• Mayor Jim Watson’s 2018 State of the City Address

    State of the City Address
    Mayor Jim Watson
    Wednesday, January 31

    The beginning of a New Year always brings with it the opportunity to look back and acknowledge what we have accomplished as a City and as a Council.

    It’s an exercise I enjoy going through, because it reminds us of the memorable events that have helped define our city in the last year, and gives us an opportunity to remember how our community came together.

    With our city growing at a fast pace and so many issues coming before us, it’s easy to lose sight of the great community-building projects that are constantly taking shape around us.

    Before I start, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin People, who have lived on these ancestral lands for millennia.

    I value our ongoing relationship with the surrounding Algonquin communities – Pikwakanagan, Kitigan Zibi and the Algonquin’s of Ontario – and I look forward to continuing our work together to improve the lives of our residents.

    And I want to welcome Chief Kirby Whiteduck from Pikwakanagan who has joined us today.

    As I look back on this past year, it’s easy to recognize that 2017 was a great year of celebrations for Ottawa.

    Our city quickly became the centre of festivities as our country came together in its nation’s capital to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

    And after years of planning, our entire community embraced the celebrations and made 2017 an unforgettable year in Ottawa.

    But our community also came together through great challenges, and surmounted hardships like we had rarely seen before.

    And I am proud of how we rolled up our sleeves and overcame these challenges together – the way Ottawans usually do.

    As we begin the fourth and final year of this Council’s mandate, I want to highlight some of the progress we have made together in 2017 and over the last few years, before I take stock of the work that remains for Council and our staff to achieve in 2018.

    As you might have guessed, what really stood out for me over the past year is the success of our Ottawa 2017 celebrations and the boost it has brought to our city and to our local pride.

    There is absolutely no question that our Ottawa 2017 events have had a significant impact on our local economy, and our national and international reputation as a destination of choice.

    For example, a Conference Board of Canada report published in November indicated that Ottawa-Gatineau’s economy will enjoy in 2017 and 2018 its strongest two-year period in the last 10 years.

    The report also forecasted that our region’s GDP would increase by 2.5 per cent in 2017, and another 2.2 per cent in 2018, adding approximately 9,100 jobs to our economy.

    The study went on to say that, in addition to an increase in jobs in the federal public service, as well as the benefits of significant infrastructure investments like the Confederation Line, our region’s growth also benefited from an increase in tourism generated by our 2017 celebrations.

    It was truly a great year for our city.

    As we all know, Ottawa is always a national destination for Canada Day celebrations.

    But for 2017, we made it an entire year to remember in Ottawa, highlighted by events that captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors alike.

    And our efforts have received international attention.

    Ottawa was recognized in the LA Times as being “cool with a capital C,” and the New York Times also featured Ottawa in an article recommending all the hip attractions and best restaurants that tourists with 36-hours to spend in our city should visit.

    Ottawa has shed its reputation as a sleepy government town, and is emerging as an exciting and dynamic city for tourism.

    With Ottawa 2017, we went from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold.

    Our 12-month long program of events gave everyone a reason to visit Ottawa.

    We kicked off the year with a historic human chain of 400 children from City Hall to the Parliament of Canada.

    Each child passed along a sacred Indigenous flame that would see the Governor General reignite Canada’s Centennial Flame, first lit up in 1967 during our centennial celebrations.

    We offered our residents and visitors a series of unique culinary events.

    During two weeks in July, we lifted groups 150 feet in the air to offer them a gourmet dinner or cocktails with the best views in the city.

    More than 3,000 people enjoyed this experience called Sky Lounge, which had a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.

    Canada’s Table was another unforgettable culinary evening – a thousand-person dinner served by 20 of the best chefs in Canada, right in front of Parliament.

    This event had a 99 per cent satisfaction rate, and this once-in-a-lifetime event sold out in 12 seconds.

    Throughout JUNO Week, Ottawa threw a party, and Canada brought the music.

    We managed to put a spotlight on Ottawa as a music city by hosting the 2017 JUNO Awards, which were seen by more than 6.5 million viewers nation-wide.

    What a beautiful sight to see JUNO Award winner Ruth B. perform beside the incredibly talented kids from Orkidstra.

    We also took this opportunity to announce that the City would fund the development of Ottawa’s first Music Strategy, aimed at supporting our local artists, musicians and producers.

    Councillor Leiper and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) have been hard at work consulting with stakeholders and developing this strategy, and I look forward to their recommendations to FEDCO in April.

    Of course our sesquicentennial festivities included a celebration of everything winter, as well as our national sport, hockey.

    We dedicated an entire weekend to celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, which was first presented in Ottawa by Lord Stanley.

    For the occasion, we were joined by Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, as well as former NHL stars.

    We hosted an exciting and scenic Red Bull Crashed Ice competition over the Rideau Canal Locks, between Parliament and the historic Chateau Laurier.

    Approximately 200,000 people braved the cold to join the crowd, 31 per cent of whom were out-of-town visitors.

    On July 2nd, we held the historic interprovincial picnic on the Alexandra Bridge, offering the best views in the National Capital Region.

    This sold-out event was a Canadian first, and 34 per cent of the people who attended were from out-of-town.

    It was an honour to welcome the Premiers of Ontario and Québec in the middle of the bridge with my colleague and friend, Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin.

    Throughout the year, Ottawa Welcomes the World partnered with over 85 embassies and high commissions to host an impressive 43 multi-cultural events at Lansdowne Park.

    These events surpassed our attendance projections and welcomed more than 232,000 students, residents and visitors, all wanting to learn more about other cultures and Ottawa’s rich diversity.

    This summer, we welcomed more than 325,000 visitors to Kontinuum, an underground sound and light show designed in the Lyon Station of the O-Train Confederation Line.

    And who could forget the last weekend in July, when we hosted La Machine and their two gigantic street performance creatures, Long Ma the dragon-horse, and Kumo the spider.

    They battled each other through our streets, as Long Ma sought to retrieve his wings, which Kumo had stolen from him.

    It was an incredible four days of performances that attracted 750,000 spectators and captured the imagination of every resident and visitor.

    It was a very special event – probably the event of the year for our city – and I’m very proud that we could deliver such an experience for the huge crowds.

    Last fall, residents and visitors were able to take in Mìwàte at Chaudière Falls and rediscover this stunning site and its spectacular illumination.

    This powerful tribute to Indigenous People and the Algonquin heritage of our region was produced in collaboration with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, with the great assistance and support of Christina Ruddy, who represented this community on the Ottawa 2017 Board of Directors and was an important voice for the Algonquin vision on all things 2017.

    Approximately 45,000 people experienced Mìwàte over four weeks, with a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.

    We were chosen to host the Can-Am League’s All-Star Game at RCGT Park for the first time, thanks to the efforts of the Ottawa Champions, their owner, Miles Wolfe, and their President, David Gourlay.

    We then had the honour of hosting the 105th Grey Cup and the Shaw Grey Cup Festival, which were tremendous successes.

    This was truly an incredible event – one that brought together CFL fans from right across the country to celebrate Canadian football here in the nation’s capital.

    TD Place – which was completely sold-out – was transformed into a picturesque snow globe during the game, which was one of the best Grey Cup games in recent history.

    And I don’t think you could have gotten a more Canadian moment than that snowy halftime show, which saw Shania Twain entering the stadium on a dog sled before being escorted on stage by a Mountie.

    It was a big boost for our tourism sector as well, with the event generating approximately $100 million in local economic activity.

    My thanks to former Mayor Jim Durrell who, together with Bernie Ashe and the team at OSEG, did a terrific job with not only the game, but also the festival.

    Ottawa also hosted Canada’s top curlers at the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.

    This was an epic battle to determine who would represent our country at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

    It was a fantastic result for our local team, when Rachel Homan and her squad clinched the gold medal before an ecstatic crowd at Canadian Tire Centre.

    These local champions are now headed to South Korea next month, and I wish them the very best of luck in their Olympic journey.

    Finally, we capped the year off by hosting a very successful NHL 100 Classic on December 16, which marked the 100th anniversary of the very first NHL game.

    This game recreated the historic 1917 match between the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens.

    Despite the bitter cold, it was one of the most well-attended sporting events our city had ever.

    I have only scratched the surface of all the wonderful activities that took place throughout the city to mark this special year in Canada’s history.

    There were many other events that were put on by community associations, local clubs and arts organizations – events that brought our neighbourhoods together.

    And I want to thank Members of Council for their support of our Ottawa 2017 initiative over the last few years.

    These celebrations would not have been possible without your early commitment and support.

    Ultimately, we leveraged our City’s $5.8 million dollar investment to generate significant funding from other levels of government and from our generous private sector partners like CIBC and Bell.

    In the end, we delivered a $40 million program of major events and festivities for our residents and visitors.

    We all worked together to deliver this memorable year for our city, and our residents are even prouder of Ottawa thanks to our efforts.

    And I want to take this opportunity to thank all our Ottawa 2017 volunteers, who put in close to 25,000 hours to ensure these events were a success.

    We would not have been able to pull this off without them.

    I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the outstanding work of our board of directors and the team at Ottawa 2017, led by our very capable Executive Director, Guy Laflamme.

    I know every member of the team put in countless hours to make this a tremendous year in Ottawa, and you have succeeded thanks to your efforts.

    Our Executive Director, Guy Laflamme, and his entire team did amazing work, and we owe them all a warm round of applause.

    I would like to thank Councillors Jean Cloutier and Mathieu Fleury, as well as Steve Ball, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, who all played a key role in the planning and the exceptional delivery of these events.

    Now with the help of Members of Council, we have managed to preserve a bit of the historic record of 2017.

    Your communities have contributed mementos and keepsakes of these celebrations, which have been placed in the 2017 time capsule.

    On February 20th, we will be placing the time capsule inside the walls that make up this very building, with instructions for a future Council to open it in 2067 – during our country’s bicentennial year.

    I know a lot will have changed by then, but I hope our future residents will get as much enjoyment from their discovery as we did this year.

    I also want to recognize our hospitality sector – our hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions – who worked particularly hard throughout the year.

    You have been exceptionally busy, and I want to congratulate you on a job well done.

    I’m pleased to report that our full-year numbers for 2017 now show an increase of 7 percent in average hotel occupancy rates.

    A Smith Travel Research report published this fall confirmed that Ottawa’s hotel revenue growth outperformed every other major city in Canada.

    The great news is that hotels, restaurants and shops reaped the benefits right across the city – and let’s remember that Ottawa hotels employ over 6,000 residents.

    Hotels in our suburban centres like Orléans, Bells Corners, Kanata and Barrhaven, as well as the airport hotels, saw their occupancy rates increase significantly throughout the year, while those in the downtown were at full capacity on a number of occasions and saw much higher revenues than usual.

    2017 has also been a fantastic year for the Shaw Centre, which has welcomed almost double the number of conventions and delegates compared with previous years.

    Congratulations to Nina Kressler and her team at the Shaw Centre for their exceptional efforts to solidify Ottawa’s reputation as a great city to visit and to host outstanding events.

    And now after 2017, we can add events like the Grey Cup, Red Bull Crashed Ice, La Machine, the NHL 100 Classic, and many national and international sporting events to the list of successful events hosted here in the nation’s capital.

    Beyond the festivities and their economic impact, Ottawa 2017 also brought social benefits.

    As an example, let me point to the partnership that Guy and his team delivered with the Ottawa Mission at Inspiration Village.

    When Guy reached out to Peter Tilley to offer the Mission some space to showcase their programs, he quickly saw an opportunity to do much more – to give some of their former Mission clients a chance to earn money, build their confidence and slowly re-enter the work force.

    The Mission hand-picked five individuals who had recently graduated from their custodial program and who were looking for an opportunity to gain some work experience.

    What started as a simple work opportunity turned into a story of inclusion, personal growth and self-worth – one that George, Wenyin, Pierre, Noah and Kerry will not soon forget – and one that could change the course of their lives.

    Now we must work to sustain the momentum we have worked so hard to build in 2017.

    And with that goal in mind, we have already received some encouraging news leading into 2018.

    A few weeks ago, Taekwondo Canada announced that Ottawa will host the 2018 National Taekwondo Championships at the EY Centre in February.

    This national event is expected to attract almost 1,000 athletes, coaches and family members to the city, as well as hundreds of visitors, generating approximately $800,000 in economic activity.

    We will also be hosting the Canadian Track & Field Championships at Mooney’s Bay again this year.

    We will continue to focus on major events that will help us stimulate our economy.

    Since the launch of our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy, the winning bids and hosted events have generated approximately $250 million for our hospitality sector and our local economy.

    But beyond identifying future opportunities for growth, we must also secure the funds to attract these events to Ottawa and deliver them successfully.

    And I’m proud to say we have taken a crucial first step in that direction by working with our partners to implement the Hotel Tax, which will provide greater financial capacity for Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre to attract more major events, conventions and visitors to Ottawa.

    I want to acknowledge all our tourism partners who have joined us this morning, and I thank them for their great work in 2017 and their continued efforts to grow tourism to Ottawa.

    For the last number of months, a team from Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa 2017 and my office has been evaluating the success and sustainability of our 2017 events to see which ones we can build upon, and which ones could potentially be brought back in future years.

    A number of announcements will follow in the coming weeks and months as their efforts come to fruition.

    But in the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that Ottawa Tourism has already agreed to set aside funding to repeat Agri 150 in the summer of 2018.

    Offered in all four rural wards of the city, Agri 150 was a successful series of culinary events that brought residents and visitors out to farms in rural Ottawa.

    There, participants rediscovered how local food is produced, in addition to enjoying farm to table gourmet meals on-site.

    I’m also pleased to announce that – after holding 43 very successful events under the banner of Ottawa Welcomes the World at Lansdowne Park – we will be repeating this rich cultural experience over the course of a week in July.

    Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on the official program for 2018.

    I have also encouraged our tourism partners to sustain the momentum by continuing to bid on large-scale events like the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2021 and beyond.

    This type of event attracts great crowds and provides valuable international visibility.

    The Ottawa Senators and Ottawa Tourism continue to push on this front, and I wish them luck in their efforts.

    Another opportunity I’m excited to announce is that Ottawa was recently selected as Ontario’s host candidate for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games.

    These successful multi-sport games with a unique emphasis on Indigenous culture were held in Toronto in 2017, and the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario is excited at the thought of repeating the experience in the nation’s capital.

    This event would attract 5,000 athletes, coaches and officials from across Turtle Island to Ottawa in the summer of 2020, as well as more than $40 million in economic activity.

    But beyond this significant boost to our tourism sector, it would also be a meaningful way to engage in our country’s Reconciliation efforts and recognize the achievements of Indigenous youth.

    The North American Indigenous Games are specifically referenced in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.

    I look forward to working with our Indigenous community partners, the Algonquins, as well Ontario’s other First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, along with Ottawa Tourism and the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario to highlight what a great city Ottawa would be to host the 10th edition of the North American Indigenous Games.

    The City is also actively engaged in growing other industries that make our city vibrant and economically diverse.

    For example, just this fall, we created the new independent Ottawa Film Office.

    Led by Bruce Harvey – a former film producer – the Film Office will ignite the development and growth of our local film, television and digital production industry over the coming years.

    This is now a $100 million dollar a year industry for Ottawa, creating hundreds of cultural employment opportunities for local students, film crew, actors and set managers.

    The new Film Office board of directors – composed of industry stakeholders and tourism representatives – is actively working on a plan to take this sector of our economy to the next level.

    And given his leadership and dedication to the Ottawa 2017 board of directors last year, and his experience in the movie business, I’ve asked Councillor Cloutier to serve as the City’s representative on this board.

    This unparalleled enthusiasm and confidence in our local economy is spurring the development of new hotels in all part of the city.

    Construction will start this year on one of these hotels in Bells Corners – a $20 million dollar project that will play a key role in revitalizing that neighbourhood.

    This project was in part made possible by the Bells Corners Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which I committed to in the last election.

    This year, thanks to the advocacy of Councillor Fleury and to $100,000 secured in Budget 2018, Montreal Road businesses will provide input in developing their own Community Improvement Plan.

    This CIP will help revitalize the Montreal Road streetscape and will generate much needed investments and jobs in Vanier.

    With 2017 behind us, Ottawa will also benefit from a series of legacy projects – investments that have helped us strengthen our economy and revitalize our city for generations to come.

    Through our partnership with Just Food, we surpassed our goal, and delivered 30 new community gardens across the city, as well as our Canada 150 Maple Groves, where 150 Canadian Maples were planted in each of the city’s 23 wards for generations to enjoy.

    The Giver 150 playground at Mooney’s Bay is a great legacy project that was built with the help of kids from our community.

    This unique park is a wonderful tribute to our landscape and to the regions of Canada, with stables, moose, fish and snowshoes integrated into the playground.

    Since its opening, the Giver 150 playground has been extremely well received by the community in Councillor Brockington’s ward, with dozens of families enjoying the unique play structures every time I go by.

    Another facility that opened last year was the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    After a full year of operations in 2017, this new incubation hub for Ottawa’s entrepreneurs is doing phenomenally well and already bursting at the seams.

    It is the new home of Invest Ottawa, and a place where innovative ideas take shape and quickly become promising startups.

    And I’d like to share one of these success stories with you.

    Joining us in the audience this morning is Corey Ellis, a Telfer School of Management graduate who is now the co-founder and CEO of a company called The Growcer.

    Corey and his team at The Growcer have designed a state-of-the-art food growing system inside a sea container, where growing conditions are monitored every few seconds to ensure the greatest yield on their crops.

    This innovative agricultural solution reduces the cost of fresh produce and ensures greater food security for residents in these communities.

    This turn-key system can be deployed into any northern community where sustainable agriculture would otherwise be impossible.

    A system is now in place in seven northern locations, with the latest being recently installed in Churchill, Manitoba, where it is delivering fresh produce beyond the community’s expectations.

    This innovative idea has become a reality because of a local entrepreneur, and thanks in part to the business coaching of the team at Invest Ottawa.

    Congratulations, Corey.

    Several success stories like this one have materialized at Invest Ottawa.

    Since we opened Invest Ottawa in 2012, the team has facilitated the creation of more than 5,500 jobs locally.

    They have also led more than 100 missions abroad, which has helped 600 local companies grow their business in the global marketplace.

    The team at Invest Ottawa has also helped 25 international companies to setup shop or grow their footprint in Ottawa.

    In their quest to help local entrepreneurs start and grow a business, they have worked with approximately 350 startups annually, with more than 30 every year finding themselves in the accelerator program at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    Another initiative spurring community collaboration is the House of Sport at the RA Centre, which we officially opened on January 18.

    The House of Sport was developed jointly with the City and Ottawa Tourism to offer a home to a number of sporting organizations that help us attract national and international events to Ottawa.

    A successful sports industry strengthens our local economy by hosting major events, stimulating tourism and attracting talent to Ottawa.

    I’m proud that the City of Ottawa supported this project with funding, which made this project possible for Ottawa Tourism and the RA Centre to deliver.

    The House of Sport will help Ottawa maintain a competitive edge over other cities, and it will assist Ottawa Tourism in its future bids to attract major sporting events.

    I want to thank Councillor Mitic, our Sport Commissioner, who was an early supporter of this initiative.

    The new Ottawa Art Gallery building, which is three times larger than the existing space, welcomed its first tenants in early January.

    I’m pleased to announce that the Ottawa Art Gallery will have its official opening on April 28.

    And later this year, many local arts organizations will be able to take over their new facilities at the redeveloped Arts Court.

    This includes a new Black Box Theatre, developed in partnership with the University of Ottawa.

    This $100 million redevelopment is a lasting investment into arts and culture – one that will become a hub for Ottawa’s arts community for decades to come.

    This represents only part of the growth that we will help the arts community achieve this year.

    Thanks to Budget 2018, the Arts Momentum Fund will receive a renewal of $150,000 in funding so that arts and culture organizations can work together to create a strategy that will define the future of Ottawa’s cultural sector for years to come.

    There is also great potential awaiting Ottawa with the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.

    I look forward to working with all our partners in the coming years to ensure that this prime, undeveloped downtown site becomes a major city attraction for all to enjoy.

    I am pleased that, just last Thursday, this project passed a significant milestone when RendezVous LeBreton and the NCC reached an agreement in principle to move forward with the development of the site.

    It was a very busy year for the National Capital Region.

    Even with all the 2017 celebrations going on across the city, Members of Council remained busy making important decisions and delivering progress for our residents here at City Hall.

    Our Planning Committee, under the leadership of Chair Harder, has a number of accomplishments to be proud of.

    Last year, the Committee dealt with 107 development applications involving either Zoning By-law or Official Plan amendments.

    Those applications often involve large-scale projects that help residents have sufficient housing options and keep the cost of living affordable.

    In 2017, Council approved a strong mix of new residential developments, from infill to subdivisions, and everything in between.

    We approved several high-rise condo towers in areas near O-train stations, delivering on our objectives to promote transit-oriented development.

    For example, the 22-storey tower at 1960 Scott Street will offer 149 residential units near Westboro Transit station.

    On Preston Street, in Councillor McKenney’s ward, we approved a 25-storey, 175-unit residential tower, close to the Carling Avenue station and the planned Gladstone Avenue station.

    This is in the same vicinity as the new site of the Civic Hospital – one of the largest projects in our city’s history, and one that will transform health care delivery in Ottawa, to be located in Councillor Brockington’s ward.

    We also approved the redevelopment of two urban mixed-use areas to revitalize the aging Westgate and Elmvale malls.

    These shopping centres have reached the end of their lifecycle, giving us the opportunity to redevelop the sites with transit-oriented residential projects and better-planned public spaces.

    The Planning Committee also paved the way for a number of new residential subdivisions in all corners of the city:

    • Two in Stittsville in the west end;
    • Two in Barrhaven and Findlay Creek in the South;
    • And Avalon West in the east end of the City.

    The Committee also invested many hours in developing revitalization strategies for existing neighbourhoods in need, such as Heatherington and Vanier South-Overbrook.

    This was part of the Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods initiative, and detailed plans have been adopted to help invigorate both neighbourhoods.

    Despite this busy year at Planning, I’m proud to report that in 2017, there were only six contested hearings at the OMB involving the City of Ottawa, down from 19 in 2015.

    That’s a decrease of roughly 68 per cent over two years.

    This speaks to the City’s successful collaboration with residents, applicants and community groups on development projects.

    I want to congratulate and thank Chair Harder for her leadership on this front – she should be very proud of these accomplishments.

    I want to point out that the projects that go before Planning Committee also play an important role in stimulating our economy, since they represent thousands of well-paying construction jobs across our city.

    Private sector employers are expanding their presence in our region.

    A recent report by CBRE Real Estate Brokerage showed that the industrial vacancy rate in Ottawa now sits at 4.6%

    This is the tenth straight quarter of declining vacancy rates in our city, and the lowest since 2006, which has the sector looking to build new capacity to meet the demand.

    And the residential sector is following suit, with residential building starts up 35% in 2017 compared to the year before.

    And the City is also investing record amounts in public infrastructure projects, playing a critical role in creating jobs in our city.

    Later this year, we will take major steps on building the exciting Central Library Project at Booth and Albert.

    Thanks to the leadership of Councillor Tim Tierney and his work with the Ottawa Public Library board, his team is currently evaluating outstanding proposals from some of the most respected architecture firms in the world.

    Five shortlisted designs will move on to the final round of the procurement process once partnership funding has been secured.

    In the coming months, the Ottawa Public Library team will be bringing forward a report to its Board and City Council for approval on project funding.

    But in order for us to finalize the budget for the new Central Library, we will first need to know if our partnership with Library and Archives Canada has been both approved and funded accordingly by the federal government.

    Councillor Tierney and I had a very positive meeting on Monday with Finance Minister Bill Morneau to discuss this exact point.

    I am very much looking forward to the next step in this community-building project for our city.

    This modern, collaborative facility will be located near LRT’s Pimisi Station, making access easier for all its users.

    And we will work with Councillor McKenney to ensure the facility has state-of-the-art connectivity to our pedestrian and cycling networks to better serve residents.

    Towards that end, 2018 will see 15 kms of new cycling infrastructure added to our cycling network, helping us reach our goal of adding 72 km of cycling facilities to the City’s growing network by the end of 2018.

    Over this Term of Council, we will have invested $80 million dollars to expand our cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in all parts of the city.

    These are historic investments in cycling and active transportation, and I want to thank Councilor Egli for his leadership and commitment to improving active mobility in our city.

    We know that cycling can become an important link for commuters wanting to use our new LRT system when it opens later this year.

    These investments can also help us increase safety for both cyclists and drivers who share our roads.

    For example, a recent safety audit of the Laurier Avenue bike lanes revealed that overall, segregated bike lanes in our city have reduced collisions involving pedestrians by 50%, collisions with other cyclists by 30% and, and motor vehicle incidents have decreased by 10%.

    I’m pleased that construction has started on the Rideau Canal cycling and pedestrian bridge that will like Fifth Avenue to Clegg Street.

    This facility will be a great asset to improve connectivity for old Ottawa East and Main Street residents wanting to get to and from Lansdowne Park.

    This $21 million dollar project is a great example of what we can accomplish when all three levels of government work together to fund important infrastructure projects.

    And I want to thank Ministers Catherine McKenna and Yasir Naqvi for delivering on this exciting project that will benefit their Ottawa Centre residents.

    Another great example of what can be achieved by working together with our federal and provincial counterparts is our light rail transit project.

    Thanks to the collaboration of all three levels of government, not only will Stage 1 of LRT come into service later this year – but we have already secured the funding for Stage 2 of this city-building project.

    Because of Council’s commitment to the Confederation Line and Stage 2 of LRT, the provincial and federal governments are both investing with confidence in the future of transit in Ottawa.

    And we had the pleasure of welcoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at our train assembly plant at Belfast Yard in June for his announcement of the $1.16 billion federal share of funding for Stage 2 LRT.

    This project is not only the most transformative since the Rideau Canal – it will also be the most environmentally valuable project in our city’s history.

    Once fully implemented, LRT Stages 1 and 2 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 200,000 tonnes annually by 2048.

    This investment will assist in the sustainable urban growth of our city, and will lead to a healthier future for many of our residents.

    I also want to thank Councillors Taylor, Wilkinson, Hubley, Qadri and El-Chantiry, as well as Chairs Blais and Egli, for their efforts in committing $3 million dollars to fund the EA for LRT from Bayshore to Kanata, a study that is underway this year.

    Thanks to the leadership of Kanata-Carleton MP Karen McCrimmon, this study is being cost-shared with the federal government.

    This year, we will finally see the results of our work and our investments.

    Although this will be a big year for transit transformation in Ottawa, we maintain our efforts to plan for the future.

    In just over a week, Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin and I will hold our first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Transportation, here at City Hall.

    I look forward to working with Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin, as well as my colleagues Chairs Blais and Egli, to see how our two cities can better integrate our transit services and large transportation projects.

    But building our city is not just about new construction – it’s also about preserving and protecting our heritage and what makes Ottawa a great place to live.

    On this front, I’m proud of the work that Councillor Nussbaum, Harder and I have accomplished in the last year working with the Heritage Matters Taskforce on behalf of our heritage community.

    The Taskforce has been meeting to review the progress of important heritage issues, and helps set priorities and establish next steps.

    Later this year, with the guidance of the taskforce, staff will be bringing forward a recommendation to Council regarding possible heritage incentives that would help prevent demolition by neglect, as well as enhance and modernize the current heritage grant program to streamline the process and cut red tape.

    And the City’s conservation efforts are not limited to buildings – they are also about preserving our city’s natural heritage and environment.

    Thanks to Councillor Qadri’s efforts, the City recently used $1.5 million from the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Acquisition Fund to protect roughly five hectares of Shea Road Woods, a recreational greenspace that is very popular with residents.

    Our Environment and Climate Protection Committee, under the leadership of Councillor Chernushenko, has been hard at work, focussing its efforts on reducing the City’s energy consumption and carbon footprint in the fight against climate change.

    This year, we will be investing more than $2 million into energy conservation, greening our fleet and protecting our environment.

    Along with our investments in Stage 1 and 2 of LRT, new buses for our transit system, and our cycling network, we will be investing more than ever to become more sustainable and protect our environment.

    The City has worked with more than 80 community partners, including Hydro Ottawa, Enbridge, Ecology Ottawa, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, to develop Energy Evolution, a plan to transform Ottawa into a leading city powered by clean energy.

    In Budget 2018, Council agreed to invest a total of $2 million into Energy Evolution and the City’s own environmental projects, which include energy efficiency, greening our fleet and supporting renewable energy use in Ottawa.

    And I want to reiterate that these energy-conscious decisions are not only good for the environment – they make great financial sense, with long-term cost savings being generated for taxpayers.

    As an example, our recent conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology will generate savings of $6 million annually.

    Our residents can also enjoy some of the highest quality and safest drinking water in the world.

    For the fifth year in a row, Ottawa’s drinking water system has received a perfect grade of 100 per cent.

    In addition to this, we’ve adopted new procedures that have led to a reduction in the number of times residents are without water during watermain breaks.

    These are significant accomplishments, since drinking water is one of our most important core services.

    We also want to enhance the quality of the water in the Ottawa River.

    To this effect, I’m pleased to see that construction on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel is well underway.

    This project will help us protect the environment while improving the accessibility and enjoyment of residents at our beaches, and allowing them to safely practice activities like canoeing and fishing downstream.

    On this note, I want to recognize the ongoing efforts of Deputy Mayor Bob Monette, who has worked tirelessly over the last two years to support the Petrie Island Canoe Club in its quest for better, more permanent storage facilities at Petrie Island.

    And as you know, it was Councillor Monette who helped initiate the Ottawa River Action Plan that will be completed and operational in the next Term of Council.

    Thanks to his work, hundreds of kids and families will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Ottawa River and discover the magnificent wetlands that make up Petrie Island and the Ottawa River.

    I also want to recognize the Ottawa River Keeper, Meredith Brown, for her ongoing work and dedication to keeping our river clean.

    Many of the systems that increasingly help us achieve these energy savings are powered by Smart City solutions.

    That is why we adopted our Smart City Strategy – Smart City 2.0 – this past November – to give us an overall view of how we can improve our systems to better serve residents and leverage cost savings.

    And I want to thank our three sponsors – Councillors Hubley, Tierney and Harder – for their commitment to realizing this initiative.

    Smart City 2.0 is centered on three goals: Connected City, a Smart Economy, and an Innovative Government.

    It’s a city-wide approach that seeks to offer our residents the very best in terms of connectivity and innovation.

    In 2017, the City continued to grow its Open Data program, adding 15 new data sets, which brings the total to 150 currently available through the City’s Open Data Catalogue.

    As a specific example, the City recently issued an RFP to procure a city-wide mobile application in 2018.

    The first release of this mobile application – which will be available for both Android and Apple devices – will allow residents to report any service request, like a damaged streetlight or a pothole, from their phones, while including photos and enabling the tracking of those requests.

    From a client perspective, this means being able to access City services through their mobile device – anytime, anywhere.

    Our investments in innovation also help us stimulate our economy.

    It means tapping into the amazing potential we have here in Ottawa’s technology hub.

    Last March, I led a mission to Queen’s Park, and along with our partners in the tech community and our colleges and universities, we highlighted Ottawa’s potential in the development of next generation networks and autonomous vehicles.

    And we’ve had impressive results so far.

    In October, Ottawa became the first Canadian city to launch testing of an on-street autonomous vehicle communicating with live City infrastructure, and I want to thank Councillor Wilkinson for her support of this project in the Kanata North Business Park.

    And if we can count on a recent statement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, humans will eventually be banned from driving because we’re apparently too much of a danger to ourselves.

    Another example of our potential is the project that Councillor Harder has been leading over the last year – Ottawa’s involvement in the Smart Agri-food Supercluster.

    Councillor Harder’s small but mighty team – made up staff from the City, Invest Ottawa and a few federal government agencies – has learned that Ottawa is capable of supporting the tech-driven agri-food revolution that is currently underway.

    As you may have heard, global food demand will increase by 70% between now and 2050.

    Our region – because of its talent base, our roughly 2,000 farms, and our proximity to the federal government – can support the cross-sector innovation this industry needs.

    The key challenges in this sector include the need for rural connectivity, big data analytics, open platforms, autonomous solutions, and innovation to reduce the environmental impact of farming.

    Councillor Harder’s group has come across the perfect site for an innovative test site: the NCC’s 1,800-acre Greenbelt Research Farm, located at the corner of Woodroffe Avenue and Hunt Club Road.

    There is tremendous interest in this site from a growing number of partners from across Canada and around the world.

    The NCC recently signed a letter to permit the City’s first private autonomous vehicle test track on the site, and this initial step will bring to the site a number of key investors needed to address issues of rural connectivity and 5G technology.

    I am very excited about this opportunity and about its potential for our local economy.

    I want to thank Councillor Harder for her passion and dedication to advancing this project.

    Sometimes, it’s the small things that have a lasting impact in our communities.

    For example, I want to recognize the good work of Councillor Darouze in improving the safety of his residents through the replacement of the old, often rusted 911 Blade signs in his ward.

    911 Blade signs are more than a way to identify addresses in our rural communities – they are a tool used by our front-line Emergency Response workers to quickly identify a location in need of assistance.

    After hearing concerns from residents, Councillor Darouze acted quickly and secured the funding required to have the rusted signs replaced.

    This initiative is an important public safety priority with a big impact, and I want to thank him for his efforts and his service to his residents.

    In 2018, I look forward to celebrating a milestone anniversary with Councillor Moffatt and his community, as we will mark the 200th anniversary of the Village of Richmond.

    There are festivities taking place throughout the year for the occasion, with the big celebration weekend taking place from June 15 to 18.

    I hope many of you will join Councillor Moffatt and I in marking this historic moment in our city’s history.

    Last spring, some of our rural residents and their homes were badly affected as the waters of the Ottawa River rose to levels that we see only once every 100 years.

    These floods lasted for weeks and demanded a sustained response from our emergency workers, as well as the thousands of volunteers who came out to lend a hand.

    Thanks to the leadership of Councillors El-Chantiry, Blais and Taylor, our community came together like never before to help families in their time of need.

    Whether it was filling sandbags or bringing in supplies, residents rolled up their sleeves and helped neighbours whose homes were in the path of this massive flooding.

    I want to thank our City staff and our front-line emergency personnel, who coordinated an effective and courageous response to this natural disaster.

    I also want to recognize the thousands of residents who came out to help their neighbours.

    To recognize their efforts, I’m pleased to announce that, in collaboration with Councillors El-Chantiry, Taylor and Blais, the City will be holding a community gathering later this year, both to mark the first anniversary of these events and to offer a sincere thank you to our dedicated volunteers for their assistance.

    This type of community effort requires the support of many City services, and we need to make the right investments to ensure we can respond and help our residents when they face this level of hardship.

    And I’m proud that the we have continued to increase our investments in our core services.

    Although Ottawa remains one of the safest cities in Canada, we have witnessed a recent increase in gun violence, and we need to do more to keep our streets and our residents safe.

    In light of this, I’m pleased that we are strengthening our commitment to public safety by hiring 25 additional police officers this year, for a total of 75 new officers this Term of Council.

    Our women and men in uniform play a critical role in the lives of our residents – in keeping our children and families safe.

    In light of the recent shootings, I called a meeting last Friday, along with Councillors El-Chantiry, Deans, Harder and Qadri, for Chief Bordeleau to outline our City’s ongoing efforts to tackle this issue.

    Chief Bordeleau took the opportunity to assure us that his members from across the force are actively engaged on the issue of guns and gangs, and we know they are sparing no effort.

    We will keep a close eye on their hard work over the coming months and by working together with the community, I am confident that we can fight the violence that is affecting our community.

    Over the last number of years, there has been an important dialogue between municipalities and upper levels of government on how best to coordinate efforts that will lead to a reduction of overdose deaths across Canada, including Ottawa.

    What is clear is that we need to see real change by working with our community partners on a nimble and responsive strategy that includes mental health promotion, prevention of drug use, as well as community withdrawal and treatment services for those who want and can benefit from them.

    I firmly believe we need a holistic approach to tackle this crisis from a variety of angles and with many partners in order to reach all of our vulnerable populations and to meet people where they are in their journey.

    This includes early supports for parents raising young children; mental health and resources to promote resiliency; equipment and training for first responders and front-line service providers; community withdrawal and treatment options for those who seek them; harm reduction services for those who need them; safe and adequate housing for those who are struggling.

    If we continue working together, I believe we can make a major difference.

    I want to thank Councillor Qadri and the Board of Health for their leadership and capable handling of this complex file.

    Although our efforts to date have played an important role in reducing overdoses in our community, I believe that there is more that can and must be done to get our most vulnerable residents back on their feet.

    I have always believed that we need to do more to offer addiction treatment options to residents that need them.

    That’s why later today, I will be bringing forward for Council’s consideration a notice of motion to encourage the Province to increase the number of detox and treatment beds in our region.

    In 2018, our police officers may face a new challenge and additional budget pressures, as they take on the implementation and enforcement of the incoming legalization of marijuana.

    Their new duties stem from federal and provincial policy decisions, and I believe the responsibility should rest on those levels of government to fund the impact of this legislative change on municipalities, especially since they will be collecting significant taxes on the sale of cannabis.

    And although the bulk of the impact will be felt by the Ottawa Police Service – Bylaw, Fire Services and Ottawa Public Health will also be asked to do more.

    City staff believe that the implementation and enforcement of marijuana legalization will cost the City approximately $8 million dollars.

    With this in mind, I have recently written to Premier Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa to highlight these budget pressures, and to ask them for their support in tackling this challenge.

    Following a recent federal-provincial ministers meeting, it was determined that provinces would keep 70% of all taxes collected, and we believe a portion of those revenues should go to helping municipalities fulfill their new responsibilities.

    My hope is the Ontario Government will acknowledge that this new mandate has indeed been downloaded on to municipalities, and that adequate funding should follow to help cities meet the challenge at hand.

    On another matter, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the work of the Ontario Government and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, who intervened swiftly last year to protect the safety of women accessing important abortion services in our city.

    After Councillor McKenney and I wrote to him to raise our concerns with the intimidation perpetrated by protesters and the absence of a safety bubble around abortion clinics, Minister Naqvi acted quickly to table legislation that has created new safe access zones around these facilities.

    This new law will be effective starting tomorrow, and will prevent protesters from coming within 50 to 150 metres from a facility that offers abortion services.

    Women seeking medical help and counselling should not be spat upon or heckled on their way to an appointment.

    I have confirmed with the Police Services that they are ready with an implementation plan to support this legislative change and keep women safe in these areas.

    Beyond our women and men in uniform, technology can also play a crucial role in making our community safer.

    In the last election, I committed to installing 20 new Red Light Cameras.

    I’m pleased that we have successfully installed 14 of those, and that the remaining six are currently being implemented and will be installed by the fall.

    Red Light Cameras installed at key intersections have led to a reduction of more than 50 percent in dangerous right angle collisions, as well as an overall decrease of 43% in injuries.

    And they are more than a simple deterrent to running red lights – they provided roughly $5.1 million dollars that was reinvested in the City in 2017.

    I will propose that the next Council allocate 100% of this revenue to the Police Service and Safer Roads Ottawa for further enforcement and to strengthen road safety initiatives.

    This will also free up revenue for more pressing issues like the work underway to reduce gun violence across our city.

    Since this Term of Council began, we have also delivered improvements in terms of social services for our residents.

    Since the beginning of this Term of Council, we have also delivered social progress for our residents.

    Progress on affordable housing; progress on affordable transit services; progress on active transportation, all of which make our city more affordable and more livable.

    Last year, the City welcomed three new affordable and supportive housing facilities with approximately 200 beds, thanks to funding from all levels of government.

    We also received $30 million through the Provincial Homes for Good Program, funding which will expand our Housing First Program and support residents living in transitional or supportive housing.

    This operational funding will support approximately 310 families to find and keep suitable affordable and supportive housing in Ottawa.

    And the capital portion will support the construction, renovation or purchase of approximately 150 new supportive housing units in Ottawa, which is much needed progress on this front.

    And with the announcement in November of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy, which will help us leverage funds from both the federal and provincial governments, we can expect to make even greater strides in the years to come.

    I look forward to continuing our work with all our housing partners and agencies to offer our most vulnerable residents a better and more stable life in Ottawa.

    I want to thank Councillor Taylor, our Council Liaison on Housing and Homelessness, and the Chair of CPSC, Councillor Diane Deans, as well as our staff at the City and Ottawa Community Housing, for their work and leadership on this complex and challenging file.

    At an upcoming CPSC meeting, we will be reviewing our progress on the City’s Ten-Year Housing Strategy, and I look forward to this important discussion with the community.

    Housing is a necessity of life, and everyone should have the right to a roof over their head.

    This is on everyone’s mind. And two students from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in Councillor Monette’s ward – Hammad and Zmarak – recently wrote in to bring this issue to the forefront.

    They conducted some research as part of their civics class, and were shocked to learn that 140 of 770 homeless veterans in Canada were here in Ottawa.

    They emphatically told me: “We must change this!”

    These two high school students recognized the sacrifices that these men and women in uniform have made to defend our country and want to find a way to help them.

    They also pleaded with me to bring attention to their plight by raising the issue in a high-profile speech – and I’m pleased that I can lend them a hand today.

    And thinking about this and about the importance of the DND’s presence in our city, I have asked Councillor Mitic to become the City’s first ever Liaison for Veteran and Military Issues.

    With an active service population of 23,000 members, and more the 53,000 veterans and their families living in our city, I think it is more important than ever that we make sure that this important community is receiving the support it needs from the City.

    Councillor Mitic’s mandate will be to solidify our important relationship with the military and our veteran community, by attending their events and association meetings to hear their concerns, as well as becoming their champion at City Hall.

    I want to thank Councillor Mitic for taking on this important mandate – I know he will be dedicated to the cause and will deliver for this community that has always been dear to him.

    As a City, we have also been able to deliver progress for residents falling through the existing support programs offered by OC Transpo.

    Last year, we introduced the Equipass, a monthly transit pass for low-income residents.

    Thanks to the leadership of Transit Commission Chair Stephen Blais, in 2018, we have been able to expand this service with the introduction of the single-ride 50% discounted EquiFare.

    And we are investing a total of $3.5 million dollars in these programs to make transit services more affordable and accessible to our community’s low-income residents.

    This new measure allows us to build the type of city we all want—a city that makes access to public transit more affordable for residents in need.

    This month alone, 3,100 low-income residents benefitted from their monthly subscription to the EquiPass.

    In total, 6,800 residents have registered as eligible EquiPass users, and hundreds of them have already made single-ride EquiFare trips in the first few weeks of January.

    And I’m proud that we have been able to accomplish so much at City Hall because of the eight years of unprecedented labour peace.

    This period of collaboration with our 17,000 employees and their unions is no small feat, and I would like to thank our staff in labour relations, human resources and our management team, as well as our union leaders, for their commitment to this open dialogue.

    With the help of our dedicated staff, under the leadership of City Manager Steve Kanellakos and his very capable Senior Management Team, we are making our community more affordable and welcoming for all our residents, and this is especially important for the most recent members of the community.

    In the fall of 2016, the City and its partners led a successful United for Refugees campaign that really saw our community coming together in compassion and humanity.

    Our efforts included a Welcoming Syrian Refugees Forum, which saw the creation of Refugee 6-1-3 and brought to City Hall more than 1,000 residents wanting to learn how they could help.

    As a result of these efforts, last year, our residents opened their arms and our community welcomed more than 2,100 Syrians in need – families and children who had fled their country to escape a brutal war.

    We also raised $1 million dollars to support their resettlement.

    And I’m very pleased to say that the Syrian community has found a new home in Ottawa, and they are enriching our city with their culture, which I have the pleasure of experiencing regularly at community events.

    I want to acknowledge the good work of Councillor Qaqish in engaging with our social service partners and the Syrian community to facilitate their resettlement.

    I’m also proud that we could help the Somali community host their first ever Somali Festival here at City Hall, which was a great success and will be held again in July of 2018.

    Events like these at City Hall have made this a destination for residents, and a real people place.

    Last year, City Hall hosted 363 events, an increase of more than 50 percent over 2013 numbers, with more community organizations thinking of City Hall to hold their meetings or festivities.

    The Barbara Ann Scott Gallery welcomed over 17,000 visitors in 2017, while more than 27,000 stopped to look at the chains of office of our former municipalities.

    We also have two wonderful art galleries and the Sports Hall of Fame.

    On March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day, I will have the pleasure of welcoming approximately three hundred of our city’s leading women to a breakfast reception at City Hall.

    We will take the opportunity to mark a first in Ottawa’s diplomatic landscape, as the representatives of France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States are now all women, and will be speaking at this special event I look forward to every year.

    We have also had an opportunity to pay tribute to our most accomplished residents who have changed the face of our city.

    The Key to the City recipients now have their own display at City Hall, to which we added the names of six illustrious citizens and institutions last year.

    This year, I’m pleased to announce that I will be presenting the Key to the City to Peter Herrndorf, the outstanding CEO of the NAC, to their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston and Sharon Johnston, and finally to Ms. Hélène Campbell, one of Canada’s most unrelenting advocates for organ donations.

    And City Hall is also more open and accountable than ever, inviting residents to participate in the debates that shape our city and welcoming them around the table at committee meetings.

    We have added four citizen commissioners – dedicated transit users – to provide their input at the Transit Commission.

    Our Board of Health and Built Heritage Sub-Committee also now have voting public members.

    I’m also proud that this Council has held fewer in-camera meetings than Councils of the past.

    Another new way I will be opening up City Hall this year is by holding a ‘’Mayor for a Day’’ contest, which will run from February 2nd to the 28th.

    This contest was suggested by Youth Ottawa’s Youth Engagement Committee, and will be open to Ottawa high school students in grades 9 to 12.

    Those who want to participate can submit their best three ideas to improve the City of Ottawa in a three-minute Youtube video or a 1,000 word essay.

    Two contestants will be selected to join me at City Hall to experience a day in the life of the Mayor of Ottawa.

    I truly believe that there is no better time to be living in Ottawa.

    In fact, our quality of life is the envy of many cities around the world.

    A report published last year by Deutsche Bank ranked Ottawa the best Canadian city to live in, based on eight factors like cost of living, health-care, safety, commute time and pollution.

    Our region added 3,300 net new jobs in December, and this hiring by local employers brought our unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent, the lowest rate since April 2017.

    Money Sense Magazine crowned Ottawa the best place to live in Canada for a second year in a row.

    In explaining why to its readers, Money Sense stated, and I quote: ‘’There are some cities that simply have it all. And for the second consecutive year, that place is Ottawa.’’

    And we have garnered many of these recognitions by keeping the cost of living in Ottawa affordable for our residents.

    That affordability relies on many factors – reasonable rents and housing prices, good paying jobs, low inflation – but governments must also do their part to ensure low taxes for their residents.

    And I’m proud that we are doing what we can to maintain tax increases at a low and predictable level.

    I also want to thank Councillors Hubley and Cloutier for their hard work as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Audit Committee – and the important follow-up work they are engaged with to ensure best value for taxpayers’ dollars.

    Budget 2018 marked the fifth year in a row that we have kept our commitment to capping tax increases at two per cent, a promise we all made in the first year of this mandate.

    I believe we have made great progress and the right investments to improve the lives of our residents.

    Ottawa’s future is promising, and I look forward to working with all Members of Council in 2018 to keep up this progress and the momentum we have created together.

    Ladies and gentlemen – the state of our city is very good, and its future potential is unlimited.

    As Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote: ‘’The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’’

    Let our dreams ignite our future for an even better Ottawa.

  • Mayor’s Budget 2018 Remarks

    Balanced, Affordable and Progressive: Budget 2018 

    Check against delivery 

    Every fall I look forward to the opportunity to speak to Council and the public regarding their vision for Ottawa’s future and to listen to where residents would like Council to focus our resources.

    Over the last few months, Council has worked with the City Treasurer and the City Manager to deliver a budget that keeps us on a balanced path of fiscal responsibility.

    I am pleased to report that we are bringing forward a budget for 2018 that focuses on securing a sustainable financial framework for the coming years.

    A budget that is balanced, affordable and progressive.

    For the fifth year in a row, the proposed increase in the City of Ottawa property taxes is at two per cent.

    This means that for the average urban household, valued at $404,000, the tax change will be $74.

    For the average rural household, the tax change will be $60.

    Property taxation is the single most important tool our City has to maintain affordability for our residents, and I am proud that Council is delivering on this key commitment.

    It is important to listen to residents through the budget consultation process – and we have built residents’ feedback into the draft 2018 Budget being tabled today.

    Over the last few months, there have been five multi-ward, Councillor-led consultations, as well as four single-ward consultations.

    The City has received budget ideas and feedback from residents, community groups and stakeholders through a variety of ways.

    This includes  the  Councillor-led Budget consultations, the Budget planning tool proposed by Councillor Tim Tierney available on ottawa.ca, and the City’s social media channels.

    As of November 1, there were over one thousand visits to the budget planning tool.

    My office, the City Treasurer and the City Manager’s office have met with every Member of Council and Committee Chairs to hear their budget priorities.

    I have also hosted a series of community breakfasts to hear priorities directly from community leaders and residents.

    It is not always the case, but this year, what we have heard has been clear and consistent.

    Residents understand that the last seven years have seen us focus more heavily on transit infrastructure – which required a massive catch-up effort.

    Today, residents are asking us to shift some of that focus to our social infrastructure and to our other built infrastructure needs.

    What we are hearing – at public meetings or in informal conversations – is the need to continue to do more about the state of our roads, infrastructure, buildings and parks.

    And that the winter maintenance of critical infrastructure, like our roads and sidewalks, must continue to improve.

    The changing weather patterns have created major challenges in maintaining our roads, pathways and community infrastructure.

    The abundance of rain and spring flooding, the extraordinary amount of snow, and the number of freeze-thaw cycles has significantly impacted the quality of our roadways, shoulders, sidewalks and road beds.

    Investing in existing infrastructure is not always the most popular budget approach for Council to take – as politicians we always want to announce something new.

    But I have heard from almost every Member of Council that our roads, facilities and sidewalks need more attention now.

    The infrastructure gap is a significant challenge for municipalities nation-wide.

    In response to these concerns, our total budget contribution for roads, bike lanes, sidewalks and facilities will increase by $12.6 million dollars in 2018, to bring us to $112.4 million in annual funding.

    That’s an increase of 13 per cent.

    Thanks to this increased commitment, we will invest an additional $100 million over the next 8 years for capital works.

    Let me give you a sense of how these additional dollars will be invested.

    First, as I mentioned, we will be responding to the number one request from residents – to put more funding into road resurfacing and renewal.

    In 2018, the road resurfacing budget will be increased by $5.6 million, for a total budget of $39.2 million dollars –  that’s a 17 per cent increase over 2017.

    Secondly, our rural infrastructure investments will reach $42.2 million in 2018, up from the three-year average of $36.8 million dollars.

    This funding includes rural roads and culverts repairs.

    Budget 2018 will allow the City to repair or resurface over 70 kilometres of roads in the rural area.

    Councillor Moffatt will see sections of Rideau Valley South and Fallowfield Road resurfaced while Councillor Darouze will see sections of Stage Coach Road and Van Rens Street repaved.

    In addition, the City will be investing $24.3 million dollars towards bridge rehabilitation in 2018.

    This is an increase from just under $14 million last year.

    This includes projects such as the Fitzroy Harbour Bridge and the Anderson Road Bridge.

    We must also continue to improve our ability to repair potholes.

    Since January 2017, City staff have filled over 253,000 potholes across Ottawa.

    Even with this level of activity, we have heard consistently that we need to do more.

    That is why 2018 budget will make permanent the $400,000 one-time increase in the pothole and minor asphalt repair program introduced in 2017.

    We will add $200,000 in one-time funds to bring the program to $8 million – an 8 per cent increase over 2016.

    This funding will help us deal more effectively with the immediate patching and pothole needs caused by the significant weather fluctuations and increased construction level that have impacted Ottawa.

    We also need to look at innovative ways to improve the condition of our roads.

    That is why I have asked staff to investigate the possibility of running our own asphalt plant in order to ensure quality and price, and to investigate new technologies that may improve the long-term durability of our roadways.

    Ottawa spans more than 90 km from east to west and has one of the largest municipal transportation networks in Canada.

    Maintaining our network is expensive.

    That is why Budget 2018 includes an increase of $2.3 million to the base budget for winter maintenance – bringing the total annual funding to $68.3 million.

    This is in addition to the $4.5-million base budget increase for winter maintenance introduced last year, for a total increase of $11.3 million dollars over the last three years.

    This new base funding meets the level of funding recommended by the independent KPMG audit.

    The winter cycling network will also be expanded, adding O’Connor and Main Street cycling lanes.

    Signs of increased prosperity are all around us as public and private sector investment is booming.

    The Conference Board of Canada has forecast that Ottawa-Gatineau’s real GDP growth will be 2.2 per cent in 2018 following a forecasted 2.5 per cent increase in 2017.

    This is the strongest back-to-back increase since 2007 – 2008.

    But that prosperity is not shared equally by all our residents.

    We need to continue to do more for our most vulnerable residents who rely on our city’s strong network of community-based social services.

    I now want to focus on how we will provide much needed support to the fast growing social infrastructure needs of our city.

    Residents want us to find a way to ensure that both the city and our community partners are ready to respond to the challenges of increasing costs and legislative changes from other levels of government.

    We have heard from community arts, recreation, social and housing service providers who are concerned about budget pressures caused by provincial changes to the minimum wage.

    I am pleased to say that while Budget 2018 will meet the City’s own obligations to address the minimum wage increase, it will also include funding to support our partner agencies, to help them with their increased costs from minimum wage increases.

    We recognize that these service delivery agencies have few options to make up for these funding pressures.

    Without additional resources, they would have little choice but to reduce services while the needs of their clients are growing.

    This is NOT the right time for cuts to our social service agencies.

    For this reason, Budget 2018 will provide an inflationary increase of 3 per cent to our social services agencies.

    This translates into an additional $675,000 in 2018 for a total annual investment of $23.2 million.

    Social service agencies will also see a base budget increase again this year, which, when added to the inflationary increase, will provide a total increase of 4.4 per cent in 2018.

    This represents an annual increase of approximately $1 million for this sector.

    This community funding helps support 93 agencies that run hundreds of essential programs across the entire city.

    There will also be an additional 3 percent or $760,000 going to housing and homelessness agencies, for a total of $26.3 million.

    The City will also be increasing the amount provided for housing programs by $1.7 million to meet the housing sector’s other cost pressures.

    We will also be replacing $1.3 million of funding that lapses with the expiry of federal operating agreements, bringing the total City contribution to $81 million in 2018.

    This is up $3 million from our 2017 Budget of $78 million – a 3.8% increase.

    When combined with funding from upper levels of government, this is a historic investment in housing and homelessness in Ottawa.

     

    With the rate of inflation currently sitting at 1.5 per cent, this is a significant increase to the base operating dollars of these important service delivery agencies.

    I would like to take a moment to tell you some of the other things we will be doing for housing and homelessness in 2018.

    Thankfully, we do not face the housing and homelessness challenge alone.

    The role of the federal and provincial governments in housing is especially important this year.

    The federal and provincial governments are currently in bilateral negotiations on the social and green infrastructure funds.

    We are also expecting the release of the long-awaited National Housing Strategy and the Federal Anti-Poverty Strategy, within a few weeks.

    These anticipated announcements will be followed by detailed contribution agreements, funding conditions and provincial and national priorities and benchmarks.

    But from what we know today, given the increased support from the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada, the planned capital investment in social housing – including retrofits and construction of new units – will increase from $20.6 million dollars in 2017 to $52.6 million dollars in 2018.

    As a result, the number of new units funded will increase from 137 in 2017 to 300 units in 2018.

    It is impossible to understand the City’s housing funding without drawing the whole picture of how the three levels of government are working together towards the same important goals.

    For the most part, these common goals reinforce and support the City’s commitment to our Ten-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan.

    The City and its community partners will only be able to achieve these local goals if we continue to work together with our federal and provincial partners towards shared outcomes.

    By the end of 2017, the City will have 401 new affordable and supportive housing units built or underway, including:

    • In Councillor Harder’s Ward: we opened 455 Via Verona in partnership with Multi-Faith Housing – a 98-unit affordable housing community for families;
    • In Innes, Councillor Mitic’s Ward, we built 1900 St-Joseph Blvd in partnership with Montfort Renaissance, a 48-unit supportive housing program for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

    In 2018, the City will be investing more towards housing and homelessness, as are the federal and provincial governments.

    But there is more news and progress to come: the City will be ready to leverage upcoming federal and provincial funding opportunities so that we can best meet the needs of our community.

    The City will also see an increase in provincial funding in 2018 through the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative, for a total of $37.6 million.

    This funding supports a number of housing and homelessness initiatives for low and moderate income residents at risk of or experiencing homelessness, by providing them with the necessary supports to find and keep their housing.

    The City also received $47 million over four years through the new provincial Social Housing Apartment Improvement Program for repairs and retrofits.

    This funding will improve living conditions, reduce costs through energy conservation, and fight climate change thanks to improvements that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    The City will also benefit from an additional $4.7 million from the federal and provincial governments to develop new affordable and supportive housing that results in a total investment of $72.2 million from 2014 to 2020.

    The City will also receive $7 million from the Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy in 2018.

    Over the last few years, this program has helped 516 people experiencing long shelter stays, move from emergency shelters into permanent housing with supports.

    The City will also receive $30 million for local capital and operating funding through the recently announced Provincial Home for Good Program.

    This new funding will expand the City’s Housing First Program, provide supports for people living in transitional or supportive housing programs, and will allow for peer support workers as well.

    These additional operating dollars will increase the number of rent supplements and housing allowances available.

    This will also provide funding for first and last month’s rent and unit set-up.

    Both of these can be significant barriers for low income residents seeking shelter.

     

    Overall, the operational component of this funding will support approximately 310 households to find and keep suitable affordable and supportive housing in Ottawa.

    The capital component of the Home for Good Program will support the construction, renovation or purchase of approximately 150 new supportive housing units in Ottawa.

    This funding is complemented by the Child Care modernization and social assistance reform.

    For example, the City is receiving additional funding through the Provincial Child Care Expansion Plan and the Federal Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Plan.

    In 2017, the City received $13.6 million more than was anticipated to support access to licensed child care.

    This funding will help over 1,400 local children access affordable child care and will significantly reduce – and possibly eliminate – the current child care subsidy waitlist for children ages 0 to 6.

    It is estimated that the City will receive an additional $7.3 million in 2018 as part of this commitment.

    Additionally, the Province announced its intention to transform provincially-funded child and family programs into an integrated, cohesive system of services and supports for children ages 0 to 6 and their parents and caregivers.

    These services include free programs such as playgroups, where parents can attend with their child and have access to information and supports.

    In total, the 2018 provincial funding allocation for Ottawa is $8.4 million for Early Years and Family Centres plus the $7.3 million under the child care expansion programs.

    I believe that by working with stakeholders, this additional funding will allow us to continue to transform Child Care and Early Years services in Ottawa.

    I want to thank Councillor Mark Taylor, our special liaison for housing and homelessness, Councillor Michael Qaqish, our special liaison for refugees, Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee, and Jan Harder, Chair of Planning, for their strong advocacy for these additional funds and for their continued diligence to implement these new programs moving forward.

    Budget 2018 will provide a 3 per cent increase to our parks and recreation services agencies. This represents an injection of $ 50,000 to their base budgets.

    We will also be providing an inflationary increase of 3 per cent to the Outdoor Rink program to meet the impact of minimum wage increases.

    This will bring the funding for this program to $825,000 in 2018.

    Affordable child care, housing and transit go hand in hand.

    Towards this end, Members of Council and the Transit Commission listened to the calls for the City to find ways to support residents who face economic challenges through a more affordable and equitable transit fare.

    The 2017 Budget introduced the EquiPass, a transit pass for low-income residents.

    To date, the EquiPass has been purchased by about 2,600 eligible transit customers per month, based on the last three months.

    Thanks to the leadership of Commission Chair Stephen Blais, there is funding in the 2018 Budget to introduce a Single-ride equitable Fare.

    Eligible EquiFare transit customers will get the same deep 50% discount as EquiPass customers.

    This means that a new single ride EquiFare will cost $1.75, compared to the 2018 single fare of $3.45.

    OC Transpo is aiming to make the new EquiFare available before the end of June 2018.

    Together, EquiFare and EquiPass represent the single largest one-time increase in the City’s history to support the needs of transit users living below the low-income cut-off.

    In 2018, the total EquiFare and EquiPass subsidy increases to $3.7 million dollars from $2.7 million dollars.

    The City has also made major investments in improving Para Transpo service in recent years, including the modernization of the minibus fleet.

    In 2018, staff will be reviewing Para Transpo’s service eligibility criteria to bring it in line with industry best practices.

    This will expand eligibility for Para Transpo to include persons with developmental or mental health disabilities.

    As you may remember, Uber has agreed to pay a voluntary seven-cent per-trip surcharge for all completed trips, which commenced in October 2016 when Uber became licensed.

    I have asked staff to work with the City’s Accessibility Unit, and the Accessibility Advisory Committee, and to report back to Committee and Council in the new year with a recommended spending plan for this approximately $450,000 in annual funding.

    We have heard from our rural and suburban Councillors that some residents are finding it hard to commute to work or school because their peak-hour buses are full.

    Budget 2018 does a number of things to expand service to growing communities.

    In collaboration with the Government of Canada, we will be introducing 17 new double-decker buses to meet the growing demand, at a cost of $18.4 million dollars.

    Twenty new routes will start this December, which will lay the foundation for future growth in ridership for the Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT.

    Kanata, Stittsville, Barrhaven, Riverside South, Ottawa South, Orléans, the new development at Wateridge/Village Riverain, are some of the areas that will see new or improved transit service.

    As a result of this funding and the addition of 17 new buses to OC Transpo’s fleet, various routes will see increases in frequency.

    Some will be extended, capacity will be increased on others, and new connexion routes will be introduced to provide faster travel times for customers.

    Budget 2018 also maintains free Wednesday transit service for seniors.

    Budget 2018 will also see an increase in funding for the Community Support Service agencies who provide transportation in the rural areas, for a total base budget of $605,000 – an increase of $100,000.

    This program – designed to improve access to transportation services for rural seniors and disabled residents – provides approximately 15,000 trips annually to residents.

    Thanks to our rural Councillors Steve Blais, Eli El-Chantiry, George Darouze and Scott Moffatt for advocating for this improvement.

    Because of Council’s steadfast commitment to the Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT, the City, the province and federal government are investing with confidence in the future of transit in Ottawa.

    As a result of the funding from all three levels of government, Budget 2018 includes more funding to build the largest single environmental project in the City’s history – Stage 2 of LRT.

    The forecasted capital spending on Stage 1 LRT in 2018 is about $550 million – for a total investment of $2.1 billion.

    For every $1 billion dollar invested in new infrastructure, 10,000 person years of employment will be generated in Ottawa, including 5,500 new jobs in the construction sector.

    This high level of capital investment will encourage growth, protect jobs, and improve household and business confidence.

    I also want to thank west end Councillors – including Councillors Taylor, Wilkinson, Hubley, Qadri and El-Chantiry, and Chairs Blais and Egli.

    Their strong advocacy efforts led to an investment of 3 million dollars to fund the Bayshore to Kanata LRT Environmental Assessment, which will be completed in 2019.

    By working together, we have accomplished more in seven short years of LRT planning and construction than we ever dreamed possible.

    In 2018, we will see more and more evidence of this dramatic transformation in how Ottawa residents commute and travel within our vast city.

    But we are not done yet – because we still have work to do to reduce the bottleneck of buses traveling inefficiently between Ottawa and Gatineau.

    In early 2018, we will convene our first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Transportation with the City of Gatineau.

    I look forward to working with my colleagues – Chairs Egli and Blais – to explore opportunities for better regional integration of transit services and large transportation projects.

    Budget 2018 also continues our Council’s strong support for active mobility.

    In 2018, we will spend more than $7 million in cycling infrastructure through the Community Connectivity Program and through investments in paved shoulders.

    I am pleased that Kanata North, represented by Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, will see improvements to Campeau Drive from, Teron Road North to Knudson Drive.

    We will also be adding more than 15 km of cycling facilities across the city.

    This will help us reach our goal of adding 72 km of cycling infrastructure to the City’s growing network by the end of 2018.

    A few of the examples that will be funded in 2018 include:

    • A pathway extension along the west side of Woodroffe Avenue connecting the existing pathways at Norice Street to Algonquin College, the College Square shopping Centre. (Ward 8)
    • An upgraded cycling facility approximately 1km in length which will connect the City’s Sawmill Creek pathway to the NCC pathways along the Rideau Canal and Rideau River. (Ward 11)
    • An improved neighborhood connection that allows Lowertown residents to reach New Edinburgh using the Minto Bridges. (Wards 12, 13)
    • A new pathway linkage to inter-connect the existing Hydro Corridor terminating at Pony Park at Eagleson Road to the Ottawa-Carleton Pathway. (Ward 23)
    • Improved linkages for cyclists around Confederation Line Stations, including a pathway from Albert Street to the lower level of Pimisi station. (Ward 14)

    When combined with funding from other levels of government, the city’s total investment in cycling and pedestrian structures within this Term of Council will hit $80 million dollars.

    This represents a 270% increase over the $27 million dollars spent on active mobility infrastructure in the last Term of Council.

    This $80 million is in addition to the cycling facilities that are built as part of road renewal and new road construction programs.

    One such example is the new Main Street cycle tracks, part of our complete streets plan.

    In 2018, we will continue to improve the walkability of our city, with almost $3 million in funding towards various sidewalk improvement projects across the city.

    This is in on top of the $1.5 million that will be spent to implement the Pedestrian Plan Program, which advances our goal of making Ottawa a world-class pedestrian city all year round.

    I wish to thank the many Councillors, including Transportation Committee Chair Keith Egli and cycling advocates Catherine McKenney, Jeff Leiper, Mathieu Fleury, David Chernushenko and Tobi Nussbaum, for their support on this front.

    I would also like to thank Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre and Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre, for their support of the new $21-million-dollar Clegg Street Bridge.

    This new crossing in Councillor Chernushenko’s ward will provide pedestrian and cycling connections between Old Ottawa South, Lansdowne Park and Old Ottawa East.

    There will also be funding for the refurbishment of the Rosemount Library in Councillor Leiper’s ward, and for the purchase of land and design work for a brand new community centre and library in Riverside South, in Councillor Qaqish’s ward.

    Under the leadership of Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library, Budget 2018 also includes funding to continue the planning and design work underway to deliver our new Central Library.

    Positive discussions are ongoing with the federal government on a potential combined Central Library and Archives Project that could soon become an important landmark along our new LRT network.

    We also heard from residents that access to quality recreational facilities is an important priority for 2018.

    We will be investing more in city recreation and cultural facilities, with an additional $700,000, for a total renewal investment of $16.1 Million in 2018.

    This covers upgrades to our buildings, swimming pools, splash pads, fitness spaces and outdoor courts.

    We will also be adding $250,000 to the park renewal budget, for a total investment of $5.25 million in 2018.

    This funding will lead to improved play structures and equipment and improved park pathway lighting.

    There will also be an additional $2.5 million to improve the accessibility of our parks and playgrounds for all users.

    Councillor Mitic, who is also our Sports Commissioner, has been working hard to have the Blackburn Arena redeveloped and made accessible.

    Budget 2018 includes $1 million dollars for this project and we are working with MP Andrew Leslie and MPP Marie-France Lalonde to secure matching funds from their two levels of government.

    The funding for park renewal is on top of the $7 million for park projects already funded from development charges.

    This funding will see new park development in growth areas such as Riverside-South District Park, and in Gloucester-Southgate, Diamond Jubilee Park (in ward 22) and Hillside Vista Park (in Ward 1).

    We have also identified funding for the City’s own recreational programs to mitigate the impact of minimum wages.

    Without this additional funding, recreation and admissions fees in the City would have increased by 6 per cent.

    With this funding, we will be able to hold the City’s recreation fee increases to 2 per cent for 2018.

    This is after we managed to freeze recreation fees for three years in the last term of Council.

    This increase represents 25 cents on the average swim or public skate admission fee.

    To mitigate the impact of these increases, the Recreation Fee Subsidy Program will also increase to $1.1 million in 2018 – an increase of $35,000.

    This program helps ensure that low income residents can benefit from the City’s recreational programs.

    I am pleased to report that Budget 2018 also heralds some very significant investments in core municipal services that matter most to residents.

    We will hear from our Chair of Ottawa Police Services, Councillor El-Chantiry, that Ottawa Police Services is adding 25 new officers in 2018.

    We will also see an increase of 14 new paramedics in 2018.

    My thanks for the strong advocacy of Councillors Darouze and El-Chantiry on this important new investment.

    We are working to help ensure that these investments in paramedics will lead to improved response times – particularly in our rural and suburban wards.

    There will also be an additional 10 new crossing guards to service areas in need, as identified by the local School Boards.

    This brings the total number of crossing guards in Ottawa to 209 by the fall of 2018.

    We have been proud to partner with our local festivals and arts organizations to make 2017 a year to remember for our residents and millions of visitors.

    There is no doubt that 2017 will have been a tremendous year for our local artists and arts organizations.

    In just a few weeks, we will witness the opening of the new Ottawa Art Gallery, which is approximately three times the size of the existing space.

    In 2018, we will open the redeveloped Arts Court facility, along with the new Black Box Theatre, developed in partnership with the University of Ottawa.

    Budget 2018 includes $2.1 million base dollars to staff and operate the newly expanded Arts Court Facility and Ottawa Art Gallery.

    The OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project represents a public-private investment of over $100 million, and it will quickly become a new regional cultural destination.

    The public sector component, valued at $43.4million is funded by the City of Ottawa, the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and other partners including the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and the University of Ottawa.

    The City is contributing $17.7 million, the Province of Ontario has provided $7.3 million in funding, the government of Canada has provided $5.3 million through the Canada Cultural Spaces Program.

    Last year we set aside funding to help ensure that 2018 would not become a big “hangover year.”

    I want to thank Councillor Cloutier for chairing last year’s Tourism Summit and for bringing forward several suggestions to ensure that we build on the success of 2017.

    We chose to invest smartly to maintain the momentum of our local arts and cultural organizations into 2018 and beyond.

    That is why I announced $150,000 in base funding to launch the Arts Momentum Fund, aimed at ensuring that we continue to showcase all that Ottawa has to offer.

    After much work and extensive consultation, the arts and heritage community leaders have come together.

    Their recommendation is to use this funding to produce a strategy that will shape the future of the cultural sector for years to come.

    Because of the long-term nature of this goal, I am proposing the same base investment of $150,000 in 2018 towards the Arts Momentum Fund.

    This increases the base funding to $300,000 in 2018.

    I look forward to hearing the recommendations of this coalition of arts leaders in 2018 as they chart a new future for Ottawa’s arts and heritage sector.

    Cultural agencies funded by the City will also receive a 3 per cent inflationary increase, in recognition of the minimum wage pressures in this sector.

    In 2018, the total annual budget for cultural agencies will be $11.3 million, a base increase of $330,000.

    Budget 2018 also continues funding of almost $5 million that has been approved for the Renewed Arts, Heritage and Cultural plan since its inception in 2013.

    These funds include a diverse range of cultural supports, including marketing and promotion of the local cultural scene, the Poet Laureate Program, as well as neighbourhood cultural initiatives, to name just a few.

    In this Term of Council, the arts and culture community has secured municipal investments totalling more than $20.8 million in capital, one-time and base operating dollars.

    This level of investment sets the stage for success for the community-led strategy leading into the next Term of Council.

    Thanks to Councillor Leiper’s leadership, the City has been working with our music industry partners to develop a strategy to strengthen this growing sector of our local economy.

    The group will be delivering its report to Council in early 2018.

    I am pleased to report that we have set aside $100,000 for the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition – to deliver on priorities that will be identified in the Music Strategy.

    One of the key tools Council has to support neighbourhoods in need of investment is Community Improvement Plans.

    I want to commend Councillor Chiarelli for supporting the Bells Corners CIP, which has delivered about $20 million in new investments to date.

    The Orleans CIP, championed by Councillor Monette, is also producing some exciting new businesses and jobs in the East End.

    I am pleased to report that I have been working with Councillor Fleury to ensure that Montreal Road will be the next area to benefit from a Community Improvement Plan.

    Funding in the 2018 Budget will enable us to consult with businesses and property owners to identify what measures would spur investment and bring more businesses to this area.

    Through the leadership of the Chair of the Environment and Climate Protection Committee, David Chernushenko, we have heard the calls to strengthen our investments in environmental sustainability, climate resiliency and energy conservation.

    I am pleased to report that the construction of our world-class LRT system will result in the single largest reduction of air-borne pollutants in our City’s history.

    Stage 1 LRT will reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 94 thousand tonnes by 2031.

    Stage 2 will increase that to over 200 thousand tonnes annually by 2048.

    This will have a direct and positive impact on the sustainability of urban growth in Ottawa.

    And it will lead to improved health outcomes for residents.

    As part of Budget 2018, under the umbrella of the Energy Evolution initiative, the City will be investing more than $2 million in various sustainability initiatives.

    This includes energy conservation, greening our fleet and protecting our environment.

    All of these initiatives will now fall under the mandate of the Environment and Climate Protection Committee.

    Taken together with our investments in public transit, cycling, active mobility and LRT, the City is doing more than ever to improve Ottawa’s environmental sustainability.

    To date, more than 80 community partners such as the City, Hydro Ottawa, Enbridge, Ecology Ottawa, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce have worked together to develop green innovation in Ottawa.

    Later this month, the Environment and Climate Protection Committee will be reviewing the details of the next steps for 2018.

    Energy Evolution also includes $500,000 for Green Fleet initiatives, such as anti-idling, biofuels and hybrid vehicles and $500,000 for new community-based initiatives.

    Under the umbrella of our Energy Evolution leadership, the City’s Building Engineering and Energy Management Team (BEEM Team), has introduced over 120 energy reduction initiatives since it’s inception.

    In 2018, the BEEM group will receive $1 million towards new projects.

    With the conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology, the City is in the process of saving $6 million annually.

    These investments are making tangible changes on the ground.

     

    The Hintonburg Community Centre, which has had numerous mechanical, control, and lighting upgrades, has reduced electrical use by 38 per cent and gas use by 58 per cent, for an annual savings of $29,000.

    The City has provided Electric Circuit with access to its premises to install six charging stations in Ottawa, including at the Terry Fox and at the Fallowfield Park and Ride facilities in Councillor Wilkinson and Harder’s wards.

    In 2018, twelve new electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at City facilities.

    The City of Ottawa is rich in natural areas – this green space and parkland serves as a draw for residents and visitors.

    In 2018, the City will acquire and protect community greenspace valued at $340,000 in the rural areas and $170,000 in the urban area.

    We recently used $1.5 million from the Environmental Resource Area Acquisition Fund to help acquire and protect important community greenspace like Shea Road Woods in Councillor Qadri’s ward.

    In 2018, we will see 125,000 trees planted across the city to increase forest cover in urban, suburban and rural areas.

    Last week, Ottawa successfully issued the first Municipal Green Debenture in Canada – which raised $102 million dollars.

    The City’s Green Debenture Framework is intended to finance environmentally friendly projects across the City that will help us mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change such as our Light Rail Transit.

    There was strong demand for this new offering which allowed the City to reduce the price of the debenture – saving $400,000 in interest costs over the life of the bond.

    The debenture by-law report will be considered later today at Council.

    I am very proud of the balance we have achieved today.

    I am also very proud that our strong collaboration with the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada is delivering jobs, strong growth and economic confidence for Ottawa residents.

    By working together, we have been able to align mandates to leverage outcomes for residents and to invest in the social and physical infrastructure of our city.

    I want to thank our City Manager, Steve Kanellakos, his office and the entire management team for their hard work and for the countless working meetings on Budget 2018.

    Budget 2018 challenged our very capable General Manager of Corporate Services and City Treasurer Marian Simulik, Deputy Treasurer Isabelle Jasmin, and Brian Flynn Manager of Financial Services, to find the funding for the priorities identified by residents from across the city.

    Thanks to the entire team in Corporate Services for delivering this budget proposal.

    As we prepare for the future – and wait for the details of ongoing bilateral negotiations – we are concentrating on SIX key action items:

    • maintaining an affordable city by meeting our property tax commitment at 2%;
    • increasing our investment in infrastructure renewal, with a strong focus on roads, cycling and pedestrian connections;
    • helping our partner agencies manage their cost pressures, which will help to keep Ottawa affordable for all residents;
    • investing in the renewal of our City’s arts and culture sector, with strategic capital and operating investments;
    • building a green, sustainable future thanks to record investments in environmentally sustainable transit and energy evolution investments;
    • strengthening our commitment to core services with the addition of police and paramedic first-line responders.

    I am very proud that this Council is keeping its commitment to Ottawa residents on property taxes.

    This is the cornerstone of our commitment to keeping Ottawa affordable for our residents.

    I am also proud that we are proposing a balanced, affordable and progressive path forward for 2018.

     

    I want to thank all Members of Council who contributed ideas to the 2018 Budget process, including many ideas from their residents.

    I also want to thank all the Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Committee members for their input to date, and for the work ahead to facilitate their respective budgets through their committees.

    I would like to close by thanking my own team in the Mayor’s Office for working closely with the City Manager and City Treasurer on Budget 2018, in particular Serge Arpin, Robyn Guest, James Armbruster, Mathieu Gravel, Danielle McGee, Livia Belcea and DG Stringer.

    Budgets have and will continue to be about setting priorities and being prepared for what is to come.

    It’s about being up front with residents, and it requires an honest accounting of where we are at – we simply cannot be all things to all people.

    It’s also about setting priorities – and I believe that Budget 2018 balances those key priorities in a manner that will broadly secure our residents’ support:

    Balanced, affordable and progressive.

    This is a budget we can be proud of.

    I am looking forward to your input and the public’s input in the weeks ahead.

    Thank you.

     

  • State of the City 2017 speech

    2017 State of the City

    A Year of Celebration for Ottawa

    Note: Please check against delivery

    Good morning and Happy New Year.

    Bonjour et bonne année à tous.

    I am honoured to deliver my sixth State of the City address.

    Today I want to reflect on the progress we have made together over the last year.

    My 2016 State of the City address focused on collaboration.

    Last year was an important year in the City of Ottawa.  Not only was it a year filled with planning and preparations for 2017, it was also a year of measured and steady achievement.

    From balancing our budget and maintaining our tax commitment to residents – 2016 has been a year of rolling up our sleeves to get things done.

    Not only have we been busy completing the Confederation Line tunnel, we are also planning for Stage 2. We have pushed ourselves beyond the original scope to include the Trim extension, a link to the Airport – and will undertake an environmental assessment to Kanata.

    In 2016 we undertook our first Trade Mission to India that led to the announcement of a series of new technological and creative partnerships, with an estimated total value of over $80 million in contracts that will benefit Ottawa companies and their Indian counterparts.

    We also invested $18.7 Million to repair existing social housing to enhance living conditions of our most vulnerable residents.

    Last fall, the inaugural Mayor’s Gala for the Arts raised $75,000 for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project, which opens its doors this year.

    I am pleased to announce that the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts will be held on a bi-annual basis, with the next event occurring in the spring of 2018.  I have every confidence that it will develop into Ottawa’s premiere Gala in support of our local arts scene.

    We worked hard to get it right on the environment with the conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology – saving $6 million annually.

    We also have some of the highest ranked drinking water in the world.

    We installed eight large solar rooftops on municipal building in partnership with Energy Ottawa – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 41,382 metric tonnes over 20 years.

    Construction also began on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel to protect the environment, prevent floods and ensure future generations can enjoy swimming and boating in the Ottawa River.

    And any list of accomplishments would not be complete without mentioning that Ottawa was named by the Mercer 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, as the most affordable among all Canadian and U.S. cities.

    Ottawa was also identified as a top technology hub in North America, with strengths in digital media, wireless technology, photonics, defence and cyber security, and data analytics.

    As a City, we have worked hard in 2016 and that enthusiasm has carried into the planning of our country’s 150th anniversary.

    That’s why I believe that 2017 will be a year of celebration – a celebration that Ottawa residents truly deserve, and they worked hard at creating.

    People want to live in our city.

    People want to visit our city.

    And they want to invest in our city.

    Let me take a few minutes to remind everyone of what we are celebrating.

    We get to celebrate as a City in 2017 because we live in a great country – one that has served as a beacon of tolerance, generosity and prosperity for generations of Ottawa residents.

    Events are about more than having fun – they remind us of how privileged we are to call Ottawa and Canada our home.

    It is well known that Ottawa is on a roll, and that we are making progress on a number of important City building fronts.

    From city-wide LRT to the rejuvenated Lansdowne to our new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court, to the recently opened Innovation Centre.

    This progress – in large part – stems from the collaborative efforts we have seen from all tiers of government investing in Ottawa, and from the vitality of our local businesses and community organizations doing the same.

    Ottawa is a growing and thriving city.

    Investors are confidently putting more of their dollars into our city, and the proof of that is all around us – from Bayshore to the Rideau Centre, Shoppers City East, to Tanger mall in Kanada, growth in Barrhaven, Stittsville, Orléans and Riverside South.

    Ottawa is expected to be home to over 1 million people in 2019 – just over two years from now.

    By 2036, our city’s population will reach more than 1.2 million residents.

    I hear firsthand from visitors and residents alike how much they love visiting and living in Ottawa.

    Just a few months ago, MoneySense magazine ranked Ottawa the best place to live in Canada.

    In the same survey, Ottawa was also ranked the best place for new Canadians.

    Ottawa is also at the top of lists for sustainable cities, cycling-friendly cities, and we’re ranked the most business friendly amongst large cities, with the most stable employment rate in Canada.

    Our employment hotspots contain plenty of good paying government, high tech and service sector jobs.

    And even though we have a large public service sector anchoring our local labour market, we are also fortunate that over 1,700 technology companies call Ottawa home.

    So why am I taking time today to brag about our city?

    …Because 2017 will be a year to celebrate Ottawa.

    Earlier this month, the New York Times described Canada as the number 1 country to visit in 2017, and had a feature article about the wonderful places to see and things to do during a weekend spent in Ottawa.

    Lonely Planet awarded Canada the same award last October.

    And WestJet named Ottawa the #1 place to visit in the world in 2017.

    Some will remember 2017 as a year of celebrations marked by great events.

    2017 is also an opportunity to re-imagine Ottawa.

    To see how we have changed and to demonstrate how much Ottawa has to offer.

    Ottawa is our home and we will be rolling out the welcome mat to over 10 million visitors over the next twelve months.

    It is the way in which we deliver service to residents and visitors alike that makes our City truly great.

    Some of you may think that being a good host is a modest goal for 2017 – but let me remind you that it is a big deal for Ottawa.

    Hospitality and tourism spending contributed approximately $1.6 billion to our local economy annually.

    Also the accommodation and food service sector, which are the bulk of Ottawa tourism businesses, employs over 35,000 local residents.

    It really is going to be an unforgettable year here in the National Capital region.

    From the Skate Canada Championship last weekend to the Davis Cup next month, to the Junos and the Grey Cup, it will be a very busy year for residents and visitors alike.

    Ottawa is very proud of our professional sports franchises and their contribution to the vibrancy of our city.

    We celebrated with our Ottawa Champions Baseball Club when they won the Can-Am League Championships in 2016 and we look forward to hosting the 2017 Can-Am League All-Star game here at RCGT Park on July 25th 2017.

    We also celebrated with our Ottawa RedBlacks football club when they won the Grey Cup in 2016 – the first-ever Grey Cup win for Ottawa in 40 years and we look forward to hosting the Grey Cup here at TD Place on November 26th 2017.

    Our Ottawa Senators continue to be strong competitors and we feel optimistic about their chances of making the post-season play offs this year.

    And of course Ottawa loves soccer and the Ottawa Fury will be starting their 2017 season off in a new league – the United Soccer league.

    I invite you to check out the full list of events at ottawa2017.ca.

    We will also be hosting more conventions in Ottawa in 2017 than ever before – doubling the number of business travelers to Ottawa next year.

    Ottawa Tourism estimates that well over 58,000 convention delegates will visit Ottawa in 2017 – this is a 48% increase over last year.

    Today, I want to highlight how Ottawa companies and Ottawa talent are helping to make 2017 a reality.

    Take Inspiration Village as an example. This installation of about 40 sea containers will be located in the ByWard Market and will feature talent from around Canada.

    Dymech Engineering of Greely, in Councillor Darouze’s ward, has been tasked with the design and build of this impressive construction that will be viewed by millions of visitors this summer.

    Other events are firsts for Ottawa, but they will become permanent members of our events community, or make their way back every few years, such as Red Bull Crashed Ice.

    This is all part of the legacy of Ottawa 2017.

    Part of the 2017 legacy lies in our ability to develop and celebrate our local talent.

    Another way we have of celebrating local talent and exceptional contributions to Ottawa is our City’s highest honour the Key to the City.

    I am proud to announce that Algonquin College will be receiving this tribute in celebration of its 50th anniversary and Carleton University will be receiving this honour to mark 75 years of education excellence in Ottawa – accepting the award for these fine institutions will be their respective presidents, Cheryl Jensen and Roseann Runte.

    Also this year the City will be presenting a Key to the City to:

    Michel Picard, a well respected broadcaster and long-serving news anchor on Radio-Canada and current host on Unique FM;

    Senator Murray Sinclair, a Canadian Senator, former judge, First Nations lawyer, and was the chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission;

    Sheila Fraser, former Auditor General of Canada from 2001 to 2011, and the first woman to hold this post;

    Henry Burris, the recently retired Canadian football quarterback for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He won three Grey Cup championships;  and,

    Steve Yzerman, a native of Nepean and a   retired professional  hockey player and current general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.

    I also want to reflect on an idea which could make 2017 even more fun – for future generations.

    I am announcing that we will work with the Ottawa Archives  to create a “2017 time capsule,” to be opened by Ottawa residents in 50 years time, when Canada will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.

    I am sorry to advise that I probably won’t be able to attend this event in 2067.

    I would like to invite each Member of Council to work with their communities to propose a representative memento for inclusion in the 2017 time capsule – something that captures the essence of each of our city’s diverse wards.

    Although events are great economic generators, 2017 will also be a year of legacy for the nation’s capital, with many new facilities and projects that will open to the public this year.

    Here is a partial overview of how the face of Ottawa will change in 2017, including public and private partners:

    • National Arts Centre redevelopment will transform this artistic centerpiece;
    • George Street Plaza will see improvements to the public spaces and pedestrian experience;
    • The Stanley Cup monument will be unveiled;
    • The new Ottawa Art Gallery will open boasting three times the space of the previous facility;
    • The Arts Court Redevelopment will be revitalized as the center piece of the new cultural precinct;
    • The renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum will re-open in the east;
    • The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards will serve as an incubator of innovation; and,
    • The new Currency Museum, which will be called the Bank of Canada Museum, will open in July of this year.

    Many of these new or newly renovated facilities will become landmarks in Ottawa.

    They will become places that tourists have to visit – and they are all great examples of what can be achieved when we work together.

    So what can we do to help support this year of celebration?

    Everyone in the city has a role to play, from individual residents and families, businesses, first responders or transit operators – each and every member of our community can be part of the 2017 welcoming team.

    Have you ever been in a foreign city, struggling to find a street or a building?

    We all need to be more than tourism ambassadors this year and in the years to come – we need to communicate our city’s values to everyone we meet.

    Our warmth and approach will communicate our City’s values.

    Many visitors will want to see Parliament Hill, stop in at the Museum of Nature, drop into Lansdowne Park or skate on the historic World UNESCO Rideau Canal.

    But they also want to experience Ottawa’s hospitality. Visitors may enjoy a pint at a local microbrew pub, a trip to a rural village or a meal at one of Ottawa’s new and exciting restaurants like Bar Laurel in Kitchissippi or Riviera just around the corner on Sparks Street.

    There are hidden gems in every corner of Ottawa, including Martha’s Culinaire in Orléans, or the Three Sisters Bake Shop in Canterbury.

    2017 is an opportunity to show a global audience that Ottawa is a fantastic place to live, work, learn, play and raise a family.

    2017 is the start of a new page for tourism in Ottawa’s history.

    That is why we are planning for the future.

    We are partnering with Ottawa Tourism on our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy to attract more major sporting and cultural events to Ottawa…

    I want to take this opportunity to thank Members of Council, and Sports Commissioner Jody Mitic, for supporting Ottawa’s bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.

    This great community building, multi-sport event – the largest in Canada – would bring 20,000 visitors to Ottawa and generate approximately $165 million in economic activity, not to mention a legacy for our next generation of athletes as well as our sport facilities.

    And on a smaller, but no less important scale, in 2018 we will be celebrating the Village of Richmond’s 200th anniversary with the help of Councillor Scott Moffatt.

    City employees are also the face of the City – and I challenge everyone to remember  – what we do best as a team –  we put residents and visitors first.

    I know that the events of 2017 will require you to do more, to work longer hours and to put even more of yourself into the services you deliver.

    I want to thank you for your dedication to date and tell you all that I have confidence in your ability to handle what promises to be an exciting year.

    Part of being a good host is ensuring our city is safe.

    This means supporting and trusting our first responders.

    First responders, like our brave women and men of the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Service and Ottawa Paramedic Services, will be asked to do more over the next year.

    I want to remind all of you that Ottawa is one of the safest cities to live in.

    We recognize that crime in our communities is changing and we are working with our police services to address these challenges.

    We have seen an increase in violent crime and an increased readiness last year to use knives and guns to resolve conflicts.

    Like many of you, I agree that any increase in crime is a flag for concern and renewed effort.

    I can assure you that we are ready for 2017.

    I am confident that our officers of the Ottawa Police Service, under the leadership of Chief Charles Bordeleau and Board Chair  Eli El-Chantiry, are working hard to keep Ottawa safe.

    The Ottawa Police Service has committed to hiring an additional 75 officers over 3 years.

    But more officers are just one tool – we also need a strong bond – a bond of trust – between residents and our men and women in uniform.

    I would like to read you a recent e-mail I received from a resident.

    This is just one simple example of an Ottawa Constable that went beyond the call of duty to serve residents.

    “My name is Heather and last night I was waiting for the bus across from Tunney’s Pasture. Although I was bundled against the cold, I became hypothermic.

    I had been waiting for the bus for half an hour, and was getting cramps in my legs because of the cold, and my feet felt like they were becoming frostbitten. I couldn’t stop shaking.

    One of your officers watched me and realized I was in trouble. He parked his marked SUV and approached me and asked where I was going. When I told him he said he would take me home. He loaded the walker I use because of some of my disabilities into the SUV and drove me home.

    I would very much like to thank my hero… for what he did. In all the circumstances, I neglected to ask his name.

    Please, if you could supply his name, I would be truly grateful… He truly saved my life by going above and beyond the call of duty.

    It is unlikely that you would ever hear about Constable Ian Kemp in the news, or that he would receive an award for his actions, but I chose to highlight this example today as the type of action that our men and women in uniform take on a daily basis to build these bonds of trust.

    I would ask that Constable Ian Kemp stand and be recognized.

    It is the regular actions we take in performing our jobs – exercising our everyday business with intention, which provides opportunities to build the foundation for trust.

    So I want to take this opportunity to point out and to thank Constable Ian Kemp specifically, and all his fellow officers, for their everyday efforts and for reminding us through this one small example of the impact of their work on our City.

    Our paramedics are also there for our community.

    Every day, members of the Ottawa Paramedic Service provide our residents and visitors with the highest level of immediate care during their time of need.

    From first aid and CPR instruction, to community paramedicine programs, paramedics are also active members of the communities in which they serve.

    For example, paramedics Michelle Farragher, Jonathan Sylvester, Matthew Di Monte and Deanna Schofield volunteered their time to staff an ambulance so that a palliative care patient at CHEO could attend this year’s Christmas parade in Orléans.

    For most, a ride in an ambulance usually means going to the doctor, but this time was different for a child who instead got the chance to partake in the joy of the holiday season under medical supervision.

    This small but impactful gesture exemplifies the compassion and goodness of the members of our Paramedic Service.

    I would ask the 4 paramedic’s stand and be recognized.

    Last year, Council also made important investments to add more paramedics and Emergency Response Vehicles.

    I would also like to recognize the exemplary work of Ottawa Fire Services, whose members also consistently face danger on a daily basis.

    Recently, a resident was seriously injured while doing maintenance at their home in Corkery.

    In response, firefighters from Station 84 volunteered their time to demolish a deck so a wheelchair ramp could be installed. But these volunteers knew even more could be done, and the Station proceeded to host a pancake breakfast – raising $2000 for the family. Since then, firefighters continue to visit the family from time to time.

    These actions supported the family during a difficult time, and reflect the dedication of the Fire Service to our residents and to the generosity of our entire community.

    Today we have Lieutenants Scott Morphy and Stephen Logan here representing Station 84.  Please stand to be recognized.

    Our City is at its best when we stand together in times of need.

    By standing together with our first responders we are standing by each other to make our City even safer.

    An increase in visitors can sometimes lead to an increase in big city challenges.

    Many of you have heard about an increase in the number of Opioid overdose deaths in various Canadian cities.

    I want to reassure you that for over 2 years, Ottawa Public Health has been leading the Overdose Task Force, which includes our paramedic service, the Coroner’s office, pharmacies, police and local hospital emergency rooms on overdose prevention in Ottawa.

    We have been monitoring developments across the country and have confidence that, thanks to their public awareness efforts and leadership of the Overdose Task Force, our health department, along with its community partners, are actively engaged to address the situation locally.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Health Board Chair Shad Qadri and Dr. Isra Levy for their dedication to this issue.

    The City is not only preparing for the increase in visitors in 2017 – we are also preparing for a change in demographics.

    Our aging population will be the main story in 2017 — with the share of the population that is 65 and over expected to increase from about 13% in 2011 to over 21% by 2036.

    This demographic shift is playing a key role in the City’s commitment to intensification and to making our transit system and public infrastructure fully accessible.

    Again this year we will be investing to create an Age Friendly Ottawa through the City’s Older Adult Plan.

    This plan includes 50 initiatives to make our city accessible to residents of all ages.

    These practical initiatives include helping older adults navigate the built environment, City facilities and services, and finding creative solutions to help improve travel within Ottawa.

    Ottawa will also welcome over 6,085 new permanent residents this year.

    Last year, Ottawa also welcomed 2,000 Syrian refugees, hundreds of immigrants from other countries and hosted over 8,500 international students – of which approximately 3,000 new students arrive annually.

    I want to thank Councillor Michael Qaqish, Special Liaison for Refugee Resettlement for his important work with this community.

    To residents who stepped up to welcome newcomers from Syria through the Refugee613 initiative, and through other private initiatives, I want to thank you for representing Ottawa’s spirit of generosity.

    Since last summer, I have been working with the Somali community on an action plan to help address local priorities.

    In 2017 we will also celebrate multiculturalism in our city. Just like how Greece,  Lebanon,  Vietnam, China, Italy and many other countries celebrate their cultures with national festivals —  I hope to explore opportunities to celebrate the Somali culture by working with our community partners to develop a Somali Cultural Festival later in this Term of Council.

    It’s the same spirit of generosity that led to the tremendous success of our Ottawa4 Fort McMurray fundraiser, in which over 750 residents and countless businesses took part – this event raised $128,000 for the families of Fort McMurray. I want to thank Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips for co-chairing this event with me.

    I hope that together we can keep the momentum of generosity going.

    Towards that end, we will be planning a number of events to help demonstrate how we are an inclusive and open city.

    That inclusive, open and bilingual City includes our vibrant Francophone community.

    And I am proud to say that the services we offer our Francophone residents have steadily improved in the last few years.

    The most recent data indicates a 26% increase in the number of programs offered by our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services since 2010.

    The number of registrations to these programs is also up by more than 11% during this same period.

    I’m also happy to report that the number of French Language Services complaints is going down year after year. That number went from 119 in 2014 to 83 in 2015, for a reduction of 30%, and this trend downwards was sustained in 2016.

    This reduction in the number of complaints speaks to the City’s commitment to improving the quality of services offered to our Francophone residents.

    In a few months, I will be hosting the 11th Annual Francophone breakfast at City Hall, which will once again provide an opportunity for City and Francophone leaders to come together with the community and highlight the City’s Francophone accomplishments. This year, the City is proud to be partnering with the performing arts centre “La Nouvelle Scène.”

    2017 will be a year of celebration, but it is also a year to reflect and to build partnerships towards reconciliation.

    As many of you know, Ottawa is located on un-ceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation.

    I would like to honour the land and peoples of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, whose ancestors have lived on this territory for millennia, and whose culture and presence have nurtured and continue to nurture this land

    I would also like to honour all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, their elders, their ancestors and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.

    I am mindful that for many of our Indigenous friends and neighbours, the 150th anniversary of Confederation takes on a different significance. Therefore, as we celebrate the founding of our nation, my hope is that we will also continue to takes steps towards reconciliation so that 2017 can also be a year of healing, growth and celebration for all its citizens.

    Towards that end, the City of Ottawa will again be holding an Aboriginal Awareness Day in June.

    A particular passion of mine has been making City Hall a people place and I am happy to say that we have had some success on that front.

    When I see Ottawa residents and tourists enjoy the SENS Rink of Dreams, visit the Barbara Ann Scott Museum or the Sports Hall of Fame, it reminds me of a very simple fact – that City Hall actually belongs to the people of Ottawa.

    Why is this important? Ensuring that City Hall is a people place helps people feel included and involved; it makes them feel more closely connected to their city government.

    Making City Hall a people place is just a small example of our larger commitment to welcoming the world to Ottawa.

    As our 2017 celebrations unfold, Ottawa residents will be watching our vision of a world class transit system come to life.

    The Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT will change how residents move across our city.

    The City of Ottawa is grateful for the investment of over $155 million in the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, from the Federal Government.

    This investment is a significant boost to our City’s transit and active transportation network, which are important areas of focus for residents.

    This funding includes over $65 million toward preliminary engineering and other planning activities that have helped keep the City’s Stage 2 LRT project on schedule and helped to ensure that we will have additional vehicles to manage ridership growth over the next five years.

    This past June, in Councillor Bob Monette’s ward, the Province of Ontario announced a historical investment of $1.16 billion dollars towards the Stage 2 LRT expansion project.

    This represents the largest provincial transit investment in Ottawa’s history.

    In February, Council will be hearing more details on the Stage 2 project.

    I am looking forward to discussing this issue with my colleagues and the public so that we can move ahead with the procurement of the next phase of LRT.

    Ottawa will be the only city in Canada where a new LRT line is being commissioned for revenue service at the same time as its extensions will go under construction.

    We are not merely shovel ready; we are building now, we are fully mobilized and we have a clear plan to continue to advance our environmentally friendly and affordable transportation agenda.

    Once fully operational, the O-Train system comprised of the Confederation Line running east/west and the Trillium Line running north/south, will span over 50 kilometers of rail and include 39 stations.

    It will accommodate up to 24,000 people per hour in each direction – more than twice the number of people than today.

    When Stage 2 of the City’s O-Train system opens for revenue service in 2023, approximately 70% of the City’s population will be within 5 kilometers of rail.

    While on the subject of our new LRT, I am pleased to announce that following the success of the school competition to name our road headers we will be having a competition in our local schools to name Ottawa’s LRT engines for our new line.

    Information will be sent to Councillors and your schools in the fall of this year and winners will be announced in the spring of 2018.

    I look forward to seeing our creative young minds come up with some inspiring and exciting new names. I have asked Councillors Blais and Egli to coordinate this activity.

     

    Ottawa’s LRT projects will also change our land use planning to promote more density around LRT stations.

    And I’m happy to say that our intensification strategy for residential development is working.

    There were about 4,700 housing starts last year.

    Of those, a record 58% of new housing in urban and suburban areas was developed through intensification.

    New housing built in intensification target areas ─ such as rapid transit stations, the Central Area, and main streets ─ accounted for a record 41 per cent of new units.

    The City is also committed to Transit Oriented Development — for example in just the properties around Hurdman, Lees, Tremblay, St-Laurent, Cyrville and Blair stations alone, there is the potential for more than 30,000 apartments and houses to be built, along with commercial and retail opportunities to provide these communities with better jobs.

    We know this will take many years to unfold. But, I think it is very exciting that our business community is prepared to invest in transit-oriented development.

    Just this summer, we approved plans for a residential highrise next to Blair Station, the eastern hub of the O-Train Confederation Line.

    RioCan, Canada’s largest Real Estate Investment Trust, has long-term plans for several major buildings at Blair Station that will capitalize on light rail access.

    New buildings are also being planned in the Preston-Carling area, next to the Trillium Line. This area includes the Sir John Carling Building site as the home for the new Civic Hospital.

    Trinity Developments is proposing a major development at 900 Albert Street with three mixed-use towers – all steps away from the Bayview LRT Station.

    And the future development of LeBreton Flats will create a large new neighbourhood at the heart of our light rail system.  This development includes a 1,600-unit, five-tower complex aimed at mixed-income households by Claridge Homes. It will also feature a new grocery store to service the downtown.

    In 2017 a number of new affordable and supportive housing developments will be officially opened to coincide with the Sesquicentennial.

    These include:

    • 455 Via Verona (Barrhaven): A 98 unit affordable housing community for families;
    • 55-59 Carruthers Avenue: A 36 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experienced chronic homelessness;
    • 1900 St-Joseph Blvd (Orléans): A 48 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experience chronic homelessness.

    I want to thank Councillor Mark Taylor, our special liaison on housing and homelessness, for his great work on these issues.

    Next month we will continue the dialogue on the proposed site for the new Central Library in Councillor Catherine Mckenney’s ward.

    Like many of you, I believe that this is an extremely important City building moment.

    I know that the Central Library team and Library Chair Tim Tierney have been working hard to ensure that the new Central Library will be a resounding success.

    I am of the view that, like Lansdowne, our new Central Library will be a very important city-wide people place – one that residents from Fitzroy Harbour, Stittsville, Vanier, Cumberland and Beacon Hill will come to enjoy.

    This year, the City will be challenged to guide the development of new suburbs, and the gradual evolution of existing ones, in a way that maintains their residential attributes.

    As existing suburbs mature, these areas have seen an increase in density and greater diversity of demographics.

    One initiative that will gain momentum in 2017 is the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative lead by Councillors Jan Harder and Alan Hubley.

    This initiative is a practical example of how we can enhance our suburbs for future generations by making these communities more land efficient, affordable, more livable, and more cost effective to build and maintain.

    As many of you know, I created the Heritage Matters Task Force last fall, on which I serve with the Chair of the Planning Committee, Jan Harder and Built Heritage Subcommittee Chair, Tobi Nussbaum.

    This collaborative group composed of heritage community leaders and staff from across the corporation was formed to help ensure that future generations enjoy our rich architectural heritage and to reduce the instances of demolition by neglect.

    Today, I am announcing the first major initiative that has come out of our work… the creation of a team, to proactively ensure our vacant heritage buildings meet property and building standards and to support heritage conservation by working with property owners so they are aware of consulting resources and City programs available to support heritage conservation.

    It is my hope that these efforts will prevent any further demolition by neglect. This team is already on the ground visiting identified buildings to examine building conditions and categorize key heritage attributes.

    Following the initial inspections, formal actions will be pursued to ensure property standards compliance to better preserve heritage elements of existing properties.

    Ottawa also recognizes the importance of maintaining natural landscapes for the protection of the environment, water protection, and adaptation to climate change.

    In 2017 we will complete the Urban Forest Management Plan that will provide a long-term vision for the urban forest and ensure that it is healthy and robust for years to come.

    This year the Energy Evolution project will support Catalyst Projects to demonstrate Ottawa’s collaboration with community partners in advancing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in Ottawa.

    I am looking forward to a report outlining these projects in the coming months under the guidance of Councillor David Chernushenko.

    The City will be planting 150 maple trees in each of the 23 Wards to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation. Information will be released this week to identify the grove locations and tree planting will commence this spring.

    Ottawa is a Dynamic and Innovative City

    There are so many reasons for optimism in 2017.

    The Conference Board of Canada predicts that in 2017 Ottawa-Gatineau will post better economic growth than Canada’s for the first time since 2011.

    In 2016, the federal government and its agencies employed an average of 130,800 in the capital region.

    That’s up from 127,300 a year earlier.

    High-tech employment averaged 68,000 in 2016. This makes the capital region the most technology intensive of Canada’s major cities.

    Ottawa’s tech sector has grown in part due to the breakout of firms such as Shopify, which makes electronic software for online merchants around the world.

    Shopify employed 1,750 at the end of September, more than one-third of them based in Ottawa.

    Just last month in a major employee survey, Ottawa’s Shopify was ranked the best place to work in Canada.

    And there are other tech firms expected to see gains locally in 2017.

    Kinaxis, for example is a software pioneer specializing in applications for managing corporate supply chains, and has experienced steady growth over the last year.

    Another solid member of Ottawa’s tech cluster is Ciena, an optical networking specialist that will put the finishing touches this year on a major new campus in Kanata North with over 1,600 employees.

    Our city’s lengthy history in communications is helping to turn the innovation industry’s spotlight towards Ottawa once again.

    The 5G technology innovation is largely thanks to advancements made by technological minds here in the nation’s capital.

    The 5G cellular networks are expected to allow for far better coverage, reliability and speeds than are currently available.

    Ottawa is now home to Ericsson, Avaya, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Ciena, all key players in the upcoming 5G cellular revolution.

    Nokia and Ericsson — collectively employ more than 3,000 people locally.

    In September, Chinese cellular giant Huawei announced a $500-million commitment over the next five years to bolster research and development of 5G cellular technologies in Canada.

    They already employ over 500 people in their Kanata offices and we can expect to see this number grow as a result of these new investments.

    Ericsson hired 900 former Nortel employees and is now in the process of setting up a 45,000-square-foot office building in Kanata that will employ 1,000 people locally.

    And just last week a pair of promising Ottawa technology start-ups announced an influx of $18 million to expand staff and refine their products in Ottawa.

    Clearwater Clinical Ltd. announced a total of $6 million to double its staffing over the next two years.

    This company’s first commercial success was the Dizzyfix, a device and application that helps patients to recover from vertigo.

    Also earlier this year, Ottawa’s Klipfolio announced a new $12 million investments to help expand its business and hire new staff.

    Klipfolio is an Ottawa company that makes software to allow companies to monitor sales, handle shipping and inventory issues, and manage other business information.

    Add in BlackBerry QNX – who recently announced a $100 million investment and 650 new jobs in Ottawa – and it’s no wonder that Apple is responding and has set up an office in Ottawa to lead the charge on autonomous vehicles.

    The mix of technology being created in Ottawa, coupled with the proximity of major auto manufacturers in the Greater Toronto Area, is setting up Ottawa for a promising year in 2017.

    Last November, Council approved a motion supporting the testing of autonomous vehicles on Ottawa’s roads – starting in the Kanata North Business Park.

    I want to thank Councillor Marianne Wilkinson for her pursuit of a Centre of Excellence for autonomous vehicles here in Ottawa.

    But there is more we can do to support this promising sector… which is why in a few weeks, I will lead a mission to Queen’s Park to showcase the great work that is currently being done in Ottawa, and explore how we can leverage our local high-tech sector to develop 5G in support of a sophisticated autonomous vehicle industry in Ontario.

    I am pleased to announce that Sir Terry Matthews, who is a champion of technology in our city, will be co-chairing the delegation with me on this undertaking.

    We often find ourselves in the shadow of Toronto and Waterloo, who have MaRS and CommuniTech as their innovation hubs.

    But our strength is highlighted in our new Innovation Centre, in the talent we are able to attract here, in the patents that keep getting registered in Ottawa, and in the venture capital our local companies keep attracting, surpassing other Canadian cities on all these fronts.

    Ottawa is where a growing share of strategic technology investments are being made, and should be made, and we are going to promote that reality proudly.

    And this optimism is not limited to the technology sectors.

    The Conference Board also predicts the construction sector in Ottawa and Gatineau will employ an average of 42,000 this year and next — about 13 per cent higher than in 2016.

    We also need to support small business through a new attitude towards this important economic engine.

    Invest Ottawa recently moved to their beautiful new home at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards in Councillor Jeff Leiper’s ward, at the intersection of the Trillium and Confederation Lines.

    The Innovation Centre will be our city’s hub for creators and entrepreneurs; a place where great ideas will become businesses.

    We hope many small companies will emerge from the Innovation Centre’s incubator and grow into larger employers in Kanata, Orléans or Barrhaven.

    We need to clear the path to help small businesses get it done.

    This is the new economy of opportunity – jobs not just in the central core but also supporting small business in rural and suburban areas.

    2017 will also see major advances in a number of large City building developments like Zibi and LeBreton Flats.

    These projects have the potential to become unique and dynamic places within the core of the City, creating a bridge between the downtowns of Ottawa and Gatineau and creating new river-fronts that have not been accessible for generations.

    This year, the vision for the former Rockcliffe Air Base will also move ahead to create a complete mixed-use community in the east end that is walkable, cycling-supportive and transit oriented.

    The former Rockcliffe Air Base area is one of the last remaining significant redevelopment sites in the inner urban part of the City, and will be the single largest development within the Greenbelt since amalgamation.

    It will result in the construction of homes for approximately 10,000 residents and provide 2,600 jobs.

    As you can see from all these examples… Ottawa is booming.

    Ottawa 2017 will be one of the single largest efforts our community has ever undertaken and we need to align with community leaders and stakeholders to welcome the world to our City.

    Now is our opportunity to change the way the world sees Ottawa.

    With your help, everyone who comes to visit or moves to Ottawa will see an inclusive and optimistic city with an open attitude that sets us apart.

    I want to thank my Council colleagues for their work to date but… I won’t hide the hard truth from you … in 2017 I expect we will be asking even more of you.

    I believe that municipal governments that work together can be the incubator for creative solutions.

    To grow prosperity, equity and sustainability in our city means we have to get transit right.

    That is why we introduced the new Equipass, which will allow a greater number of residents to participate more fully in our city’s job market and socio-economic life.

    And that is why we are building Ottawa’s LRT system – LRT is about putting people first – it’s about committing to environmental sustainability – it’s about creating the conditions for economic prosperity.

    Many of the incredible services we deliver are made possible only by our hard working and dedicated City employees.

    In 2017, our residents will continue to benefit from the strong partnership we enjoy with our employee groups – a partnership that has led to a period of unprecedented labour peace and productivity in our City’s recent history.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your work over the last year and to convey to you my confidence in your commitment to making Ottawa a place for all in 2017.

    Some of you may have heard me say this before – but it has never been truer – Ottawa is going from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold.

    Right from the kick-off celebration that occurred on New Year’s Eve with the lighting of the cauldron at City Hall to the many exceptional highlights we have planned – highlights like La Machine, Sky Lounge, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ignite 150, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge, the 2017 JUNO Awards, Argi 150 and the 2017 Grey Cup – it will be a year like we haven’t really seen before here in Ottawa.

    Before I conclude I want to leave you with this video of the four hundred students from across Ottawa that formed a human chain of fire to kick off our celebrations here at City Hall. The 15 centimeters of snow that fell on New Year’s Eve could not stop over five thousand residents and visitors from welcoming in 2017.

    The celebrations will be right across our entire city, and to do that, we are working with community groups, local business and local organizations to help get everyone involved.

    I want to thank the 2017 co-chairs Mathieu Fleury and Jean Cloutier for their tremendous efforts alongside Guy Laflamme and his entire team.

    This is an incredible opportunity to help build our community…and you can be a part of it!

    Come, collaborate with us, and be a part of this wonderful celebration of our country and our City.

    Together, let’s celebrate and continue moving our great city forward with optimism and confidence.

    Welcome to a year of celebration.

    Welcome to 2017.

    Thank you

    Merci.

  • State of the City Speech – 2016

    State of the City 2016

    A Year of Collaboration

    Good morning and Happy New Year.

    I hope everyone had a healthy and restful Christmas and holiday season.

    I also want to welcome those in the audience for joining us this morning.

    Colleagues…

    As I said in last year’s State of the City speech, 2015 was a Year of Momentum.

    And 2016 will be a Year of Collaboration – working together for an even better city.

    Before we look ahead, let’s review some of our accomplishments from the last 12 months.

    We broke ground on the revitalized Arts Court and expanded Ottawa Art Gallery.

    We began work on the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    And we moved forward with LRT construction… on time and on budget.

    We also saw several community projects completed.

    We opened our 5th bridge in three years, the Adàwe Crossing over the Rideau River.

    We also opened the new Miracle League of Ottawa accessible baseball field.

    We also unveiled a full-size rendering of the Alstom Citadis Spirit train in the Aberdeen Pavilion.

    2015 was also big for our sports franchises.

    Baseball returned to the nation’s capital with the Ottawa Champions, in a refurbished RCGT Park.

    The Ottawa Fury FC came very close to capturing the NASL championship.

    And the Ottawa REDBLACKS made it to the Grey Cup game…

    Ottawa’s first Grey Cup appearance since another Trudeau was Prime Minister.

    I am proud that we have strengthened our local sports industry through projects like Lansdowne Park and the baseball stadium.

    Residents have rallied behind our new franchises.

    Last year we also hosted a number of major events, to the direct benefit of our local economy.

    2015 saw Ottawa host the FIFA Women’s World Cup at Lansdowne Park and the Canadian Little League Championships, in Barrhaven.

    These major events will prepare for an exciting calendar of activities that is still to come:

    • 2016 Brier
    • 2016 One Young World conference
    • The 2016 and 2017 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Championships
    • 2017 FCM and AMO Conferences
    • 2017 and 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships
    • 2017 Roar of the Rings (Olympic trials)
    • 2017 Canadian Canoe and Kayak Championships
    • 2017 Juno Awards / 2017 : Les prix Juno
    • 2017 Red Bull Crashed Ice

    And, it remains my hope, we will be able to add the 2017 Grey Cup and an NHL Outdoor Game to that impressive list as well.

    A few years ago, we established our “bid more, win more, host more” tourism strategy.

    I am pleased that this plan has been such a huge success.

    I want to thank our 2017 Co-Chairs, Councillors Fleury and Cloutier…

    And our entire 2017 team, under the leadership of Guy Laflamme, for their impressive work to date.

    It probably feels like we have been talking about 2017 for quite some time.

    Some people have joked that they’re looking forward to 2018 even more because it means I will stop talking about 2017!

    Today, I am pleased to announce that the very first event of our 2017 calendar will be a New Year’s Levee at City Hall.

    We will gather as a community on January 1 to get the year started on the right note.

    From there, we will set off for the year and welcome the world.

    Colleagues, these major events are not just great for the economy and job creation.

    They are also important opportunities to showcase our city.

    A city that will become even stronger in the years ahead.

    I am ever more confident of this any time I sit down with a Minister or other elected officials from a senior level of government.

    When you look at what’s happening at the federal and provincial levels…

    You cannot help but get the sense that the stars are aligning in many ways.

    There’s a new sense of optimism.

    For quite some time, municipalities such as Ottawa have called for increased investment in community priorities:

    Housing, transit, community facilities…

    And, finally, it looks like we have all three levels of government agreeing on these issues.

    It presents us with a unique opportunity in the months and years ahead.

    For this reason and others…

    2016 will be a Year of Collaboration.

    Let me tell you how.

    This year we will host two important summits focused on the future of our local economy.

    You may recall that in the past we’ve hosted summits on topics such as youth and seniors, with very positive and meaningful results.

    I like these events.

    They bring together the right people at the right time.

    And they set multi-year goals for how we will be successful.

    We will host a Tourism Summit this spring.

    The purpose of this discussion will be to focus on long-term growth strategies for our third-largest industry.

    Yes, we have a solid game plan for 2017.

    That game plan has attracted millions in private-sector sponsorship to ensure we make it a year to remember.

    But we need to avoid a possible “2017 hangover” by being ready to build upon that success year-over-year.

    I have asked Councillor Jean Cloutier to be the Chair of this summit.

    At the event, we will be collaborating with our key partners…

    Such as Ottawa Tourism, major facility owners, sports franchises, and arts and festival groups.

    Let’s come up with some winning strategies to ensure we keep the momentum going.

    As for the second summit…

    In the fall, we will host a Summit on Education and the Economy.

    The reason for this is simple.

    Ottawa is blessed with one of the most educated workforces in the world.

    We are a knowledge-based economy.

    We’re often recognized as having the most creative and innovative entrepreneurs and workers in the country.

    Ottawa is home to more engineers, scientists and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada.

    This is of course bolstered by our excellent colleges and universities – which are significant contributors to economic growth.

    When you look at all of this together: There’s a big opportunity here.

    Let’s sit down with these education leaders to talk about the future of our economy.

    I am pleased that Councillor Riley Brockington, a former school trustee, has accepted my invitation to Chair this summit.

    At the event we will be asking some important questions.

    How can we make the most of our new Innovation Centre?

    How can we better collaborate with researchers and skilled trades people to ensure we stay ahead of the curve?

    How can we attract and retain the best and brightest students and workers?

    These two summits were election commitments that I will be pleased to see move forward in 2016.

    Winners in the economy of tomorrow will depend upon those who know how to make connections and work together.

    We have seen some of that success when we’ve collaborated with our sister city Beijing.

    I have led several economic development missions to China during my time as Mayor…

    And each time we have come back with agreements and leads for our local businesses, in the millions of dollars.

    I am pleased to announce today that I will be leading another such trade mission in 2016.

    This time… to India.

    At over 1.2 billion people and a large middle class, India is an important market for our city to have a presence in.

    Ottawa’s business community has made it clear to me that they have the potential for significant growth in India.

    Further, the City of Ottawa also has growth potential as a major tourism destination.

    This delegation to India will be a first for our city.

    And I am pleased that there has already been a strong response to the mission among our business leaders.

    This delegation will feature companies like Ottawa’s EION Wireless.

    They are a local businesses looking to build on the high bandwidth and WiFi products they have already deployed for public and private sector clients in India.

    Representatives from EION are here today and they are joined in the gallery by members of our great Indo-Canadian community who are supportive of this important trade mission – thank you all for being here.

    That’s collaboration on a global scale.

    Now let’s look at collaboration on a community scale.

    This year, we will move forward with our Canada 150 Groves program.

    You may recall that this is one of our Strategic Initiatives and it will be a special project for 2017.

    As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, there will be different ways we will leave a legacy for future generations.

    A Canada 150 Grove will be a grove of 150 maple trees in each of the 23 wards.

    These will be native Canadian sugar, red and silver maple trees.

    In 2016, staff will work with Members of Council to identify a suitable location in their ward.

    Then, we’ll plant the groves in spring and fall of 2017.

    It is my hope that we will collaborate with community associations, schools and other interested groups…

    As we pass along this gift to our community during Canada’s 150th.

    The Canada groves project is in addition to our collaboration with Ecology Ottawa and the one million tree campaign that Tree Ottawa has well underway.

    We will also work to make our communities even safer.

    The core of this effort will be the 25 new police officers we approved in the 2016 budget.

    Also… under the leadership of our Police and Crime Prevention Chairs, Councillors El-Chantiry and Qadri…

    We’ll continue our efforts with our gang exit strategy.

    We know that gun and gang violence will not be solved in one month or even one year.

    It’s a complex social issue that requires constant attention.

    But we will continue to show these young men and women that there are better options out there.

    2016 will also see the City begin to roll out the first of 20 new red light cameras that we’ll install before the end of the term.

    Every Member of Council knows that road safety is a top concern in neighbourhoods across the city.

    It’s also an issue that requires constant attention.

    We want to make sure that all of our road, path and sidewalk users feel safe.

    These new red light cameras will be another tool we can use to ensure our streets are safe for everyone.

    And they will complement the funds each Councillor has to implement traffic calming measures in their wards.

    Of course, some of the collaboration I’ve talked about is in addition to the important work being already done by our colleagues around this table.

    Let me give you some examples.

    I have admired the hands-on approach that Councillor Bob Monette has been using to drive economic development in Orléans.

    I took part in a very informative real estate tour of the east end where he brought realtors and other potential investors on a bus tour to see firsthand the available land and development sites.

    It’s the same tour that Councillor Monette has taken potential investors on many times.

    This is the sort of hands-on collaboration that will lead to real results for our local economy.

    I also want to give kudos to Councillor Jan Harder, Chair of our Planning Committee.

    She is collaborating on two related projects: Building Better Smarter Suburbs and the Infrastructure Standards Review.

    These are very important to the quality of life of our residents and financial sustainability of the City.

    Looking ahead, the Planning and Growth Management department has some important collaboration initiatives on its work plan.

    As a result, we will see stronger community and stakeholder engagement…

    And continued progress in improving the calibre of planning proposals in the months and years ahead.

    Let me give you another good example of a Councillor leading economic development.

    Councillor Allan Hubley raised the idea of allowing local businesses and entrepreneurs to pilot their technologies at City Hall.

    After all, with a significant number of employees and many lines of business…

    The City of Ottawa would be a perfect laboratory to test new products, technologies and ideas.

    This concept led to a new program in our Economic Development and Innovation department called the Innovation Pilot Program.

    To date, I am pleased to update you that the City has received nearly 50 applications.

    We have selected about 5 of them to pilot.

    The City will be announcing the successful participants in the next few weeks.

    I think you will be very impressed by the quality of the innovation and ideas of our local entrepreneurs.

    We’ll also be collaborating more on our efforts to sell surplus properties in 2016.

    These efforts will be led by Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, Chair of the Ottawa Community Lands Development Corporation.

    There are unneeded properties in many parts of our city.

    For example, on Randall Avenue in Alta Vista there is a site which used to house a water tower but has sat vacant since 2002.

    Finally, this past fall the site was put up for sale for $1.6M and has generated significant interest from the private sector.

    When they sit idle, these types of properties are a double-loss for us financially.

    We don’t receive the one-time revenue from the sale of the property.

    And we aren’t receiving the payment of any property taxes.

    We will aim to improve this situation in 2016.

    Also, since 2016 will be the Year of Collaboration – there’s no better example of collaboration than music.

    Councillor Jeff Leiper has accepted my invitation to be my representative on the local host committee for the 2017 Juno Awards.

    He is working hard with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition to bring together members of our music community.

    When we host the Junos…

    We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in this important celebration of Canadian talent.

    The two co-chairs of our Juno local host committee are here with us today and I would like to thank them for accepting this role and for their hard work on this important celebration.

    We need to use this event to strengthen and grow our economy for years to come.

    Here’s another example.

    Councillor Mitic, our Sports Commissioner, has been working closely with Ottawa Tourism and our bid office to identify potential events we can bring to Ottawa.

    As you know, we don’t secure these events overnight.

    It often takes years of work.

    In 2016, he will lead exploratory efforts for a potential bid for the Canada Summer Games in 2021.

    The last Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke in 2013 attracted over 16,000 visitors.

    It had a local economic impact of $165 million.

    If we decide to bid on and win this prestigious event…

    It would mean the potential to upgrade some of our aging sports facilities, alongside our federal and provincial partners.

    We look forward to considering a bid on this exciting event.

    As well, Councillor Qaqish has accepted my invitation to be the City of Ottawa’s special liaison on refugee resettlement.

    Councillor Qaqish will work and liaise with refugee settlement groups like Refugee613 and Ottawa Catholic Immigration Services.

    He will also work with staff to monitor the progress our new residents are making to integrate – especially after their first 12 months.

    And he will coordinate a community welcome celebration, and if necessary, fundraising to help with resettlement costs.

    It is hard to not be touched by the amazing support that we have seen in our community.

    To date, we have welcomed more than 500 refugees to Ottawa.

    Let me share one of my favourite stories.

    Two Sundays ago I was invited to a very special community event at McNabb Community Centre.

    The event was organized by former Vietnamese refugees who have since raised a generation of children in our beautiful city.

    The purpose of the event?

    To raise funds to support the sponsorship of Syrian refugees.

    To see the generosity once shown to these people come full circle many years later was truly a beautiful thing.

    And it’s one of many examples of Ottawa’s residents showing their compassion for their new neighbours:

    In Manotick, in Councillor Moffatt’s Ward, Mary Barr and her “Quilts 4 Kidz” program at the Manotick United Church are making blankets for newly arrived Syrian refugee children;

    In Old Ottawa South, barber Ali Sultan is offering free haircuts to refugees at his Opus Barbershop.

    These are stories that I am tremendously proud to see.

    Ottawa is putting its best foot forward.

    The refugees are now arriving… but we know that is only the first step.

    We need to make sure they have the opportunity to grow and participate as full members of our Ottawa family.

    I also want to thank Councillor David Chernushenko for his leadership on Lansdowne Park transportation issues.

    He has worked closely with the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, and the surrounding communities to ensure transportation to, from and within the site will continue to improve.

    According to a survey by the Glebe Community Association, a full 70% of respondents say they use Lansdowne either regularly or frequently.

    It is clear that Lansdowne is becoming a cornerstone of that great community.

    Colleagues, these are strong examples of the kind of collaboration we will continue to do in 2016.

    It is important to also recognize the past collaboration from which we have all benefited.

    Max Keeping was one of our city’s great collaborators.

    Whether as a father, friend or public figure, Max was a true bridge builder and brought people from all walks of life together.

    To recognize these contributions…

    I am announcing that I will be bringing forward a proposal to the commemorative naming committee to rename the new pedestrian and cycling bridge near Coventry Road, over the 417 as…

    The Max Keeping Bridge.

    The bridge links the wards of Councillors Nussbaum and Cloutier, and stands not far from the Cancer Survivors Park and CHEO.

    And, as you know, Max was a big supporter of baseball, and of course CHEO.

    This bridge serves RCGT Park and will soon serve thousands of people when the LRT station at Tremblay opens.

    I think this would be a perfect fit to recognize a man who gave so much to our community.

    I want to recognize the presence in the audience of several members of Max’s family who have taken time to join us today.

    I also want to announce a second recognition that will come forward in 2016.

    The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is the longest serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the history of our country.

    She is also the first woman to hold the post.

    The Chief Justice has been at the center of some of the most significant legal decisions in Canada’s history.

    I am delighted to tell you that… the Chief Justice has accepted my offer to receive the Key to the City.

    She will receive our highest civic honour at a ceremony on March 22 of this year.

    And she will do so as a role model, a leader and a nation-builder who deserves to be recognized by our city.

    Looking to the year ahead…

    There will be no bigger initiative in 2016 than work to expand light rail transit in the nation’s capital.

    Let’s not forget…

    Just five years ago Ottawa did not have a clear plan for light rail.

    Before that, it seemed like it may not ever happen.

    Fast forward to today.

    Several kilometres of rail have been installed.

    The downtown tunnel is nearing completion.

    And the trains are being assembled, as we speak.

    That’s progress of which we can be very proud.

    Now, how did we get here?

    We set a plan and we stuck to it.

    We were consistent.

    And as we did this, we built confidence in our vision for LRT.

    This plan and this confidence were crucial to gaining support from the public and our partners.

    All parties at all levels of government have lined up to support Stage 2 of LRT.

    In 2015, we saw two big milestones reached.

    We signed the historic 100-Day agreement with the NCC.

    This was due to the hard work of all parties, including the City’s representatives Councillors Taylor, Blais and Egli, as well as our City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

    The second milestone came with our unanimous approval of the Stage 2 project by City Council.

    This year we will continue to advance this important project.

    In 2016, we will collaborate with our federal and provincial partners to secure firm funding agreements.

    We will also make the case that the Trim Road and airport extensions should be included in this project.

    If we can secure funding commitments this year…

    We can expect to move into procurement in late 2016 or early 2017.

    Working together, we will expand the benefits of LRT across our city.

    The project will bring rail as far west as Bayshore Shopping Centre, as far east as Place d’Orléans, and as far south as Riverside South.

    When we open the Confederation Line in 2018…

    We want to turn around and pick up the shovel to break ground on Stage 2 of the LRT project.

    Stage 2 will bring close to 70 percent of the city’s population within five kilometres of rail by 2023.

    LRT is the single most important step we can take as a community to enhance our quality of life for generations to come.

    Of course, our investments in light rail transit are enhanced by how we’re also building other active transportation infrastructure.

    We’ll break ground on the first part of the O’Connor Bike Lanes this year.

    This will serve as a north-south complement to the highly successful Laurier Bike Lanes – over 1.7M trips and counting.

    We’ll also begin to install bike lanes on Mackenzie Avenue near the U.S. Embassy – in partnership with the Embassy and the NCC.

    Looking in the west end…

    We’ll move forward with construction on the Bayshore-Moodie Transitway extension in 2016.

    This will be an important transit improvement for residents travelling to and from the west end.

    You will recall that this is a 100% municipally-funded project because we did not want to wait to improve transit for Kanata residents.

    We will also advance design work on a Fifth-Clegg pedestrian and cycling bridge.

    This connection has been needed for quite some time.

    This is now even more so due to the success of the revitalized Lansdowne Park.

    It is my hope that we will be able to secure a funding agreement with upper levels of government this year or next.

    Doing so would build upon the already historic investments we’ve made in transit and active transportation in recent years.

    These are the biggest contributions we can make to fighting climate change and protecting our environment.

    Speaking of which…

    In 2016, we’ll move forward on our top environmental priority with the Ottawa River Action Plan.

    We’ll break ground on the final portion of the project: the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel.

    When commissioned, this project will mean we will pass along the gift of a clean Ottawa River to the next generation.

    Also in 2016…

    We can also be excited by the steps we’ll take towards a new main library branch.

    Last year, the Ottawa Public Library released a Request for Expression of Interest for a new main facility.

    The reaction in the market and in the community was more positive than we could have ever imagined.

    Library and Archives Canada stepped forward as a potential partner.

    We have also learned yesterday that the proponents for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats are also interested in our project.

    This is very promising.

    Under the leadership of Councillor Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library board…

    We will continue to engage with the community and potential partners to make this dream a reality.

    It is my expectation that the new main library will be a truly regional facility enjoyed by residents from all parts of our city.

    It is my hope that we will be able to break ground on this new facility before the end of our term in 2018.

    We also expect to open the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards before the end of this year.

    There is no more perfect example of collaboration than this amazing facility, which will be the new home of Invest Ottawa.

    Ottawa has been recognized as the most business-friendly mid-sized city in the western hemisphere by the Financial Times.

    We’re seeing jobs and investment return to Ottawa.

    But we need to make sure that entrepreneurs and other business owners have the support they need.

    The Innovation Centre will be a one-stop shop for anyone with an idea they want to take from the drawing board to the marketplace.

    We want our businesses to launch, grow, and thrive.

    And, of course, this facility will come at just the right moment.

    Because everything we do should be looked at in front of the backdrop of the economy.

    We remain in challenging economic times.

    Locally, growth is down.

    The dollar is weak.

    Families are also seeing their personal investments, pensions funds, and savings decline in value with changes in the market.

    We must continue to stay true to our principles:

    • Keeping taxes affordable.
    • Protecting the most vulnerable.
    • Investing in community infrastructure.
    • Supporting job creators.

    When you are faced with tough times, you have two paths to take.

    One path you may have heard chatter about in the pages of certain newspapers recently.

    It’s the path of cynicism.

    Of those who are disappointed in themselves and their surroundings.

    It’s the path of grumbling.

    No matter how historic the investments we’re making.

    Or how many awards the city receives about quality of life… or business friendliness… or sustainability.

    It will never quite be good enough.

    I prefer to take the other path.

    The path that looks forward.

    That recognizes we will never leapfrog cobblestone cities that are hundreds of years older than us.

    Instead, we will focus on ensuring a high quality of life.

    On protecting our most vulnerable.

    On cutting commute times.

    On cleaning our water and air.

    That’s the path on which we should be focused.

    I will borrow a phrase from Bruce Lazenby, head of Invest Ottawa when I say:

    City BUILDING will always beat city BASHING.

    We all love this city.

    And we will do everything we can to make it an even better place to raise a family and grow a business.

    As we resolve ourselves for 2016…

    As we get ready to host the world in 2017…

    Let us take this path of optimism.

    The path of pride.

    The path to building the best city in the most blessed country in the world.

    Thank you.

  • 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.

  • State of the City 2015 – Speech

    Good morning.

    I want to wish all Members of Council a very Happy New Year. I hope you had a restful Christmas and holiday season.

    Because – as you know – we have a very busy year ahead of us.

    Much of that work will begin next week as we table our first draft budget of the term.

    I want to thank all Members of Council for providing their input into this year’s budget process.

    I have appreciated hearing first-hand the priorities you have for your ward, and your areas of interest as we work together over the next four years.

    I also want to thank the public for providing their ideas, whether it is directly to their ward councillor or to my office through the consultation process.

    My friends, 2015 will be a year of momentum.

    By this, I mean that we will build on the momentum started in the last few years…

    And we will continue to focus our energies towards building an even better city.

    Let me give you a few examples by looking back at our most recent accomplishments.

    City Council unanimously approved the Stage 2 LRT project and Transportation Master Plan.

    We decided to move forward with Arts Court and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    And we continued work on key features of the Confederation Line… shaping the future of Ottawa’s transportation system.

    Over that same time, we saw the opening of several significant investments in our city’s quality of life.

    This includes big mobility improvements such as…

    The Vimy Memorial Bridge in Councillor Qaqish’s ward…

    And the Airport Parkway Bridge in Councillor Deans and Brockington’s wards…

    We’ve added new community space in our fastest growing areas, including:

    The Richcraft Sensplex East in Councillor Tierney’s ward…

    The Francois Dupuis Pool in Councillors Blais’s ward…

    The Richcraft Recreation Complex in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward…

    The Minto Recreation Complex in Councillor Harder’s ward…

    The new Greely library in Councillor Darouze’s ward…

    And the expansion of the Goulbourn Recreation Centre in Councillor Qadri’s ward.

    In Councillor Chernushenko’s ward, we can’t forget the beautiful new Lansdowne Park… a magnificent improvement being enjoyed by residents and visitors from all over.

    Looking ahead… 2015 will have no shortage of cranes and bulldozers.

    Signs of momentum are all around us.

    I think you will be able to get a sense of this at our upcoming LRT showcase at Lansdowne Park, taking place in February and March.

    Throughout our history, Lansdowne Park and the Aberdeen Pavilion were witness to significant moments in our country’s and our city’s history.

    Many of these moments had to do with new products and innovations.

    For example, in 1877, Ottawa’s Thomas Ahearn gave the first demonstration of a telephone at Lansdowne Park.

    In 1892, he exhibited a series of new electrical equipment such as an early electric oven and electric water heaters.

    Today, these are commonplace items.

    But at the time, these were life-changing innovations that made the world a better place.

    And tomorrow, another great innovation will be unveiled at the Aberdeen… the world-class Alstom Citadis Spirit train.

    Ottawa residents have heard about this LRT project for more than a decade.

    Only recently, they began to see progress at construction sites in several locations in the city.

    Tomorrow, it becomes truly tangible.

    You will be able to not only SEE the train, but FEEL the train.

    You will be able to sit inside, look out the windows, and get your first experience of the Confederation Line.

    This will be a turning point for LRT in Ottawa, as thousands of people visit the train over the coming weeks.

    Residents and visitors will be able to visit the LRT showcase starting Friday, and it will be open every day from 8 am to 8 pm.

    And I’m so excited that we will be able to share this experience with the public.

    Our vision for light rail has much to do with momentum.

    When we inaugurate the Confederation Line in 2018, we want to turn around and pick up the shovel to break ground on the Stage 2 LRT project.

    As we continue with the Environmental Assessments for the project this year, we will continue to improve our plan to extend LRT farther east, west and south.

    Working with our Transportation Chair, Councillor Egli, we are moving forward with this city-transforming project.

    Ottawa deserves a world-class transportation system like this one, and I would argue that it is long overdue.

    Think about it for a moment.

    When you look at the world’s OTHER G7 capital cities…

    Paris, Berlin, Rome, Toyko, London, and Washington…

    Ottawa has the distinction of being the only one that has yet to build a significant rapid rail system for its commuters and visitors.

    Even domestically, Ottawa is still catching up.

    Over the last 10 years we have spent debating and refining the Confederation Line, Calgary and Vancouver opened a combined 42 kilometres of new rapid transit lines.

    Now, Ottawa has momentum.

    And together, we are delivering better transportation for the capital city of the greatest country in the world.

    My friends…

    When you look at what’s to come over the next 12 months, you get the sense that Ottawa is on the cusp of something special.

    There has never been a more exciting time to be in the nation’s capital.

    Together, we are building new institutions that will shape and define our city for generations to come.

    This year, construction will move forward on two major facilities: the new Arts Court and Bayview Innovation Centre.

    Located in the wards of Councillors Fleury and Leiper, these will be truly regional facilities that will be enjoyed by residents across the city.

    With these, we will support and celebrate our city’s most talented creators.

    They will be unique community gathering places where we can nurture Ottawa innovation.

    On the canvass or on the drawing board… in the theatre or in the marketplace…

    Our artists and entrepreneurs tell the story of Ottawa we all know and love.

    A city that is dynamic, progressive and capable of great things.

    We need to create places that are worthy of our city’s talent, ambition and potential.

    In 2015, we will embark on a new project that will do many of the same things: A new central library.

    With the right plan and the right partnership, I believe we can deliver a truly world-class facility for the nation’s capital.

    This will be a complex project that we want to do right.

    As a first step, Councillor Tim Tierney and I, along with the library board, will host a public engagement meeting in March of this year.

    We will bring together the community, as a first step, to begin this important conversation.

    What features does it need?

    What opportunities can it bring?

    How can it build on our strengths?

    This will be one of several community engagement opportunities as we take these steps forward as a city.

    I want this process to represent everything our new library should be: Open, collaborative and dynamic.

    I’m pleased to also announce today that we will make the Mayor’s Rural Expo a permanent event.

    Working with Councillor Moffatt, Chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, we will work to make this the best year yet.

    We launched this event two years ago, which seeks to bridge the rural-urban divide by showcasing the outstanding people and products of our rural areas.

    And we do so in conjunction with Food Aid Day, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.

    City Hall will also host a Tourism Summit in 2015.

    The purpose of this summit will be to develop long-term growth strategies for our city’s third-largest industry.

    We know 2017 will be a banner year.

    But how do we avoid the “2017 hangover” in 2018 and beyond?

    As the private sector builds more hotels… and our event organizers host larger events… how do we ensure our tourism industry can continue to attract large numbers?

    In 2015, we’ll also continue to roll out our Ottawa 2017 brand across the city in order to build local momentum.

    Under the leadership of our new 2017 Co-Chairs, Councillors Fleury and Cloutier, we will continue to raise awareness and excitement among our residents and visitors.

    Ottawa 2017 has established a strong presence at the Ottawa Train Station in recent months, and you will see similar signage go up at the airport, city streets and local businesses.

    This will also include an exciting expansion of our 417 underpass mural program.

    This year, we’re seeking MTO approval to create murals at two new locations under the 417:

    At Bank Street between Councillor McKenney and Councillor Chernushenko’s wards…

    And at Carling, west of Kirkwood, between Councillor Leiper and Councillor Brockington’s wards.

    As we saw from the first set of murals this past year, this program provides us with an easy way to brighten up our neighbourhoods.

    We’ll build momentum towards building a more liveable city this year as well.

    We will open a pedestrian and cycling bridge over the 417 near Coventry Road in just a few weeks.

    This will connect Councillor Cloutier’s ward with Councillor Nussbaum’s ward.

    Councillor Fleury will be happy to see construction continue on a much-needed bridge over the Rideau River to connect Somerset and Donald Streets.

    It will open next year, providing an important east-west connection to existing active transportation infrastructure.

    These two bridges I’ve mentioned will close gaps in our transportation network.

    They’re also how we’ll make walking and cycling safer, more convenient options.

    Families in West Carleton will see the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre expansion open later this year.

    Councillor El-Chantiry and the community have worked hard on this project, which will see new library space, a multi-use room and a fitness room added.

    We make community improvements like these… we will make environmental investments as well.

    The City of Ottawa is proud to partner with Ecology Ottawa on its “Tree Ottawa” project over the coming years.

    Together with the community, we will plant 1 million trees in time for 2017.

    I think this will be a wonderful way for our community to work together… and pass along the gift of cleaner air and better tree cover to the next generation.

    Whether it is on the environment or other on issues, we can do more when we work together.

    A great example of this has been the strong collaboration we are seeing on addressing guns and gangs in our city.

    The Ottawa Police Service has been working with Crime Prevention Ottawa and other community groups to take action.

    I’d also like to thank Councillors Chiarelli and Taylor for bringing together residents in their wards to speak openly and honestly about the challenges we face as a city.

    We all have a role to play, and the City will continue to show leadership on this file in the months ahead.

    Also in 2015, I look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the City of Gatineau.

    I have been working more closely with the Mayor of Gatineau, Maxime Pedneau-Jobin, than ever before.

    We attended each other’s inauguration ceremonies and together placed a wreath at the War Memorial this past Remembrance Day.

    In 2015, we’ll continue to collaborate on issues of mutual interest including transportation and transit between and within our two great cities.

    I will be meeting with Mayor Pedneau-Jobin again in Gatineau in the first half of 2015 to continue strengthening our partnership.

    2015 will be a big year for baseball and other sports.

    Our CanAm baseball team will take the field at the Ottawa Baseball Stadium, thanks to the support of Members of Council such as Councillor Monette.

    We look forward to cheering on our Ottawa Champions during the warmer weather in May.

    The Miracle League of Ottawa’s fully accessible baseball field will also be completed this year in the ward of Councillor Mitic, our Sports Commissioner.

    We’re very proud that Canada’s second fully accessible baseball facility will open for children and young adults with special needs.

    Of course, Ottawa will host the Canadian Little League Championships this summer in Councillor Harder’s ward.

    This will be yet another event to showcase our city to families from across the country.

    On an even larger scale, we can’t forget the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming to Lansdowne in June.

    This will give Ottawa a priceless international audience, as we host some of the best soccer players in the world.

    This exposure is so important for our city’s reputation and the long-term growth of our economy.

    We remain optimistic in on our outlook for economic growth for the coming year.

    In December, the region’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, still below the national rate of 6.6 percent.

    But we are reminded by the departure of retailers such as Target that no city is immune to bumps along the road.

    We must also remember that our population is growing faster than the national average, and with it comes the added pressure of ensuring there are good jobs and a high quality of life.

    I believe we are on the right track.

    Invest Ottawa is continuing to do great work as it approaches its third anniversary.

    Our entrepreneurs and startups are being given the support they need to prosper and grow.

    Our Economic Development and Innovation department will renew its strategy in 2015.

    It will begin to introduce new tools and programs, to ensure City Hall can be a true partner with the private sector in its mission to create jobs and grow our economy.

    To reflect on two briefly…

    We will soon create a way for local businesses to pilot their technologies or products in municipal operations.

    This program was inspired from an inquiry raised by Councillor Hubley during the last term of Council and I think it is a great one.

    Soon our Economic Development department will act as the point of contact for any local startup business that wishes to pilot new technologies.

    From there, they will choose a select number of innovations annually.

    If we can help a business refine a technology before it moves into mass production, by acting as a test case, I think we should carefully consider it.

    The benefit to the City can include reduced costs and an innovative way of delivering services.

    The benefit to our local entrepreneurs could include the ability to test and refine a technology before it goes to market.

    I think this will be a win-win.

    A second new economic initiative will have to do with taking a serious approach to attracting and retaining talent.

    In 2015, we will begin to do this by developing a strategy and talent attraction toolkit

    This will allow us to market our city more clearly as a great place to live and do business.

    We need to remember that we’re competing against other cities for the best and the brightest.

    Why should a family choose to come to Ottawa instead of Toronto, Montreal or Calgary?

    How do we appeal to the interests of the most highly coveted, highly educated worker, as well as their spouse and children?

    Ottawa is very good at tourism marketing – the kind of messaging that will attract someone for a long weekend.

    But THIS kind of message will be focused on attracting people for a lifetime.

    Ottawa has a great story to tell, but I think we need to do a better job of telling that story.

    I want to close my remarks by sharing two significant civic projects coming up in 2015.

    The first has to do with the terrible bus-train crash of 2013.

    In partnership with Councillor Harder, we will begin the process of creating an appropriate memorial for the six neighbours we lost on that fateful September day.

    We will approach this project carefully and respectfully, as we understand that emotions are still very raw.

    The second civic recognition has to do with Daniel Alfredsson, former Captain of our Ottawa Senators.

    As you know, Daniel retired last month after 18 years in the NHL.

    On the ice, he was our captain.

    In the community, he was a leader.

    From the Ottawa Senators Foundations, to the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, he devoted his time and his energy to making our city a better place.

    He embraced Ottawa the same way that we embraced him.

    And for that…

    Today, I’m pleased to announce that Daniel has accepted my offer to receive the Key to the City in a ceremony in March.

    This is our city’s highest civic honour, and one that he has earned for everything he has done for Ottawa.

    Colleagues…

    2015 will bring us challenges and projects both big and small…

    The effects of which will define our city for generations to come.

    I look forward to collaborating closely with you on these important steps over the year to come.

    And together, we will build momentum towards a more livable, caring, vibrant and prosperous city.

    Thank you.

  • West Ottawa Board of Trade – Mayor's Breakfast 2015

    Thank you very much, Rosemary / Greg.

    My thanks to the West Ottawa Board of Trade, your Chair, Greg Weatherdon, and your Executive Director, Rosemary Leu, for inviting me to join you this morning.

    It is wonderful to see many familiar faces here today.

    First off, I would like to extend my best wishes for the New Year to all of you and your families.

    I hope the holidays provided opportunities to spend time with friends and family, and re-energize for the year ahead.

    I also wanted to extend my congratulations on your newly amalgamated Board of Trade.

    Bringing together the old West Ottawa Board of Trade and the Greater Nepean Chamber of Commerce will be a great help to businesses that serve the Nepean, Kanata, Goulbourn and West Carleton communities.

    Business organizations like the West Ottawa Board of Trade are tremendously important to our city.

    Right now, our city is looking to diversify our economy, and part of this is lending support to our local businesses and entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

    We know that local business and entrepreneurs are critical to our economy.

    And we want them to succeed.

    As the West Ottawa Board of Trade heads into a new year and a new era for your organization, I encourage you to continue to keep up the great work, and strive to continue to build on this success.

    Speaking of success, 2014 was a busy, yet successful year for the City of Ottawa.

    I was proud to have been re-elected as Mayor of Ottawa, to lead a Council that is a good mix of veteran and new members and who I am looking forward to working with over the next four years.

    One of our first tasks as the new City Council will be the 2015 Budget.

    As was the case over the last four years, we are aiming to continue to bring stability and predictability to the City’s finances.

    I kept my promise not to raise taxes above 2.5 per cent per year over the past four years.

    In fact in 2014 we brought in the lowest tax rate in 7 years.

    And I intend to keep my promise not to raise them above 2.0 per cent per year for the coming four years.

    Some have said these, or any, increases are too much and that a tax freeze or a tax rate cut are better.

    This is easy to say…but not very realistic in practice.

    You would need to cut services or put off key projects for years or even decades.

    Look at the major projects completed or underway in the City:

    – LRT Confederation Line and the expansion of the O-Train

    – Major infrastructure renewal through Ottawa on the Move

    – New fire stations in Stitsville and Barrhaven

    – New recreation facilities like the Minto Recreation Centre – Barrhaven, or the Richcraft Recreation Complex here in Kanata, or a second ice surface at the Goulbourn Recreation Centre.

    With frozen or cut taxes would come choosing which of these not to pursue.

    And while slashed taxes sound good in principle, you can’t ignore the fact that we’re a growing city, with growing needs.

    We are a big city and it is critical that we make the necessary investments in our city’s future while providing services in the present.

    Services like police, fire, paramedics, libraries, parks and many more every day.

    All of these things cost money.

    While you can’t have everything you want, you have to find the right balance.

    And I think we have done a good job at finding this balance.

    We are committed to a reasonable tax rate increase of no more than two per cent per year.

    This will keep us fiscally disciplined, while allowing for the necessary investments in our City’s future.

    The 2015 draft operating and capital budgets will be tabled at a special meeting of City Council on February 4.

    There is plenty of opportunity for residents to participate in the budget process.

    We have launched an online pre-budget public consultation – residents can provide their input by sending an email to budget-2015-at-ottawa-dot-c-a.

    You can also send us your opinions through Twitter by using the hashtag #ottbudget.

    If you would rather give us your input in person, four regional public consultations will take place, with the two of most interest to you here today being:

    – South – Wednesday, February 11, 7 to 9 p.m., Nepean Sportsplex, Hall A, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue, Nepean

    – West – February 10, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Kanata

    In addition, all Standing Committees of Council, along with the Transit Commission, the Police Services Board, the Library Board, and the Board of Public Health will hold meetings to consider the 2015 draft budget for their respective areas and to listen to public delegations on the budget.

    So, I encourage you to get involved with the budget process, as we work towards Council’s consideration of the final budget recommendations at its meeting on March 11.

    Another thing that I am excited to talk to you about today is the excellent work that is coming out of Invest Ottawa.

    The strides Invest Ottawa has made in three short years are incredible.

    The organization has become such a critical part of our business community that during the recent election campaign I committed to increase funding to the organization by $370,000 each year.

    This increased funding will help Invest Ottawa bring even more significant economic benefits to our city.

    I’m pleased that we have a Kanata businessperson, David Ritonja from Alcaltel as the Chair of the Board.

    Just last week, myself, along with some of my Council colleagues, had the opportunity to visit the Invest Ottawa offices to get a first-hand look at some of the initiatives they’re currently working on.

    While there, we heard about some of Invest Ottawa’s highlights over the past three years:

    – More than 2,250 jobs facilitated

    – More than $213 million in investments attracted by start-up portfolio

    – More than $200 million in investments attracted to Ottawa (including foreign direct investment)

    – Helped more than 260 companies grow globally

    – Welcomed more than 50 visiting foreign delegations to Ottawa.

    The key point is that we at the City need to do everything we can to diversify and strengthen our local economy.

    We will always have a strong public service presence from three levels of government, but the effect of Federal job cuts are very real and it’s up to us to take the initiative to pick up the slack.

    One of the reasons I enjoy speaking to groups like yours is for this very reason.

    Local business is vitally important to our communities and our city as a whole.

    We want – and need – our local businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.

    And we want the City to be seen as rolling out the red carpet, and not the red tape.

    The success of Invest Ottawa makes me hopeful that we are on our way to achieving this goal.

    Together, we are creating new jobs.

    We are attracting investments.

    We are supporting local business, through mentorship, workshops and partnerships.

    It feels like every week I’m being invited to the opening of a new business, and, very often, these groups have been helped by Invest Ottawa.

    A great example of this is Rumidifier.

    Jeri Rodrigs, from Kanata, had an idea for an eco-friendly humidifier.

    He took that idea to Invest Ottawa who helped him turn it into a business plan.

    And now he manufactures the Rumidifier in Stitsville.

    It has become a great retail success.

    It’s a great “made in Ottawa” story.

    The Rumidifier is now sold at Home Hardware, Costco, and Home Depot among others, and its sales continue to grow.

    When I see products like this and visit these great local businesses, I’m proud of our local economy and reminded that our city possesses the most innovative and talented individuals in the country.

    One of the most exciting projects – and one that involves Invest Ottawa –– is the creation of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    The Centre will be a hub for innovation, collaboration and creativity, helping to support and nurture local start-ups so that they grow and succeed.

    The Centre will also help us create jobs, as well as attract more investment, including foreign investment, to our city.

    The City is appreciative of the funding that the Province of Ontario has committed to this project, as well the support demonstrated by the local business community;

    This includes members of the Centre’s Board of Directors and the Chair, Steve West, President of Nordion from right here in Kanata.

    I look forward to seeing this initiative move forward this year.

    As we continue to grow our economy, we need to ensure that our city and its infrastructure can handle this growth.

    That’s why we have invested a record amount of money in our infrastructure through the Ottawa on the Move project.

    I’m sure here in the city’s west-end, you have seen the evidence of Ottawa on the Move.

    Through this program, we have invested $340 million in road, sidewalk, cycling, sewer and watermain infrastructure.

    This investment has resulted in a lot of construction, which, I understand, can be frustrating at times.

    However, this is the definition of short-term pain for long-term gain.

    We’ve made improvements to:

    – Carling Avenue,

    – Baseline Road,

    – Woodroffe Avenue

    – Richmond Road.

    We’ve renewed roads like:

    – Huntmar Drive

    – Bayshore Drive

    – Eagleson Road

    And we’ve completed a significant number of sidewalk, bridge, cycling and watermain improvements.

    These efforts will help bring our infrastructure and entire transportation system up to the level needed before the opening of the Confederation Line.

    We are making great progress on the Confederation Line – a project that will transform the way people move around our city.

    This is important to our city in so many ways – from an economic standpoint…from a congestion standpoint…from a tourism standpoint.

    I mention tourism here because Ottawa is currently preparing to host one of the most significant events it has ever seen – the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation.

    Our Ottawa 2017 Task Force continues to build momentum, ensuring Ottawa will be THE place to be to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

    We expect a 20 per cent increase in tourism in 2017.

    An additional 1.7 million guests will be a huge boost for the hospitality and retail sectors.

    However, Ottawa is much bigger than Parliament Hill, and our vision extends far beyond the downtown core.

    We are planning events for the whole city over the course of the entire year, from large international events to local community-driven celebrations and legacy initiatives that will bring enduring benefit to our communities.

    Our most recent announcement encapsulates all of these.

    I announced in November that Ottawa will host the 2017 Canadian Videogame Awards.

    In addition to the awards gala, which will take place at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, we are planning a videogame competition that will provide an immersive and interactive experience for residents across the city.

    Semi-final and final games will even be broadcast onto the exterior walls of several large buildings across the city.

    I think this is a novel concept that will really appeal to our younger residents.

    This 5-7 day event will bring in more than

    $1 million for the local economy.

    However, it will do much more than that.

    It will show Canadian families that Ottawa is dynamic and youth friendly, and it will showcase Ottawa as a centre of excellence for software development.

    You will hear more announcements like this in the year ahead.

    So, stayed tuned…

    We have consulted with hundreds of organizations and community leaders about the types of activities that will make 2017 the event of a generation.

    We are currently engaged with our federal and provincial partners and the private sector to secure funding and finalizing details on several big announcements.

    As these roll out, I think many residents will opt to take stay-cations in 2017.

    There will just be so much to see and do right here at home.

    With only 23 months to go, now is the time that you should be actively planning how you will leverage 2017 to grow your business and build your community.

    And if your industry has an event that we could bring to Ottawa, let us know.

    Just email ottawa2017@ ottawa-dot-c-a.

    Together, we will invite the world to experience Ottawa like never before and celebrate Canada’s 150th like nowhere else.

    And we will deliver a celebration that brings lasting benefit to our city.

    So, there’s no question that it is an exciting time to live in Ottawa.

    We have a lot to look forward to both this year and in the coming years – the Confederation Line, 2017 celebrations, the Innovation Centre the FIFA Women’s World Cup and increased support for our local businesses and entrepreneurs.

    We are also a growing city, as those of you here in the west end know well.

    With this growth comes the need to provide good, reliable services across the entire city, and, as Mayor, along with my Council colleagues, we are honoured to serve this great community in this exciting time.

    Residents were clear in the election that they want a Council that works well together to find creative solutions to our city’s challenges.

    We have done a good job of this over the past four years, and will continue to do so going forward.

    Let me conclude by thanking you – the men and women of Ottawa’s west end business communities – for the long hours and risk you take each and every day to keep your businesses going, and for employing the hundreds of citizens you do.

    I wish you all the very best in 2015, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

    Thank you.

  • Speech: The Council on Aging of Ottawa – Annual Spring Luncheon

    Thank you, Nicole.

    Good afternoon everyone.

    On behalf of the City of Ottawa and my colleagues on City Council, it is my pleasure to join you today for the Council on Aging of Ottawa’s annual spring luncheon.

    I extend my thanks to Cal Martell, President of the Council on Aging of Ottawa, for having me here today.

    Also recognize:

    – Councillor Mark Taylor;

    – Councillor Rick Chiarelli;

    – Councillor David Chernushenko.

    Canadians have known for some time that, as a population, we are getting older.

    Seniors currently make up the fastest growing age group in Ottawa, and that number is expected to double in size over the next 20 years.

    In fact, by 2031, there will be more seniors than children under the age of 15 for the first time in Ottawa’s history.

    As a City, we recognize that we need to make Ottawa a more age-friendly city.

    And we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish so far.

    In October 2011, I hosted the Mayor’s Seniors Summit at City Hall.

    It was a pivotal moment for our City as we moved toward a new way of providing services and adapting our infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of our aging demographic.

    Based on feedback gathered during the Seniors Summit and at consultations, the City has developed the Older Adult Plan.

    The plan introduces a long-term vision of a community that values, empowers and supports older residents and their quality of life both now and in the future.

    It will also enhance the quality of life of older adults in our community by improving access to essential supports, programs and services.

    City Council has demonstrated its commitment to older adults by declaring the Older Adult Plan a Term of Council Priority initiative, and approving funding in the amount of $500,000 per year for the implementation of OAP initiatives.

    City Council approved the OAP in 2012, and work is now underway to implement the Plan by 12 different lead City departments.

    In 2012-2013, the City was pleased to have achieved a number of accomplishments, including:

    – More than 400 low income older adults with urgent dental needs received free dental screening and/or free access to dental treatments;

    – New pedestrian signal technology was installed at six signalized intersections, in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors;

    – Two editions of an older adult guide of social, recreational, and cultural programs (spring/summer and fall/winter) were printed and distributed;

    – An older adult web portal on ottawa-dot-c-a was created as a central point of information on programs and services of interest to older adults – the web site also features new and improved search functions for recreation programs and volunteer opportunities;

    – Several automatic power doors and washroom grab bars were installed in various City buildings highly frequented by older adults;

    – Twenty-one benches were installed on sidewalks, in areas of the city with large numbers of senior residents;

    • And more

    And we’re not stopping there.

    The City is working to implement a number of actions this year, such as:

    – Developing an age-friendly parks, pathways and public spaces checklist for use by park planners;

    – Installing public access computers at City-operated seniors centres;

    – Providing specialized older adult fitness certification for Parks and Recreation staff.

    The work the Council on Aging has done on the Age Friendly Ottawa Community Framework complements the Older Adult Plan well and is to be commended.

    We need to continue to work collaboratively in order to achieve the success we want.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Council on Aging for its commitment to helping us build this caring community.

    The World Health Organization recognized the efforts of the City and the Council on Aging to enhance Ottawa’s age-friendly attributes by granting the City membership to its Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.

    And we hope that this productive partnership continues into the future, as we work together to improve the quality of life of older adults here in Ottawa.

    I am confident that as a city, and as a community, we will make Ottawa a place that is accessible, inclusive and respectful of our older residents.

    Thank you.

  • Speech: 1,000 Days to 2017

    ***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

     

    I want to thank the Economic Club of Canada for the invitation.

     

    About two years ago, the City of Ottawa sought to get ahead of the curve in preparation for Canada’s 150th birthday.

     

    As a first step, we assembled a 2017 Task Force…

     

    …a group of Ottawa’s best business and community leaders, who would work together and develop a strategy for success.

     

    I want to recognize the Task Force members – most of whom are with us today… for their dedication and commitment to our country.

     

    • Councillor Rainer Bloess, Co-Chair
    • Councillor Katherine Hobbs, Co-Chair
    • Noel Buckley, Ottawa Tourism
    • John Brooman, Ottawa Festivals
    • Dick Brown, Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association
    • Cyril Leeder, Ottawa Senators
    • Jeff Hunt, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group
    • Joanne Lefebvre, Regroupement des gens d’affaires de la Capitale nationale
    • Pat Kelly, Ottawa Convention Centre
    • Ian Faris, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce
    • Erin Kelly, Bulzi Media Canada
    • Kevin McCrann, EY Centre
    • Dave Donaldson, Algonquin College
    • Mark Laroche, Ottawa International Airport
    • Sean McKenny, Ottawa and District Labour Council
    • Guy Laflamme, Canadian Heritage
    • Delores MacAdam, City of Ottawa special events
    • Isabel Metcalfe, community member

    You likely recognize most or all of the names of the people on our 2017 Task Force.

     

    That’s because this task force is based on a best practice we’ve seen in other cities: appoint high-ranking officials… with deep roots in the community… to work together on a common goal.

     

    It shows that we’re very serious about this.

     

    Through our discussions, I have been very impressed with how quickly we have found natural synergies between industries and projects.

     

    Today, I want to share what we’ve been working on.

     

    And tell you how the City of Ottawa is positioning its people, its businesses and its communities… for success in 2017.

     

    But let’s start with an important question first.

     

    What does it mean to celebrate an anniversary such as this?

     

    Sure, we celebrate Canada Day every year.

     

    And Ottawa does it better than anywhere else in Canada.

     

    But 150 is the kind of milestone that we haven’t really celebrated since Canada turned 100.

     

    Back in 1967.

     

    Canada’s Centennial year.

     

    I want to take you back to 1967 for a moment.

     

    I was six years old, growing up in Lachute, Quebec…

     

    …and I watched on my parents’ television as the world gathered in Montreal as our country hosted Expo ’67.

     

    The “Man and His World” exhibit showed that we were a country – and a planet – of big dreams for the future.

     

    It celebrated our nature, our spirit, our environment, our accomplishments and our aspirations.

     

    Of course, Ottawa had its share of excitement as the nation’s capital.

     

    Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall opened that year, and the National Arts Centre began to take shape, perched on the side of the Rideau Canal.

     

    The Centennial Flame became a fixture on Parliament Hill and Dominion Day was informally called “Canada Day” for the first time.

     

    The first members of the Order of Canada were inducted that year, celebrating outstanding Canadians who exemplified the motto “they desire a better country.”

     

    Canada’s Centennial was an opportunity to celebrate who we were and how far we’d come.

     

    To paraphrase what journalist and historian Bruce Hutchison wrote in the Ottawa Journal in June 1967:

     

    “No Nation Has Better Reason to Celebrate…

     

    If Canada is to endure… it must recapture the unwritten spirit of 1867 as well as the written contract.

     

    If the Centennial of 1967 fails to carry this simple message… it fails in everything.

     

    It must remind us how much labour, risk, and intelligence have gone into the making of our nation, and prepare us for an equal or harder task ahead.”

     

    Simply put, these milestones should pay tribute to the foundation set by the Fathers of Confederation, shaped by our grandparents and parents, and continued by our work today.

     

    Because the country we share today has been strengthened by the bold decisions and hard work of Canadians who have come before us.

     

    And that is absolutely worth celebrating.

     

    One of my predecessors, Ottawa Mayor Don Reid, stated in his inaugural address in January 1967:

     

    “We must do our part in encouraging every man, woman and child to participate in what is their birthday party in our proud nation.

     

    I am sure the proudest place will be our own City of Ottawa”

     

    THE proudest place.

     

    It is my hope that we can step up and reignite that passion.

     

    Together, we can make Ottawa the proudest place once again in 2017.

     

    We have so much to celebrate as a country… in just 1,000 days time, from today.

     

    This will be our moment to recognize all that Canada has accomplished.

     

    This is all while other countries are struggling with decades-old debates that we have long since left behind.

     

    The freedom to speak…

     

    The freedom to vote…

     

    The freedom to love.

     

    Canada stands as an example to the world of what humanity is capable of when we think the best of one another.

     

    When a country doesn’t talk about “us and them” – but it talks about “we”.

     

    Whether you’re born here, or you move here…

     

    You will have more than just a faint hope to succeed.

     

    You will have a seat at the table…

     

    And you will have a community around you…

     

    To cheer you on and lift you up…

     

    To give you the best possible shot at reaching your full potential.

     

    That’s Canada.

     

    THAT is what we’re celebrating in 2017.

     

    But let me be clear… celebrations like our Sesquicentennial bring more benefits than just parades, fireworks and goosebumps.

     

    It is a once-in-a-generation economic opportunity for businesses and communities.

     

    Simply put, these celebrations can bring in tens of thousands of new visitors and hundreds of millions of dollars.

     

    A most recent example, Quebec City’s 400th anniversary in 2008, generated over $400 million in local economic spin-offs.

     

    That would be the equivalent of having not one, but two, NHL hockey teams for a year.

     

    It’s important to recognize that milestones such as these can be leveraged to generate significant local economic benefits.

     

    But which city and its economy will benefit the most from 2017?

     

    Well… that’s up for us to decide.

     

    I argue that Ottawa is ideally positioned to host these celebrations.

     

    Even if we weren’t the capital city, Ottawa would still have a lot going for it.

     

    We host about 100 festivals annually, attracting more and more spectators every year.

     

    Whether it’s music, culture, or food…. there’s something to do every weekend in Ottawa.

     

    Ottawa City Council is trying to do what we can to build on this, by opening up City Hall as a people place.

     

    Last year, we doubled the number of events at our City Hall.

     

    Across the city, we have existing and new hotels… meeting facilities… the Canadian Tire Centre, the EY Centre, the Ottawa Convention Centre… and this summer, a revitalized Lansdowne Park.

     

    We’ve received international recognition as a world-class host.

     

    That’s because we’re a dynamic G8 capital city… and we’re on the rise.

     

    Ottawa consistently ranks among the top in the world for sustainability, tolerance and quality of life.

     

    Last month, the annual Mercer Institute survey ranked Ottawa 14th globally, and 2nd in North America, for quality of life.

     

    2nd in North America… because of our outstanding economic and social record.

     

    The only reason why we came in 2nd?

     

    Here’s some news for you:

     

    It turns out that… Ottawa is colder than Vancouver.

     

    …You know what? I wouldn’t give up our winters for the top spot… not in a heartbeat.

     

    Okay… well… maybe this past winter… but not a normal Ottawa winter.

     

    Ottawa represents the very best of what Canada has to offer.

     

    And it’s not just geography…

     

    It is our outstanding residents, businesses and quality of life that make the difference.

     

    And that’s what we can showcase in 2017.

     

    We will showcase Jean Pigott’s vision of Ottawa as every Canadian’s second home town.

     

    So… this is the opportunity we have in front of us.

     

    Let’s talk about how we’re going to seize it.

     

    After reviewing best practices, the 2017 Task Force established four pillars to guide our work for the coming three years.

     

    1. Marketing
    2. Events
    3. Engagement
    4. Legacy

     

    I want to speak about each of them.

     

    And while I review them, I hope you will think about where you or your organization might fit in.

     

    Because that’s what I’m hoping you take away from my talk today.

     

    The City of Ottawa, as a municipal government, can’t do this alone.

     

    To be successful, we need to have a broad, community-based effort.

     

    We will require your help… your expertise… and yes, your money… to help put Ottawa on the map.

     

     

    First… marketing.

     

    Our Task Force set out with a very clear goal in mind.

     

    We needed to rally our community around a symbol, a brand, that would identify the national capital as the place to be in 2017.

     

    Beginning about two years ago, we engaged with local groups, federal partners as well as the City of Gatineau, and worked together… quickly and carefully… to come up with a brand.

     

    The final design can be summed up in three words:
    Collaborative.

     

    Iconic.

     

    Canadian.

     

    It’s collaborative… because its colours were taken from the logos of all of our partners.

     

    It’s iconic… because it’s a re-imagining of 1967 centennial logo that many of us remember.

     

    And it’s Canadian… because it has 13 triangles… representing the provinces and territories that make up our great country.

     

    So… where do we start?

     

    Well, we start at home.

     

    And we start with you.

     

    Our brand is already front-and-centre at City Hall, the Ottawa Airport, and hotel and event venues across the city.

     

    But you will begin to see this logo even more in the coming months.

     

    You’ll see it on ice rinks

     

    You’ll see it on city vehicles.

     

    You’ll see it in storefront windows.

     

    It is my hope, in the long-term, you may even see the Ottawa 2017 logo at more events than you see me at!

     

    …just maybe!

     

    We will start by generating awareness at home, and then broaden our reach to Canada and the world.

     

    Ottawa Tourism and the Ottawa Convention Centre are already spreading the word to the international community about this milestone year.

     

    We will continue to work closely with our partners to build awareness of this brand as we make our case that Ottawa is the place to be in 2017.

     

    But this isn’t a quiet, small project of one individual or organization.

     

    It’s a city-wide challenge… that needs a city-wide effort.

     

    I will use the example of Quebec City’s 400th anniversary once again.

     

    Their brand was everywhere – from every dépanneur to every discotheque.

     

    I ask for your help to add the Ottawa 2017 brand to your public face… your storefront or office.

     

    Be an ambassador for our city.

     

    Let’s show that we’re united in this common effort.

     

     

    Second… events.

     

    Events are a big part of our hospitality and tourism industry.

     

    While they’ve always been significant… if you look closely… you’ll notice something new is happening.

     

    Ottawa has recently been promoted to an entirely new league of event hosting.

     

    The events we have hosted and will host soon are much more prestigious… much more important… than anything else in the last 50 years.

     

    Outstanding facilities like the Ottawa Convention Centre and the EY Centre are helping us make that case.

     

    Ottawa is quickly developing a reputation as a world-class event host.

     

    Because, looking ahead to 2017, we know that you can’t build this kind of momentum overnight.

     

    The City of Ottawa has been ready to take on this challenge for quite some time.

     

    In the 2012 Budget, we created a major events office called Events Ottawa, in partnership with Ottawa Tourism.

     

    With this investment, we dedicated a staff person and other City resources to bidding on and attracting events.

     

    In the 2014 Budget, we increased our financial commitment to this bid office to $900,000.

     

    And you’ve likely heard me say it many times.

     

    Our strategy is simple: bid more, win more, host more.

     

    And that strategy is already paying off.

     

    Our success in attracting these major sporting events won a national award last year.

     

    These events do wonders for a City’s reputation.

     

    When the NHL All Star Game came to Ottawa, our city was profiled to millions of viewers around the world.

     

    The same was true for last year’s Women’s World Hockey Championships – which was just named the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance’s International Event of the Year.

     

    When we hosted the Canadian Figure Skating Championships this past January, the entire country watched and cheered as our Olympic athletes were selected right here in Ottawa.

     

    Keep in mind that we’ve also attracted major non-sporting events as well.

     

    Let’s not forget that while a major conference may not attract significant media exposure, it does attract a significant number of participants – often in the thousands.

     

    We know those can be particularly good for our restaurant and hotel industries, as these tourists come with meetings to book and per diems to spend.

     

    I have great confidence… that between today and the end of 2017, our possible and confirmed events have the potential to generate hundreds of millions for our local economy.

     

    But what is even more priceless is what it will do to strengthen our reputation both as an event host and a place to do business.

     

    This includes events like next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup at TD Place next summer, and the federal and provincial gatherings of municipal leaders in 2017.

     

    In total, we project that events like these will attract thousands of tourists in addition to what we typically see in an average year.

     

    Again, these thousands of tourists will mean tens of millions of dollars for our local economy.

     

    And I’m talking right now about just our confirmed events.

     

    We have lots of strong prospects in the pipeline as well.

     

    Allow me for a moment to speak about possible events that we haven’t yet confirmed… but would be possible with a strong, united effort.

     

    Picture a possible event calendar for 2017…

     

    We could start the year with a major New Year’s Eve party downtown on Sparks Street or on the Hill, complete with fireworks and entertainment from Canadian artists.

     

    And we don’t leave this to one group to coordinate all on its own – we work together to throw a huge celebration.

     

    The next month, we have Winterlude on both sides of the river, working with Canadian Heritage to leverage the new Lansdowne Park to make it even bigger than ever before.

     

    In April: we hope that the Juno Awards would come back to the Canadian Tire Centre.

     

    Maybe that week we can have free public concerts throughout the city to celebrate our most treasured Canadian talent.

     

    Hopefully artists like Alanis Morrisette and Bryan Adams – two recipients of Ottawa’s Key to the City – will come back home.

     

    In May – we gather to celebrate Ottawa’s official flower – the tulip – and our country’s special relationship with the Netherlands.

     

    In July, we can turn Canada Day into Canada Week…

     

    Not just one day of celebrations, but an entire week of concerts and performances to celebrate every region and culture that make up our great country.

     

    After that, hopefully we host the Canadian Athletics Championships or another large multi-sport event to welcome Canada’s best summer athletes.

     

    In November: maybe we can host the 105th Grey Cup game.

     

    We can bring in extra seating to Lansdowne Park to expand its capacity to 40,000.

     

    As the Ottawa REDBLACKS will be in their fourth season in the CFL, maybe we might even be able to cheer them on as they win the cup!

     

    And finally, in December:

     

    Maybe the Ottawa Senators could host an NHL Outdoor Classic at Lansdowne Park… taking on the Montreal Canadiens.

     

    It would be a perfect way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first NHL game between those two teams, and to close off Canada’s 150th year.

     

    Now THAT would be a year to remember.

     

    And one of the most profitable ever for our local economy.

     

    But keep in mind that new events are just one piece of the strategy.

     

    Of course, we need not start from scratch for something we already do very, very well.

     

    In 2017, we can also build on our already world-class events and festival industry.

     

    And we really are world-class.

     

    Our festival and annual event industries already generate hundreds of millions for our local economy every year.

     

    We’re blessed with outstanding community organizers and passionate volunteers who consistently organize amazing events on an annual basis.

     

    And in 2017, the already impressive schedule of planned events will continue in the nation’s capital.

     

    But we want to see what we can do to “supersize” and “Canadianize” them to attract more tourists and more dollars.

     

    What if Bluesfest and the Jazz Festival added an extra day each to celebrate our most treasured Canadian artists?

     

    Or Ottawa Race Weekend – already the largest marathon in Canada – develops a route or a theme that commemorates the Canadian identity in a special way.

     

    When you think about it – there are lots of ways to make 2017 very special.

     

    I am very confident that we’re on the right track to realize this vision.

     

    Working with our colleagues at Ottawa Tourism, as well as the great community leaders on our 2017 Task Force, I want to set a common goal for the number of visitors we will attract that year.

     

    A 2017 tourism target.

     

    The average number of visitors over the last three years is about 6.25 million visitors.

     

    But for 2017… we want to reach even higher.

     

    Our 2017 tourism target will be eight million visitors.

     

    This will be about 20% more than what Ottawa’s tourism industry sees in an average year.

     

    We will showcase our beautiful city to even more people that year… while at the same time bolstering our local economy.

     

    But remember, that you can play a key role in this.

     

    You need to play a key role in this.

     

    Maybe you’re a member of a national professional association such as ones for engineers, accountants or lawyers… or you’re the Ottawa office of a larger national or international organization.

     

    Make 2017 the year that you host the big annual conference or gathering.

     

    If you need Ottawa Tourism or any member of our Task Force, me included, to support you in putting a bid together, you can count on us.

     

    My commitment to you…if you have a solid business case… we’ll go to bat for you.

     

    Or maybe… for example… you’re already in the business of supporting large events like the ones I’ve mentioned.

     

    Whether through naming rights, advertising or in-kind donations, maybe 2017 is the year to dig a little deeper.

     

    In a budgeting sense, 2017 won’t be your average year.

     

    It’s my sincere hope that it will be extraordinary.

     

    It will be your chance to reach a larger, more diverse audience and… of course… to be part of an important 2017 legacy.

     

     

    Third… engagement.

     

    I often say that the best ideas aren’t always found at City Hall.

     

    The 2017 Task Force is in line with this thinking.

     

    But so has been reaching out to the broader community.

     

    Through launching our website Ottawa2017.ca last year, we’ve received lots of suggestions and ideas of how we can make the most of 2017.

     

    We’re going to continue our efforts this year by hosting a 2017 Ideas Town Hall at City Hall in June.

     

    We want to engage with festival organizers, community groups and residents about what their ideas are for Canada’s big year.

     

    We will also launch an online component called “150 Reasons to Visit Ottawa”.

     

    No one knows Ottawa better than our residents.

     

    We want to generate 150 reasons why a tourist would want to visit Ottawa in 2017.

     

    Maybe it’s to skate on the Canal or a visit to the Diefenbunker.

     

    Or visiting Watson’s Mill or the sugar shack in Vanier.

     

    Or taking in special performances at the National Arts Centre or the Great Canadian Theatre Company, with a new Canadian work commissioned.

     

    Or discover Ottawa’s thriving culinary scene, with restaurants offering special pan-Canadian, locally grown and raised menus.

     

    We want to start to generate ideas and pride leading up to 2017, and this will be a way to do that.

     

     

    Fourth… legacy projects.

     

    As I mentioned earlier, Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967 was also marked by many Centennial infrastructure projects such as new recreation centres, arenas and other community facilities.

     

    This time will be a bit different.

     

    Fifty years later, now that our cities are much more established, there’s simply too much already built that we need to take care of.

     

    Many of those, almost ironically, are Centennial projects that 50 years later are starting to show their age.

     

    From a municipal perspective, we will of course look at what we can do to make modest investments in projects to mark 2017.

     

    But even if a project did not begin as a Sesquicentennial legacy project, it doesn’t mean it cannot be leveraged to make a statement.

     

    After all, there are several local projects that are already on the books that would fit in well with the spirit of Canada’s 150th.

     

    These projects are already planned or underway to be ready around 2017.

     

    On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I believe four projects in particular will clearly demonstrate the kind of country we want to be in the next 150 years.

     

    The first project is the Confederation Line LRT.

     

    With the support of our federal and provincial partners, this city-transforming project is now under construction.

     

    It’s very exciting… a 13 kilometre line, from Tunney’s Pasture in the west to Blair Road in the east.

     

    You know, light rail transit in the nation’s capital is something that many people thought would never happen.

     

    But today, the downtown tunnel is approaching the 20% completion mark.

     

    And the project remains on time and on budget

     

    We have special agreements with the private-sector consortium building the system, relating to Canada’s 150th birthday.

     

    On July 1, 2017, residents and tourists will be able to tour the downtown stations.

     

    There will also be short test runs of the line between some stations so you can get a feel for the system.

     

    It will be a great way to showcase this investment ahead of full service in 2018.

     

    The second project is the Ottawa River Action Plan.

     

    This year, the City of Ottawa will continue to make its case to the provincial and federal governments to fund the final phase of the Ottawa River Action Plan.

     

    This project would finally stop raw sewage from flowing into the Ottawa River.

     

    It is troubling, in the 21st century, that we still have overflows going into a treasured waterway… flowing right behind the House of Commons nonetheless.

     

    So far, we’ve reduced pollution by 80%.

     

    But we need federal and provincial funds to finish the job.

     

    If we can secure these funds swiftly, we can get the majority of the downtown work done by 2017.

     

    A clean Ottawa River would be a major Sesquicentennial achievement, and a priceless gift for future generations.

     

    The third project is the revitalized Arts Court on Daly Avenue.

     

    This past November, City Council unanimously approved a plan for a revitalized Arts Court and expanded Ottawa Art Gallery on Nicholas Street.

     

    It will be a world-class facility that nurtures artistic talent, tells our stories, and inspires the world.

     

    It will be a way for our artists to show just what that they’re capable of.

     

    How fitting… that with the new Arts Court, we will be able to showcase much more of our Group of Seven collection to Ottawa, the country and the world.

     

    For this beautiful new building, we will break ground within the next eight months and have it open in time for the 2017 celebrations.

     

    The fourth project, of particular interest to the business community, is our future Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

     

    Think of it as Ottawa’s version of Kitchener’s Communitech or Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District.

     

    It will be a place for entrepreneurs to come together, build, innovate and succeed.

     

    I could not think of a more perfect location for this new facility – where the Confederation Line and O-Train intersect.

     

    Eventually, almost all of our major post-secondary institutions would be connected to this facility by our rail system.

     

    The Confederation Line, the Ottawa River Action Plan, Arts Court and the Innovation Centre.

     

    These four legacy projects represent the Canada we dream of in the next 150 years.

     

    Canada will be connected… symbolized by the Confederation Line.

     

    Canada will be sustainable… symbolized by the Ottawa River Action Plan.

     

    Canada will be creative… symbolized by Arts Court.

     

    And Canada will be innovative… symbolized by the Bayview Innovation Centre.

     

    These will be part of Ottawa’s 2017 legacy.

     

    Because a milestone such as this really is about leaving a legacy for the next generation.

     

    And at the same time, positioning our city so it makes the most of Canada’s big moment.

     

    If you take anything from my speech today, it’s this.

     

    Don’t let the next 1,000 days go by without doing something to take part.

     

    Get engaged…

     

    Be proud of our community…

     

    And remember that we are every Canadian’s second home town…

     

    Let’s not miss our moment.

     

     

     

  • Speech: 2014 State of the City

     

    [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY]

     

    Good morning and Happy New Year.

    This morning, I want to speak about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going as a city.

    Because what takes place at City Hall this year will be a direct result of the actions we’ve taken around this table over the last three years.

    And when you look back, those actions have been substantial.

    Each and every day, this Council is showing that we’re focused on more than just talk.

    We’re focused on action.

    And in Ottawa, we have acted decisively.

    Four years ago, our residents didn’t see themselves in City Hall.

    When they looked at City Hall, it was a building that you only visited when you had to pay a parking ticket.

    So, we changed that.

    We added the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery and the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.

    We have the Rink of Dreams, which was a great community gift from the Ottawa Senators Foundation.

    Last month, we opened the beautiful new Karsh Masson Gallery and worked even harder to make City Hall more of a people place.

    I’m pleased to report that in 2013, compared to 2012, the number of festivals and activities at City Hall more than doubled – from 77 to 179.

    We’ve also opened up City Hall to the public eye as well.

    We didn’t wait for a scandal to put in place the most comprehensive integrity package in all of Ontario.

    We were proactive and put our expenses online, launched a lobbyist registry and a gift registry, and hired an Integrity Commissioner.

    We opened up citizen representation on the public health board, the Transit Commission, and the Built Heritage Sub-Committee.

    We also took action where there has been inaction in the past.

    Three years ago, when residents looked at major city-building projects like LRT and Lansdowne, they didn’t have the confidence that they’d ever see them built in their lifetime.

    We changed that too.

    We made progress on these fronts, and so many others, because residents expected more from their City Council.

    They expected us to put together a clear agenda…

    And to work together in finding common ground.

    So we did.

    And we delivered.

    2013 was a year of action.

    And 2014 will be a year of progress.

    Our city is in a period of unprecedented change.

    This year, it will take focus, steady hands, and hard work to ensure we continue making progress.

    There will be much debate and discussion outside the walls of this place, as there should be.

    Our city and our democracy are made stronger by healthy conversations over the direction we should take together.

    But inside these walls, it is now more important than ever that we continue with the same stability and certainty that residents have come to expect from us.

    And that means delivering on our commitments for the 312 days remaining in our mandate.

    One of those commitments comes from the very successful Planning Summit we hosted less than two years ago.

    At that event, I committed to putting before City Council an official plan that promoted certainty and predictability for both communities and the development industry.

    The Planning Committee, under the leadership of Councillor Peter Hume, did just that.

    Our newly minted Official Plan – all of its words, schedules and appendices – embody certainty and predictability.

    These central themes were unanimously approved by City Council.

    This year, we will now move forward to implement it with a zoning bylaw that puts the words of the Official Plan into action.

    It is what the community has asked us to do and we will deliver.

    Certainty has by no means been accepted by all.

    There will always be those developers who seek to push the envelope.

    They will ask for more.

    They will always have reasons, such as a bad location or poor soil.

    If we open that door and let just one of those go…

    If we give a little more because it is easier than saying no…

    Then we will just hear more requests.

    We have an Official Plan – it is a good plan – a plan to make Ottawa better, more liveable and sustainable – we need to stick to it.

    And we need to look to the future of planning in this city.

    We are clearly in a new era of city building in Ottawa, with taller buildings both inside and outside the Greenbelt, intensifying main streets, and more cohesive suburban development.

    The scale and complexity of the current planning environment requires well-considered choices, but it provides for great potential in design.

    One just has to look at some of the blank walls – some 27 stories high – that dot our skyline to see the potential for doing better.

    For 2014, we will continue to provide leadership and seek excellence in architecture and built form.

    Stable neighbourhoods are paramount.

    But where new development and change will occur, a consistent priority for us should be attractive buildings, and high quality places and spaces.

    And we will lead by example in this regard…

    Later this year, we will award the contracts for two major developments that we approved unanimously last year.

    The first is a revitalized Arts Court and expanded Ottawa Art Gallery.

    This world-class facility will be a place where our city’s talents are celebrated… and new ones are discovered.

    It will be a true gem in the downtown, bolstered by a revitalized Rideau Street, an expanded Rideau Centre and connected to the rest of the city by the new Rideau LRT station just a few steps away.

    We will also move forward with the first phase of a new innovation complex at Bayview Yards.

    It will be a place where our small and medium sized businesses – the lifeblood of Ottawa’s new economy – get the tools and resources they need to grow, compete and succeed.

    And it’s where Invest Ottawa – which turns 2 next month – will continue its already impressive work in supporting private sector job growth.

    These two projects show the principles of balance and fairness that have characterized our Council.

    That’s because we understand that investing in business and investing in the arts should never be mutually exclusive.

    Culture and economic development are part of the same dynamic that brings high quality of life to residents.

    We will also see a number of important recreation projects completed this year.

    Richcraft Sensplex East is on track to open later this fall in Councillor Tierney’s ward.

    This will bring much-needed ice time to residents of all ages.

    This project was approved and will be completed within a span of less than two years – even more evidence of how quickly and decisively we’ve worked together.

    Last month, we opened the Richcraft Recreation Centre in Kanata in Councillor Wilkinson’s ward.

    It’s a beautiful facility that is being enjoyed by residents from the wards of Councillor Hubley, El-Chantiry and Qadri as well.

    We will continue this momentum in 2014 by opening the Minto Recreation Complex in Councillor Harder’s ward in Barrhaven.

    Residents in one of our fastest growing areas – including residents from the wards of Councillors Desroches and Moffatt – will enjoy two NHL-sized ice rinks and a six-lane pool in this beautiful new facility.

    We also opened our first new indoor pool since amalgamation at the Francois Dupuis Recreation Center in Councillor Blais’ ward.

    In total, in this term of Council, we will have expanded or built about half a million square feet of new recreational and community space.

    That’s enough room to fit every single child in our city – plus one parent each!

    And we’ve made accessibility improvements to many others facilities through stimulus partnerships with other levels of government and our own Older Adult Action Plan, under the guidance of Councillor Taylor.

    We’ve managed this, while freezing recreation fees for four years.

    And that’s just talking about our indoor facilities.

    On the weekend I was at Jules Morin Park and saw a beautiful new field house that’s almost ready to use.

    It’s next to the magnificent new Sens community rink, which is yet another great community partnership with the Ottawa Senators.

    In this term of Council, we will complete a total of 230 park upgrade projects.

    In 2014, that will bring the total investment to $22.7 million.

    These are key investments in quality of life.

    And these are key investments in families.

    We’re providing outstanding facilities and services at prices that are fair for participants and taxpayers alike.

    That’s because we are a healthy and compassionate city.

    Supported by our Board of Health, under the leadership of Councillor Holmes… health perspectives have been built into all of our blueprints…. including the Official Plan, the Transportation Master Plan and the pedestrian and cycling plans.

    The task of bringing these plans together is key to building a more sustainable, dynamic city.

    This is smart planning.

    At the same time, we’re being smarter with our customers.

    We’re putting more services online to serve them even better.

    We’re recognizing high-potential job-creators through our Capital Investment Track initiative – a concierge service for projects that will bring new employment opportunities to our city.

    Our new Business Ambassador Service for restaurants assisted over 80 new entrepreneurs over six months last year and was just last week nominated for a “Cutting Red Tape” award from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

    Our Guaranteed Application Timeline Initiative is also changing the way we do business.

    Since its initiation, we have a tremendous success rate, and… still… only three applications have missed their deadlines.

    In fact, in the last quarter, we didn’t miss any deadlines.

    And the list goes on.

    As you’ve heard me say countless times – we’re making progress.

    One of the most stunning examples is the new Lansdowne Park.

    The massive project continues to be on track, thanks to the tremendous efforts of about 900 workers every day on the site.

    Our thanks again to Councillor Chernushenko for his constructive input on the project, and to residents in his ward for their patience during this time of change.

    The new urban park will continue to take shape in the first quarter of this year with the skating rink and children’s play area beginning construction.

    Once the site is completed, there will be 20 different event spaces where people can come together and celebrate.

    And, of course, TD Place will open this summer.

    You can’t help but smile when you think about the fact that our Ottawa REDBLACKS and Ottawa Fury FC will take the field in just six short months.

    It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happening.

    I also approach 2014 with much optimism on another file…

    It will be an important year for the Ottawa River Action Plan.

    As you know, we’ve already reduced the amounts of sewage going into the Ottawa River by an impressive 70%.

    In the summer, our beaches are closed far less often.

    In fact, in 2013, Ottawa beaches raised green flags 90 per cent of the days, which is up from 60 per cent just two years earlier.

    But there is more work to do.

    It is my hope that our federal and provincial partners will agree to continue our partnership and commit to funding the final portion of the plan.

    I will also discuss this with the new Mayor of Gatineau at our first formal meeting next Wednesday.

    I’ve briefed elected officials from both levels of government on the details.

    It’s now up to them.

    This will be the year that they will decide whether or not to fund the final phase of the plan.

    If they do… and I hope they do… we can be on track to have the project started and complete by 2017.

    We’re ambitious, certainly.

    But it would be an outstanding gift to our residents.

    It would be a gift for our entire country and the next generation…

    One that could be ready in time for Canada’s 150th in 2017.

    We will also continue the steady march of progress on the Confederation Line this year – a contract we signed less than a year ago.

    Two of our tunnel excavation machines – Jawbreaker and Crocodile Rouge – have together completed 190 metres of the tunnel.

    Very soon, our third machine – Chewrocka – will join them in carving out our city’s transportation future.

    Within just a few weeks, we will reach the 10% completion mark for the tunnel.

    It’s amazing to think…

    Just three years ago, the future and the budget of the project was uncertain… now, the tunnel is almost 10% complete.

    But we’re not stopping there.

    We’ll continue to move forward with our Stage 2 LRT plan this year as well – with the environmental assessment process.

    This system would spread the benefits of rail to the east, west and south with 19 new stations and 35 kilometres of new rail.

    Following the hard work of Councillors Egli and Deans… our balanced, affordable plan was approved unanimously by our Council last year.

    And our plan is a clear signal to other levels of government that we have our act together.

    Because we’re no longer talking about the merits of light rail.

    We’re building it.

    And we’re expanding it.

    Together.

    A key part of this strategy will be the $59-million O-Train expansion project that will open later this year.

    Riders will benefit from more frequent service, in more comfortable trains.

    We’ll also begin studying the feasibility of a downtown truck tunnel this year.

    This will be welcome news to residents in the neighbourhoods of Sandy Hill and Lowertown in Councillor Fleury’s ward.

    Much like our improvements to the original LRT proposal, we’re taking a fresh set of eyes to this challenge.

    We’ve partnered with the Province of Ontario for the study and I look forward to finding a solution.

    Speaking of transportation, 2014 will see the third year of Ottawa on the Move, our made-in-Ottawa infrastructure renewal program.

    This year will feature 150 projects in all areas of the city, including roadwork on Rideau Street, First Avenue, the Prince of Wales Overpass, Princeton Avenue, Sussex Drive, Gladstone Avenue, Baseline Road and many rural roads throughout Ottawa.

    We’ll also improve pedestrian facilities on Meadowlands Drive, Bronson Avenue, Jeanne D’Arc Boulevard and Katimavik Road.

    Over the course of the program, we have leveraged $340 million into half a billion dollars worth of projects.

    This is money well spent to ensure our people, goods and economy keep moving in the decades ahead.

    And it will go a long way to help us avoid the kind of gridlock that is strangling productivity in cities like Toronto.

    Of course, these road, path, sewer and sidewalk improvements are in addition to an already impressive record on cycling.

    We have invested more in cycling than any other Council in the history of this city.

    Ottawa on the Move has contributed to 156 km of paved shoulders for cycling, roughly the distance between North Gower and Kingston.

    Last year, we made the Laurier Segregated Bike Lanes permanent – the first of their kind in our province.

    This year, we will strengthen that commitment even further as we break ground on the Donald-Somerset Bridge, linking Councillor Clark’s ward with Councillor Fleury’s.

    We will also make further improvements to the East-West bikeway from Vanier to Westboro.

    That’s because we know that investing in safer options for cyclists makes good economic sense.

    So does getting more people on transit.

    We’ll also break ground on the west Transitway extension from Bayshore to Moodie Drive.

    You’ll recall that we made the bold decision to press on with this $76-million project without federal or provincial dollars.

    This is another example of taking action.

    Because we want to move forward with with better transit now, not later.

    In 2014, work will continue on the 417 expansion, improving circulation to and from Orleans, and all points east.

    This is great news for residents in Councillors Blais, Monette and Bloess’ wards, who have been waiting years for these improvements.

    As always, in all areas of the city, we thank residents for their patience when it comes to construction.

    I’m sure everyone can understand and appreciate that this is short-term pain, for long-term gain.

    We’re growing…

    And changing…

    For the better.

    And while major city-building projects like these are important and historic, sometimes it is the smaller victories that are noticed more quickly at the neighbourhood level.

    And it is often because they are projects that had not seen progress for years.

    Maybe it was finally getting a traffic light on Baseline Road at Villa Marconi, thanks to the leadership of Councillors Egli, McRae, and Chiarelli.

    Maybe it was finally getting the parking lot paved at the Hornets’ Nest, in Councillor Bloess’ ward.

    Maybe it was one of the many parks that finally have been upgraded, like Fisher Park in Councillor Hobbs’ ward.

    Or maybe it was an old run-down building that for years was rotting away, which finally has gotten cleaned up, thanks to Councillors Taylor, Hume and Fleury who joined me in taking action on derelict buildings.

    Little by little, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, we are changing the face of our city.

    I’m also pleased to announce this morning that we’ve signed a lease agreement with the CanAm League that will see baseball return to Ottawa next year.

    We look forward to helping raise awareness and excitement in the months ahead, to ensure the team’s long-term success in our city.

    As I said from the outset, this will be a very busy year.

    We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still so much more to do.

    There are a few new initiatives that I think fit in well with what we’re already doing.

    They are small in cost, but demonstrate the kind of city I think we all want to live in.

    They all have to do with civic pride.

    In last year’s State of the City, I announced that we would introduce a pilot project on Elgin Street to improve recycling options and reduce the amount of garbage on the street.

    This was to replace the mish-mash of different containers that were not being used.

    Councillor McRae and I launched that program a few months later.

    And since then, we have seen much higher recycling capture rates.

    For glass, metal and plastic, we’ve gone from 62% to 92%.

    This has been a successful effort.

    In 2014, we will expand this pilot to include Laurier Street East, between Nicholas and Charlotte.

    Because we are constantly looking for ways to spruce up the appearance of our community.

    And of course, we also want to put our best foot forward for people when arriving in the city.

    For this reason, I think it is time to build on a great example that we have over in Little Italy.

    The 417 overpass that crosses Preston Street is the location for some great street art, as we have all surely seen.

    It presents a wonderful “streetscape” image that really brightens the usually dark and dingy overpass.

    A little paint and a lot of creativity can go a long way.

    There are a number of overpasses and exits from the 417 that could benefit from the same “streetscaping” – more beautiful murals that brighten up our streets.

    I’m thinking of Parkdale, Metcalfe, Bank and Kent Streets… to name a few.

    So I asked the Province for permission to do this with their property and just a few days ago I heard back from the Minister of Transportation, Glen Murray.

    He agrees that the success on Preston Street should be repeated wherever possible.

    This year, we will work with MTO staff, the BIAs, Ward Councillors, youth groups and our arts community to develop a program that will be ready to begin implementing this coming summer.

    And, I want to challenge our corporate community to step right up and help us with this beautification project – help us buy the paint and supplies needed to make Ottawa even more vibrant.

    I want to thank MPP Yasir Naqvi for his active support to get swift approval for this mural program.

    Next month, the City will expand its very successful Snow Go program.

    The new component will be called “Snow Angels”.

    This will be a new recognition component that will celebrate residents who assist older adults and neighbours with disabilities with snow removal at their residence.

    This new initiative has been developed through input received from our Older Adult Plan.

    When someone takes time to care for another person, it’s something certainly worth recognizing.

    In 2014, we’ll continue to make City Hall even more of a people place.

    And by people place, I mean that City Hall should reflect the spirit and character of the kind of Ottawa we want to build.

    The kind of world we want to build.

    Open…

    Compassionate…

    Inclusive.

    Last year, the world lost one of its greatest lights.

    An icon for justice, perseverance and human dignity.

    Nelson Mandela.

    I will be bringing forward a proposal to name the recently reconstructed walkway and lawn space that surrounds the Heritage Building at Elgin and Lisgar Streets:

    Nelson Mandela Square

    In 1998, Nelson Mandela visited the Human Rights Monument located on that very corner.

    Located along one of Ottawa’s most historic avenues, the naming of Nelson Mandela Square would be a small – but meaningful – way to commemorate the man that inspired people the world-over.

    This will be yet another reason to visit City Hall in 2014.

    This is in addition to the dozens of community events hosted here that are certain to fill the calendar in the months ahead.

    I want to talk about three in particular that we will host ourselves.

    You’ll recall that last year we held a very successful Mayor’s Rural Expo at City Hall.

    Building on the always-successful Food Aid Day, we promoted rural fairs, farms and products to Ottawa’s downtown population.

    And we did so while the community raised $160,000 for the Ottawa Food Bank.

    I’m pleased to announce today that we will hold the Rural Expo again this year, making it an annual event.

    Raising awareness of our amazing rural villages is something we need to continue to do each and every year.

    I want to thank our rural Councillors – Thompson, El-Chantiry, Moffatt and Blais – for helping make this event such a success.

    As for our second event, it will have a focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

    Last year, I attended the annual YMCA Biz Expo and was very impressed by the skill, talent and passion of dozens of budding entrepreneurs.

    I want to help make this event bigger and better – while allowing past graduates at the program to come back to share their stories.

    So, in June, we will host the annual Y Biz Expo in Jean Pigott Place at City Hall.

    This event was previously held at the Argyle St. YMCA-YWCA but this year we will make it a bigger event with a larger profile right here at City Hall to champion Ottawa’s incredible entrepreneurs.

    It is a true celebration of innovation, ambition and entrepreneurship – the very values we are knitting into the fabric of our community.

    Our third event will be a chance to promote City of Ottawa services during Doors Open Ottawa.

    Residents feed their curiosity during Doors Open Ottawa, as City facilities join the dozens of embassies, offices and heritage properties across the city in participating in this exciting weekend.

    It’s an incredible opportunity to learn about our city’s past and present.

    In 2014, let’s show them even more.

    I’m pleased to announce that we will host a City of Ottawa Services Exhibition, indoors and outdoors, at City Hall.

    As residents are passing through downtown during Doors Open Ottawa, they will be able to learn about all of the great work our staff do on a day-to-day basis.

    Whether it’s police, fire, paramedics, OC Transpo, Public Health, Public Works… we have so many stories to tell.

    Because the stories we tell as a municipal government complement all of the unique things Ottawa’s communities have to offer.

    Let me give you a few examples.

    We have the largest dragon boat festival in Canada, something Councillor Hubley knows all about.

    We host the largest minor hockey tournament in North America, with the Bell Capital Cup.

    We have a massive sand dune in Nepean and a working cranberry farm in Osgoode.

    We have one of the only urban sugar shacks in North America, located in Vanier.

    We have a karst – an amazing ecological feature – in Cardinal Creek.

    And we have a working flour mill in Manotick.

    Sometimes we need to remind ourselves, and the rest of the world, that we’re more than a government town.

    Every corner of our community has something special to offer.

    We should be fiercely proud of everything we have going for us.

    A healthy amount of pride will go a long way in showing the country and the world that we have the spirit and the energy to be outstanding hosts in 2017.

    We’re less than three years away from Canada’s 150th year.

    Our 2017 Taskforce, chaired by Councillors Bloess and Hobbs, is meeting regularly, and we’re ahead of the curve.

    We’ve already secured the 2017 national and provincial conferences of municipal leaders.

    There is much public interest in a Grey Cup and a Winter Classic NHL game at Lansdowne that same year.

    But a success like this one cannot happen overnight… you need to build momentum.

    In 2014, we will ramp up our efforts and engage our citizens in the process.

    I will host a “2017 Ideas Town Hall” this year, in order to brainstorm with community leaders, festival organizers, artists, entrepreneurs, volunteers… anyone and everyone… to find out how we can make the most of this opportunity.

    We will also reach out to young people to get them excited about the big year.

    It is my hope that our residents will rise to the challenge of making our mark on this important year in our history.

    We are a dynamic, creative, vibrant city – and we are starting to get noticed.

    In the last year alone…

    Corporate Knights Magazine called Ottawa the most sustainable city in Canada…

    The Martin Prosperity Institute placed us first in the world on its economic development scorecard because of our outstanding technology, talent and tolerance.

    We received the highest designation awarded so far by Walk Friendly Ontario, as a walk-friendly city…

    ….Ontario’s first ever gold Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition…

    And the International Festival and Events Association recognized us as a world-class destination, our second such award from the organization, due to the tremendous work of our Events Central office.

    In 2013, we saw even more votes of confidence in our economic potential and in our people.

    Let’s talk about retail developments.

    The Rideau Centre expansion… $360 million.

    The Bayshore Shopping expansion… $200 million

    The new Tanger Outlet Mall in Kanata with a Bass Pro Shop… $120 million.

    This is in addition to the $450-million Lansdowne Park redevelopment that has a significant private-sector component.

    We are experiencing an economic development boom that Ottawa hasn’t seen for decades.

    These are clear signs that the private sector has confidence in our economic future.

    The private sector is showing that Ottawa, with its excellent quality of life, is well worth the investment.

    Let me give you another example.

    Last fall, Cisco announced that it will add 1,700 high tech jobs in Ontario over the next few years, the bulk of those being in Ottawa.

    With success, the Kanata job numbers could grow even larger in the years ahead.

    And let’s not forget that local success story Shopify raised an impressive $100 million in venture capital funding just last year.

    As Tobi, Harley and their team move across the street to Shopify’s new headquarters later this year, we will be reminded of Ottawa’s limitless potential.

    Potential that grows even stronger with every new entrepreneur who decides to go out on their own.

    Every new inventor who turns their idea into a prototype.

    And every new investor who shows that Ottawa is on the upswing.

    I want to tell you about one of my favourite recent examples.

    A few years back, Kanata resident and ex-Nortel employee Jeri Rodrigs had an idea.

    He wanted to create Canada’s first green room humidifier – Rumidifer  – which works without any electricity.

    He walked into Invest Ottawa to get the support and resources he needed to get from the drawing board to the marketplace.

    And in doing so, he tapped into our city’s outstanding ecosystem of talent.

    He found his product designer in Westboro…

    He found his manufacturer in Stittsville…

    And earned his first of many sales of the product at Terra20 in Nepean.

    Today, you can now buy the product at home and hardware stores across the country.

    And with Jeri coming to Canada only 12 years ago…

    I’d say that he’s off to a pretty great start.

    Big and small, I know we will hear more stories like Jeri’s in the years to come.

    As more talent is attracted to and nurtured in our city…

    And as the best and the brightest choose to start and grow their businesses in this dynamic G8 capital city.

    Before I finish, I want to share two anecdotes with you.

    They’re both related to the $14-million housing and homelessness plan we put in place just three years ago.

    Last month, while serving Christmas dinner at the Union Mission, I was stopped by an older gentleman.

    He said he knew about our plan to increase housing opportunities.

    And he thanked me.

    He told me that after years of struggling, he now has a nice apartment where he can get his life in order and try to find work.

    He has a home.

    And I got that feeling.

    It was the same feeling I had when I visited the new Ottawa Community Housing development on Carson’s Road in Councillor Clark’s ward.

    We met a young mother, with her one year old son, who proudly showed off her new home.

    She told me how proud she was to finally have a “safe and beautiful home with great neighbours”.

    You know, it’s really these stories, these individuals who are directly affected… that tells me we’re moving in the right direction.

    It’s that feeling.

    That feeling that reminds me that we are a caring, compassionate community where we look out for one another.

    As I said last year, it’s the little things that make a difference.

    It’s skating on the Rink of Dreams or biking along the Ottawa River.

    It’s attending a major cultural celebration downtown, then checking out a rural farmers market in the same afternoon.

    It’s the thousands of volunteers who roll up their sleeves and make their corner of the community just a little bit brighter.

    Ottawa should continue to represent the very best our country has to offer.

    We have that special obligation as our country’s capital..

    It is that special honour of knowing that only one city is referenced in our Constitution – the British North America Act.

    And that city is Ottawa.

    I’m proud of the progress we’ve made together.

    And I look forward to another productive year.

    I want to wish you, your families, and all residents a safe and happy 2014.

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