• Ottawa 2017 Poster Contest


    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.


  • 2015 Budget Speech


    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.”

  • 2013 – “A Year of Action”

    2013 – “A Year of Action”

    Ottawa – In this morning’s State of the City address, Mayor Jim Watson laid out priorities for the upcoming year, including several new arts, rural and environmental initiatives.

    “2012 was a year of decision-making and 2013 will be a year of action,” said Mayor Watson. “Building on our successes, our focus this year will be moving forward on key projects like Lansdowne Park and Light Rail Transit.”

    City finances

    This year, residents will see the lowest tax change in seven years. At 2.09%, it is also one of the lowest among major Canadian cities. Recreation fees will remain frozen for the third year in a row, and the City will continue important investments in community services and infrastructure. Ottawa on the Move, the City’s $340-million infrastructure program, will continue this year, revitalizing road, sidewalks and sewers in all areas of the city.

    Arts and culture

    At the invitation of the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Council for the Arts in Ottawa, Mayor Watson has agreed to lend his name to the first-ever Mayor’s Gala for the Arts this November to support the future redevelopment of Arts Court.

    This fall, the Mayor will host a one day and night Arts Fair at City Hall to invite local artists to promote upcoming theatre and concert seasons, as well as other arts initiatives.

    The Karsh Masson Gallery will be moved to its permanent home at City Hall, a building that is becoming more of a people place with the introduction of the Rink of Dreams, the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery and the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.


    The City of Ottawa’s top infrastructure priority remains the Ottawa River Action Plan. When the next round of infrastructure funding becomes available, the Mayor and Council will work to secure federal and provincial funding to clean up the Ottawa River.

    There will also be a renewed focus on increasing recycling options on city streets through a new strategy.

    Rural Affairs

    A first-ever Rural Expo will be held in 2013. It will be a showcase for Ottawa’s rural residents to promote fairs, museums, agriculture and crafts to the urban population. The Expo will be held in at City Hall within the next year and act as a way for our rural community to boast and show off their talents and products to a larger urban audience.

    Read the Mayor’s entire State of the City speech.

  • Inaugural Address

    It is with the deepest gratitude and humility that I stand before you today From Cumberland to Constance Bay…From Hintonburg to Osgoode and beyond. On October 25th, the people of Ottawa took the time to debate and question – to deliberate and to decide our collective future. And tonight, we gather together to mark the beginning of an important journey for our community and its people.It was an honour to participate in this election and I thank the people of Ottawa for their support.

    Before I begin, there are a number of elected officials representing the Federal and Provincial governments that I would like to recognize:

    – The Honourable Mauril Bélanger, MP (Ottawa Vanier)

    – The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur, MPP (Ottawa Vanier). Minister of Community and Social Serves and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

    – David McGuinty, MP (Ottawa South)

    – Royal Galipeau, MP (Ottawa Orleans)

    – Jean-Marc Lalonde, MPP (Glengarry Prescott Russell)

    I also want to thank the outgoing Mayor Larry O’Brien and City Councillors for their service to our community. Electoral politics can be tough, and putting your name on a ballot is not an easy thing to do.Each of these individuals devoted themselves to making Ottawa a better place to call home, and they deserve our sincere gratitude for their years of service.

    I would also like to recognize the families of our Councillors. It is you who make perhaps the greatest sacrifice as your partner or parent works long hours on behalf of the city. Being part of a political family can be difficult but know that the city recognizes and appreciates your sacrifice.

    To municipal staff here today and throughout the city, thank you for your professional and tireless work. I respect public service and I respect you. I look forward to meeting and working with each of you. My door is always open. When you have an idea about how we can do things better or more efficiently, I will be there to listen and to help turn your ideas into reality.

    Tonight, we gather here to launch anew.

    The people of Ottawa voted for a strong team.

    We have experienced people and sure hands back to serve… names you all know:

    • Rainer Bloess
    • Rick Chiarelli
    • Peter Clark
    • Diane Deans
    • Steve Desroches
    • Eli El-Chantiry
    • Jan Harder
    • Diane Holmes
    • Peter Hume
    • Maria McRae
    • Bob Monette
    • Shad Qadri
    • Doug Thompson
    • Marianne Wilkinson

    I look forward to working with you all and value greatly the deep knowledge that you bring to the table.

    Council will also be infused with new blood and energy.

    This renewed Council boasts a large contingent of intelligent, dedicated and hard working newcomers, new names just starting public service:

    • Stephen Blais
    • David Chernushenko
    • Keith Egli
    • Mathieu Fleury
    • Katherine Hobbs
    • Allan Hubley
    • Scott Moffatt
    • Mark Taylor
    • Tim Tierney

    It is very exciting to start this new chapter in Ottawa with so many new and talented Councillors. I am a lucky man. I’ve been blessed with a perfect mix of old and new. I have a Council to lead that is focused on working together to strengthen our municipal government and on delivering the vital services taxpayers have a right to expect.

    The public also sent us all to City Hall with a very strong message. It’s time to pull together as a team and it’s time to turn the page and start anew. To the 23 members of Council, I say congratulations on your victory and thank you for stepping forward to serve your community. I look forward to working with you for the betterment of our city.

    We often forget that Ottawa is bigger geographically than Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal combined. We have working farms and vibrant rural villages. We have suburban communities of tremendous diversity. We have downtown neighbourhoods as old and rich in history as any in the country.

    As a candidate for citywide office I knocked on doors all-across this great city. And I was able to hear from each and every part of these wonderful and dynamic communities. Listening is a fundamental ethic in my style of leadership. Not just listening to public delegations on hotly contested issues, but listening to the families I speak with at the church bazaar or the backyard BBQ. Some people poke fun at me for that, but it’s a point of pride for me.

    Over the next four years, I will join you in your communities and church basements, at your farmers’ markets and fairs, doing the important job of going to where you are – and listening. Together, we will rebuild bridges and stay in touch so that I have a real understanding of the issues that matter most to you.

    The voters of this city voted for change. And I am determined that they will get that change. I heard from you during this election and I get it. City Hall needs to return to a sense of order, confidence and decorum. In my campaign I spoke about three priorities of central importance to our health as a local city government. I called them the three T’s— Trust, Taxes, and Transit.

    Trust is based on transparency and openness. People want transparency in government. And under my leadership, transparency will be first and foremost. Within the next sixty days we will launch the process to appoint an independent integrity commissioner. That officer will set up a low cost lobbying registry, a gift registry and a council code of conduct. In doing so, the integrity commissioner will be guided by the values and principles that citizens expect representatives to uphold.

    I want people and businesses to feel comfortable bringing forward new ideas – proposing better ways of doing things. I want simple transparency and openness. That is what the people of Ottawa told me they expect. City Hall needs to show that it understands again just how hard people work for their money. I will pinch pennies and I will not let waste slide. I will work day in and day out to promote a culture of fiscal responsibility. I make no apologies for being very prudent with the public money entrusted to us. I will insist we get more out of the dollars we have, to provide the vital services you need and count on.

    Life is about choices, big and small – it’s about priorities. We will face the most important set of choices almost instantly.

    We will pass our first budget over the next few months. This will set the critical fiscal framework in which we will operate for the year. And our first budget will set the pace and tone for all four budgets we will fashion together. I am determined to show the leadership, along with my council colleagues, to face the tough choices ahead. We will not be putting things off or sweeping things under the carpet. There will be much to clean up in this first budget and I need your support to bring forward the fiscal prudence that voters demanded of us at the doorstep.

    It is tough in business right now and people worry about their jobs. In the private economy we are not seeing big pay increases and there are deficits in public budgets as our governments dig out from the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. We have to show people we get that. As an incoming Council, we will want to set our own course with maximum flexibility. To ensure that happens, I asked the city manager to put in place a hiring freeze; a freeze on consulting contracts and measures to prevent unspent accounts from being repurposed. This is a temporary measure but an important one.

    There is going to be a marked change with this budget. Once we have reviewed financial controls, auditing and improvement procedures, and set our budgets, these restrictions will be lifted under the tighter framework the new Council will set. In my campaign I pledged that I would hold the line on property tax increases to no more than 2.5% a year. I will work long and hard with Council to deliver on that commitment. Achieving this target will not be easy. To my Council colleagues I say: this budget will be our first major test. We must face it together and I will need your help.

    After meeting with you since the election, I believe that the vast majority of members of this council understand the importance of living within a tighter fiscal environment. I know many of my elected colleagues also pledged to hold taxes in check. People want more from us than simply curtailing spending. They want more for their money. They want services to improve. They want to be able to access the city services they pay for and receive the excellence they deserve.

    For example, our new budget will not have increases to sport and recreation facility fees. Following through on this promise is a small but important step to help with pocket books and ensure our families are out there participating in hockey, soccer, dance, art classes, and the many other activities important to our development and health.

    At the end of this term of council we will have a greener city, with better and more reliable public transit.To get there we will need to put transit on a more sustainable footing as a first order of business. Transit in this city is not efficient enough and not structured for success. We’ll be squaring up to the task at hand, and the first step will be to create a transit commission that brings in determined, dedicated community members to help. Our collective responsibility is to improve relations amongst our employees, City Council and most importantly our ridership.

    Getting our Light Rail Transit program on track is a big challenge. This is the largest single construction project in Ottawa’s history. We will be undertaking this massive city building project at the same time that we’re implementing the huge public works entailed in our Ottawa River Action Plan. And, on top of that, we will be transforming Lansdowne Park. All of these projects are works in progress in various stages of planning.

    Implementing these plans will take diligence and will, in some cases, not be easy. We will need to work together and stay focused on each of them to ensure proper execution, and we must do a better job of communicating and consulting with the people of Ottawa on these important projects.

    Ottawa is a caring city. We help one another every day and in many ways. Our city needs to be there to lend a helping hand to those down on their luck and in need. I believe in my heart that we need new affordable housing solutions for the city. In 2008, over 7000 people used emergency shelters in the city. This is not acceptable. During the election I pledged to help address homelessness as the Province removes the cost of social services from municipal shoulders. This is a rare opportunity to ensure renewed investment in housing – so more children are going to sleep in their own beds, with the safety of knowing they will wake up at home. I will be asking you to support this investment in the budget.

    I will also continue to shine a light on this important issue to ensure that it gets the attention that it deserves. We should also be a city of opportunity, of vibrant possibility – a city on the move with all our advantages. Good jobs are at the absolute core of our city’s success. I believe that there are things that we can do right away to help kick-start our local economy.

    We need leadership that values and boosts the industries that we already have. Tourism, for instance, is our third largest industry with over 26,000 jobs and it contributes 2.2 billion dollars to our economy. Over the next seven years we have a unique opportunity to mobilize around the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

    I believe that we need to be in a position to welcome the country and the world to this incredible celebration and engage our local arts and heritage communities to assist us along this important journey. And we need to start planning now. We also need to leverage incredible assets like our new convention centre opening next year. I will work with Council to bring world-class events and conferences to our city.

    And I will work to create more sports events that can boost tourism through the slow months. Ottawa is also a town that understands public service. I am proud of my contributions to various levels of government and the bridges I have built with friends of all stripes along the way. I will ensure that Ottawa is a model of intergovernmental success. We saw tremendous progress when all three levels of government put politics aside and worked for the common good under the infrastructure program.

    Let us continue to work with our partners in a spirit of cooperation for the betterment of our citizens. And Ottawa is a centre of ingenuity and innovation. We have incredible assets in our universities, colleges and in our government labs like the National Research Council. We have vibrant young companies that are growing and leading the next wave of high tech success.

    As mayor, I will reconstitute The Ottawa Partnership and give it the time and focus that it deserves. I will personally chair the TOP meetings and I will do my best to win back the collective interest and effort of our private sector leaders so that we can begin to chart a new course forward to economic success.

    Ottawa’s economy is powered by thousands of small businesses. They are the lifeblood of our city and I will be their champion at City Hall. To begin with, I will establish a council of Business Improvement Areas that I will meet with regularly.Together, we will cut the red tape and speed up approvals that currently impede too many of our entrepreneurs.

    For as long as I have been in public office I have had a simple mantra: “How many people have we helped today?” In fact, I have a plaque above the Mayor’s door that says just that. I am far from the only person in our city who thinks that way. There are thousands and thousands of volunteers who contribute everyday in our community. Through small acts of kindness; through contributions to the arts; through donations to our food banks and in so many other ways.

    It is volunteers who hold us together. There is no more precious gift one can give than time and involvement. All of us experienced firsthand during the campaign the untold stories of generosity. The young boy who celebrated his birthday and instead of asking his friends for gifts, they donated to the Good Companions Centre that has been so kind to his grandmother. The seniors in the west end who gather every month to knit blankets for premature babies. The young immigrant who barely gets by on a minimum wage job but donates money to the United Way and other charities. The farmer who always ensures he drops off extra vegetables to the Food Bank. Or the countless other ordinary citizens doing extraordinary work to make our city a better place for the future.

    To recognize our many volunteers and the incredible contributions they make to our city, beginning in the New Year I will open each council meeting by awarding the City Builder Award to an outstanding group or individual. I will seek nominations from each member of Council and the public. There is an intangible network – an invisible and elusive thing – that animates a successful community. It is sometimes called the fabric of our community – made up of many threads woven together for strength and warmth.

    We’re lucky here in Ottawa. We have a strong community fabric – many hands working every day to make light work of building a better place to live. It is about far more than governments. It is about the irreplaceable magic of place and people – relationships and history. I love this place. It is my home and it will always be my home. To me, community and people are what it is all about. So let me close by saying – I am incredibly excited to begin this journey with you.

    My favourite quote comes from the poet Henrik Ibsen, who over 100 years ago wrote: “A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm. Tonight the 24 men and women you have chosen to lead your city are being asked to take the helm and to make our city a better place: Culturally, Socially, Environmentally and Financially

    We will build great projects that will serve our community for many generations. We will face up to and face down great challenges. We will strengthen our community fabric and care for one another. It is going to be a great four years together.

    I thank you again for your trust. I promise – together with these highly dedicated and talented members of Council – we will make you proud.

    Merci beaucoup.


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