• Budget 2016

    2016 promises to be a big year in our city and before embarking on a year of important work to build a better Ottawa, I wanted to take a look back on the year we have just left behind.

    October of 2015 brought with it Council’s one year anniversary since our election as well as the 5 year anniversary since my election as Mayor in 2010. Your continued support remains an honour which I never take for granted and I am committed to working hard to maintain your trust moving forward.

    One of our guiding principles as a Council this past year – as it has been in the 4 that preceded it-  is to find the balance between being prudent with taxpayers dollars in the present while making the necessary investments to ensure our city’s enduring prosperity. This means being rigorous in setting our priorities and honest in understanding that we cannot be all things to all people.

    On December 9, Council passed our 2016 budget which adheres to this principle. With a 2% tax increase – consistent to what I promised in the 2014 election – we continued record investments in social housing, arts, cycling, roads (both urban and rural), and sidewalks. We also moved ahead on the single largest infrastructure investment in our city’s history since the building of the canal: our Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

    2015 saw important milestones reached as the first phase of LRT continues to be built on-time and on-budget. 2015 also brought with it commitments from the two other levels of government to fund second phase of LRT which will see extensions east to Place d’Orleans, south the Riverside South, and West to Bayshore and Baseline at Algonquin College. We have never been closer to being a city fully connected by LRT and I am looking forward to finishing the work needed to realize this in the coming years.

    2015 was an incredible year for sports in Ottawa. First, our city was swept up by the excitement of the Senators improbable run to the playoffs. Second, our new professional baseball team, the Ottawa Champions, took the field for their inaugural season. Third, our Ottawa Fury soccer team made it all the way to the NASL championship game after a great season. Finally, our Ottawa REDBLACKS made it to the Grey Cup after a late touchdown in the Eastern Final that few will forget. Our team may have fallen short in that final game but they made our city proud and I join many in anxiously awaiting next year’s season.

    I hope that you have all been able to spend time with your families over the holidays and I look forward to continuing to serve as your Mayor in 2016.

  • City Council approves 2015 budget

    Ottawa – City Council today approved the 2015 Operating and Capital Budgets, limiting the total residential property tax increase to 2 per cent, while moving ahead with significant city-building projects such as Light Rail Transit, Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    “This budget was designed to ensure Ottawa maintains momentum on the major initiatives already well underway across the region that are helping to enhance our reputation as a progressive, thriving and growing city,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “A new crime prevention strategy and increases to affordable housing are also among the budget’s centrepieces.”

    The 2015 budget promises investment in affordable housing, community facilities and crime prevention, while keeping taxes and user fees affordable. The transit fare increase has been capped at 2.5 per cent and recreation fees will increase by no more than two per cent. The garbage fee remains frozen for a third consecutive year.

    “The 2015 Budget does a good job of balancing competing interests and desires, while ensuring the provision of day-to-day services and important infrastructure,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “I want to thank residents, the Mayor, Councillors and staff for all their input and effort in the development of the budget.”

    Budget 2015 promises key investments that improve Ottawa’s reputation as 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 $1.3 million.

    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 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 the Ottawa Police Service.

    For more information about the Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2015.

  • Blog: 100 Days

    First of all, I want to thank the residents of Ottawa who have sent me their well-wishes over the past few weeks. It has not been easy for me to be away from City Hall while I recover but the phone calls, letters, emails, Twitter and Facebook messages, and kind words have meant a lot to me.

    Although I have been away, the work of Council continues and I’m happy to note that we have now marked 100 days in office.

    In November, the students of Algonquin College voted to join the OC Transpo U-Pass creating one of the largest and most inclusive U-Pass programs in Canada.

    In December, Council supported two of my governance-related election commitments with the elevation of the Audit Committee to a full standing committee and the creation of the position of Sports Commissioner.

    On these endeavours and others, I have been encouraged by the constructive, collaborative tone around the Council table. Working together, we are keeping life affordable, while investing in key community needs to ensure Ottawa remains the best place to live, raise a family, and grow a business.

    Doing so requires predictability from our tax system and I am proud to have kept my electoral promise of low tax rate changes in the recently passed 2015 budget. This budget ensures our continued financial stability while pushing forward on several significant city-building projects like LRT, the revitalized Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    The top priority for my second term remains our LRT system and two project milestones were reached in these first 100 days: We opened the new pedestrian and cycling bridge near Coventry Rd. and unveiled a model LRT train at the Aberdeen Pavilion. The former will connect Overbrook residents to the coming LRT station at Tremblay while the latter is giving residents a taste of what the future of transit in Ottawa holds in store. I’m happy to report that construction on the Confederation Line remains on time and on budget and that the Environmental Assessments are ongoing for Stage 2.

    Speaking of which, the 100 day Western LRT Working Group that John Baird and I began reported last week that they had agreed upon a route for the Western LRT extension. This is an affordable and pragmatic route that will serve the residents of Ottawa well and enhance access to the Ottawa River. My thanks to the members of the 100 Day Working Group along with Minister Pierre Poilievre for their hard work and commitment to this project.

    Looking ahead, on March 31 the City will host and important public engagement session to hear from residents about a new central library. Later this year, tourism and hospitality stakeholders will gather at City Hall for a Tourism Summit, another one of my election commitments.

    Over the coming months, I am looking forward to working with Council to set the Term of Council priorities. I will advocate for economic development, road safety, and affordable housing to be central in these priorities.

    Our term is off to a great start and I am confident that working together we will build a more liveable, caring, vibrant, and prosperous city over the next four years.

  • 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.
  • City of Ottawa maintains Triple-A credit rating for second time in four months

    Ottawa – The City of Ottawa has maintained its “Aaa Stable” credit rating after a recent review by Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s had last affirmed the City’s Triple-A credit rating in April 2014, at which time it rated Ottawa’s financial outlook at the higher end of Canadian municipalities, with a lower-than-average debt burden.

    “This is a reflection of sound financial stewardship by this Council and City staff, and the prudent and respectful use of public money,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We have brought our financial house in order by striking the right balance: keeping taxes and user fees low while continuing to invest in programs and projects that enhance quality of life.”

    In Moody’s April report on the City of Ottawa’s financial outlook, it recognized the City’s strong financial governance, such as “prudent and forward-looking policies and multi-year capital plans” and “conservative debt and investment policies, which limits the city’s exposure to market-related risks.”

    Earlier this month, when Moody’s revised the Province of Ontario’s outlook from “Aa2 Stable” to “Aa2 Negative,” it announced that it would review the credit ratings for certain related organizations in Ontario, including the City of Ottawa.

    Given the very close macroeconomic and financial linkages between the Province and lower-tier governments, Moody’s rating methodology combines an assessment of the credit strength of related organizations, such as cities and universities, with an assessment of the credit strength of the “sovereign” government, in this case Ontario. Moody’s also assesses the degree to which the local government is dependent on assistance from the senior government.

    While Moody’s changed the rating outlooks from stable to negative for five related issuers, it affirmed the ratings and stable outlooks for 14 related issuers, including the City of Ottawa.

    Moody’s says that the creditworthiness of these municipalities, including high dependence on self-generated revenue, strong reserve levels and a track record of managing operating pressures, provides these municipalities with the ability to withstand a potential downgrade of the Province.

    The rating agency noted that several municipalities, including Ottawa, are rated at or above the rating for the Province and that the pressures currently facing the province, notably weak revenue growth and inability to achieve planned expenditure growth restraint, are not expected to negatively impact these municipalities.

  • City of Ottawa maintains Triple-A credit rating

    Ottawa – The City of Ottawa’s Triple-A credit rating has been reaffirmed by international credit agency Moody’s Investors Service. This is the highest rating possible and reflects strong fiscal outcomes, a manageable debt burden, strong liquidity and a stable economic base.

    “This report once again affirms the City of Ottawa’s solid financial position and management practices,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We have found the right balance as a municipality, and have done so while investing in major infrastructure projects like light rail transit that will benefit our residents for generations to come.”

    The report recognizes the City’s strong financial governance, such as “prudent and forward-looking policies and multi-year capital plans” and “conservative debt and investment policies, which limits the city’s exposure to market-related risks.”

    “The Moody’s report recognizes the City’s adherence to long-term capital planning which ensures that debt levels and debt-servicing costs remain manageable,” said City Treasurer Marian Simulik. “Council has made financing the City’s future in a responsible way a priority and the Triple-A rating is a testament to this approach.”

    Highlights of the report:

    – The City of Ottawa is rated at the higher end of Canadian municipalities

    – The City’s rating position reflects a lower-than-average debt burden and high levels of liquidity.

    – The rating outlook is stable and credit strengths for the City of Ottawa include:

      – effective fiscal planning and stable operations support positive outcomes

      – a significant cash and investments provide ample liquidity

      – a stable economy as the nation’s capital

  • Budget 2014 approved with the lowest tax change in seven years

    Ottawa – City Council has approved the Budget for 2014 that delivers a 1.9 per cent tax change – the lowest change in seven years, and below the 2 per cent cap directed by City Council on May 8, 2013. The budget respects taxpayers’ expectations that its municipal government live within its means, improve service delivery and invest strategically in initiatives that will help shape the community’s future.
    “The approval of Budget 2014 is a testament to the dedication of Council and staff to be both prudent and strategic with our financial resources,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Ottawa is continuing to grow and it is imperative that we spend wisely, with both short- and long-term goals in mind.”
    Budget 2014 continues the freeze on recreation fees and the Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets, and garbage fees will remain at the same level as in the previous year. As well, the City will reduce its workforce for the third straight year, with the removal of 55 Full-Time Equivalent positions. In addition, no new debt will be added to the capital budget in 2014.
    “The numbers laid out in this budget are directly linked to Council’s priorities,” said City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick. “It is a responsible fiscal plan that considers present day needs of Ottawa residents and sets a strong foundation for Ottawa’s future.”
    Highlights of Budget 2014 include:
     – Roll-out of “MyServiceOttawa”, an online account that allows residents and businesses to securely access multiple City services and information in one place 24/7; pay and view billing information for tax and water bills; and apply for a number of licenses and permits online;
     – Complete the final year of the $340 million Ottawa-on-the-Move 3-year infrastructure program, including   $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks;
     – Open the new Lansdowne for the return of CFL football and provide $2 million in funding for the implementation of programming and part-year operations;
     – Continue widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line;
     – Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections;
     – Invest $750,000 to implement and improve pedestrian infrastructure to better connect residents to transit, schools, parks and other key destinations;
     – Increase investment in cycling safety and facilities by $2 million;
     – Limit the average transit fare increase to 1.9 per cent;
     – Support arts and culture through an additional $500,000 in the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan, and a $1.6 million investment in the Arts Court Redevelopment Project;
     – Build and upgrade parks, recreation and cultural facilities in neighbourhoods across the city, including the opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata and the Minto Recreation Complex in Barrhaven;
     – Continue Council’s annual investment of $14 million in the Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan;
     – Invest an additional $1.2 million to fight the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and to increase forest cover across the city;
     – Invest $3.9 million in the Smart Energy Program to reduce the City’s energy costs;
     – Invest $2.5 million for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment for firefighters;
     – Replace defibrillators used by frontline paramedics, and used as part of the Public Access Defibrillator Program at a cost of $2.2. million;
     – Invest $2 million in accessibility improvements to existing City buildings and parks, and;
     – Increase investment in Economic Development by $350,000 to attract more events and visitors.
    For more information about Budget 2014, visit ottawa.ca.

     

  • Draft Budget 2014 proposes lowest percentage change in 7 years

    Ottawa – Today City Council tabled Draft Budget 2014, which delivers a stable financial plan that respects taxpayers’ expectations of its municipal government to live within its means, improve service delivery and invest strategically in initiatives which will shape the community in future years.

    Draft Budget 2014 proposes a 1.9 per cent tax rate, which is the lowest in seven years, and below the 2 per cent cap City Council directed on May 8, 2013.

    “This Draft Budget 2014 builds on the hard work of the last three years”, said Mayor Jim Watson. “It demonstrates to the residents of Ottawa that we are making real progress on issues that matter to people in neighbourhoods all across the City.”

    The budget proposes that the City continue its freeze on recreation fees, the Mayor and Councillors’ office budgets, the Mayor’s salary and garbage fees. The City will reduce its workforce again this year, this time by 55 Full Time Equivalent positions. In addition, no new debt will be added to the capital budget in 2014.

    “Meeting the 2 per cent cap directed by City Council has challenged staff to make the hard decisions that are required to ensure we continue to improve service delivery to residents as well as meet Council’s strategic priorities.  I commend City staff for meeting that challenge head on with a responsible financial plan for 2014,” said City Manager, Kent Kirkpatrick.

    Highlights of Draft Budget 2014 include the following:

     – Roll-out of “MyServiceOttawa”, an online account that allows residents and businesses to securely access multiple City services and information in one place 24/7;

     – Pay and view billing information for tax and water bills and ability to apply for a number of licenses and permits online;

     – Complete the third year of the $340 million Ottawa on the Move 3-year infrastructure program;

      – Open the new Lansdowne for the return of CFL football and provide $2 million in funding for the implementation of programming, part-year operations and one-time funding for new capital items;

     – Continue widening of Highway 417 in coordination with the construction of the Confederation Line;

     – Invest $45 million in citywide road resurfacing to improve transportation networks;

     – Invest $4 million to improve peak operation in highly congested intersections;

     – Invest $750,000 to implement improve pedestrian infrastructure to better connect residents to transit, schools, parks and other key destinations;

     – Increase investment in cycling safety and facilities by $2 million;

     – Limit the average transit fare increase to 1.9 per cent which falls within Council’s cap of 2 per cent or less;

     – Support the arts and culture through an additional $500,000 in the Arts, Heritage and Culture Plan and a $1.6 million investment in the Arts Court Redevelopment Project;

     – Build, open and upgrade new parks, recreation and cultural facilities in neighbourhoods across the city, including the opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata and the Minto Recreation Complex in Barrhaven;

     – Continue Council’s annual investment of $14 million in the Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan;

     – Invest an additional $1.2 million to fight the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer and to increase forest cover across the city;

     – Invest $3.9 million in the Smart Energy Program to reduce the City’s energy costs;

     – Invest $2.5M  for new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus equipment for fire fighters;

     – Replace defibrillators used by front-line Paramedics and used as part of the Public Access Defibrillator Program at a cost of $2.2 million;

     – Invest $2 million in accessibility improvements to City buildings and parks; and

     – Increase investment in Economic Development by $350,000 to attract more events and visitors.

     – The 2014 Rate budget was adopted by Council on February 27, 2013 as part of the multi-year budget policy.  Staff will be submitting a report to the Environment Committee at its November 19 meeting.

    To comment and provide feedback on draft Budget 2014:

     – Attend one of the four regional public consultations

     – Register as a public delegation at a Standing Committee budget review meeting

     – E-mail budget2014@ottawa.ca

     – Use the Twitter hashtag #ottbudget

     – Contact your City Councillor

     – Call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or fax 613-560-2126

     – Visit ottawa.ca/budget2014 for further information

  • Mayor’s 2014 Budget Address

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    Introduction

    Good morning colleagues.

    Today I have the pleasure to Table the 2014 Draft Budget for the City of Ottawa.

    As in preceding years, I want to thank each and every one around this Council Table.

    Thank you for your input into this document which you all provide year round.

    Thank you for your commitment to making our City a better place in which to live, to work, and raise a family.

    And thank you, also, to our City Manager, the Deputy City Managers and City Treasurer who work hard each day to provide the services that mean so much to our residents, businesses and neighbourhoods.

    I also want to thank the hundreds of citizens who came to visit me and other Councillors when we did the “Mall Tour” of pre-budget consultations in September.

    It is always good to hear directly from citizens who do not always have the time or inclination to attend a formal City Council Committee Meeting or public forum.

    There was a gentleman who suggested we cut our workforce and have greater investment in industry to create jobs…this budget does that.

    There was a new student at Carleton who wants us to spend more money to clean up the Ottawa River…our money is ready to roll…we are just waiting for our Federal and Provincial partners.

    Grandparents told me that they were happy about the freeze on parks and recreation fees because it allowed their grandchildren to enrol in sports and dance classes.

    Others said to keep bus fares down, while some wanted to see salaries frozen.

    At one of the rural Fairs I attended one gentleman from West Carleton who is involved with the 4-H Club asked why we could not make their annual $5,000 grant permanent, rather than having to fill out an application each year. Good idea and we will make it happen.

    As always, lots of ideas and opinions.

    All of the input is appreciated and most people also understand that we cannot do everything all at once.

    But, they appreciated our desire to listen and, in general, told me that the direction this Council has laid out is good.

    Lowest tax rate change in 7 years

    Earlier this year we asked staff to raise the bar another notch in our effort to control the tax pressure on our residents.

    We set a maximum limit of 2.0% for any rate increase in 2014.

    I am happy to be able to tell you that Budget 2014 will see us hold the line to an increase of 1.9%

    This is the lowest increase in 7 years and means that we, as a Council, have exceeded our target each and every year of this mandate.

    2014budgetgraph

    I can also report that our partners – Ottawa Police Services, Transit Services, the Ottawa Public Library and Ottawa Public Health  –  have once again constrained themselves within Council’s maximum increase cap.

    The same will apply to Transit Fare increases – and I am pleased to report that, pending the approval of the Transit Commission, average fare increases will be kept to 1.9% – a far cry from the 7.5% of 4 years ago.

    And I want to take a moment to congratulate – Chair Diane Deans of the Transit Commission, Chair Jan Harder of the Library Board, Chair Diane Holmes of the Ottawa Public Health Board and Chair Eli El-Chantiry of the Ottawa Police Services Board – for their work and strong effort to bring financial stability and predictability to the operations of all these City partners.

    Also, a special word of thanks to the GM of Transit, John Manconi; the Chief of Police, Chuck Bordeleau; our Library CEO, Danielle McDonald; and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Isra Levy for all their work.

    If approved, Budget 2014 will also freeze the waste collection charge at $82 per household and I want to thank the Chair, Councillor Maria McRae and all of the Environment Committee for their efforts guiding the environmental work of this Council.

    This budget will see a continuation of the freeze on Mayor’s Office and Councillor Office administrative Budgets, as well on my own salary.

    And for the fourth consecutive year we will maintain a freeze on parks and recreation fees, making life a little more affordable for parents and families with children in league sports or fitness programs and for all who take part in any of the hundreds of City classes offered.

    Budget 2014 also proposes, for the third year in a row, a reduction of 55 FTEs at the City of Ottawa.

    This continued focus on reining in staff growth comes in spite of the fact that we are also adding new facilities to provide more services to our residents.

    The Barrhaven Minto Recreation Complex will require 63 new FTEs as we begin operations in this magnificent new facility.

    And, I should also note that we are all looking forward to the official opening of the Richcraft Recreation Complex in Kanata.

    This great new facility represents a $40 million investment on behalf of and to support Kanata and West Carleton residents.

    We are able to provide added personnel for these new facilities without a boost to overall staffing as a direct result of our Service Ottawa initiative.

    In 2014, Service Ottawa will return more than $4.7 Million in net savings to our bottom line.

    And we will provide more convenience to our residents and business in the process.

    The Budget also proposes to continue to increase our Contribution to Capital, as was laid out in the Long Range Financial Plan.

    Next year that increase will be more than $ 15 million, with $10.4 million coming from the city-wide portion of this Budget.

    As a Council we have been prudent.

    We have invested wisely in Ottawa on the Move, for instance.

    We have restrained tax increases, while continuing to provide the basic services people really need.

    Our measured approach will pay dividends to the City in the future.

    Financial Health

    This Budget maintains the City of Ottawa’s strong fiscal position.

    Our credit ratings remain high and unchanged.

    Moody’s has provided its highest rating at Aaa and Standard and Poor’s is AA+.

    The Treasurer has reported that Ottawa’s net total debt per capita is second lowest amongst major cities including – Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal – based on the most recent numbers available.

    In September, the Treasurer reported that, in Q2 of 2013, capital budget adjustments resulted in a reduction of $19.1 million in debt financing requirements.

    Our firm hand on the tiller means that we will not be adding any new debt in the 2014 capital budget.

    But, we cannot stand still and our infrastructure needs of a burgeoning city require us to continue to invest in renewal, as well as growth.

    Of course, City borrowing is also subject to both Provincial and Council restrictions.

    In Ontario, municipal debt may only be used for capital expenditures, not for operating costs and any borrowing is limited to 25% of all revenues raised by taxation and other fees and we remain far below that level.

    Council has also previously established an upper limit on debt repayments on tax and rate budgets at 7.5% of City raised revenue.

    Debt repayments in 2013 will be approximately 5.4% of all City raised revenues – again, well below the target.

    And, as I mentioned a moment ago – there will be no new debt added in the 2014 capital budget.

    The City is in good financial shape.

    Progress

    Budget 2014 will see us stay the course as it delivers solid progress to our residents.

    Many projects are underway.

    Lansdowne is coming to life.

    We see this now with work on all aspects of the project.

    The Stadium where the magnificent new wooden veil is taking shape.

    The move and reinvigoration of the Horticulture Building.

    The start on the new Great Lawn and urban park and all the new features it will contain.

    And, while we are all excited to see this revival taking place, I do want to take a moment to thank the people of the neighbourhood.

    They are living through a great disruption to their everyday lives.

    Our project managers have done their very best to reduce the intrusion as much as possible.

    The innovative use of an on-site concrete production facility has meant thousands fewer trucks on the streets in the area, for instance.

    But…no matter what is done…there will still be disruption.

    On behalf of all of us, I thank residents for their patience and understanding.

    And I want to thank Councillor David Chernushenko for his constant efforts and engagement on this project on behalf of his residents.

    The same thanks is also due to our neighbours in the eastern reaches of this great City.

    The transportation network is going through every bit as much a renewal as Lansdowne.

    And people living in Orleans, Navan, Blackburn Hamlet, Cumberland and all other points east have had their daily routines interrupted and adjusted as, working with our provincial partners, we fix the split and see the widening of the 417 come to reality.

    I say a special thank you for the resourcefulness and ingenuity that people are showing as they adapt to the work and re-routings that are an inevitable part of improving existing roadways.

    Councillors Bloess, Monette, Blais and Tierney have been steadfast in seeing that the interests of their residents are first and foremost every step of the way and their insight has also been important to the planning and execution of all the work.

    Mobility and transportation are important to any community and the local economy.

    And our investments in these changes today will make for a better future.

    Again, on behalf of all of Council, I say thank you for your understanding and patience, wherever you live in the City.

    Ottawa on the Move has been a remarkable program for our City.

    And there is one more year to go as we complete this most ambitious homemade infrastructure improvement program in Ottawa’s history.

    Under this program we have seen projects completed on time and on budget in every Ward in the City.

    And this is happening as we begin the real work on the biggest infrastructure project in Ottawa’s history.

    Phase 1 of our LRT is finally under construction.

    It is a project that will remake our City for the future.

    The first phase of light rail transit will move people about our growing community more efficiently, more comfortably and in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

    It is a project that is the first piece of the puzzle that will see us expand transit to all parts of our city in the coming years.

    Yes, it is long overdue, but everyone on this Council should be proud that the shovels are in the ground and work is underway.

    As we watch the investment of dollars across the City we also need to keep our eyes firmly on the future.

    Just as in our first three budgets, Budget 2014 proposes a number of strategic investments that will benefit our residents as we continue to grow and mature as a major Canadian urban centre.

    That means recreation and mobility needs must be met in addition to all the other demands that citizens may have.

    This Council has invested in our neighbourhoods with parks projects across the city.

    This will continue in 2014

    Ward 1 residents and Councillor Monette will be pleased to see a proposed commitment to Cardinal Creek 18A and Petrie Landing Park II.

    Councillor Bloess and Innes Ward will see investment in Trails Edge Park 1.

    Councillor Harder will see funding allocated for Forest Park in Havencrest and Fraser Fields Linear Park.

    Councillor Blais and residents of Cumberland Ward will see design funding for the Francois Dupuis Community Centre and investment in Millennium Park.

    The Greely Village Centre Park in Councillor Thompson’s Osgoode Ward is in Budget 2014.

    As is the Forest Park in Chapman Mills, for Councillor Desroches and residents in Riverside South.

    Councillor Hubley will see investment in the Monahan Landing Park and expansion of the Meadow Breeze Park.

    Councillor Qadri’s ward will see funds invested for the design and 1st phase of construction of a 3.24 Ha community park in the Blackstone Community.

    And Councillor McRae will receive funding for rejuvenation of the Carleton Heights Park to benefit the many seniors and young families in this area of River Ward.

    We should also note that our City’s libraries are well-loved, and well-used, closing in on 33.6 million uses by year’s end.

    And there will be an increase of nearly $1M to the library’s budget that will support their initiatives.

    Like the expansion of the Constance Bay branch in Councillor El-Chantiry’s Ward in partnership with the local community association and Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.

    The implementation of new technologies at 5 additional branches – Carlingwood, Cumberland, Greely, Greenboro and the Main Library.

    And planning for renewal and modernization at yet 2 more branches – Rosemount and the Main Library.

    And, in keeping with the times, a permanent $50K increase to the materials budget for the purchase of eBooks.

    I am also looking forward to the opening of the $10 million expansion of the Beaverbrook Branch in Kanata in the summer 2014 in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward.

    And our colleagues, Councillors Clark and Fleury, will be particularly pleased to note the $8.2 million commitment to the Donald/Somerset pedestrian bridge and all that it will add to the community.

    These are just some of the investments that we are making in the quality of life of our residents for the future.

    At the same time we continue to put much-needed resources into the upkeep of our current infrastructure.

    Community and Protective Services, under the Chairmanship of Councillor Mark Taylor, will see, among other elements, an investment of approximately $2.2 million for defibrillator replacement.

    These units are life-savers – as we have seen in several instances – and even more important to the fabric of community life as our population ages.

    Fire Services will invest $2.5 million in self-contained breathing equipment that is so integral today’s modern firefighting techniques.

    Forestry Services will see investments of $1.2 million in operating funds for Forest Cover initiatives which involve management of the Emerald Ash Borer challenge, increasing overall forest cover and improved maintenance standards, including tree planting programs.

    Forestry also will see $1.175 million in capital investments for lifecycle tree renewal and replacement of trees at the end of their life, storm damaged or subject to Emerald Ash Borer.

    This funding supports programs like Trees in Trust and the Green Acres Rural Reforestation program.

    Taken together these investments represent another indication of this Council’s strong and continuing commitment to Forestry Services.

    And in another environment-based effort the Public Works Smart Energy Program will continue to roll out with $3.9 million further funding for 2014.

    When complete the program will see implementation of more than 100 energy saving capital measures within existing City facilities.

    The program is on track to yielding $1.2 million dollars in annual savings by the end of 2013 and is also on track to exceed the anticipated simple pay back of 5 years.

    Infrastructure investment will continue in 2014.

    There is an investment of $11.6 million for the detailed design work on the Western Transitway from Bayshore Station to Moodie Drive in Councillor Taylor’s Bay Ward.

    Councillor Wilkinson’s residents will see a $31 million investment for the construction of a new four lane roadway to extend Campeau Drive from Didsbury to Huntmar.

    As part of this year’s $45 million investment in road resurfacing Councillor Chiarelli’s College Ward will see work on, to name a few, Baseline Road, Iris Street, Meadowlands Drive, and Westcliffe Road.

    In the same way, Alta Vista residents in Peter Hume’s ward will see work on Baycrest Drive, Dauphin Road, and Kilborn Avenue, while residents of Diane Holmes Somerset Ward will see work on Booth and Slater streets.

    Life cycle renewal of the Prince of Wales Dr. and Nepean Creek bridge culvert in Councillor Egli’s ward will be completed with an investment of $1.2 million and water and sewer work on Sherry Lane and Brent Avenue will require $3.9 million.

    Funding will be available to carry out life cycle renewal and seismic upgrades for the Fitzroy Station Bridge over Carp River in Councillor El-Chantiry’s ward of West Carleton-March.

    An investment of $2.6 million in Councillor Moffatt’s Rideau-Goulbourn Ward will see the replacement of storm sewers, roadways, curbs and sidewalks along Rideau Valley Drive between Rogers Stevens Dr and the bridge.

    Similarly, in Councillor Tierney’s Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward funding is necessary for life cycle renewal of the overpass at Old Montreal Rd and Cardinal Creek and it will be provided.

    Councillor Chernushenko and Capital ward will see integrated road and sewer work on First Ave. between Bronson Ave. and O’Connor, including sewer, water mains and sidewalk and full road rehabilitation for large parts of this $7.0 million project.

    Councillor Diane Deans and residents in the Greenboro area near Tapiola Crescent will see a $1.5 million investment to correct settling roadbeds caused by a poor soil base.

    In Kitchissippi Ward, Councillor Katherine Hobbs and residents will see combined sewers are being replaced with separate storm and sanitary sewers in the Rex and Kerr area and this work requires an investment outlay of $3.9 million.

    Ottawa on the Move was created and funded by this Council two years ago.

    We have invested $340 million and leveraged that into more than $500 million in total project work from 2012 to 2014.

    In those three years we created employment here in the City, in addition to investing wisely in our future.

    By the time we are done we will have seen more than 400 projects across the City.

    City staff has worked hard to deliver these projects on time and on budget.

    And that is what we have seen.

    Ottawa on the Move has seen a number of major projects, including the two-year $30 million Bronson Avenue reconstruction project; the Churchill Avenue “complete streets” remake for $21 million and the Woodroffe Avenue reconstruction with an investment of $8 million.

    At the same time Ottawa on the Move meant investments totalling over $100 million for resurfacing work on Highway 174, Ogilvie Road, Carling Avenue, Eagleson Road, Blackburn Hamlet Bypass, Galleta Side Road, and Albion Road, to name just a few.

    But, all of this Asset Management is just one part of the job here at City Council.

    Service Ottawa

    We have also been implementing Service Ottawa as I mentioned earlier.

    In 2014 there will be even more coming from this initiative.

    “MyServiceOttawa” for residents and businesses will launch.

    This will allow residents and businesses to create their own electronic account to securely access multiple City services and information in one place.

    It will include the ability to do many things, like:

    – apply and pay for a number of licenses and permits including: pet registration, business licenses, open air fire permits and numerous other permits;
    – view and pay billing information for tax and water bills;
    – search and view the status of service requests (open or closed);
    – view and manage garbage and recycling collection calendar;
    – manage subscriptions to City e-newsletters; and
    – view City social media feeds such as Twitter; and much more.

    All of this effort is designed with one thing in mind – to improve service delivery to residents and businesses across the City.

    I want to thank Councillor Tierney and the Members of the IT Sub-committee for their work on this important effort to bring about technological advances that will help us to better serve the public.

    At the same time, under the direction of the Chair of our Planning Committee, Councillor Peter Hume, our Planning Department has been stepping up to the plate and improving service delivery.

    We have cut processing times for various applications, as the most recent Performance Report indicated, and we will be continuing to work to make dealing with the City of Ottawa a pleasure not a chore.

    We promised a Guaranteed Application Timelines Initiative (GATI) covering 5 different development application types at the Planning Summit last year.

    As of August there had been 89 applications under this GATI program and 96% were handled within the Council-established timelines – and each of the 3 that missed the timelines had extenuating circumstances – but, will still receive credits for their next similar application.

    Economic Development

    Economic activity is the lifeblood of the community.

    And here, we as a Council, have also signalled and delivered on a new direction.

    The City of Ottawa Economic Development and Innovation Department has had a year of achievement punctuated by internal departmental successes and those of Invest Ottawa.

    To name just a few:

    – A $15 million dollar Innovation Agreement with the Province of Ontario

    – The Capital Investment Track (CIT) program guides key investments through the City’s requirements in a timely manner

    – Between January and June, Invest Ottawa facilitated 654 new jobs, attracted $25M in foreign investment and $26M in investment for portfolio companies

    – The new Major Events Office was able to attract an additional nine events in 2013, as well as successfully winning bids for 4 future events

    In fact, the Major Events Office has been a big success story

    We have seen the fruits of their efforts with the Women’s World Hockey Championships, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Championships, the Duathlon World Championship, the Canadian Comedy Awards, the Canadian Gymnastics Championships, the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship, to name a few.

    The combination of bids won and events hosted in 2013 resulted in an estimated $45M of economic benefits for the local economy and that does not count the coming Canadian Figure Skating Championships, which will be at the Canadian Tire Centre in January of 2014.

    Our name is spreading as a great place to bring an event.

    But, when opportunity knocks, as we all know…

    You still have to get up and answer the door.

    To that end, Budget 2014 seeks your approval to increase the budget for the Major Events Office by $350,000.

    This will allow us to capitalise on the opportunities at hand and to be better prepared to celebrate our country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

    It will take us to the next level of our strategic objective to “bid more, win more, host more”

    Conclusion

    Colleagues, this budget is about delivering progress and getting the job done for our residents.

    It is about moving into the next year of our term of Council knowing that we have met many of the commitments that we made together.

    Knowing that we provide needed services – Police, Fire, Paramedic, transit, waste collection and recycling, snow removal and road maintenance, libraries, Public Health, drinking water, parks and recreation, 6,000 km of roads and 2,000 km of sidewalks, waste water handling and purification and much, much more – every day for families across this great city

    What we have before us is a balanced package to move our City forward.

    We are doing what we said we would do while investing in our infrastructure so that our residents can count on those services they need in the future.

    I believe that this proposed Budget 2014 continues the solid work that we have done in the last three years.

    I hope that you will be able to share in that assessment as you review the details in the coming weeks at Committee deliberations, in public consultations and here at Council itself.

    This budget, when all is said and done, is about progress.

    Progress in keeping taxes low.

    Progress in building and maintain infrastructure and city assets.

    Progress in making our city an even better place to live, work and visit.

    And progress that allows our residents to say that they live in one of the cleanest, greenest, safest cities in Canada, if not the world.

    Thank you

  • Budget 2014 overview

    Taxes

    taxes_small_en

    – At the beginning of its term, Council passed a fiscal framework that would limit tax increases to no more than 2.5% annually. It has done better than this target for three consecutive budgets.

    – In the 2014 Budget, Council is aiming to do even better, with a tax increase of no more than 2% – the lowest in seven years.

    Savings and Spending

    Since the beginning of its term, this Council has:

    – Frozen recreation fees

    – Frozen the Mayor’s salary

    – Frozen the administrative budgets of the Mayor and Council

    – Reduced the City workforce in the last two budgets (the first time since amalgamation)

     – By o‹ffering more online options and finding eŒciencies through ServiceOttawa, the City saved more than $10 million in 2013

    – Council has also made targeted investments in community facilities and basic infrastructure renewal projects

    Debt

    – Ottawa has the lowest debt per capita of major Canadian cities and its excellent credit rating has not changed since this Council took offiŒce

    – Only 5.5% of the City-raised revenues are used to pay for principal and interest on debt – well below the 25% threshold mandated by the Province

    – This Council has put in place a plan to invest in long-neglected infrastructure improvements such as roads, sewers and sidewalks

    Budget timeline

     – Summer 2013: Mayor’s pre-budget consultation

     – October 23: Tabling of 2014 draft operating and capital budgets at Council

     – October 28 to November 25: Public consultations and committee meetings (full details available at ottawa.ca/budget2014 or by calling 3-1-1)

     – November 27: Council consideration of 2014 draft tax and rate supported budget

    What do you think?

    – How can the City save money?

    – How can the City better spend money?

    Let Mayor Jim Watson know what you think at budget2014@ottawa.ca or on Twitter using the hashtag #ottbudget
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