    This affordable transit pass could benefit as many as 8,800 eligible low income transit users.


  • Red-light cameras being installed at locations across the city

    October 3, 2016 – Today, Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee, and Orléans Councillor Bob Monette unveiled a new red-light camera at the intersection of St. Joseph Boulevard and Old Tenth Line Road, making it the first of five new red-light cameras that will be installed throughout the city in 2016 with 15 more to be installed in 2017.

    These 20 new red-light cameras will be in addition to the existing 34 red-light cameras currently in operation at locations across Ottawa. The City installs cameras at intersections based on collision rates.

    “Road safety is a top concern in neighbourhoods across Ottawa and as a Council we are committed to making sure that all of our road, path and sidewalk users feel safe,” said Mayor Watson. “In the 2016 budget, Council approved the expansion of the red-light camera program as another tool we can use to ensure our streets are safe for everyone.”

    The program’s objective is to improve intersection safety by decreasing the number of red-light running occurrences. Collisions resulting from red-light running tend to be more severe than other intersection collisions because they usually involve at least one vehicle travelling very quickly. In 2014, there were 655 reportable angle collisions at signalized intersections in the city.

    “Keeping residents safe as they travel through the city is of vital importance,” said Councillor Egli. “By implementing tools such as red-light cameras, with enforcement and education, we can improve the level of safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on our roads. These cameras also allow police to focus on other enforcement needs.”

    Red-light cameras take two photographs: the first is taken when a vehicle is about to enter an intersection with a red light, the second photograph shows the offending vehicle in the intersection. The fine for running a red light is $260, plus a $5 service fee and $60 victim surcharge.


  • More than 250 people housed as part of City’s Housing First initiative

    Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee, held a community celebration at City Hall today marking the first 250 participants to secure permanent housing as part of the Housing First initiative, a priority of the City’s Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan.

    “The Housing First initiative launched in June 2015 with an initial goal of housing 250 long-stay emergency shelter clients by December 2016. I am excited to announce that we have achieved this goal earlier than expected,” said Mayor Watson. “As of today, more than 297 individuals have been permanently housed with the supports they need to keep their housing and remain stable.”

    Housing First finds permanent, affordable housing for individuals experiencing homelessness and provides the support services and connections to community-based help that people need to stay housed.

    “This a significant milestone for the city, for our residents, and for our community partners who are working with us to provide those in need with a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Chair Deans. “Housing First is a key initiative that helps people experiencing homelessness find housing and access the resources they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives.”

    As part of the event, a painting entitled ‘Transitions’ was unveiled representing the journey from homelessness to being housed.  Local artist Chi Wei Lee developed the artwork drawing from his own personal experience with homelessness. It was framed by Mark Andrew Buttigieg and will be hung in Jean Pigott Place in City Hall.

    Council approved A Home For Everyone: Our Ten Year Plan 2014-2024 in 2013. The plan focuses on three priorities: everyone has a home, people get the support they need, and working together. The overall objective of the plan is to eliminate chronic homelessness by 2024.

  • City Council approves new vehicle-for-hire regulations

    With the approval of new vehicle-for-hire regulations by City Council today, Ottawa has become one of the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt regulations for Private Transportation Companies. ‎The City has also adopted a lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings.

    “Today’s decision moves our transportation system in the right direction by challenging the status quo and opening up the market to competition,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Ottawa should be a place where people have access to safe, competitive, affordable, and effective transportation options.”

    “I want to thank the more than 6,000 people who participated in consultations and helped us come up with a smart set of 21st century regulations,” said Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “Under the new rules, I have every confidence that the traditional taxi industry will change and succeed in this competitive environment.”

    Effective September 30, 2016, a Private Transportation ‎Company (PTC) that wishes to operate in the City of Ottawa would obtain an operating license similar to that of a taxi broker. Prior to commencing operations and on a regular basis thereafter, each PTC must supply to the City information about its drivers and their vehicles. This will include proof of police background checks, vehicle inspections, and proper insurance. PTCs will pay the same broker fee as traditional taxi companies, while also paying a comparable licensing fee on a per-ride basis.

    ‎The Community and Protective Services Committee met for 18 hours over two days last week to listen to public delegations and discuss the proposed changes. The Committee adopted several motions to amend the staff report, many of which were based on feedback received from the taxi industry. These changes addressed issues such as stronger oversight of PTCs, compliance, enforcement, accessibility, HST, and delaying the by-law implementation date by three months.

    Through its new vehicle-for-hire regulations, the City of Ottawa has modernized regulations for the traditional taxi industry to allow it to compete more freely, while protecting key features on which residents have come to rely. The new features of the taxi regulations include:

    • Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
    • Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
    • Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96)
    • Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
    • Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles
    • Increasing maximum vehicle age from 8 to 10 years
    • Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College
    • Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept street-hails, together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes
    • Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9-million annually
    • ‎Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app

    ‎The City of Ottawa will enforce the existing by-law until the new regulations come into effect on September 30, 2016.

  • Celebrating its heritage and a new, green future, Lansdowne Park officially opens


    Ottawa – After an intensive construction period, Lansdowne has its park. Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko today officially opened the new Lansdowne Park, and were joined for the opening event by City Councillors, partners from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), and many of the professionals, stakeholders and organizations who helped design and build the newest attraction in Ottawa’s parks system.

    “Exactly 13 months ago today we were breaking up the last of the pavement at the old Lansdowne,” said Mayor Watson. “What has emerged is extraordinary. This new park is rooted in the heritage of Lansdowne and our community. At the same time it has been transformed into a modern, urban destination that will resonate in the hearts and minds of visitors as much as the former fair grounds did for past generations.”

    The 18-acre, intricately designed urban park includes expanses of lawn, courtyards, a heritage orchard, a farmers’ market square, an outdoor skating rink, a water feature and a children’s play area. Overall, the new Lansdowne will feature about three times more green space and four times more trees than the old site, as well as 20 event spaces available for community use.

    “Our community is happy to see this additional green space at Lansdowne,” said Councillor Chernushenko. “It will be a great space for both recreation and relaxation. And with connections between Bank Street, the Rideau Canal and many cycling and walking pathways, the park will help unite residents of nearby neighbourhoods.”

    City Council gave initial approval to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan in 2009. The overarching vision was to develop the 40-acre site into an urban destination that increases recreation and green space in the urban core, is accessible by many modes of transportation, preserves and enhances visitors’ understanding of local heritage and culture and exemplifies the City’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The final partnership agreements with OSEG were approved in 2012 initiating two years of construction activities across the site.

    “The development and planning for the new Lansdowne showed us that good design matters,” said Peter Hume, Chair of the Planning Committee. “The beautiful park that we have today is the result of a commitment by City Council to seek the assistance of Canada’s best urban designers and architects and to entice the world’s best designers with an open competition that produced a first-class design worthy of this historic site.”

    In recognition of the importance of heritage to the new Lansdowne, a representative of Ontario Heritage Trust presented Mayor Watson with a special heritage plaque during the event. Another plaque, commemorating the official opening of Lansdowne Park, was also unveiled during the event. Both will be prominently displayed in the park.

    “Lansdowne Park completes the vision of transforming this historic site into a destination for all,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “Lansdowne Park is an example of how Ottawa is applying smart growth by incorporating active recreation, new green space and innovative design to create places that  benefit residents from across the City.”

    The City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department will be responsible for the ongoing programming and management of the urban park area. A range of programs with local community partners will be offered at Lansdowne Park beginning this fall and will include a Christmas farmers’ market, 2015 Winterlude events and programming at the outdoor refrigerated skating rink. Lansdowne Park and TD Place will also be among the six venues across Canada hosting the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

    Ottawa residents are invited to help celebrate the opening of Lansdowne Park with an old-fashioned carnival and picnic in the park on Saturday, August 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit ottawa.ca for details, or follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for updates.

    The Family DayPass from OC Transpo is the perfect way for families to travel to Lansdowne on Saturday. DayPasses can be purchased from the driver for $8.10 and can be used for up to six people, with a maximum of two aged 13 or older. Event-goers should also consider riding bikes to the celebration and locking up at the free bike corral. More information on how to get to Lansdowne Park is available at ottawa.ca.

  • Draft Budget 2015 maintains momentum on key city-building projects

    Ottawa – Ottawa City Council today received and tabled its first draft budget of its term, which seeks to maintain the momentum of significant city-building projects such as light rail transit, Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre. The draft budget proposes key investments in affordable housing, community facilities and crime prevention, while keeping taxes and user fees affordable.
    “This budget strikes the right balance by keeping life affordable, while continuing to make smart investments in Ottawa’s economy and quality of life,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Signs of momentum are all around us – it’s an exciting time to be in the nation’s capital.”
    The budget holds the line on current spending while keeping tax revenue increases to 1.75 per cent, which translates to a 2 per-cent increase for a residential property. This represents an increase of approximately $67 per year for an urban home assessed at $355,000 and $55 per year for a rural home assessed at $355,000.


    The budget also proposes a reduction of full-time equivalent positions for the fourth consecutive budget, without harming front-line services. Residents would see transit fares and recreation fee increases capped at reasonable levels, while the garbage fee will be frozen for a third consecutive year.


    The budget also includes funding to address the current needs of residents by improving mobility, supporting a new crime prevention strategy and increasing affordable housing to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents.
    “This budget will keep daily business on track and help the City meet its financial obligations to the major projects already underway,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “I commend City staff for putting forward a responsible financial plan that will also allow investment in a number of the new initiatives identified in consultation with the Mayor and Councillors.”


    The $689.1 million in tax- and rate-supported capital projects across the City includes $448 million in citywide projects of benefit to all residents and $241 million for ward-specific or cross-ward projects. More than half of the total is allocated to investments in the renewal of road, water and wastewater assets.


    The budget delivers on the following important aspects that make Ottawa a liveable city for all residents and businesses:
    A Caring City

     – Fund a strategy for crime prevention and gang activity.

     – Increase funding for maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets.

     – Enhance and increase funding for the School Crossing Guard Program.

     – Deliver funding for commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.

     – Involve the City in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.

    A Sustainable City

     – Support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will see the expansion and improvement of cycling networks and multi-use pathways across the city to make cycling a safe and convenient option for residents

     – Move the Ottawa River Action Plan forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, putting in place the last elements of funding from federal partners to match investments from the City and Province.

     – Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000 to $1.3M.

    A Prosperous City

     – Modernize Ottawa’s transit system through Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2).

     – Continue the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture, which is the backbone of the City’s planned light rail network.

     – Prepare for the transition from construction of the Confederation Line to full operations in 2018.

     – Launch the Western Transitway expansion as the City continues to seek funding for Stage 2 of the Light Rail Transit system that will extend to neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south

    An Affordable City

     – Limit the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase to 6 per cent, as approved in the latest Long Range Financial Plan.

     – Freeze the garbage fees for the third consecutive year.

     – Limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service – including increasing bus routes and approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.

     – Reduce 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) City positions, excluding Ottawa Police Services.

    Since Term of Council Priorities will be finalized after the 2015 budget is adopted, a funding envelope of $5.4 million within the City Manager’s Office budget and $32 million in the capital budgets has been identified to fund newly established strategic initiatives. These envelopes allow for flexibility over the coming year to ensure public funds spent correspond with priorities once they are set by City Council.


    The public will have opportunities to learn more about and comment on the proposed budget by attending any of the four regional budget consultations taking place from Monday, February 9 to Thursday, February 12. Residents are also invited to register as a public delegation to take part in all City Standing Committees, Boards and Commissions, which will meet between Tuesday, February 17 and Thursday, March 5 to consider their 2015 budgets. For full information on the Draft 2015 Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2015.


    City Council will consider the recommendations received from all public consultations, Committees of Council and relevant Boards at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, March 11.
  • Mayor’s Remarks: Federation of Citizens Associations of Ottawa 25th Anniversary AGM

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

    It’s my pleasure to be here today at the Federation of Citizens Associations of Ottawa annual general meeting to talk directly with individuals who are actively taking an interest in civic affairs.

    I would like to thank Graeme Roderick, President of the FCA, for having me.

    And I want to take a moment to offer you all a very special congratulations on this your 25th Anniversary AGM.

    Twenty-five years of collective service to our community is an achievement that you should all be very proud to attain.

    Just think of all the thousands upon thousands of hours that you and all your predecessors have contributed to our community.

    Civic engagement is a noble venture….But I am not talking about the elected side of the equation.

    I am talking about you…each and every one of you in this room today…and all the many more that you represent in our community’s across the city.

    As I begin my remarks, thinking of your 25th anniversary, I am reminded just how much citizen engagement has changed in the last quarter century.

    Or, for that matter, how much it has changed in just the last dozen or so years.

    It’s hard to believe, but, our own Canadian-made Black Berry first appeared in rudimentary form in 1999…it looked like a pager in those days…but it did signal that email was coming on strong in our business life.

    It was not until 2003…less than a decade ago that Black Berry launched its first smart phone.

    And Facebook was founded only in 2004 and Twitter came along two years later…

    We have had widespread email for how long?…I guess since 2000…the turn of the millennium.

    But, stop and think how, in such a short time all this technology…much of it driven by Canada’s Research In Motion…a company that has a big and important presence right here in Ottawa…

    Think how all this technology has changed…and how it’s rapidly changing civic engagement.

    Last time I was Mayor of Ottawa, everything was manual.

    We had meetings…we used fax machines…we had more meetings…we used the telephone and then more faxes.

    But, as I talked with citizens and as our Council in those days reached out to engage organisations like yours it was much more difficult.

    We had to rely on meetings…like this one…for one-on-one discussion.

    That is challenging for volunteers who all have regular jobs and families who need their spare time.

    Now…every day…I am in constant contact with residents of our community.

    I receive and answer emails…Tweets and Facebook messages.

    In essence I am always “on call”…in addition to all the time I spend out at events across the City.

    Technology…which can be a cruel master…is also a remarkable weapon to build the engagement amongst us that we all want to see happen.

    That is why we have asked City Staff to double up their efforts to put technology to use.

    Service Ottawa is one manifestation of this effort…where we are trying to make the daily interface that our citizens have with city government easier…more efficient and more effective.

    It is also why our Council has asked staff to review our advisory Committee structures and processes.

    I have heard from people from across the City and from those who are involved in the Advisory Committees themselves that the system just isn’t working.

    I expect part of that is the psyche of the times we live in.

    People have technology at their disposal to reach me and other Councillors and City Staff…they like the personal connection and response.

    So it is time to update how we do our regular and formalised citizen engagement.

    I am looking forward to a Report coming to Council soon on how we might make our committee structure more meaningful and effective.

    Meaningful and effective in both directions…for those like you volunteering and for the elected officials who need and value input and advice on the projects we are undertaking.

    Citizen engagement is one element of our shared interest.

    Community Associations will always play a vital role in the bigger picture of that outreach and engagement.

    They provide a two-way avenue for elected officials…together we can listen and we can talk to each other.

    There is never unanimity of thought, of course.

    But, civil discourse does open doors to accommodation of spirit.

    And, after all, we all have the same objective to make ours an even better city tomorrow than it is today.

    One of the ways that I see consultation being enhanced is through the use of what I like to call the “ground –up” model.

    We have tried to give this effort life by using the concept of the summit.

    During the last municipal election, I made a commitment to hold a seniors summit to discuss how the City can best address senior’s issues in both the short- and long-term.

    And we fulfilled this commitment by hosting the Seniors Summit last October here at City Hall.

    I was very pleased by the turn-out and the ideas and discussion that took place during the Summit.

    We had the opportunity to hear from Ottawa’s senior population on what City Hall does well, what it can improve upon, and where we should start focussing our energies first.

    The valuable input the City received during the Summit will be used to create an Older Adult Action Plan in Ottawa.

    In addition to the Summit, the City extended the conversation to those who were unable to attend by seeking feedback on seniors’ issues via phone and e-mail.

    The same concept was used in the more recent Planning Summit.

    We gathered together a cross-section of Ottawa – organisations and individuals – to talk about where we are going from a Planning perspective.

    It was a great opportunity to kick off the very important review of the Official Plan and the Transportation Master Plan that will be happening over the next year.

    Apart from the wealth of input and suggestions that came in that day – and which the Planning department has already published – one of the most important things I heard came afterwards.

    A number of people – individuals like those of you in this room tonight – commented on the makeup of the working groups.

    They were impressed with the cross-pollination that occurred.

    We had developers sitting beside community activists beside elected officials beside local business owners

    That is the kind of consultation approach that we should be building.

    Bringing people together – not pushing each other away.

    I am going to be looking for more ways to do this.

    And, in case you had not heard, we will be holding a Youth Summit this Fall to engage another sector of our community in the never-ending effort to build our city.

    I want to take a few minutes to provide a bit of an update on some other activities and projects that are underway.

    For instance, we have been taking action at City hall that will make us greener City immediately and will also position us for the future.

    As we all know, transportation emissions are the fastest growing portion of our green house gas problem.

    We are determined to fight that with better planning that integrates cycling and walking into communities from the start.

    We fight emissions by saying no to uncontrolled urban sprawl.

    We fight them by providing public transit.

    Public transit is a key to the environmental health of any major municipality.

    That is why we worked hard to ensure we didn’t have to deal with another painful transit strike and we signed a fair collective agreement with our union.

    Our public transit dollars have to go far.

    Good public transit is structured to strive for more and more efficiency.

    It must, because we need our ridership on public transit to grow.

    And it is growing.

    Ridership in Ottawa was up 6% last year.

    That is good news and we want to keep it up.

    Budget 2012 boosted funding for OC Transpo by $5.5 million.

    There is a $3.2 million increase in service to deal with growth in ridership and a targeted $2.3 million to expand capacity on routes like the 87, 94, 95 and 96.

    More trips and more high-capacity buses will be added to these busy routes.

    Throughout this year we will be adding some 66,000 service hours to address growing demands on our system.

    And, our new double-decker bus fleet will begin to arrive later in 2012, adding further high-capacity service.

    Work will also begin so that frequency and capacity of the O-Train can double almost 10 years ahead of schedule in 2014 as the new trains we purchased to serve the north-south route take their place on the line.

    Light Rail is also vital to our plans to step up public transit in Ottawa.

    It will eliminate the bottleneck in transit we now face in the downtown core.

    So we’re investing some $2.1 billion in fixing that with a new modern, high capacity rail system that will be completely separated from traffic tie ups.

    Another key part of Budget 2012 was and is Ottawa on the Move.

    We’re repairing and improving.

    And as we fix up roads it gives us a big opportunity to improve cycling and walking in our city.

    Ottawa on the Move will see the construction of more than 70 km of new bike lanes and paved shoulders.

    It will also fund 20 km in existing sidewalk improvements and repairs.

    We will be working hard to fill the gaps in our cycling network to improve interconnections and safety so you can get where you are going by bike.

    Off-road pathways near the Aviation Museum, through Hampton Park, along the O-Train corridor from Carling to the Ottawa River, and extending the Sawmill Creek path from Walkley to Brookfield, will all be completed this term of Council.

    We will put in place a 12 kilometre East-West Bikeway over the next three years to provide safer and more comfortable commutes.

    Work on the design to implement a pedestrian bridge over the Rideau from Donald to Somerset will also get underway this year.

    In total, the last Budget provides an additional $12.1 million over three years for cycling infrastructure.

    And, in just this term of Council, we will provide the largest financial commitment ever put towards cycling in Ottawa – over $26 million, a new record.

    A green community isn’t just about transportation infrastructure though.

    That is why, again this year, the City is doing its part by moving ahead with green technology in both our buildings and our fleet of vehicles.

    For example we are investing in our ice rinks to replace aging cooling systems with more energy-efficient refrigeration technology.

    Through our green fleet program we’re buying electric ice-resurfacing machines to get rid of the engine exhaust and improve the air quality for the parents and children who play in our rinks.

    So far our Smart Energy initiatives like lighting upgrades and heating retrofits have achieved annual savings of $800,000 each year.

    We are also following through with the next phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan.

    Some of that work will be done in conjunction with Ottawa on the Move.

    We are now seeking funding from our federal and provincial partners so we can complete work the work of fixing the problem of combined sewer overflows.

    Any push you can give our federal and provincial partners would be appreciated.

    Our Council has also taken on the fiscal challenges of being Canada’s fourth largest city.

    I believe that the two Budgets that have been tabled – both 2011 and 2012 – have delivered.

    Budget 2012 restricted the annual property tax increase to 2.39 per cent – the lowest rate in five years, and it followed 2011’s increase of 2.45 per cent.

    And we have done this while continuing to place caring for our city’s more vulnerable members, as well as its families, as a priority.

    In 2011, we took action on housing with an unprecedented commitment to affordable housing in our community.

    We made $14 million in new annual funding available.

    And we’re starting to see the results as long-needed renovation to existing social housing is underway and new affordable housing for large families, including units which are fully accessible, are being built.

    Families have been moved off of waiting lists and into homes and families have been moved out of motels and shelters and into homes.

    We have more work to do in this area, but, with the support of our community partners, we have what it takes to ensure continued progress in the years to come.

    Some other investments in our community from the last budget included $2 million to undertake accessibility retrofit work to existing city building and park facilities.

    We also continued the freeze for City recreation fees and invested $520,000 to renew infrastructure in City parks.

    We are busy at the City of Ottawa…I have not even touched on what we are doing in terms of economic development.

    Invest Ottawa is up and running and its business incubator is starting to pay dividends, as well as its work with Tourism Ottawa as we strive to boost that important sector.

    The Arts Court redevelopment plan is taking shape as we build a stronger arts and culture community across the city.

    I could go on …but, I would like to know what your questions are…and do my best to answer some of them.

    I would like to thank you again for providing me with this opportunity to talk to you.

    I am very grateful for your organization’s continued involvement in a number of different City issues, projects and initiatives.

    It is the efforts of individuals like those of you here today that help us make our city a better place in which to live, work and play.

    I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.

    Thank you.