Thank you very much, Rosemary / Greg.
My thanks to the West Ottawa Board of Trade, your Chair, Greg Weatherdon, and your Executive Director, Rosemary Leu, for inviting me to join you this morning.
It is wonderful to see many familiar faces here today.
First off, I would like to extend my best wishes for the New Year to all of you and your families.
I hope the holidays provided opportunities to spend time with friends and family, and re-energize for the year ahead.
I also wanted to extend my congratulations on your newly amalgamated Board of Trade.
Bringing together the old West Ottawa Board of Trade and the Greater Nepean Chamber of Commerce will be a great help to businesses that serve the Nepean, Kanata, Goulbourn and West Carleton communities.
Business organizations like the West Ottawa Board of Trade are tremendously important to our city.
Right now, our city is looking to diversify our economy, and part of this is lending support to our local businesses and entrepreneurs to ensure their success.
We know that local business and entrepreneurs are critical to our economy.
And we want them to succeed.
As the West Ottawa Board of Trade heads into a new year and a new era for your organization, I encourage you to continue to keep up the great work, and strive to continue to build on this success.
Speaking of success, 2014 was a busy, yet successful year for the City of Ottawa.
I was proud to have been re-elected as Mayor of Ottawa, to lead a Council that is a good mix of veteran and new members and who I am looking forward to working with over the next four years.
One of our first tasks as the new City Council will be the 2015 Budget.
As was the case over the last four years, we are aiming to continue to bring stability and predictability to the City’s finances.
I kept my promise not to raise taxes above 2.5 per cent per year over the past four years.
In fact in 2014 we brought in the lowest tax rate in 7 years.
And I intend to keep my promise not to raise them above 2.0 per cent per year for the coming four years.
Some have said these, or any, increases are too much and that a tax freeze or a tax rate cut are better.
This is easy to say…but not very realistic in practice.
You would need to cut services or put off key projects for years or even decades.
Look at the major projects completed or underway in the City:
– LRT Confederation Line and the expansion of the O-Train
– Major infrastructure renewal through Ottawa on the Move
– New fire stations in Stitsville and Barrhaven
– New recreation facilities like the Minto Recreation Centre – Barrhaven, or the Richcraft Recreation Complex here in Kanata, or a second ice surface at the Goulbourn Recreation Centre.
With frozen or cut taxes would come choosing which of these not to pursue.
And while slashed taxes sound good in principle, you can’t ignore the fact that we’re a growing city, with growing needs.
We are a big city and it is critical that we make the necessary investments in our city’s future while providing services in the present.
Services like police, fire, paramedics, libraries, parks and many more every day.
All of these things cost money.
While you can’t have everything you want, you have to find the right balance.
And I think we have done a good job at finding this balance.
We are committed to a reasonable tax rate increase of no more than two per cent per year.
This will keep us fiscally disciplined, while allowing for the necessary investments in our City’s future.
The 2015 draft operating and capital budgets will be tabled at a special meeting of City Council on February 4.
There is plenty of opportunity for residents to participate in the budget process.
We have launched an online pre-budget public consultation – residents can provide their input by sending an email to budget-2015-at-ottawa-dot-c-a.
You can also send us your opinions through Twitter by using the hashtag #ottbudget.
If you would rather give us your input in person, four regional public consultations will take place, with the two of most interest to you here today being:
– South – Wednesday, February 11, 7 to 9 p.m., Nepean Sportsplex, Hall A, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue, Nepean
– West – February 10, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata
In addition, all Standing Committees of Council, along with the Transit Commission, the Police Services Board, the Library Board, and the Board of Public Health will hold meetings to consider the 2015 draft budget for their respective areas and to listen to public delegations on the budget.
So, I encourage you to get involved with the budget process, as we work towards Council’s consideration of the final budget recommendations at its meeting on March 11.
Another thing that I am excited to talk to you about today is the excellent work that is coming out of Invest Ottawa.
The strides Invest Ottawa has made in three short years are incredible.
The organization has become such a critical part of our business community that during the recent election campaign I committed to increase funding to the organization by $370,000 each year.
This increased funding will help Invest Ottawa bring even more significant economic benefits to our city.
I’m pleased that we have a Kanata businessperson, David Ritonja from Alcaltel as the Chair of the Board.
Just last week, myself, along with some of my Council colleagues, had the opportunity to visit the Invest Ottawa offices to get a first-hand look at some of the initiatives they’re currently working on.
While there, we heard about some of Invest Ottawa’s highlights over the past three years:
– More than 2,250 jobs facilitated
– More than $213 million in investments attracted by start-up portfolio
– More than $200 million in investments attracted to Ottawa (including foreign direct investment)
– Helped more than 260 companies grow globally
– Welcomed more than 50 visiting foreign delegations to Ottawa.
The key point is that we at the City need to do everything we can to diversify and strengthen our local economy.
We will always have a strong public service presence from three levels of government, but the effect of Federal job cuts are very real and it’s up to us to take the initiative to pick up the slack.
One of the reasons I enjoy speaking to groups like yours is for this very reason.
Local business is vitally important to our communities and our city as a whole.
We want – and need – our local businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.
And we want the City to be seen as rolling out the red carpet, and not the red tape.
The success of Invest Ottawa makes me hopeful that we are on our way to achieving this goal.
Together, we are creating new jobs.
We are attracting investments.
We are supporting local business, through mentorship, workshops and partnerships.
It feels like every week I’m being invited to the opening of a new business, and, very often, these groups have been helped by Invest Ottawa.
A great example of this is Rumidifier.
Jeri Rodrigs, from Kanata, had an idea for an eco-friendly humidifier.
He took that idea to Invest Ottawa who helped him turn it into a business plan.
And now he manufactures the Rumidifier in Stitsville.
It has become a great retail success.
It’s a great “made in Ottawa” story.
The Rumidifier is now sold at Home Hardware, Costco, and Home Depot among others, and its sales continue to grow.
When I see products like this and visit these great local businesses, I’m proud of our local economy and reminded that our city possesses the most innovative and talented individuals in the country.
One of the most exciting projects – and one that involves Invest Ottawa –– is the creation of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.
The Centre will be a hub for innovation, collaboration and creativity, helping to support and nurture local start-ups so that they grow and succeed.
The Centre will also help us create jobs, as well as attract more investment, including foreign investment, to our city.
The City is appreciative of the funding that the Province of Ontario has committed to this project, as well the support demonstrated by the local business community;
This includes members of the Centre’s Board of Directors and the Chair, Steve West, President of Nordion from right here in Kanata.
I look forward to seeing this initiative move forward this year.
As we continue to grow our economy, we need to ensure that our city and its infrastructure can handle this growth.
That’s why we have invested a record amount of money in our infrastructure through the Ottawa on the Move project.
I’m sure here in the city’s west-end, you have seen the evidence of Ottawa on the Move.
Through this program, we have invested $340 million in road, sidewalk, cycling, sewer and watermain infrastructure.
This investment has resulted in a lot of construction, which, I understand, can be frustrating at times.
However, this is the definition of short-term pain for long-term gain.
We’ve made improvements to:
– Carling Avenue,
– Baseline Road,
– Woodroffe Avenue
– Richmond Road.
We’ve renewed roads like:
– Huntmar Drive
– Bayshore Drive
– Eagleson Road
And we’ve completed a significant number of sidewalk, bridge, cycling and watermain improvements.
These efforts will help bring our infrastructure and entire transportation system up to the level needed before the opening of the Confederation Line.
We are making great progress on the Confederation Line – a project that will transform the way people move around our city.
This is important to our city in so many ways – from an economic standpoint…from a congestion standpoint…from a tourism standpoint.
I mention tourism here because Ottawa is currently preparing to host one of the most significant events it has ever seen – the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.
Our Ottawa 2017 Task Force continues to build momentum, ensuring Ottawa will be THE place to be to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
We expect a 20 per cent increase in tourism in 2017.
An additional 1.7 million guests will be a huge boost for the hospitality and retail sectors.
However, Ottawa is much bigger than Parliament Hill, and our vision extends far beyond the downtown core.
We are planning events for the whole city over the course of the entire year, from large international events to local community-driven celebrations and legacy initiatives that will bring enduring benefit to our communities.
Our most recent announcement encapsulates all of these.
I announced in November that Ottawa will host the 2017 Canadian Videogame Awards.
In addition to the awards gala, which will take place at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, we are planning a videogame competition that will provide an immersive and interactive experience for residents across the city.
Semi-final and final games will even be broadcast onto the exterior walls of several large buildings across the city.
I think this is a novel concept that will really appeal to our younger residents.
This 5-7 day event will bring in more than
$1 million for the local economy.
However, it will do much more than that.
It will show Canadian families that Ottawa is dynamic and youth friendly, and it will showcase Ottawa as a centre of excellence for software development.
You will hear more announcements like this in the year ahead.
So, stayed tuned…
We have consulted with hundreds of organizations and community leaders about the types of activities that will make 2017 the event of a generation.
We are currently engaged with our federal and provincial partners and the private sector to secure funding and finalizing details on several big announcements.
As these roll out, I think many residents will opt to take stay-cations in 2017.
There will just be so much to see and do right here at home.
With only 23 months to go, now is the time that you should be actively planning how you will leverage 2017 to grow your business and build your community.
And if your industry has an event that we could bring to Ottawa, let us know.
Just email ottawa2017@ ottawa-dot-c-a.
Together, we will invite the world to experience Ottawa like never before and celebrate Canada’s 150th like nowhere else.
And we will deliver a celebration that brings lasting benefit to our city.
So, there’s no question that it is an exciting time to live in Ottawa.
We have a lot to look forward to both this year and in the coming years – the Confederation Line, 2017 celebrations, the Innovation Centre the FIFA Women’s World Cup and increased support for our local businesses and entrepreneurs.
We are also a growing city, as those of you here in the west end know well.
With this growth comes the need to provide good, reliable services across the entire city, and, as Mayor, along with my Council colleagues, we are honoured to serve this great community in this exciting time.
Residents were clear in the election that they want a Council that works well together to find creative solutions to our city’s challenges.
We have done a good job of this over the past four years, and will continue to do so going forward.
Let me conclude by thanking you – the men and women of Ottawa’s west end business communities – for the long hours and risk you take each and every day to keep your businesses going, and for employing the hundreds of citizens you do.
I wish you all the very best in 2015, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.