• Marie McIntosh receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

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    August 26, 2015 – Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Marie McIntosh, recognizing more than 15 years of volunteer work improving the quality of life of seniors living at Clementine Towers, advocating for seniors residing in Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), and helping to raise funds for disaster relief around the world.

    Marie, who is 88 years young, moved to the 258-unit Clementine Towers seniors apartment building in Alta Vista, operated by OCH, in 1999. The next year she became the president of the building’s social club and tenant association, a volunteer position she’s held ever since.

    With her enthusiastic and energetic leadership, the tenant association has organized hundreds of social events over the past 15 years including card playing, bingo, exercise classes, knitting groups, teas, dinner-dances, and fundraisers to help victims of natural disasters in various countries. The social and fundraising events are important to keeping seniors in the independent-living apartments physically active and engaged, warding off loneliness and isolation.

    In 2010, the Clementine Towers tenant association won an Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association Tenant Achievement Recognition Award for raising $1,500 for Doctors Without Borders to help earthquake victims in Haiti.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

     

  • Ottawa and Gatineau mayors to ensure federal parties address local issues

    OTTAWA – At a joint press conference today, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin outlined a three-point strategy to ensure local issues receive federal attention in the upcoming election.

    “You cannot have a strong Canada without a strong capital,” said Mayor Watson. “The future prosperity of Ottawa and Gatineau depends on a federal government that is an active, constructive partner on the issues that matter most to local residents.”

    “In the years ahead, we have big challenges and opportunities on issues such as affordable housing, infrastructure and transportation,” said Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin. “We will be encouraging any local candidate who wishes to be a Member of Parliament to engage in a constructive discussion about these issues.”

    The strategy includes:

    1.    Informing candidates about local priorities: All nominated candidates from each of the main political parties will be provided information on local priorities. Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin has already sent this information to Gatineau candidates. Mayor Watson will be holding in-person briefings at City Hall. Briefings will be held for each party separately, and will include transit, infrastructure and affordable housing, among other issues.

    2.    Questionnaires: The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau will send short questionnaires on local priorities to federal party leaders and local candidates. Questionnaires will be sent out before the end of August and responses will be published simultaneously online before the end of September.

    3.    Debates: Parties will be invited to send one candidate each to a local issues debate organized at their respective City Hall. The Ottawa debate will be held at Ottawa City Hall on Monday, October 5. The debate will be moderated by Mark Sutcliffe and Véronique Soucy.

  • Can you dig it? City to consider growing more community gardens

    OTTAWA – Mayor Jim Watson today announced a proposal to allow for the creation of up to 20 new community gardens over the next four years.

    “Community gardens better utilize our public spaces and provide greater food security for residents,” said Mayor Watson. “Volunteer-managed gardens are playing an important community-building role across the city.”

    “This proposal is great news and builds upon the hundreds of volunteers who manage community gardens across the city, and the thousands who are able to participate in community gardening,” Moe Garahan, Executive Director of Just Food. “We’re seeing increased interest for community gardening and we would welcome more support to keep up with the demand.”

    Ottawa’s Community Gardening Network is managed by Just Food Ottawa, a community-based, non-profit organization. If the proposal is approved, the City would increase the value of its funding contract to this project by $15,000 annually (from $161,337 to $176,337), increasing the number of grants available for community garden groups. The total number of gardens created through these funds will depend upon the proposed size and cost of each new garden.

    There are currently 59 community gardens in the City of Ottawa. Several additional gardens are slated to open this fall, including the South Nepean Muslim Centre Community Garden, Kanata South Community Garden, the LindenLea Food and Wildlife Community Garden, and the Queensway Terrace North Community Garden.

    The proposal is related to a campaign commitment made by Mayor Watson during the last municipal election. To date, City Council has supported almost all of these commitments, including those related to affordable housing, economic development, and transportation.

    A staff report with full details will be available on ottawa.ca before the end of the day. The Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the proposal on August 20.

  • Tourism In Your City

    With summer upon us, Ottawa has sprung to life with innumerable festivals, events and attractions that take place city-wide. Ottawa is not only home to tremendous natural beauty, but as the nation’s capital there are many local and national sites of historic significance to enjoy. In fact, tourism is the third largest contributor to our local economy, behind the high-tech and government sectors.

    In collaboration with the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism works tirelessly to promote Ottawa as a premiere destination by highlighting our city’s festivals, year round outdoor recreation, historic significance and natural beauty. Furthermore, Ottawa Tourism’s “bid more, win more, host more” program will further foster economic and social prosperity within our city by continuing to attract events like FIFA Women’s World Cup, the JUNO’s and more.

    That is why I am excited to share with you Ottawa Tourism’s most recent campaign. Showcasing the voice talent of CBC’s Rick Mercer and some of Ottawa’s most prominent attractions; whether a visitor or long time resident, you will be excited about your nation’s capital. Enjoy.

     

  • City of Ottawa and partners launch Stage 2 LRT funding request

    Stage 2 LRT – Mayor’s Message from Ottawa Light Rail on Vimeo.

     

    Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson, Council members, and representatives from Ottawa’s business, tourism and academic communities have united together to officially launch the City’s LRT Stage 2 funding request to the federal and provincial governments.

    The Stage 2 project will further reduce commute times by adding 19 new stations and 30 kilometres of rail to Ottawa’s O-Train system between 2018 and 2023. From an economic standpoint, the project is expected to generate 24,000 person-years of employment, increase tax revenue to approximately $170 million, and provide an economic output of $3.8 billion to the local economy.

    “We are asking our provincial and federal counterparts to continue the great partnership we have established with the Confederation Line,” said Mayor Watson. “It is our hope that our partners will maximize their contributions to the project so we can continue the momentum, and proceed swiftly and confidently with Stage 2 of LRT.”
    The City of Ottawa’s funding request is supported by several Stage 2 LRT Project Champions, including the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, the Orléans Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association, Ottawa Festivals, Algonquin College, Invest Ottawa and several Business Improvement Areas.

    In addition, a recent business growth survey by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce indicated that 74 per cent of business owners feel that Ottawa’s LRT expansion will have a positive impact on their business.

    “Stage 2 of LRT will make Ottawa an even more attractive city to create and grow a business,” said Ian Faris, of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “Ottawa is the only G7 capital without a rapid rail system. We need to keep our economy moving by making this smart investment in our future prosperity.”

    “Reliable transportation is always a key success factor for attracting visitors and major events,” said Geoff Publow, Chair of Ottawa Tourism. “Stage 2 of LRT will make it easier for visitors to explore our beautiful city.”

    “Stage 2 of LRT will keep Algonquin College students moving for years to come – both from their homes to their classes, and from our campus to their work and co-op placements,” said Laura Stanbra, Vice President of Student Services at Algonquin College. “This expanded transit service will additionally provide residents with easier access to our student-run learning companies, programs, and services. We are delighted to serve as a Stage 2 Rail Champion and add our full support to the City’s proposal.”

    It has been recently confirmed through Environmental Assessment work that Stage 2 can be constructed within the $3-billion budget that was established in the City’s 2013 Transportation Master Plan. The project would extend Ottawa’s O-Train system:

    East: Extend the Confederation Line east from Blair to Orléans, with stations at St.Joseph, Jeanne D’Arc, Orléans Drive, and Place d’Orléans.
    West and southwest: Extend the Confederation Line west to Algonquin College and Bayshore, with stations at Westboro, Dominion, Cleary, New Orchard, Lincoln Fields, Queensview, Pinecrest, Iris, Baseline and Bayshore.
    South: Extend the O-Train to Riverside South and Bowesville, with a new station at Gladstone, and stations at Walkley, South Keys, Leitrim and Bowesville.
    When completed in 2023, Stage 2 would bring LRT to within five kilometres of almost 70 per cent of residents.

    For more information on Stage 2 of LRT, please visit stage2lrt.ca.

  • Ottawa 2017 Poster Contest

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    With Canada’s 150th birthday fast approaching, we would like to invite students in Grades 1-12 from across the city to participate in a contest to create the official postcards for the Ottawa 2017 celebrations. These postcards will be sent to major cities across the country, to invite everyone to come to the Nation’s Capital to celebrate this very special anniversary. Your students can help make Ottawa THE place to celebrate in 2017!

    WHAT: We would like to see students get creative and put their artistic talents to work, with the help of their teachers, and come up with a postcard drawing or graphic design that illustrates the best that Ottawa has to offer, and why everyone NEEDS to be here to be a part of this historic celebration.

    WHEN: A selection panel of Ottawa artists will be assembled at City Hall to choose one winner from each grade.

    HOW: Schools have until May 21 at noon to submit their winning designs to their board office.

    PRIZE: The winning students, along with their classmates, will be invited to a pizza party at City Hall with the Mayor and City Councillors. The 12 winning designs will appear on thousands of print and digital postcards to be sent out across the nation!

  • Dr. Safaa Fouda receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Ottawa –Mayor Jim Watson and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward Councillor Tim Tierney presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Dr. Safaa Fouda for her volunteer work in bringing together Canadians and new immigrants, as well as all kinds of faith groups, with the goal of promoting mutual understanding and compassion.

    Dr. Fouda is a pioneering female engineer who moved to Canada from Egypt in 1969 and holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. She retired in 2005 as Deputy General for the CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Natural Resources Canada.

    During her career, she volunteered in a broad range of advisory committee roles with various federal government departments, the Police and RCMP, as a consultant on the tenets of the Muslim faith, and as a presenter in the interfaith community, consistently with respect to helping immigrants to integrate into and serve their new community, and to promoting shared respect and common values.

    After she retired, she became more involved in philanthropic and community work with an interest in helping vulnerable communities and in cross-cultural bridge building, peace-building, Muslim/non-Muslim relations, supporting human relief, education and advocacy for justice and human rights. She contributes finances and volunteers with numerous NGOs that focus on these causes. She has received several recognitions including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Ontario’s “Leading Women Building Communities” award.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Kerry MacLean

    Mayor Jim Watson, along with Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward Councillor Tim Tierney, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Kerry MacLean for his outstanding community service as high school coach, founder and President of the Maverick Volleyball Club.

    Mr. MacLean is recognized for his inspirational leadership of the Maverick Volleyball Club that he started in 1985 and built into the largest and most successful volleyball club in Eastern Ontario, with 27 teams and more than 75 volunteers and coaches.

    Mr. MacLean has been building the volleyball community in Ottawa since he became a teacher at Colonel By Secondary School in 1984. He has been a volunteer coach for more than 150 teams during his career and has led both boys and girls teams to league, city, and provincial championships.

    He founded the Maverick Volleyball Club to offer children an opportunity to enjoy and excel at the sport through skills development and competition, and to gain valuable life and leadership skills. His leadership and vision has influenced and motivated thousands of children in the city, allowing them to develop as athletes and as productive and inspired citizens.

    It is a true testament to his leadership that, with the incredible growth and success of the club, he has also inspired many of the early members to return to volunteer and coach, as well as bring their own children into the program.

    feb11-kerrymaclean

  • 2015 Budget Speech

    CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

    Good morning.

    It is my pleasure to provide some remarks as we table our first budget of the term.

    To begin, I would like to thank Members of Council again for their insight and input into the budget process.

    I appreciate you passing along your ward’s priorities on behalf of local families and businesses.

    Few people know our communities’ needs better than our City Councillors, which is why your involvement is so important.

    Based on our constructive conversations during the budget process, I am very optimistic about the next four years.

    I am confident that we will be able to continue with a respectful, prudent, collaborative approach to managing our city’s finances.

    As I said in last week’s State of the City address, 2015 will be a year of momentum.

    Budget 2015 fits in perfectly with this reality, as we move forward swiftly and confidently on several ongoing initiatives.

    At the same time, we will prepare Ottawa for continued success during our Term of Council.

    Through the investments and savings we create in Budget 2015, we will continue the momentum towards a more affordable, caring, sustainable, and prosperous city.

    Everything we do together must be done with the local economy in mind.

    While we are not immune to the economic instability and challenges faced by all levels of government, we have taken strong, careful steps to weather the storm.

    Over the past few years, Ottawa’s economic story could have gone a lot differently.

    With our largest industry losing thousands of jobs… we chose to take action.

    We invested in economic development and entrepreneurship to support the private sector in its work to create jobs.

    We bolstered our tourism industry with award-winning strategies to help us “bid more, win more and host more.”

    With traffic congestion on the horizon, we chose to change course by fast-tracking infrastructure projects with our “Ottawa on the Move” program.

    We took advantage of the lowest interest rates in a generation to invest in roads, sidewalks, and other key infrastructure.

    We got shovels in the ground for the Confederation Line, and unanimously approved a plan to extend LRT farther east, west and south.

    After several years of instability and rate hikes, we brought in a more prudent approach to the city’s finances.

    We brought in an affordable, predictable tax cap, bringing in the lowest increases in a number of years.

    At the same time, we explored innovative ways to provide services through our “Service Ottawa” initiative, which found more than $40 million in annual efficiency cost savings.

    We also established multi-year plans for key priorities such as arts and culture, and housing and homelessness, to ensure we have a clear direction.

    We changed the way we looked at long-term infrastructure planning, by applying an affordability lens to our future projects.

    Now we calculate WHAT we can afford, THEN plan the project… not the other way around.

    The decisions and strategies I have just outlined have put Ottawa in the solid financial position it is in today.

    These tested strategies will be used to strengthen every decision we make together as a Council.

    Of course, we will continue to push ourselves even further.

    We need to be even more innovative by finding efficiencies and striking partnerships.

    We will need to collaborate at the community level by getting input into our work and helping to prioritize projects.

    Together – as a team – I know we have the skill to accomplish this and keep Ottawa on strong financial footing.

    That starts with Budget 2015.

    Let’s begin by talking about how we will keep life affordable for residents.

    Today, we are tabling a budget that proposes a 1.75% tax revenue increase.

    This continues the multi-year trend of keeping life affordable, and translates into a 2% average increase for a residential property.

    This rate will allow us to continue to invest in key priorities such as transportation, affordable housing, and community facilities.

    It also requires no significant service cuts to achieve.

    Now, some people out there may ask for us to spend more, to push the rate even higher.

    Others will argue that we should freeze taxes and slash services.

    I think we’ve struck the right balance.

    Because we know that there are many living close to the line…

    Those who may have unstable or no employment, for whom raising taxes significantly could mean the difference between affording their next mortgage payment or affording food for their kids.

    We must also not abandon those same folks on the services side, by cutting the core programs and services on which they depend.

    This is a reasonable budget that respects taxpayers’ ability to pay, while maintaining high-quality public services.

    The budget also proposes to limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to just 2.5 per cent.

    As you know, this in line with our multi-year affordability plan to pay for investments like the Confederation Line, O-Train expansion, and other improvements.

    This will also allow us to invest an additional $4.2 million for increased bus service, and trips on ParaTranspo and the O-Train Trillium Line.

    In 2013, we reduced the garbage collection fee by 11%.

    It has been frozen since then.

    Budget 2015 recommends we continue that freeze for a third consecutive year.

    Furthermore, after freezing recreation fees for the past four years, users will now see fee increases capped at an average of 2%.

    This is a prudent way to move forward.

    This is to ensure we can continue to provide high-quality programming, while absorbing inflationary costs and other operational pressures such as new facilities in the east, west and south.

    Budget 2015 will see us continuing to manage our debt level responsibly.

    We will protect our excellent credit ratings of Triple-A from Moody’s and Double-A-plus from Standard and Poor.

    Ottawa continues to have an excellent credit rating… a manageable debt level well within the established limits… and will continue to have one of the lowest debts per capita among major Canadian cities.

    There’s nothing more important to our local economy than the strength of our infrastructure.

    Our prosperity depends on it.

    When Ottawa’s moving, our economy is moving.

    Over the last three years, our “Ottawa on the Move” program saw over 400 infrastructure projects completed in all areas of the city.

    And it would be hard to ignore how significant this investment was, as we advanced many years worth of renewal work than previously planned.

    Many, many streets were reconstructed that had been ignored for far too long.

    This included significant sewer and water main work.

    In several cases, we closed major gaps in our pedestrian and cycling networks.

    We undertook this $500-million investment to ensure there was less road work to do during the height of Confederation Line construction in 2015 and 2016.

    As you know, we will not be able to continue with the same intensity or level of spending over this Term of Council.

    It would be logistically and financially challenging to do so.

    However, we will continue to invest what we can to maintain our roads, pathways, sidewalks, and sewers.

    Let me give you a few examples.

    In the west end, Ottawa on the Move funded road work on Woodroffe Avenue, Baseline Road, Huntmar, and West Hunt Club Road.

    Budget 2015 will build on these investments increasing our network capacity to address growth such as a new four-lane extension of Campeau Drive to Huntmar.

    The City will also break ground on the Hospital Link which will help to relieve some of the congestion on Smyth Road and Alta Vista Drive.

    Critical renewal projects remain a priority such as the reconstruction of Banning Road and Anderson Bridge.

    As well, we will continue to make key intersection enhancements to improve efficiency as well improving safety and connectivity.

    This will be seen through works such as the urbanization and implementation of a multi-use pathway on a small orphaned stretch of Klondike Road.

    We will also move forward with culvert and sewer improvements for Shea Road Flowing Creek, the Kanata West Pump Station and the Fernbank Sanitary Sewer.

    The Western Transitway expansion will also go forward as planned in 2015.

    We will continue our investments toward the completion of the $65 million Bayshore-to-Moodie transitway, a project that is 100% municipally funded.

    This project will significantly improve bus service from Kanata by providing a new segregated Transitway alongside a stretch of the 417 where buses are currently inter-mingled with car traffic.

    In the central core, Ottawa on the Move saw much-needed infrastructure work such as Churchill, Bronson, Carling, and St. Patrick.

    This is an area of the city with some of our oldest infrastructure… in fact, the pipes replaced under Bronson Avenue were about 160 years old.

    The City also made permanent the Laurier Avenue segregated bike lanes and built the east-west bikeway, linking Beechwood with Westboro.

    Budget 2015 proposes that we proceed with the full integrated renewal of Main Street as a complete street.

    It will also invest in the renewal of the Minto Bridges, McRae Avenue, McIlraith Bridge, and McLeod Street, just to name a few.

    The central core is also due for recreation and community centre improvements in 2015.

    We’ll move forward with repairs at the Don Gamble Recreation Complex, the Jim Durrell Recreation Complex, Brewer Arena, Canterbury Pool, the Michelle Heights Community Centre, and the Dempsey Community Centre.

    Budget 2015 also proposes we continue to provide better cycling and pedestrian facilities in the core.

    Budget 2015 will begin funding the public realm of the Rideau Street Art Precinct with the conversion of Nicholas between Besserer and Rideau into a pedestrian street.

    It will also include early works toward making Rideau Street a more attractive, vibrant, and people-friendly environment in advance of the opening of LRT.

    This month, we will open the new pedestrian bridge over Highway 417 near Coventry Road.

    And we will also continue to build the Somerset-Donald pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Rideau River for completion next year.

    In the east end, Ottawa on the Move funded renewal projects such as Jeanne D’Arc, Ogilvie Road, and Stonehenge Road.

    In addition, work continues on the Orleans Watermain Link to bring new source of drinking water to improve service reliability to this east end community.

    This project is expected to be completed later this year.

    With the support of our provincial partners, we also undertook the much-needed Highway 417 expansion project, to fix the Split.

    In the short term, this will provide an alternate Transitway corridor as we move to the next phase of construction for Confederation Line.

    In the draft budget you have before you, it is proposed that the City continue this momentum by building a new two lane extension of Brian Coburn Boulevard between Navan and Mer Bleue.

    We will also renew key bridges and overpasses such as Carlsbad Lane, Sand Road, and Birchgrove Beckitt’s Creek.

    As you know, recent years saw significant east-end recreation centres improvements open including Richcraft Sensplex East and the Francois Dupuis Pool.

    Looking ahead, Budget 2015 proposes that we invest in upgrading key community assets such as the Ray Friel Recreation Centre, Pierre Rocque Park, the Avalon South Recreational Pathway, Park 18a in Cardinal Creek, and Cassandra Park.

    In our south end, we recently saw the opening of the Vimy Memorial Bridge and the Airport Parkway Bridge.

    Residents have already told us that these linkages have greatly improved mobility.

    Ottawa on the Move also provided south-enders with renewal of road infrastructure on Albion Road and Fisher Avenue, as well as the expansion Jockvale Road.

    Budget 2015 will see us complete the renewal of the Prince of Wales overpass at Nepean Creek, the Mansfield Road Bridge, and the Parkway Road Bridge over Castor.

    On the recreation front, we’ll replace the artificial turf at Minto Field, and complete maintenance at facilities such as the Richmond Arena, the Nepean Sporsplex, and the Pinecrest Recreation Complex.

    On a city-wide basis, Budget 2015 will also continue to build momentum with several significant infrastructure projects that will improve our city for generations to come.

    Let me talk about a few.

    Firstly, we will continue to make progress on the final phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan this year.

    This has been our top environmental priority for quite some time and I’m very pleased that we were able to secure provincial funding last year.

    We’ll also continue momentum with light rail transit in the nation’s capital.

    Budget 2015 will allow us to continue construction of the Confederation Line, and continue to refine our plans to advance Stage 2 of LRT.

    Last week was a very proud moment, when we unveiled a model of the Alstom Citadis Spirit train that will run on the Confederation Line.

    More than 1,000 people visited the train over the course of last weekend, and they had their first tangible interaction with this exciting project.

    Many people are saying, “This is finally for real!”

    The LRT Showcase is an important way that residents can get a better understanding of the project, especially as we manage the challenges associated with construction in the coming year.

    We will begin to prepare for the completion of the project with the finishing of the Maintenance and Storage Facility so that the assembly of our vehicles can begin.

    We will also start initial work on the operations side of the Confederation Line, including practical investments for fare control and the control centre.

    We will also break ground on two Ottawa 2017 legacy projects: the Innovation Centre at Bayview and the revitalized Arts Court.

    Each of these will have a unique role to play in helping Ottawa remain competitive and dynamic in the years to come.

    These will be city-wide assets that will bring people together to celebrate, create and innovate.

    As we continue to build this world-class city, we will continue to focus our efforts on the human side of the services we provide.

    That begins with looking after our most vulnerable.

    Budget 2015 proposes that the City of Ottawa continue its base budget commitment of $14 million annually that began in the last term.

    The draft budget also proposes an investment of $3.1 million annually for maintenance for Ottawa Community Housing.

    In addition, Council will also consider a capital investment of $19 million for affordable housing.

    We need to take care of our housing stock, and this will help us continue to that.

    We will also invest more money to help with the challenges we are facing with guns and gangs in our city.

    It is important to remember that Ottawa is a safe city.

    And that the Ottawa Police Service has our full support in the work it is doing on this file.

    Through our conversations with the Police, Crime Prevention Ottawa, and their network of community partners… we identified a funding gap that needs to be addressed.

    Too many at-risk individuals, at different stages of involvement in gang activity, do so because they feel they simply have no other option.

    We need to help them open their eyes to those options.

    Budget 2015 allocates $400,000 annually to fund a combination of exit strategies and employment opportunities for at-risk individuals.

    We will not solve this complicated social problem in just a year.

    But it is our hope, that with these funds, we can continue to move in the right direction.

    In 2015, we must also continue to rebuild our tree cover that has been ravaged by the Emerald Ash Borer.

    To this end, the draft budget proposes we invest $5.6 million in forestry efforts this year, including an additional $125,000 for tree planting.

    The budget investments I’ve outlined so far are just the beginning of how we will improve the lives of Ottawa residents over the coming year.

    There will be another opportunity – through our Strategic Initiatives process later this spring – to make additional investments in our communities.

    As you know, our budget process is a little different following an election.

    Because of this, the timeframes for budget delivery change from fall to the New Year.

    Because of this, we have not yet had the important opportunity to talk about our Term of Council priorities.

    We will do this over the coming months.

    As a first step, Budget 2015 proposes a funding envelope of $37.4 million, combined operating and capital, for Strategic Initiatives.

    Later this spring, as Council approves its Term of Council priorities, we will decide where this money is allocated.

    It is my expectation that some of these funds will also be used for continued priorities such as:

    – Improved recreational services, including greater support for our hard-working volunteer rink operators
    – Invest Ottawa and supporting our local start-ups
    – Housing and homelessness
    – Ward-based road safety; and
    – Better pedestrian and cycling connectivity, particularly in our suburban communities.

    Just to name a few.

    If you do not see a project or a priority funded in this draft budget, it is my hope to work with you to see it realized either in the Strategic Initiatives, a future budget, or by another source.

    As you know, the successes we see in our budgets could not be accomplished without our City Manager and his management team.

    With their knowledge of the day-to-day affairs of the City, we are able to find savings without impacting service levels.

    For example, the City of Ottawa has been able to reduce its headcount of full-time equivalents in every budget for the last three years, for a net total of approximately 200 FTEs.

    This has been managed despite the fact that we’re still a growing city

    This year is no different, as Budget 2015 proposes to reduce the FTE count by an additional 20.

    During the coming year, the City Manager and his team will be undertaking an important management effort to look ahead at 2016 and beyond.

    I mentioned earlier that we saw significant savings from our ServiceOttawa program in recent years – to the tune of $40 million per year.

    These savings in turn created capacity to fund inflationary cost increases, the costs of growth, and the Term of Council priorities.

    Now that this program has realized its efficiencies, City management needs to refocus their efforts on longer term planning to ensure we remain financially sustainable.

    We must look beyond the immediate 12-month window of traditional budgeting and model our decision-making in a multi-year approach.

    City Council will continue to enact a budget every year.

    However, management will need to look at a multi-year perspective.

    This will help identify savings needed to fund priorities, keep taxes under control, fund growth, and meet inflationary pressures.

    The City Manager will provide more details following my remarks.

    Colleagues, thank you again for your contributions to this budget.

    I’m confident that Budget 2015 strikes the right balance.

    It raises revenues in a responsible way, while maintaining the services and investments required to build on our city’s momentum.

    Thank you… and now over to our City Manager and the Treasurer for their remarks.

  • Mayor Watson looks ahead to a “Year of Momentum” in 2015 State of the City address

    OTTAWA – At the first City Council meeting of the year today, Mayor Jim Watson provided a look ahead to significant projects and milestones in store for Ottawa in 2015. The annual State of the City address is an opportunity for the Mayor to provide an update on projects and priorities related to the City of Ottawa.

    “2015 will be a year of momentum,” said Mayor Watson. “It’s an exciting time to be in the nation’s capital, with many significant city-building projects and milestones underway or on the horizon.”

    Mayor Watson outlined the continuation and completion of community improvement projects this year, including:

     – Continuation of construction of key Confederation Line features such as the downtown tunnel and Belfast Yards

     – Opening of the Coventry Road pedestrian and cycling bridge in February

     – Continued construction of the Somerset-Donald pedestrian and cycling bridge between Sandy Hill and Vanier

     – Creation of new murals at Highway 417 underpasses at Bank Street, as well as Carling (west of Kirkwood)

     – Beginning construction on the Bayview Innovation Centre, and the expanded Arts Court and Ottawa Art Gallery

     – Opening of Miracle League of Ottawa’s accessible baseball field

    Residents will also have the opportunity to experience several milestone events in the months ahead, such as:

     – A Confederation Line O-Train LRT showcase in February and March at the Aberdeen Pavilion, including a full-sized mock-up of the new Alstom Citadis Spirit train

     – A public engagement meeting on a new central library in March

     – A Tourism Summit that will focus on long-term growth strategies for Ottawa’s tourism industry

     – The Mayor’s Rural Expo will be made a permanent event, following the first two successful editions

     – The FIFA Women’s World Cup at Lansdowne and the Canadian Little League Championships in Barrhaven

    Mayor Watson also shared two significant civic recognition initiatives that will be coming forward in 2015:

     – Awarding of the Key to the City to former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in March

     – Beginning the process to create an appropriate memorial to the victims of the September 2013 bus-train accident

    “I look forward to collaborating closely with Members of Council and the community on these projects and more over the coming months,” said Mayor Watson. “Together, we will build momentum towards a more liveable, caring, vibrant and prosperous city.”

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