• Government funding supports a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River

    Ottawa, Ontario— Infrastructure investments are vital to creating jobs, strengthening the middle class and building more inclusive and healthy communities where families can work, learn and play. The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) project will help protect the environment, prevent floods, and ensure that middle class Canadians and their families can enjoy recreational activities like swimming and kayaking on a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River.

    Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean, and his Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, announced that more than $232 million in government funding will go to the CSST project. The Honourable Andrew Leslie, Chief Government Whip and Member of Parliament for Orléans, also participated in the announcement.

    The project will include the construction of two tunnels: an east-west tunnel through the downtown core from LeBreton Flats to New Edinburgh Park, and a north-south tunnel along Kent Street from Catherine Street to existing infrastructure, just behind the Supreme Court of Canada. This project will greatly reduce the frequency of sewage overflows into the Ottawa River during storms, reduce the risk of basement flooding for several low-lying lands in the Glebe/O’Connor area, and increase operational flexibility and redundancy to major collector sewers. Once rainfall has subsided, this water will be treated and returned safely to the Ottawa River.

    Construction has already begun on the CSST project, the largest portion of the Ottawa River Action Plan, to help ensure that the Ottawa River is sustainable into the future. Today’s investment demonstrates a clear commitment to investing in local infrastructure projects that will ensure Canadians have access to a healthy local environment and reliable public services for years to come.

    The governments of Canada and Ontario are each providing $62.09 million. In addition, the City of Ottawa has committed $107 million.

    Quotes

    “The Government of Canada is committed to investing in infrastructure that will support a healthier environment, create job opportunities, strengthen the middle class, and better meet the needs of Canadians. The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel will help protect the environment, reduce basement flooding, and ensure that middle class Canadians and their families can enjoy recreational activities on a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River.”
    The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

    “Our government is committed to building Ontario up, while ensuring our communities thrive today and for generations to come. This project will make the Ottawa River safer and healthier, improve the environmental sustainability of the surrounding community and generate economic activity in the Ottawa area, all while creating local jobs.”
    The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean

    “The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel is one of the most important projects of the Ottawa River Action Plan, which is the City of Ottawa’s roadmap for protecting the health and vitality of the Ottawa River for present and future generations. Federal and Provincial funding for the CSST project demonstrates a vote of confidence in our Council’s commitment to protecting our local environment, including one of our most precious resources, our water.”
    His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

    Quick facts

    • The CSST will hold up to 43,000m3 of sewer overflow during major rainfalls, the equivalent capacity of approximately 18 Olympic-sized pools.
    • In February 2010, Ottawa City Council approved the Ottawa River Action Plan, a collection of 17 projects aimed at improving the health of the Ottawa River and funded in part by the Ottawa River Fund, a cost-sharing program with the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.
    • Completion of the project is anticipated in late 2019 with the intent of having the CSST in full operation by mid-2020.
    • Portions of the project are located on lands contributed by the National Capital Commission.
    • Dragados Tomlinson has been selected as the construction team building the project.
    • Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province’s history – about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals. Since 2015, the province announced support for more than 475 projects that are helping to keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life.

    Associated links

    Investing in Canada, the Government of Canada’s new $120 billion infrastructure plan: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/index-eng.html.
    Federal infrastructure investments in Ontario: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/map-carte/index-eng.html.
    New Building Canada Plan: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/nbcp-npcc-eng.html.
    City of Ottawa programs and services: CSST@ottawa.ca / http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/water-and-environment/ottawa-river-action-plan
    Building Ontario – infrastructure plan: www.Ontario.ca/BuildON

  • New signs announce Ottawa’s cycling and pedestrian-friendly status

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Peter Hume, Chair of the City’s Planning Committee, today unveiled new signs to promote Ottawa’s award-winning status as a cycling and pedestrian-friendly city.

    “We are proud of the work we have done to achieve award-winning status as a cycling and pedestrian-friendly city,” said Mayor Watson. “These new signs, posted underneath existing ‘Welcome to Ottawa’ (population) signs, will help inform visitors of our accomplishments as we welcome them to our city.”

    In 2013 the City of Ottawa received a silver-level designation as a walk-friendly city by WALK Friendly Ontario, the highest level ever awarded by this organization. Also in 2013, Ottawa became the first city in the province to receive the gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award by Share the Road Cycling Coalition.

    “The City continues to improve our infrastructure by incorporating comprehensive complete streets principles into the way we design and upgrade roadways and pathways,” said Chair Hume.”We are committed to continually improving mobility and safety for all travelers through best practices in design and engineering.”

    More than $28 million has been invested in cycling facilities in this term of Council, which has enabled several significant new cycling facilities and enhancements in all parts of the City, including the O-Train Pathway, rural Pathways, and the Laurier Segregated Bicycle Lanes. Additional projects are being implemented, including completion of the 12-kilometre East-West Bikeway, and cycle tracks on both Churchill Avenue and Main Street.

    The total investment into expansion of the cycling network included in the City’s Cycling Plan, approved by Council in November 2013, is estimated at $70 million over 18 years, with another $40 million provided for major cycling pedestrian structures.

    “When it comes to mobility and safety, Ottawa ranks high in engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning for cycling,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee. “The City boasts hundreds of kilometres of bike lanes, paved shoulders and multi-use pathways, with new infrastructure being added all the time.”

    Today, Ottawa can boast of a growing network of cycling infrastructure and multi-use pathways that covers 700 kilometres around the city, with over 10,000 bike parking spaces, more than 1,500 ring-and-post racks, making it more convenient and comfortable to take all the events and attractions our great City has to offer by foot or by bike.

    In addition, City council in 2013 approved the new Ottawa Pedestrian Plan that provides detailed direction on how the City can become more pedestrian-friendly through affordable expansion of the pedestrian network, planning safety awareness and promotion, maintenance and co-operation with other governments.

  • City of Ottawa first to receive gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award

    Ottawa – Today the City of Ottawa had the honour of being the first city in the province to receive the gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community Award by Share the Road Cycling Coalition, a cycling advocacy organization that works with Ontario municipalities to make their communities more bicycle-friendly. The award was presented to Mayor Jim Watson at the Annual Association of Municipalities Ontario conference.

    “The City of Ottawa and my Council colleagues are delighted to receive this distinction,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “I’m proud of the progress we are making and excited about the additional plans we have underway to become an even more bicycle-friendly city.”

    Ottawa ranked high in all five evaluation categories – engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning. The gold-level recognition reinforces the fact that Ottawa is moving in the right direction with its bicycle-friendly policies and initiatives.

    Ottawa has achieved several bicycle-friendly accomplishments to date, including over 10,000 bike parking spaces, over 1,500 ring-and-post racks, 50 per cent of city busses equipped with rack-and-roll mechanisms, and approximately 350 km of bike lanes and paved shoulders. As well, the City of Ottawa has over 70km of additional bike lanes and various other improvements planned for the coming years, including:

    Main Street cycle track

    Hampton Park Pathway/Bikeway

    Sawmill Creek Pathway – Phase 2

    Churchill Avenue cycle track

    East-West Bikeway

    Hartwell Locks Bicycle Channel

    “Ottawa’s bike culture is vibrant and growing and it’s vital that we at the City respond with the support and infrastructure to further encourage its growth and evolution,” said Keith Egli, Chair of Ottawa’s Transportation Committee. “An investment in cycling is an investment in the future health of our city.”

    Ottawa is also well attuned to the role of cycling in urban planning and sustainability. According to Peter Hume, Chair of the Planning Committee, “Cycling is here to stay. It’s part of our urban fabric and plays an essential role in strengthening our public health and environment. Any planning or development that doesn’t take cycling into consideration on some level is simply not building with the future in mind.”

    For more information on Ottawa’s cycling initiatives, visit ottawa.ca

  • 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.

  • City Solid Waste Contract Shows $600K Surplus in 2011

    Ottawa – The partnership between the City of Ottawa and the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 503 continues to beat financial targets and resulted in a $600,582 operating surplus in 2011 for its solid waste collection operations.

    “We continue to be proud of the savings achieved for taxpayers through the hard work of the City and its labour union partners,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said. “We value the strong working relationship we have with CUPE and look forward to the continued success of the in-house solid waste collection group.”

    “This partnership continues to provide cost savings for our taxpayers,” said Councillor Maria McRae, Environment Committee Chair. “Residents are receiving top notch service and the City is getting excellent value for taxpayers’ money.”

    Brian Madden, President of CUPE Local 503, said that this partnership showcases the hard work being done by union members in the collection group and is a fine example of the excellent service provided to the community by all CUPE Local 503 employees.

    “All our members work hard every day to serve their fellow citizens,” Mr. Madden said. “By partnering with the City on solid waste collection, we’ve created a situation where everyone wins: employees, the municipality and taxpayers.”

    In 2006, City of Ottawa Council approved and awarded a six-year contract for waste collection in the downtown core to City Staff. The contract award resulted from a managed competition process that was overseen by a fairness commissioner.

  • Mayor’s Speech: The Annual Chairs Breakfast with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

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    Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

    It’s my pleasure to be here with you here today.

    Please let me convey my sincere congratulations to Dave Donaldson and Mark Sutcliffe on behalf of all of us at Ottawa City Council.

    I know these two individuals will keep the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce at the forefront of economic development and innovation in the nation’s capital.

    In the past year I’ve had the pleasure of working with the Chamber as well as with both Dave and Mark in their respective roles in the community.

    Dave continues to be instrumental in the growth and success of Algonquin College – an institution that only continues to climb higher while attracting scores of local and international students.

    And Mark continues to do things like complete marathons, host TV shows, radio shows and run a community newspaper.

    Well I’m very happy to have the opportunity to deliver some brief remarks about economic development and the year ahead.

    Let me begin with a short recap of what we were up to in 2011…setting the stage for what I think will be an exciting year of tangible, measurable progress.

    The City has put forward an ambitious economic development plan that will see $5.5 million in annual funding targeted to various economic development projects and initiatives.

    I want to thank the Chamber for their cooperative approach as we have spent many weeks working with OCRI to ensure the Chamber and Invest Ottawa complement one another – not compete with each other.

    One of the major elements of this plan is the transformation of OCRI into a more focused organization called Invest Ottawa to pursue strategic economic development in the nation’s capital.

    I can’t emphasize enough that this isn’t a simple rebranding exercise…

    It’s about a new way of thinking.

    It’s about sharper focus to achieve clear goals.

    The establishment of Invest Ottawa sends a strong signal to our stakeholders that economic development is taking a front seat at City Hall as we compete on a world stage for jobs, growth and opportunity.

    Invest Ottawa will help build confidence in our own ability to attract jobs and investment to our community.

    The job loss headlines of the last few months are more than sufficient to convince us that we need to take our economic development destiny in our own hands – the days of relying on the Government of Canada to be the primary engine of this community’s growth are behind us.

    Under the leadership of Bruce Lazenby, the focus of Invest Ottawa will be to attract investment and expand and retain existing businesses in Ottawa in key industry sectors, including green energy, aerospace and defence, photonics, life sciences, digital media and film and television.

    We have also created a Major Events Office in partnership with Ottawa Tourism to attract and support large-scale cultural and sports events that have significant positive benefits for our local economy.

    This will bring greater attention to our third largest industry in Ottawa…promoting the nation’s capital as a premiere destination for world-class events.

    • World-class events like the 2012 NHL All-Star game that Ottawa is fortunate to host in just over a week from now
    • The 2012 JUNO Awards at Scotiabank Place on April 1, 2012
    • The 2013 IIHF World Women’s Championships.
    • And The City is also in the process of bidding to host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which would bring the world’s best female soccer players to the capital.

    The formula is simple:

    Bid more.

    Win more.

    Host more.

    Events like these not only bring a lot of tourism dollars into our city, but also put Ottawa on the world stage through media and television coverage, enticing even more people to come visit the nation’s capital.

    The addition of the stunning new Ottawa Convention Centre, which opened its doors in 2011, to Ottawa’s landscape is a significant factor in Ottawa being awarded premiere national and international events.

    Another part of our renewed focus on economic development includes upping the stakes on attracting more film, television and new media industries to Ottawa.

    In this vein, Invest Ottawa recently hired a Commissioner to lead the newly established Film, Television and Digital Media Office at Invest Ottawa where the Office will be responsible for the continued development, retention, competitiveness and enhancement of these industries.

    And with this renewed focus we can expect to see more feature films and television series shot here.

    In fact this week I, along with Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches and Councillor Bob Monette met with stars Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan as well as the production crew on the set of Penthouse North, which is filming throughout the City.

    These sorts of film productions bring in a lot of money, they employ our residents and we want to see more of them!

    Our city’s Economic Development Branch has also received approval for $1.5M in capital funding for a film, television and digital media studio, which is the key to the vitality and growth of the film sector here in Ottawa.

    The City has also launched a highly successful grant program to assist Business Improvement Areas.

    In 2011 alone, 16 grants were made to BIAs totalling approximately $100,000 and levering an additional $100,000 investment by the BIAS themselves.

    This renewed focus…this new energy….is how we will respond to an ever-changing and highly competitive economic climate, while creating the conditions for success and continued prosperity for our great city.

    Before I close, I’d like to take a minute and highlight a very exciting event taking place on February 9th at the brand new CE Centre.

    Through the City’s partnership with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal, we are hosting a Light Rail Trade Show to support our local businesses so they can get involved in the single biggest infrastructure project in our city’s history.

    The Light Rail project will generate $3 Billion in economic activity and create 20,000 person years of labour.

    From Construction to professional services to technology, there will be a lot of action for our local entrepreneurs and businesses.

    We want to ensure that the three shortlisted consortia, comprised of world-class firms with extensive expertise in transit infrastructure projects, have an opportunity to be exposed to the high quality goods, services and expertise that Ottawa-area contractors and suppliers can offer.

    Ottawa businesses, labour unions, and educational institutions, among other organizations are invited to participate in the trade show and to interact and engage with the project’s consortia.

    If you’re a business looking to register, you can do so through the Ottawa Chamber’s website.

    So in closing, I would like to reaffirm my desire to continued success working with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and its members.

    As I said last year in my first speech to the Chamber as Mayor – my door is always open to you.

    Economic development in the nation’s capital is a team effort.

    It requires all of us to share ideas, to leverage resources and work together.

    I’m here for the Chamber, just as I know you’re here for the business owners and entrepreneurs of our great city.

    Thank you for allowing me some time to speak with you this morning.

    And again, congratulations to Dave Donaldson and Mark Sutcliffe.

    Thank you. Merci.

  • Ecology Ottawa Annual Dinner: Address by Mayor Jim Watson

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    Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you this evening.

    It’s my pleasure to be here today to talk directly with people who are volunteering their time to make Ottawa a cleaner, greener and better place to live.

    Over the next few weeks we will continue to hear from the public and council deliberate the budget on November 30.

    Ecology Ottawa put forward a thoughtful and comprehensive pre-budget submission – thank you.

    I hope you will agree that this budget moves on many of your priorities, to see Ottawa on track towards a truly sustainable future.

    We may not be able to do everything we want in one budget, but we will continue to undertake improvements in a way that is both environmentally and financially sustainable.

    I want to take some of our time here this evening to describe some of the action we’re taking at City hall that will make us greener immediately and will also position us for the future

    A good city works to make sure that are a mix of active mobility options so you can get where you need to go, quickly and safely – when you need to go.

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

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

    We fight that by saying no to uncontrolled urban sprawl.

    We fight that by providing public transit that is convenient, affordable and comfortable.

    Nobody wants a community where we have to burn a litre of gas in the car to get a litre of milk at the store.

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

    It is our circulatory system and we can’t tolerate interruption for long.

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

    Our public transit dollars have to go far.

    That is why we had to introduce our network optimization last year, to get rid of wasteful routings.

    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.

    I’m happy to say that transit ridership in Ottawa is up 6% this year over last year.

    The September 2012 numbers are 5.6% higher than they were in September of 2011 alone.

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

    Budget 2012 boosts 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 the coming year we will be adding some 66,000 service hours to address growing demands on our system.

    This increased service will begin by January 1st of 2012.

    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.

    Council also acted in 2011 to get light rail back on track.

    This project is 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.

    The long lines of bumper-to-bumper busses that crowd through the core have reached their limit now.

    Adding more busses doesn’t actually increase capacity – it just serves to slow down everyone.

    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.

    As we prepare for the construction of light rail we need to make sure that our existing transportation infrastructure is up to date and ready to handle the demands that will be placed on it throughout construction.

    We need to take care of the roads we have before we expand.

    Let’s maintain our infrastructure well now, so we can be prudent with money and prudent with growth.

    That’s a key part of why Budget 2012 introduces Ottawa on the Move.

    Ottawa on the Move accelerates the planned transportation infrastructure projects – many of which were planned as far as five years out.

    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.

    Building on last year’s budget’s push in this direction, through its resurfacing program, 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.

    There is no point in creating cycling paths in isolation from one another.

    They need to be part of a network so you can set out to get from where you are to where you need to be with confidence.

    Ottawa on the Move will see to it that this network is built, and built quickly.

    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, Budget 2012 provides an additional $12.1 million over three years for cycling infrastructure.

    This funding is on top of the $8 million over four years provided in Budget 2011, and does not include an additional estimated $6 million in new bike lanes and paved shoulders that will be done through Ottawa on the Moves’ road renewal program.

    In total, this term of Council will provide the largest financial commitment ever put towards building our cycling city – over $26 million, a new record.

    We have heard you loud and clear: Ottawa needs accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation options that encourage residents to choose a green commute.

    I believe that our Ottawa on the Move plan is a significant step towards that reality.

    Sustainable Ottawa

    A green community isn’t just about transportation infrastructure.

    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.

    Budget 2012 devotes $3 million in the coming year to green building retrofits and $500,000 a year to expanding our green fleet program.

    So far our Smart Energy initiatives have achieved annual savings of $800,000 each year, by retrofitting City facilities with lighting upgrades, controls for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, reducing our water consumption, as well as converting from electric, oil and propane to natural gas.

    Budget 2012 commits $750,000 in capital support and $150,000 in additional operating funds to implement projects that make Ottawa green.

    As part of this, to help build a greener, more ecologically robust City:

    – $100,000 will be committed to redesigning three public spaces to show green design and practices, one urban, one suburban and one rural property;

    – Launching a pilot waste reduction project with the NCC to offer access to our organics program at major events like Winterlude and Canada Day.

    – The Community Environmental Grant Program will be expanded to help increase the ability of the community to undertake small-scale initiatives;

    – The City will work with partners to seed the development of an Ottawa Land Trust that would use conservation easements and fundraise for acquisitions of high conservation value land;

    – Putting in place a green roof program through education and building towards development of a green roof bylaw for large low-rise institutional, commercial, and industrial buildings;

    – Piloting water efficiency measures at the Britannia wading pool;

    – Committing $20,000 to assist with implementation of water-efficiency measures at City splash pads where they are supplied by wells in rural areas so we can expand water recreation opportunities in these areas;

    – Conducting a green design competition between developers on a designated piece of land.

    The winning developer would then construct the project.

    Budget 2012 put down some important markers on greener buildings.

    This year we will create a powerful incentive to undertake more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable building – the Green Express Lane.

    Those who strive for more…

    – Who maximize energy efficiency;

    – Set the bar higher on water conservation;

    – Incorporate reused materials;

    – Minimize waste from construction and demolition; and

    – Work to reduce strain on our roadways by being close to transit…

    …will be provided with a more direct and accelerated permitting process.

    We will examine and pre-approve the new better build techniques to which we want to give priority and we will support them.

    We will set a tough standard for housing, buildings and renovations to qualify for a new Green Express Lane.

    Builders and homeowners who include these better build techniques such as solar hot water heaters, photovoltaic systems, storm and gray water re-use systems will not face barriers as has been the case in the past – they will instead get express lane service.

    We will also add to the Environmentally Sensitive Land Fund we created last year, dedicated to making sure we have the resources to buy and protect key parcels of land.

    Already there is $4.4 million in the fund and we will add approximately $1.4 million this year.

    We will continue to work at reducing the household and commercial waste produced in Ottawa.

    As you know waste is a major source of greenhouse gasses.

    Any landfill creates methane, a powerful global warming gas.

    The trucks that long-haul the majority of commercial waste generated in Ottawa to the United States produce emissions as well.

    Under Maria McRae’s leadership we are making progress at increasing diversion and reducing our reliance on landfill.

    We are expanding the scope of our efforts to divert material and reuse, recycle and recover waste to highest and best use.

    Next year we will save money and increase our diversion rates as we move to weekly green bin pick-up year-round.

    To make sure we at the city continue to mind our own performance and do even more to lead by example, Budget 2012 provides $25,000 to increase waste diversion at municipal facilities, including expanded access to the Green Bin program.

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

    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.

    One point I know people have been noticing is the lack of tree cover we’re seeing put in the suburbs.

    The reason for this is a decision by Council last term to stop tree planting in new sub divisions.

    The answer is not to stop planting trees on residential streets over vast parts of our city.

    This year we are committed to getting an answer to the situation we’re in with trees not being planted through large portions of the city where Leda clay prevails.

    We will provide some ingenuity and common sense to get back to tree lined streets in the suburbs.

    I want to end by specifically addressing our desire to take up the full benefit of Ontario’s forward-looking feed-in tariff.

    As some of you know we’ve had a problem here in Ottawa gaining the full benefit of the program, but that is about to change.

    Up until now a limit at the Hydro One facility on Hawthorne has made it impossible to connect major new green energy generation to the grid here in Ottawa.

    Some smaller generation has been able to move ahead.

    But nothing large was approved here because the equipment at the one Hydro One Transmission station couldn’t take it.

    Early in this year I wrote to Laura Formusa, President and CEO of Hydro One to ask her to personally assure me this would be fixed.

    Now it is a major upgrade to our grid so it can’t happen over night, but I am pleased to tell you that I have received a commitment to fix this limitation and that the Hawthorne problem is on the list for work next year.

    Home owners can move now, but by 2013 we should have an open field to make more progress on larger green electricity projects.

    I will be looking to the province to see that we secure an allocation for this city going forward that reflects the grid limits we’ve laboured under here in Ottawa, limits caused by Hydro One’s infrastructure.

    With the future of the Feed-in Tariff in better focus and the provincial election behind us, I am confident we can get activity going in Ottawa.

    Algonquin College just announced a major expansion in Ottawa focused on building the skills of green technology and building techniques.

    If we have the will to really push over the next few years, we can make a dramatic difference.

    Working together for a better Ottawa

    Thank you again for providing me this opportunity to give you an overview of the key environmental and sustainability measures at the City.

    I am also grateful for your organization’s continued involvement in the pre-budget process – dedicated volunteers such as yourselves are a vital part of building a community that reflects the priorities and values of its residents.

    I am proud of our track record on green issues:

    – Record money for cycling

    – 1st downtown segregated bike lane

    – Creation of an environmentally sensitive land reserve fund

    – Solar panels on city buildings, including city hall

    – Expansion of recycling opportunities

    – Stand alone Environment Committee

    And all this in just 10 months in office.

    I look forward to continuing to work with you to make Ottawa a greener, more sustainable, and better place to live.

  • Proposed Water and Sewer Rate Increase Lowest in Eight Years

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Environment Committee Chair Maria McRae are pleased to announce the City’s 2011 draft water and wastewater budget contains the lowest proposed rate increase in eight years.

    The draft rate budget, tabled today at the City’s Environment Committee, supports City Council’s commitments to providing high-quality drinking water, protecting the environment, reducing the risk of flooding, and renewing existing infrastructure while keeping costs down.

    The budget contains a 3.9-per-cent increase, which is less than half the increase imposed in each of the last three years and the lowest since 2003. At the same time, the budget maintains funding for the City’s infrastructure renewal and flood protection needs, and makes the necessary investments in the Ottawa River Action Plan. (See Highlights below)

    “I’m pleased to deliver a rate budget that balances the City’s pressing infrastructure needs and protection of the environment while limiting impact on taxpayers,” Mayor Jim Watson said. “Ottawa produces and delivers some of the safest and best quality water found anywhere in the world, and we need to invest in our infrastructure to make sure this continues.”

    The draft rate budget will be debated at Committee March 28 and sent to Council for final approval on April 13.

    According to the Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI), City of Ottawa water and wastewater services are consistently operated efficiently and effectively. In every category, the independent body concludes the citizens of Ottawa are receiving excellent value for money by meeting or exceeding provincial averages.

    The replacement value of the City’s network of pipes is estimated at approximately $17 billion, and, since much of this infrastructure was installed shortly after World War II, these systems require continuing rehabilitation or replacement to maintain current standards.

    Principally, this is what drives increases in water and wastewater budgets in all cities. In Ottawa’s case, the proposed 2011 rate increase will cost roughly 50 cents per week for the average household, and mean that, for about same price as one 500ml bottle of water, the City delivers 1,000 litres of some of the best drinking water in North America through your tap.

    “We are committed to delivering top quality services to the citizens of Ottawa in the most cost efficient manner possible,” Environment Committee Chair Councillor Maria McRae said. “With the investments we are making in the Ottawa River Action Plan and combined sewer overflow control, the City of Ottawa will remain a leader in environmental protection.”

    Highlights of the 2011 draft Rate Budget include:

    – A greatly reduced rate increase — 3.9-per-cent – when compared to the last three years when nine per increases were imposed.

    – An overall operating budget of $264 million for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

    – A $206 million capital works program directed at improving and renewing the City’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Of that total, approximately 95% of this program will be directed towards rehabilitating and renewing City infrastructure.

    – Major elements of the 2011 capital program include:

     – $17 million for Ottawa River Action Plan projects aimed at ensuring the long-term health of the Ottawa River;

     – $6.8 million in works to reduce the risk of flooding in the City’s West End;

     – $1.75 million to reimburse residents who install protective plumbing devices;

     – $5 million to rehabilitate more than eight kilometres of watermains in total;

     – $3.8 million to rehabilitate the Woodroffe Avenue watermain and other measures to increase service reliability in the area;

     – $4.8 million to rehabilitate more than seven kilometres of sanitary sewers; and

     – $4.4 million to rehabilitate more almost five kilometres of storm sewers.

     – The City will also continue to directly assist homeowners improve their own infrastructure through programs including:

    – The Protective Plumbing Program — $1.75 million;

    – The Sewer Lateral Replacement Program — $1.2 million; and

    – The Lead Service Replacement Program — $1 million.

    – A proposed water charge of $1.32 per cubic metre – roughly 1,000 litres of delivered water for the same price as one 500 ml bottle of water bought in a store.

    – A sewer surcharge of 117% of the water charge.

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    For a comment from the Mayor:

    Bruce Graham
    613-580-2424 x. 14299
  • City tables draft 2011 Budget under 2.5%

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson and Kent Kirkpatrick, City Manager, today presented a draft budget that proposes a tax increase of 2.45%, slightly below the 2.5% maximum total tax increase directed by the newly elected Council on December 15, 2010.

    Draft Budget 2011 recommends a tax increase of 2.45% for urban home owners and commercial properties and 2.4% in rural areas. The average urban home will see an increase of only $75 this year for City services – this is considerably less than the average urban tax increase for the last few years: $135 in 2008; $166 in 2009; $125 in 2010; and, $75 in 2011.

    The Ottawa Public Library Board and the Ottawa Police Services Board have also tabled budgets in line with 2.5%.

    The total tax-supported 2011 budget is $2.4 billion in operating spending and $622 million in new capital spending.

    The proposed budget offers enough flexibility to adjust spending plans when emergencies or unusual spending requirements occurs and a small surplus for 2010 has allowed the City to restore a previously depleted reserve fund – the winter maintenance reserve fund. Both responsive and responsible, it delivers a budget that will enable the City to manage and live within its means, provide better and more affordable services, attend to our more vulnerable residents and care for the environment.

    “The draft budget tabled today sets the foundation for the fiscal framework for the next four years,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The residents of Ottawa and this new Council have clearly demanded that we manage in a more prudent and predictable way – while preserving and improving important public services. While there are tough decisions to be made, I am confident that the review of the budget details over the next few weeks will result in a balanced package that will serve us well in the future,” he added.

    Highlights of Budget 2011 include:

    – Freezing of recreation fees for activities for the first time since amalgamation;

    – Provisions to expand the free transit period for seniors from Wednesdays only to include Mondays and Fridays after 12 noon;

    – $2.8 million per year for new cycling initiatives across the City;

    – 22 front line paramedics with two new, fully equipped ambulances and two new technicians to keep the ambulances on the streets;

    – 45 new firefighters to staff two new fire stations;

    – $161 million towards projects and programs to improve and streamline the bus system;

    – A $10 million investment in Housing and Poverty Reduction initiatives that is in addition to a $4 million capital investment for housing initiatives;

    – $2 million allocated for economic development initiatives;

    – 74 new bus drivers to improve service and reduce overtime;

    – $500,000 funding envelope for priority environmental initiatives;

    – $28 million to address the flooding and sewage back-up problems in the west end;

    – Capital spending plan that focuses on transit investments, the renewal of roads and sewers and new parks and recreation facilities;

    – Advances key initiatives including: the Ottawa River Action Plan, Light Rail and Lansdowne redevelopment;

    – $4.8 million in 2011 towards the first phase of funding for a new $48 million recreation complex in Barrhaven South; and,

    – Capital works over the next few years to improve Ottawa’s road network, including: $30 million expansion of Trim Road in Orleans; $17 million on the east-end extension from Navan Road to 10th Line Road; $9.5 million on St. Joseph Boulevard; our share of the Highway 417 interchange; and, $55 million for the Alta Vista connection to Smyth Road.

    “This year’s budget process has been and will continue to be a dynamic one that has retained the rigour of past budget reviews and has brought with it a different and productive approach to identifying budget challenges and solutions,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “This is the first time that Council has given the mandate to the Mayor and the City Manager to work together to table a draft budget. This productive dialogue generated challenging discussions across the corporation that demanded the commitment of many staff. The product represents a balanced, reasonable and forward thinking proposal for Council’s consideration.”

    Standing Committees and Boards will meet to listen to public delegations, review and recommend draft budgets to Council for consideration and adoption March 8 to 10.

    In addition, the Mayor will host a Spending Control Town Hall Meeting on Taxes on March 1 at Ottawa City Hall starting at 7 p.m.

    To comment on Budget 2011, residents can call 311, e-mail 311@ottawa.ca or fax 613-560-2126. All information related to Budget 2011 is available at ottawa.ca/budget2011.

    -30-

    For a comment from the Mayor:

    Bruce Graham
    613-580-2424 x. 14299