• Ecology Ottawa Annual Dinner: Address by Mayor Jim Watson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    We fight that by saying no to uncontrolled urban sprawl.

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

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

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

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

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

    Our public transit dollars have to go far.

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

    Good public transit is structured to strive for more and more efficiency.

    It must, because we need our ridership on public transit to grow.

    And it is growing.

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

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

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

    Budget 2012 boosts funding for OC Transpo by $5.5 million.

    There is a $3.2 million increase in service to deal with growth in ridership and a targeted $2.3 million to expand capacity on routes like the 87, 94, 95 and 96.

    More trips and more high-capacity buses will be added to these busy routes.

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

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

    And, our new double-decker bus fleet will begin to arrive later in 2012, adding further high-capacity service.

    Work will also begin so that frequency and capacity of the O-Train can double almost 10 years ahead of schedule in 2014 as the new trains we purchased to serve the north-south route take their place on the line.

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

    This project is vital to our plans to step up public transit in Ottawa.

    It will eliminate the bottleneck in transit we now face in the downtown core.

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

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

    So we’re investing some $2.1 billion in fixing that with a new modern, high capacity rail system that will be completely separated from traffic tie ups.

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

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

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

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

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

    We’re repairing and improving.

    And as we fix up roads it gives us a big opportunity to improve cycling and walking in our city.

    Building on last year’s budget’s push in this direction, through its resurfacing program, Ottawa on the Move will see the construction of more than 70 km of new bike lanes and paved shoulders. It will also fund 20 km in existing sidewalk improvements and repairs.

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

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

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

    We will be working hard to fill the gaps in our cycling network to improve interconnections and safety so you can get where you are going by bike.

    Off-road pathways near the Aviation Museum, through Hampton Park, along the O-Train corridor from Carling to the Ottawa River, and extending the Sawmill Creek path from Walkley to Brookfield, will all be completed this term of Council.

    We will put in place a 12 kilometre East-West Bikeway over the next three years to provide safer and more comfortable commutes.

    Work on the design to implement a pedestrian bridge over the Rideau from Donald to Somerset will also get underway this year.

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

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

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

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

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

    Sustainable Ottawa

    A green community isn’t just about transportation infrastructure.

    That is why, again this year, the City is doing its part by moving ahead with green technology in both our buildings and our fleet of vehicles.

    For example we are investing in our ice rinks to replace aging cooling systems with more energy-efficient refrigeration technology.

    Through our green fleet program we’re buying electric ice-resurfacing machines to get rid of the engine exhaust and improve the air quality for the parents and children who play in our rinks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    – Piloting water efficiency measures at the Britannia wading pool;

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

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

    The winning developer would then construct the project.

    Budget 2012 put down some important markers on greener buildings.

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

    Those who strive for more…

    – Who maximize energy efficiency;

    – Set the bar higher on water conservation;

    – Incorporate reused materials;

    – Minimize waste from construction and demolition; and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Any landfill creates methane, a powerful global warming gas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That work will be done in conjunction with Ottawa on the Move.

    We are now seeking funding from our federal and provincial partners so we can complete work the work of fixing the problem of combined sewer overflows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Some smaller generation has been able to move ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Working together for a better Ottawa

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

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

    I am proud of our track record on green issues:

    – Record money for cycling

    – 1st downtown segregated bike lane

    – Creation of an environmentally sensitive land reserve fund

    – Solar panels on city buildings, including city hall

    – Expansion of recycling opportunities

    – Stand alone Environment Committee

    And all this in just 10 months in office.

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

  • 2012 Budget Address by Mayor Jim Watson

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    Today we begin Budget 2012

    I want to thank Council, once again, for allowing me the privilege of working with our City Manager to build this budget and to provide this introduction to our work.

    The tabling of the Budget is the single most important step forward we take together each year.

    It is the annual opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made.

    It is our chance to set our sights even higher for the year to come.

    As it happens, this Budget tabling falls on the day after the first anniversary of our election.

    One year ago, the voters of Ottawa made a choice for change.

    One year ago, you woke entrusted as the elected representative of your ward.

    The people of Ottawa voted for a new City Council, committed to progress for the long term.

    They sent a clear message that they wanted a different style of leadership dedicated to living within our means, facing up to the big choices and getting the basics right.

    Building on Success

    Last year we set in place a solid fiscal framework both for today and for the future.

    We set in place the architecture that would deliver on our commitment to keeping annual tax increases below 2.5%

    Tax fatigue had set in during the previous term. Increases raced ahead without the resolve to face the pressures down.

    Management and Council lead by example last year, cutting office budgets, freezing compensation for elected officials and reducing discretionary spending across the board.

    I am proposing that these measures stay in place again this year.

    Also, the Audit Sub-Committee, under the direction of Chair Chiarelli and Vice Chair Hubley, and working hand-in-hand with the Auditor General, Alain Lalonde, will continue to keep a close eye on the spending of tax dollars in the coming year.

    But even with determination, holding to our tax target is not an easy task.

    And budget success is not measured by a single year.

    The true challenge is to set an enduring fiscal framework that keeps taxes low and predictable.

    Not just last year, and this year, but for years to come.

    This is the test of effective Budget leadership.

    This is the test that clearly exposes the long-term costs of short-term thinking.

    This Council is determined to show that its leadership will meet this test.

    This year I am pleased to announce that Budget 2012 once again delivers.

    In fact, Budget 2012 restricts the annual increase to 2.39% for the coming year – the lowest rate in 5 years.

    We deliver this modest tax plan while continuing to make the ambitious changes we need to strengthen our finances, assets and services.

    As part of preparing our Budget last year, I made clear to our management team that the staff compliment could not continue to grow.

    Forty-seven full time equivalent positions have been eliminated in Budget 2012 contributing to savings of more than $3.4 million each and every year.

    This is the first time since 2004 that the number of City employees is not growing but will instead be reduced.

    Budget 2012 continues to hold transit fares in check.

    Gone are the days of year-after-year fare increases of 7.5%.

    Last year we cut that annual increase in transit fares by two-thirds holding to 2.5%.

    This year even with fuel prices up by more than 12% and ridership up by 6%, we have once again kept fare increases to 2.5%.

    I want to be clear about this, while we managed it this year again, if we continue to see fuel and ridership increases at this pace we will need our fares to increase to reflect our costs and keep pace with inflation.

    We took action to remove the inefficiency of the old route plan and curtail the spiraling demands of transit for more and more tax dollars.

    I am also pleased to say that once again this year, our Library Board and Police Services Board and Board of Health have all stepped up.

    Thank you to Jan Harder, Eli El-Chantiry and Diane Holmes for your work chairing these independent boards.

    The Library, Health and Police Boards have put forward budgets that do their part to meet the challenge.

    I want to thank Barbara Clubb for her hard work on this Budget and also for her exemplary service to the people of this City over 16 years.

    Barbara you are literally irreplaceable.

    I recently read on an Ottawa Citizen blog that you are planning on learning to drive a motorcycle, resuming your weekly Zumba class and taking up tap-dancing.

    You have the City’s respect and gratitude for all you have done for this community.

    You will be missed.

    And to Chief Vern White, I again thank you for your work this year.

    There are always tremendous pressures to manage in the police department and you have done your part, putting in place a sustainable framework to deliver on our communities’ policing needs while restraining the force’s call on precious City tax dollars.

    Last year we stepped up to strengthen our emergency response capacity by adding 24 new paramedics with two new ambulances as well as 25 new fire fighters with full equipment, new fire engines and ladder trucks.

    These resources are now in place and contributing to our community’s safety.

    To the head of our Paramedic Service Tony DiMonte and to our Fire Chief John deHooge, thanks to you, and to the men and women you lead, for your work this year.

    Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Levy, has also coordinated the transformation as we have moved to our new Board of Health and he and his staff merit our thanks.

    Once again I am proposing we freeze fees for city recreation programs that, in the past, have increased significantly.

    Thank you Councillor Taylor for your work with the Community and Protective Services Committee this year and to the dedicated staff in the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department.

    By working together you have found efficiencies while advancing the planning and construction of important new recreation facilities and parks.

    This year we will open 17 new parks across the City.

    Construction will begin next year on the recreation centre in Barrhaven and thanks to the leadership of Councillor Harder it will be a very impressive facility.

    Construction will also begin next month on the Kanata North Recreation Centre, which is scheduled for opening in 2013 and will serve the residents of Councillors Wilkinson, Hubley, El-Chantiry and Qadri.

    The Potvin Arena is also the subject of very exciting plans.

    Councillor Tierney is bringing real energy and creativity to this project – he is recommending that we involve the private sector in the proposed expansion of the Potvin arena.

    By doing so, we would achieve much more than a basic and badly needed renewal but instead achieve Councillor Tierney’s vision for an East-end sportsplex.

    We will be tabling this exciting proposal for Council’s consideration in the coming months.

    Again this year, we are moving ahead with green technology in both our buildings and our fleet of vehicles.

    For example we are investing in our ice rinks to replace aging cooling systems with more energy efficient refrigeration technology.

    Through our green fleet program we’re buying electric ice resurfacing machines to get rid of the engine exhaust and improve the air quality for the parents and children who play in our rinks.

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

    So far our Smart Energy initiatives have achieved annual savings of $800,000 each year.

    We saved this by retrofitting City facilities with lighting upgrades, controls for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, reducing our water consumption, and converting from electric, oil and propane to natural gas.

    The major push funded in Budget 2011 through Service Ottawa to improve service and save money is starting to pay off.

    This year the online rental and payment for all facilities from rinks to community centres will become available, lowering costs while increasing convenience and use.

    My thanks go to the members of the I.T. Sub Committee for all their work.

    In 2011 the Community and Social Services Department put in place a single point of access to services like Employment and Financial Assistance, Child Care, Long Term Care and Housing resulting in a reduction of $900,000 in staffing costs over two years.

    Some changes are already making us more efficient in a number of small ways that the public won’t directly notice but that save money just the same.

    We transformed our fleet management last year with a new parts management system, a new standardized light fleet tender process and a new wireless garage network.

    Together these and other new processes have reduced costs by over $800,000 annually and have lead to fewer vehicles experiencing down time.

    The various Mobile Workforce initiatives have resulted in another $690,000 in savings so far.

    We are saving money in parking reimbursement, overtime and on-call costs because staff have the troubleshooting tools available in the field to respond to calls.

    We are also taking action to reinforce our social fabric in Ottawa at the same time.

    We took action on housing.

    Not having a home to call your own, especially for families with children, is a terrible thing.

    Imagine going to sleep as an eight-year-old child not knowing where you will be sleeping the next night.

    Imagine the anguish of a parent struggling to provide that certainty.

    That is what drives me to take the lead on building the bridge of affordable housing.

    I call it a bridge because it is just that, a route back from a terrible reality faced by too many who work hard to make ends meet and don’t have a safe and affordable home to call their own.

    Last year, despite the financial challenges left to us, this Council chose to make an unprecedented commitment to affordable housing in our community.

    In 2011, we made $14 million in new annual funding available which is producing results.

    Budget 2012 continues this vital funding.

    Long-needed renovation to existing social housing is under way.

    New affordable housing for large families, including units which are fully accessible, is being built.

    Ninety-six additional families have been moved off of waiting lists and into homes in the five months since our new housing strategy was put in place.

    Thirty-nine families have been moved out of motels and shelters and into proper homes.

    The new Cornerstone Facility is open on Booth Street and forty-two long-term homeless women have moved in.

    There is more to do, but with the leadership of our Housing Board Chair Steve Desroches and Jo-Anne Poirier at Ottawa Community Housing working with the major boost in base funding provided last year we have what it takes to ensure continued progress in the years to come.

    Last year we launched an $8 million campaign over four years to improve the accessibility of city buildings, the largest investment in accessibility in the City of Ottawa’s history.

    The importance of these improvements as our population ages really became clear at our Seniors Summit this year.

    This effort is now in full swing, opening doors and new possibilities for seniors and disabled members of our community.

    We will also continue to move forward supporting our arts and culture communities through the exciting redevelopment of Arts Court.

    We’re also addressing long-term community needs and facing up to long-ignored realities.

    Last year, Council stepped up to fix the fundamentally unsustainable public transit system that we inherited.

    The financial demands of the transit system were far outpacing the available funding.

    The growing cost of providing public transit threatened our ability to fund other vital services that we must provide.

    Action was needed to set public transit on a sustainable financial footing.

    This Council met the challenge.

    The network optimization has not been without its challenges for some transit users.

    For most, the bus routes are now more straightforward and direct.

    The winding milk runs through back streets are gone.

    But for some there is farther to walk to get the bus.

    We still have one of the shortest standards for acceptable walking distance as shown during the independent peer review release last year.

    We are working to fix routes where we are seeing capacity issues, but it is important to remember that capacity standard on our buses is almost 20% lower than Toronto’s standard.

    Change is always difficult and I want to thank transit riders for working with us to build a truly sustainable transit system, and for letting us know what is and is not working for you.

    Now that we have a new and more efficient route structure, Budget 2012 devotes an additional $3.2 million to boost service to deal with growth in ridership.

    So throughout the coming year we will be adding some 66,000 service hours in a targeted way to address these growing demands on our system.

    This increased service will begin as soon as it can be scheduled, by January 1st of 2012.

    In addition to growth, Budget 2012 provides a targeted $2.3 million in funds to boost capacity on routes like the 87, 94, 95 and 96.

    More trips and more high-capacity buses will be added to these busy routes.

    Measures will also be taken to improve the reliability of service and to reduce capacity issues when buses run late.

    The details of how to deploy these additional resources will be the purview of the Transit Commission.

    I want to thank Chair Deans, Vice Chair Egli and the members of the Commission for their steady and sensitive leadership.

    The toughest part is over.

    Now we can reap the rewards of the optimization through a renewed ability to expand and improve service.

    We have a collective agreement for this year with the Amalgamated Transit Union 279, at a reasonable cost, backed by a strong 83% ratification.

    This was important to safeguard our riders from the pain of another winter strike.

    Now we will move forward to negotiate a longer-term agreement.

    Our new double-decker bus fleet will begin to arrive later in 2012, adding further high-capacity service.

    Work will begin so that frequency and capacity of the O-Train can double in 2014 as the new trains we purchased to serve the north-south route take their place on the line.

    We are expanding our park and ride network.

    Last year the Riverview Park and Ride was expanded by 210 parking spaces to a total of 365.

    We expanded the Fallowfield Park and Ride by 579 spots to a total of 1,665.

    Thanks to some entrepreneurial thinking by Councillor Qadri we have an agreement to add 100 Park and Ride spaces at Scotia Bank Place.

    In the coming year the Trim Road Park and Ride will expand by an additional 380 parking spots.

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

    We pushed for, and got a faster delivery schedule.

    We pushed for, and got a more feasible and affordable alignment, abandoning the 12 story deep-dive of the cross-country alignment.

    Last Friday, we announced the short-list of three very impressive teams that will vie for the right to construct the biggest and most transformative project this city has undertaken since Colonel John By set out to build our historic canal

    I think you will all agree with me that each of the teams that we have attracted to this competition is truly impressive in scope, capability and track record.

    There is going to be a stiff competition among these teams and we have made the private sector entirely accountable for building this system on time and on budget – something we need to do more of in the future.

    The successful team will put their money on the line to finance part of the cost.

    It is that skin in the game that will make all the difference in ensuring quality and performance.

    When in place, the backbone of our City’s light rail system will provide high-capacity links through the core, carrying more passengers, more quickly, in more comfort, and for less.

    Ottawa on the Move 

    As we prepare for the construction of light rail, it is more important than ever to have a transportation network that works well.

    The capital review we undertook this year is now complete and Budget 2012 will begin to make the changes that we need.

    In meeting with each of the members of Council in preparation for Budget 2012 and in joining you at community events, I heard a clear, consistent theme.

    What I heard as your chief concern was certainly underscored by the public comments that came in through my Budget 2012 email address and it is this:

    We need to take care of the roads we have before we expand further and the amount of money available to address safety and road quality is not sufficient to meet this Council’s expectations.

    Budget 2012 takes action through a comprehensive initiative called Ottawa on the Move.

    Through Ottawa on the Move we will triple our road investment over the next two years.

    In total we will now devote $340 million over three years in resurfacing, road reconstruction, sidewalk improvements, cycling infrastructure and rehabilitation of aging structures.

    This program will be enabled by $125 million in new tax-supported debt.

    Because of the boost provided by Budget 2012, in the coming year alone we will complete all of the work that would have taken until 2015 and beyond.

    Then we will go on at the same pace in 2013 and 2014, advancing nearly half a decade of projects and completing them before the end of this term of Council.

    Over 2012-2014 we will resurface more than 200 km of paved roads.

    Of that 200 km, more than 70 km will see added bike lanes and paved shoulders to improve active transportation.

    We will also address 20 km in sidewalk needs.

    As Canada’s Capital, we will suffer more from potential federal downsizing.

    It makes sense to support our economy through the challenges we see coming.

    It also makes sense to look ahead and work now to ensure that our streets are in good shape for the 150th anniversary of the founding of Canada in 2017.

    We’ll be hosting the nation and we want that to be an event to remember.

    Roadwork tenders are coming in at competitive rates.

    We need to take advantage of the fact that it has never been less expensive to borrow funds to make infrastructure improvements.

    The City’s top credit rating allows us to access the lowest interest rates in 40 years and lock these low costs in for the long-term.

    Earlier this month, for example, we went to market with a $75 million bond offering at a rate of 2.87% that is locked in for a decade.

    It sold out in the blink of an eye.

    Compared to the expected inflation rate for planned construction projects that is running at 3.25% in our region, it is clear that it makes sense to invest now.

    Sometimes inaction costs more than action.

    In this case, inaction would cost a lot more than moving forward with prudent investment.

    Over the course of Ottawa on the Move we will save at least $12.9 million by accelerating more than 150 needed infrastructure and rehabilitation projects, including the rehabilitation of nearly 30 bridges and culverts.

    In the east we will be resurfacing Ogilvy road.

    We will realign Trim road, repair Princess Louise Drive, sections of Jeanne D’Arc and deal with over a dozen other roads requiring attention.

    We will renew parts of highway 174 to alleviate growing safety concerns.

    This project would have been too large to take on for many years without our investments through Ottawa on the Move.

    And our four east-end Councillors – Councillors Bloess, Monette, Tierney and Blais – made  clear that waiting for years to address the 174 was not an option.

    In the west we will do the Stonehaven and Eagleson widening, the Eagleson turn lanes at Fernbank, intersections at Bridlewood and Steeplechase, improvements to Baseline, Huntmar, Carp Road and more than a dozen other resurfacing projects.

    In the south and Nepean we will move forward on Admiral Avenue, Crerar, Cambrian, Davidson, River, Baseline, Woodroffe, Albion and other main arteries and transit routes.

    In the downtown we will reconstruct or resurface Main, Bronson from the canal to the downtown, Albert, Rideau, Churchill, Gladstone, Scott, and complete works along Carling and Heron Bridge, undertaking over two dozen capital projects that would not have otherwise been possible for years.

    Through Ottawa on the Move, rural roads in need will get specific attention that would not otherwise have been possible.

    In fact, more than a third of the road resurfacing and upgrade projects will be undertaken in rural wards where distances are greater.

    Work needed on Parkway, Old Prescott Road, Kinsella, Donnely Drive, McCordick, Ottawa Street, Colonial, and more than 60 other rural roads will be dealt with through this expanded program.

    Councillors Thompson, Moffatt, Blais and El-Chantiry have been relentless about our rural roads and I am glad to say that Ottawa on the Move will meet these rural needs.

    To give you a sense of the scale of this effort – where we would once have been able to address fewer than 40 roads in the rest of the term of Council, Ottawa on the Move will enable us to tackle over 150 bridge and resurfacing projects alone.

    Ottawa on the Move is about more than investing in roads and structures.

    Across the city our sidewalks will get a lot of attention they would not otherwise get.

    Where last year there was little funding designated for sidewalk renewal, Budget 2012 provides $4 million for improvements.

    Councillors Holmes, Chernushenko and Hobbs have been championing this need, and Ottawa on the Move will make a big difference when it comes to our sidewalks.

    Ottawa on the Move also advances our cycling network – building on last year’s acceleration of the program.

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

    They need to be part of a network.

    We will be working hard to fill the gaps in our cycling network to improve interconnections and safety so you can get where you are going by bike.

    Off road pathways near the Aviation Museum, through Hampton Park, along the O-Train corridor from Carling to the Ottawa River, and extending the Sawmill Creek path from Walkley to Brookfield will be completed.

    Over the next three years, we will also put an East West Bikeway in place to provide safer and more comfortable commutes for those looking for alternatives to traveling by car or transit.

    Work on the design to implement a pedestrian bridge over the Rideau from Donald to Somerset will also get underway.

    This is a project that I know has the support of Councillors Clark and Fleury and many of their residents.

    In total, Budget 2012 provides an additional $10 million over three years for cycling infrastructure.

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

    In total, this term of Council will provide the largest financial commitment ever put towards building our cycling city, some $24 million in new money devoted over this term.

    Finally, Ottawa on the Move provides the funds to undertake the most needed safety and traffic management projects that have remained unfunded on the books over fifteen years.

    This is a term of Council priority and while I support the goal, Budget 2012 does not provide for the $690,000 to fund $30,000 in each ward.

    I do not support that approach.

    A penny in everyone’s cup leaves us all paupers.

    Instead, we have provided $2.5 million in immediate capital authority as part of Ottawa on the Move to make the most needed traffic fixes happen as quickly as possible.

    Council will be asked to select a strong package of sensible measures that will happen this year and next.

    You, as Council, will set priorities.

    The public wants to see action on this, not more studies.

    Ottawa on the Move provides you the resources to create that action.

    Sustainable Ottawa

    Building municipal infrastructure isn’t enough.

    Stimulus is important when it is needed, but it is not sufficient to ensure a sustainable future.

    It is a vibrant private sector that really drives our economy.

    That is why in this past year we have brought increased focus to economic development and more coherence to our collective efforts to boost Ottawa’s prospects.

    Our business leaders rallied around the creation of Invest Ottawa and put in place a new road map for prosperity.

    We made the decision together to fund this important work as part of our term of Council priority setting.

    The strong economic development plan we now have boasts the support of partners across the City.

    We are finally rowing together again in the same direction – like the powerful economic development team Ottawa deserves.

    A sustainable future means enabling smart growth.

    It means removing unintended barriers to investment and unleashing those who want to build our city in a sustainable way.

    Which brings me to the second major priority I heard from you during my discussions with Council this year.

    Our planning process is not working the way we need it to work.

    Nobody is happy with the situation.

    Communities are frustrated.

    Industry is frustrated.

    Staff are frustrated.

    We need change—a renewed energy and focus to create a service culture in planning again.

    We need to provide the support to our planning group to be the principled, accountable and effective force we all want.

    Nobody has been more aggressive with me about the need for change than our highly effective Chair of the Planning Committee, Peter Hume.

    I am not happy with this situation and neither Council, are you.

    But this is not new.

    It has been going on for some time.

    This is the year it ends.

    With the leadership of the City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick, Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers and our General Manager of Planning and Growth Services John Moser, Budget 2012 devotes the resources to step up our game.

    Where we need to add resources to fix this, we will.

    Equally, there is a need for a cultural shift in the development industry in Ottawa.

    Understand me clearly – these next sentences are for the developers and builders listening.

    Some are treating zoning and community design plans as mere suggestions and that will end.

    Our Urban Design Panel is here to stay.

    We are going to make infill work.

    This Council will be asking more of builders.

    Developers will be expected to pay for the full cost of the growth in infrastructure they cause.

    We will be starting this winter with a Planning Summit hosted by myself and Councillor Hume.

    We will kick off the review of our 2014 Official Plan, and the refresh of our Infrastructure Master Plan and Transportation Master Plan.

    As a Council we share an aspiration and ambition for a greener city with a greener development industry.

    When Council met to decide on its priorities, it focused on the concept of financial and environmental sustainability.

    In truth, finances and the environment are intertwined.

    We can’t build without the certainty that we can afford to maintain what we have built.

    We can’t continue to build without proper regard for the strain on our City’s roads, water, electricity and natural environment.

    In the last election, I proposed the formation of a Green Team to improve the City’s green coordination across the board.

    Councillor McRae is driving this on solid waste, water, sewers and a host of other environmental services that the City offers.

    Councillor Hume is driving this initiative in planning, approvals and building permits.

    With Budget 2012, we provide the resources to take the next giant step forward.

    Starting next year we will provide a Green Express Lane for developments that strive for more.

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

    For those who strive for more in energy efficiency, set the bar higher on water conservation, incorporate reused materials, minimize waste from construction and demolition and work to reduce strain on our roadways by being close to transit – you will notice the difference.

    We will examine and pre-approve the new Better Build techniques we want to give priority to and we will support them.

    Builders and homeowners who include these Better Build techniques such as solar hot water heaters, photovoltaic systems, storm and gray water re-use systems will not face barriers, they will instead get express lane service.

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

    Already there is $4.4 million in the fund now and will be adding approximately $1.4 million in an additional contribution this year.

    And, we will continue to seek funding from our federal and provincial partners so we can complete work on the Ottawa River Action Plan.

    I am very proud of this Council and the year of accomplishments we have had together.

    We are moving in the right direction with respect and teamwork.

    I want to thank you again for entrusting me with the responsibility to table Budget 2012 with our City Manager and to work to ensure we have a package that delivers on your priorities.

    I believe that, together with staff, the financial blueprint before you does just that.

    I also want to thank our city officials and especially our outstanding City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick and City Treasurer Marian Simulik for your work in putting together Budget 2012.

    It is a budget I am proud to table.

    My thanks as well to our two highly competent and dedicated deputy city managers – Nancy Schepers and Steve Kanellakos, for their tremendous contributions.

    Once again this year we will have consultations in every part of the city.

    Once again I will ask you to make adjustments – in committee – where you think it right to do so, while respecting the budget envelope provided in the Budget 2012 framework.

    I look forward to completing this budget and getting on with an exciting year ahead.

    My Council colleagues – we’re only getting started!

    We have three more years to move this City forward together and I, for one, look forward to hearing from you and your constituents as we help shape our city’s financial future.

    Thank you.

    Merci Beaucoup.

     

  • Mayor’s Address on Transit

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    Today, I am very pleased to talk about the results of some dedicated work done over the last few months to deliver light rail transit in Ottawa.Putting Ottawa on a financially stable footing has been a key priority for me and our new Council since we were first elected 8 months ago. This meant ending the excessive property tax and transit fare increases that taxpayers have faced in recent years.

    We set a new course during Budget 2011 that holds tax increases to 2.5% or less. This also ensured our ability to invest in the infrastructure this city needs where it makes the most sense. We have a good plan and, if we stick to it through the budgets this term, we’ll have delivered on the predictable, prudent and responsible city government people voted for last October. An important part of that plan is the ongoing review of affordability of capital spending plans our city has built up over time.

    I came to office with a commitment to finally make light rail happen after too many delays and false starts. I am determined, with my Council colleagues, to deliver Light Rail in a financially sustainable way. To ensure this project would be affordable and managed tightly, I asked for two reviews.

    First, during Budget 2011, we initiated a detailed review of the capital and operating budgets for providing public transit in Ottawa. Were our plans affordable into the future? Would we have the money to operate the expanded system we planned to build? Would this new infrastructure continue to serve our residents for the rest of the first half of this new century?

    I wanted to be satisfied that our plans were realistic. I wanted assurances that we could build everything we planned, and operate everything we planned, without exorbitant fare increases and within the capital budget for public transit in Ottawa.

    I set a fiscally prudent challenge:

    – Live within the transit levy and adhere to our tax target of 2.5%

    – Keep fare increases at no more than a 2.5% annual increase

    – Assume no growth in provincial or federal gas tax revenues

    This challenge was also informed by my commitment that the development community be expected to pay its share. The City Treasurer, assisted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, OC Transpo, Infrastructure Services, as well as Planning and Growth Management have mapped all transit spending over the next 38 years and put forward this information in a report to be released this afternoon.

    This is the most comprehensive look at the financial sustainability of Ottawa’s public transit in our city’s history.

    These projections cover:

    – New investment;

    – Expected bus lifecycle;

    – Renewal of assets; and

    – Projected operating hours for bus and trains along with the impact of increasing population and ridership

    This study and our treasurer are crystal clear – we have the ability to fund our plans for this phase of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit project and through the other phases of bus and rail improvements in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP). We are planning ahead responsibly now and the operating model we have established not only makes sense, but is financially sustainable into the foreseeable future. We will also be positioned so that when the provincial or federal governments are able to provide additional infrastructure funds, we are ready to secure our share.

    This study shows that our plans for public transit are affordable and prudent. In fact the move to light rail is a key part of establishing a financially sustainable and efficient transit system. At the moment, we have a downtown transit bottleneck that is slowing trips, and will strangle the bus system over time if it is not fixed. Moving ahead with light rail saves money when measured against the alternative of attempting to push more buses through the downtown, while also greatly increasing capacity to accommodate projected ridership increases.

    For the second review, I asked for a reassessment from the ground up of the plans approved by the previous Council on light rail with an eye to reducing risk and ensuring we meet the budget. These large projects are prone to growing price tags. I gave clear direction that every light rail assumption should be examined again for budget implications.The project needs to work within the original budget set.I specifically asked that we revisit the so-called “cross country” route. This deep dive tunnel below the foundations of very large buildings like the Sun Life building and World Exchange Plaza is an expensive proposition with all of the risks inherent in gauging the conditions at that depth.

    As design review progressed, it became clear that the costs of this deep dive approach would have exceeded the proposed budget. Some members of Council, including Councillor Peter Clark, expressed serious concerns with the deep tunnel proposal. Councillor Clark specifically suggested that Council consider a shallower route under a city street, for several reasons including depth. It also became apparent that private bidders would not deliver a truly fixed price contract to construct this light rail project when it included a deep dive tunnel plan.

    We had to find a better way.

    The engineering teams have worked very hard over the last few months rethinking assumptions and defining a better light rail system that can be built within the initial budget. And I am very proud to tell you today that there is a better, more affordable and more reliable way to build light rail. The key improvement of all this hard work is a new and improved alignment of the downtown tunnel. This new alignment for the most part will follow the Queen and Rideau Street right-of-way through the downtown, avoiding the need for deep tunneling under buildings and limiting the amount of dollars required to acquire subterranean rights. And, there will be much more information available to bidders than geotechnical drilling that the deep routing could ever provide.

    When you are between the foundations of deeper buildings along an alignment that has already been extensively excavated, the information available is significantly increased and risk is dramatically reduced. This is how Vancouver’s Canada Line was able to achieve a fixed price in the end. A more practical tunnel route, closer to the surface, with reduced risk, will improve cost certainty significantly.

    The stations and tunnel downtown will now be more customer friendly and less expensive to build. Instead of waiting for a tunnel-boring machine that can take a year to order and assemble, construction firms can now choose from a much wider range of mining and excavation techniques. Estimators can pin down prices with more precision. Each station will be less costly to excavate. Each will also be less expensive to operate with fewer concourses, elevators and escalators.

    The plan released today has a new alignment and approach to the tunnel in the downtown core that makes a lot more sense. The resulting product is a significant improvement compared to the previous plan. Overall, the tunnel will be les than half the depth of the previous alignment. Instead of having to go 12 stories down to access the platform, riders will only have to descend 4 stories.

    Just as importantly each station will take half as long to descend into from the surface to the platform. The feeling will be far less subterranean with more potential access to natural light and a better rider experience. Dissatisfaction with the depth of the stations was the number one complaint we got back from public consultations and discussions with public advisory groups. The system will be better linked into the existing network of underground building concourses throughout the downtown. With the previous approach we would have been far below existing basements and unable to tie into as many buildings without prohibitive costs.

    This change and some exciting designs for this new solution are all outlined in the OLRT Project Cost and Design Update and I would encourage everyone who has an interest in this project to please visit our project website at www.ottawalightrail.ca and take a firsthand look at the report for themselves. As you know we have already accelerated the project by one full year – for completion in 2018. This is great news for two reasons: our residents will be riding this new system sooner than expected and we will save the City one year’s worth of inflation costs.

    So today, let me share some very good news with you and all the residents of Ottawa – I am pleased to report that with all these improvements, the Light Rail project budget remains at $2.1 billion dollars. Ottawa needs LRT and we now have plans that match our means The report released today shows that high quality light rail transit service can be delivered within the budget envelope that was set out.

    This price-tag includes inflation from 2009 through the anticipated construction and full completion in 2018. When it is complete this investment will pay dividends for years to come: It will help to keep transit affordable – by converting the most heavily used part of our bus system to LRT, OC Transpo will be more productive. Instead of busses clogging up on Albert and Slater, light rail trains will be speeding by just underneath the surface of Queen St.

    This project will generate over 20,000 person hours of employment and over $3 Billion in related economic activity during the construction period alone at a time when the Federal Government is downsizing and this city needs a boost.

    This first phase of light rail will:

    – Reduce green house gases in our city by at least 38,000 tonnes a year;

    – Reduce fuel consumption by 10 million litres a year; and

    – Eliminate 5,600 tonnes of salt per year from our winter maintenance program

    The new system with its 3 minute 15 second service, interlinked with our expansion of O-Train service to 8 minute frequency, will make a huge difference to connect our universities providing 18 minute connection from campus to campus. Students will easily be able to take courses at our two excellent universities, or use the libraries at either, without concern for parking or needing a car. This will help our city gain an advantage as we strive to reinforce the appeal of the nation’s capital as an international education destination. And thanks to LRT, people with wheel chairs or mobility problems will gain a new level of freedom.

    Instead of having to make scheduled appointments to move around between shopping centres, people can move freely between the World Exchange Plaza, the Rideau Centre, St. Laurent Shopping Centre, Gloucester Centre, and with the O-Train, South Keys Shopping Centre. Business people will be able to walk into a climate controlled light rail system connected to buildings throughout the downtown and go from the west-end of downtown to the market for a lunch appointment.

    We will finally solve the significant bottleneck of our transitway that currently has a negative impact on our entire system on Albert and Slater. Consistent with Council direction, we have also been negotiating with Infrastructure Ontario to lead the procurement process for this project. Infrastructure Ontario is a Provincial Crown Corporation with extensive experience in ensuring strong competitions that produce best value for the taxpayer.

    The City, and Council, will be in charge. But the clout and experience of Infrastructure Ontario in dealing with public-private partnerships will be a tremendous asset. Infrastructure Ontario has an exceptional record of ensuring major infrastructure projects stay on time and on budget – experience that will provide tremendous value to our project team. As you may recall, including Infrastructure Ontario in the procurement process was a key campaign commitment I made in last year’s election. And just last week, we released the request for qualifications documents and to date 71 companies have accessed the information – a good sign of how competitive this tender will be.

    In fact, we will ask bidders for proposals starting at the end of this year. With all of this in mind, I want to remind you that Council will be considering this report and its recommendations next week and, if approved, we will be moving full steam ahead to start the Request-for-Proposals this fall. Like everyone else, I am eager to see what type of ideas will come forward from the private sector competing to build this project.

    As they are preparing their bids, we will challenge the private sector to think about how this system can be built as quickly as possible while maintaining the strict and frugal cost controls that Council and I will expect. We will be inviting fixed price bids that harness private sector management and finance to deliver LRT on time and on budget. And ultimately the final price tag will be known to Council and the people of Ottawa when the bids are unsealed in late 2012.

    The City of Ottawa has come a long way on Light Rail and we are one very big step closer to seeing all of our efforts finally come to fruition. This plan makes sense, and carries with it a lot of benefits. This first light rail project will be the heart of a system that delivers financial stability. Transit Systems are not built in a day – nor in a single increment. This project is a tremendous step forward in building a transit system for Ottawa, but it is only the first step. It sets the stage for our planned future of Light Rail and rapid transit extensions to the East, West and with the O-Train to the South of our city.

    By moving forward now we enable all of the extensions and improvements to come over the next two decades as we build a modern public transit system for the next century. As stewards of this city over the next four years, we have before us a great opportunity today to get behind a project that will have benefits for our residents today and long into the future.

    The public sent a very clear signal to me and Council last October. Cancelling the last light rail project was a costly error. Get your act together and move forward with a realistic and affordable plan. Get a shovel in the ground – sooner rather than later. This Plan achieves this goal and I look forward to the public’s input and the Council debate. Together, we will help reshape our city for generations for come.

    There will always be naysayers when it comes to city building.

    We saw it in 1916 when fire destroyed the Parliament buildings and there were those who said, we can’t rebuild the same – let’s just make the building functional and less expensive – a series of bland towers. We saw it in the 80s and 90s when others said why invest in a new convention centre – let’s do with what we have. Thank goodness the naysayers and doubters were ignored and we moved forward, not backward.

    So my message today is – let’s move forward with a Transit plan we can be proud of and that we can afford. This plan puts Ottawa on the right track, now let’s get moving.

    Thank you.

     

     

  • Speech to the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association

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    Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen.I would like to thank you for the kind invitation to speak with you today. As the voice of the hotel industry in our region, you represent a critical driver of our economic success and prosperity. With your 57 members, you are a respected voice at Ottawa’s economic development table. I am dedicated to joining with you to raise the tourism profile of Ottawa around the world.

    Tourism is the third largest industry in Ottawa after the public and high tech sectors. In 2007 alone, 7.8 million tourists visited the Ottawa area and spent more than $2.2 billion. And hotels are the bedrock of tourism. When people visit our city the smile they leave with is due in no small part to your efforts as welcoming hosts.

    As the nation’s capital, we start from a position of strength when it comes to tourism. Ottawa is home to a number of national and international cultural and heritage attractions. As the historic seat of our national government we have so many gifts here left to us by previous generations of Canadians.

    This includes:

    – The Rideau Canal

    – Parliament

    – The ByWard Market

    – National Museums such as the Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum, and the Museum of Nature

    We also host more than 35 major festivals each year including:

    – Canadian Tulip Festival,

    – Winterlude,

    – Canada Day,

    – Bluesfest,

    – The Jazz Festival; and

    -The Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.

    At the same time, the coming reductions already signalled by the federal government represent the other side of the government coin. There is no question that Ottawa will feel the impact of cuts in a very direct way.It is more important than ever to recognize that a diverse local economy is a healthy local economy. But even if our local tourism industry is doing well, standing still isn’t an option. Standing still means falling behind…

    So we must always be creating new opportunities and exploring new endeavours. And that means creating events that draw tourists to our region at low times of the year; initiatives like the Bell Capital Cup that attracts young hockey players and their families from around the world is one example. Just yesterday I was pleased to join the announcement that Ottawa will host the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship of Hockey. The tournament will attract more than 200,000 fans to 21 games and inject up to $20 million into our local economy. And the provincial championships held at the same time will add an additional $15 million in economic activity to our City. This is great news for our merchants, our hotels and our restaurants.

    Next year Ottawa will host the 2012 NHL All-Star Game and we are currently bidding to host the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2014 and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. We will continue our strategy of aggressively bidding on such events because they pay dividends for our local economy.They also strengthen the Ottawa brand across our country and the world. Events like the 150th birthday of our country need to be the subject of a focused team effort to make sure Ottawa is the national and international destination of choice for a celebration to remember for the next 150 years.

    The people in this room should expect to hear a lot more from me over the coming months on this team effort. If we are to take full advantage of the sesquicentennial, I will need your active commitment to put together a serious and sustained effort to make that happen. We have a lot of new tools available to us to help grow our tourism sector. The momentum is building and there is a lot to look forward to in the next few years. We have a brand new cutting edge convention centre that will draw business visitors from across the country and around the world.

    We are finally renewing Lansdowne Park and creating a truly world class park that will make a spectacular addition to events like Winterlude but also spark a whole new set of possibilities for community – a vibrant every day people place. We are renewing public transit with a major upgrade to a modern rapid light rail service that will reduce bus traffic on downtown streets and deal with the bottleneck in the core. Each of these projects is a powerful economic driver both in the short term as they are constructed and in the long term as they secure tremendous benefits for the community for many decades to come.

    Today, I want to make an important announcement and talk for the last few minutes about our special relationship with Beijing One of the priorities that I announced when I was running for mayor was the need to open up business links and draw new visitors to our region from around the world. Ottawa tourism has been working over the past decade to market Ottawa as a preferred Canadian destination for Chinese tourists. These efforts have been redoubled in the past year after Canada received the coveted Approved Destination Status in June 2010. This is a tremendous opportunity for Ottawa and I want to talk to you today about our efforts to make the most of this hard won accomplishment.

    Today I am announcing that I have accepted the invitation of Mr. Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing, to visit his city with an Ottawa Tourism delegation in June of this year as part of the Beijing International Tourism Expo 2011. Along with a strong delegation of Ottawa’s tourism team, we will be making the most of the long sought Approved Destination Status and renewing Ottawa’s commitment to our special relationship with the City of Beijing. I am delighted to recognise some of the partners from our tourism sector who will be anchoring the China Trade Mission – including:

    – Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association

    – Ottawa Tourism

    – The Ottawa Convention Centre

    – The Ottawa Airport

    – Delta Hotel

    – The Westin Hotel; and

    – The Lord Elgin

    Other partners will be joining us in the coming days. As many of you may know, Beijing is a sister city to Ottawa. I helped to establish the Sister City Relation when I was Mayor of the City of Ottawa in 1999, prior to amalgamation. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see that this agreement has gained importance and bloomed over the years. In addition to its important symbolic value, this growing partnership has had many practical benefits.

    For example, in July of last year Ottawa, the National Capital and the Rideau Canal were all promoted at the Great Wall in China. And during our Rideau Canal fest, we promoted Beijing and the Great Wall. Other benefits of this agreement include the building of the Ottawa Chinatown Gateway though a partnership between the City of Ottawa, the City of Beijing and the Government of Canada. This beautiful traditional Chinese Archway is both a grand entrance to a remarkable neighbourhood in our City and a portal to greater opportunity for tourism for the entire region.

    I will also be personally thanking Beijing’s Mayor as he was instrumental in providing materials and labour to build this beautiful new landmark. This visit will affirm Ottawa and Beijing’s commitment to the Sister City Relation at the most senior level of the municipal governments, and promote Ottawa as the preferred destination for tourism, post-secondary education and investment.China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Over the next decade, it is anticipated that China will overtake the United States as the largest single economy on the planet. 31.6 million outbound Chinese tourists travelled abroad in 2009. They spent US $43.7 billion on their travels despite the economic downturn, and supported local economies by eating out, occupying hotel rooms and visiting attractions.

    By 2020, China will have 100 million international travellers, making it the largest outbound tourism market in the world, according the World Tourism Organization. The Conference Board of Canada predicts that Approved Destination Status will boost the number of Chinese tourists who visit Canada by up to 50 per cent by 2015. The Canadian Tourism Commission estimates that this will generate an additional $300 million per year in additional revenue to Canadian tourism industry by 2015.

    China travellers injected $260.6 million into the Canadian economy in 2009. Simply put, we need to get our share of this huge new market that is naturally attracted to Canada.

    As you can see, China is a critical market for our city’s future prosperity. That is why I am pleased to announce that we will work closely with key partners in our tourism sector on four specific goals between now and 2013. Three of these goals are directly tied to our Sister City Relationship with Beijing and our China Tourism Mission.

    Firstly, working with the leadership at Ottawa Tourism and many of you here today – the City will see an increase in the number of visits from China to Ottawa from 14,068 in 2009 to 25,114 in 2013. That’s an increase of over 56%.

    Secondly, we will support the Ottawa Airport’s long-term goal of strengthening its relationship with airlines serving the China-Canada market. The Ottawa Airport, working in collaboration with Ottawa Tourism, will strive to attract businesses and leisure travel groups from China, helping to increase the market and facilitate the anticipated growth in demand.

    The third goal is to increase direct foreign investment from China to Ottawa such as the increased presence in Ottawa of Huawei Technology Inc, while showcasing Ottawa-based companies that are looking to increase their business opportunities in Beijing and China.

    Finally, as a general goal, we will work closely with the Ottawa Convention Centre to secure a new 400 to 500 room marquis hotel complex in the downtown core to support the growth of our convention centre. Realizing these goals means working together to ensure we are known in China and other key markets as a great place to visit. It also means getting many little things right that make visitors feel comfortable and ensure they have a great experience here. And probably nothing is more important than the comfort a tourist enjoys in our hotels.

    So we will be there to work with you and we’ll be looking for you to come to the table for a real push on tourism in China just as we’ll need you at the table for our nations 150th birthday in 2017.

    Thank you again for inviting me here today. I look forward to years of partnership, prosperity, community and success!

     

  • 3rd Annual Meeting of the Alliance to End Homelessness: Address by Mayor Jim Watson


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    It’s a pleasure to be here with you this morning I see a lot of familiar faces and good friends, many of whom I have had the chance to work with over the years. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today about one of the challenges our City faces that is closest to my heart. I’ve been involved in tackling the complex and difficult problem of homelessness throughout my entire career in public service.

    First in 1991 as a board member of City Living then as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As Minister, I was honoured to sign the largest Federal-Provincial Housing agreement in Ontario’s history. In total, $1.2 billion flowed into Ontario communities to help build and repair thousands of affordable housing units. Doing something about homelessness is not just a file for me. It is not just another check box in my platform. Doing something about our homelessness problem is something that moves me – something that drew me to public service in the first place.

    So as I look out around this room I see friends in a common cause. There is simply nothing more difficult for me than to think of a child going to bed unsure of where they will sleep the next night – without a roof and room and place to call home. There is nothing more heart breaking to me than to think of the struggle of a mother or father unable to provide that protection and stability. I am moved to do something to fight for those trying to set their lives right, deal with addiction or mental health issues or financial distress, to get the dignity of home back in their lives.

    The face of homelessness is unique in every city in Canada. Ottawa is no different, in that it is different here. We have our own network of social housing providers, shelters, organizations building new affordable housing and people providing support for the homeless. And that network faces challenges and opportunities unique to Ottawa. To face those challenges we need to work together with energy, passion and knowledge. We need to apply resources and do so strategically in a constantly changing environment. We need to be smart about making the biggest difference in Ottawa for those who need our help urgently.

    Now as many of you will know our City Budget was tabled on Wednesday. I was honoured by my colleagues with the responsibility of starting our budget deliberations with an intelligent and balanced plan. A plan that respected the effect higher taxes can have on keeping a home while doing more to help people who are without a home.

    A caring community – that was a major theme of the Budget I tabled.

    Now I know that some have written since that the budget poured more money “into the bottomless pit of social spending.” But let me just say plainly – I disagree. Building out city means balance and it means turning our back on that kind of cynicism. I was proud that the Budget set a strong financial foundation and looked to eliminate waste. But I am equally proud that the Budget brought new resources and focus to protecting our children.

    We set aside $300,000 in base funding to help with children and youth facing mental health crisis and at risk for suicide. We’ll be doing that by funding the Youth Services Bureau’s new mental health drop in clinic, allowing it to open three days a week instead of just one. We’ll also be coming to the table on the already united efforts of the YSB, CHEO, the Royal Ottawa and direct community service providers helping children, families and youth in crisis.

    I am also especially proud to have put in place significant new resources for us to work with in addressing homelessness and poverty. In the Budget we provided two key envelopes that I promised during the campaign. First, we have set out a $10 million annual allocation in the operating budget to be dedicated to fighting homelessness and poverty. This is not one-time money, but funds built into our city’s base budget.

    Second, we have set aside each of the next four years new capital funding for building new housing and renovating existing units; totalling $4 million a year from the capital budget. Those funds will give us the foundation to work together to make a difference. I will be actively working with Councillor Peter Hume, Chair of Planning – who now has responsibility for housing policy; Mark Taylor, our new Chair of Community and Protective Services who has lead on social services and Deputy Mayor Steve Desroches our new Ottawa Community Housing Chair.

    We will engage with you and our city staff to put forward to Council a strong plan for this money- focused on making the biggest difference we can.We have pressing needs.

    A few realities we face in Ottawa bring this home:

    – The length of stays in shelters is increasing overall

    – The number of homeless youth is increasing

    – Larger families that lose their homes have been facing very long stays because there are not enough large social housing units

    – Our wait list is now over 10,000 men and women waiting for affordable housing

    We have real challenges. But we are also coming together with new and renewed collaboration. We have begun to work around a common table to produce a more integrated approach. I look forward to results from the strong new working group that is aimed at integrating common effort to achieve common goals.

    I want to thank:

    – Sue Garvey from Cornerstone

    – Dan Sabourin from YSB

    – Jim Devoe from Caldwell

    – Marion Wright of CMHA

    – Ray Sullivan from CCOC

    – Our own Jo-Anne Poirier of Ottawa Community Housing

    – Val Hinsperger of Nepean Housing

    – John Dickie from the Ontario Landlords Association

    – Ishbel Solvason from Ottawa social housing network

    – Karen Sexsmith of Cooperative Housing Association

    – Lorraine Bentley of Options By Town for coming together with Janice and Stephen at the City for this important collaborative work

    Instead of working in silos we are coming together around more systems thinking so we not only get people out of the cold and into a home, but we keep them moving forward to a better life. That can mean counselling, mental health support, help with addictions, being there for women fleeing abuse. It also means moving people from shelters at times of crisis, to stable bases, to homes to call their own – and doing so as a team – with a loving and principled community network.

    The Provincial government, of which I was a part, is giving us new flexibility. We recognized that undue focus on rules and programs was costing us. We faced up to the fact that years of bureaucratic strings were tying people’s hands. Instead of losing $43 of provincial support for someone in a shelter when we succeed in moving them out of crisis, we’ll be able to keep the support in an overall envelope. This will allow us to keep individuals moving forward from crisis to stability.

    I am proud to have been part of showing that new flexibility. And I am excited about making the most of it now that I am back to help lead our City as Mayor. I look forward to working with you to strengthen and build on a team approach. Together with you, over the next year we will build an integrated Housing System Plan. It will, for the first time, set out our common objectives and our united route to achieving those results.

    You in this room, will be central to fashioning that plan. You in this room – the work you do – will animate that plan and give it life. Together we will take advantage of the local control we’re being given to get better results.

    Now city government cannot do it all. We have limited resources and we face many demands. We rely almost exclusively on property taxes and fees. So we will need to continue to push the Provincial and Federal government to make investments in housing and renewal. With more than 22,000 housing units already in place, many of which need upgrades, there is going to be more need than we can meet by ourselves.

    I will work with you as a champion on this and I will fight by your side to get more investment in housing. We clearly need a National Housing Strategy in Canada, because we are the only country in the G-8 without one. But there are some areas that municipal government actually has some leavers – and ones that can make a real difference.

    Affordable rental housing is in short supply in Ottawa. Our rental vacancy rate is very low, about 1.5%, and we are not seeing new affordable rental housing developments coming forward very often. I want to work with you to address that – to do what we can to encourage the development of rental housing throughout the city. The fact is that many people are not at a phase in their lives where they can realistically take on ownership of a house or a condo.

    Rental accommodation is an essential part of the housing mix for a healthy city. I believe that by speeding approvals and supporting rental developments, strategically applying capital grants and rent supplements, we can make significant headway here. I look forward to working with you on that and bringing energy along with Peter Hume the Chair of Planning Committee to getting more rental housing built in our community.

    So those are some initial thoughts in what I hope will be a four year conversation – a four year collaboration.

    I thank you again for inviting me here today to start that conversation. To each of you, in closing, I want to say thank you for what you do. Each of you is involved in helping your fellow human being. On behalf of a grateful city, I thank you for what you do and what you give of yourself to make our City a better place.

    Thank you

     

  • Budget 2011 Speech

    CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

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    Fellow Council members, today we begin the 2011 budget. Establishing our fiscal framework is the single most important task we will do this year. This budget sets the foundation for budgets to come. Having spoken to each of you about your priorities, your desire for more collaboration and civility, I am confident this Budget delivers and sets a new tone.

    I appreciate the trust you all placed in me before Christmas in granting me the mandate to work with the City Manager to table a draft budget that meets our commitment to restraint but equally our commitment to improved services. I want to thank the amazing management team and their staff who worked through the holidays and put in some very long hours. Today I’m pleased to deliver the fruits of our work through December and early January for your consideration.

    Living within our means

    My fellow Council members the Budget before you delivers on the commitment to keep our tax increase below 2.5% – in fact the proposed tax increase is 2.45%. This budget puts in place processes that will yield savings this year, but will give us even more savings over time. In rural Ottawa, the rate is 2.4% – the lowest for our rural communities in several years.

    I am pleased to report that Police Services has also put forward a budget with a 2.5% target as we set out in December and that was directed by the Police Services Board. I wish to thank Police Board Chair Eli El-Chantiry and Chief Vern White for their efforts. The Ottawa Public Library has also delivered a budget that lives within the budget target. My thanks to Library Board Chair Jan Harder and Chief Librarian Barbara Clubb. I expect that both Boards will adopt the recommended Budget over the next month.

    There will be tough choices and changes to be made. Together with senior management we are also proposing more than $44 million in management efficiencies, reductions in corporate overhead and budget solutions – that, had we not taken these steps, would have resulted in at least a 6.5% tax hike.

    To begin, we as the elected officials need to lead by example. As the Mayor I have directed that my own office budget be cut by 10%, or just over $80,000, and frozen my own salary. I am not asking you as Council members to follow my lead with such a deep cut. However, this Budget plan does not provide for an increase to Councillors’ budgets or to the salaries of Council members. Senior staff will also lead by example with compensation restraint that will contribute to our overall savings target saving $1.7 million this year and $1.7 million next year.

    Across the board, we are imposing a corporate-wide reduction of $300,000 to discretionary spending including conferences, business travel, and luncheons. This will mean for example lunch will not be provided in the green room behind council chambers. Training will not be affected, but there will be sharply curtailed business travel for senior officials including Council.

    We will reduce our reliance on outside legal service and external consultants. Overall we will reduce our reliance on outside consultants and managed legal services to eliminate tax pressure of almost $1 million a year.

    As part of our efforts to reduce costs and promote a paperless city, we will be reducing the printing of recreation and cultural guides and investing instead in on-line promotion of Ottawa recreational and cultural activities. I was surprised to learn that the city produces 49 separate guides each year at a cost of $400,000. The Web is now the global standard for communication; harnessing its power is not only good for the environment, but ensures that residents and visitors have the most up-to-date information on the City’s activities, no matter where they are. We will strengthen our use of community newspapers and the Web while reducing the money spent on printing, advertising and promotion for an overall saving of almost a million dollars a year.

    I am not a believer in formula driven spending, or budgets based on some rule of thumb rather than serious management. In this budget we expect growth pressure to be absorbed in some measure. Managers will be empowered to affect change and to make adjustments in standards where they believe it is sensible to absorb growth costs.

    This Budget restores the sensible practice of building reserve funds instead of raiding and draining them. The snow removal fund will be restored with a projected $6 million in funding this year. As possible we will continue to build this fund. We will achieve a $1.3 million cost savings in our winter operations in line with the reduced needs we have seen over time, more modern salt equipment and improved practice. We will do this while strengthening our ability to deal with the worst Mother Nature can throw at us.

    This budget increases contributions to capital this year by 2.9%. Throughout the coming year we will undertake together a comprehensive capital review.

    Better, more affordable service

    Although this budget delivers on our 2.5% promise, the budget must also be about value. It is about wasting less while improving service. So let me move now to some really impressive improvements in this Budget. This Budget includes $15 million in new technologies that will save money, while driving better service. The service improvements resulting from the “Service Ottawa” initiative will cut through the red tape at City Hall, making it easier for citizens to access the services they pay for through their property taxes.

    Let’s take an example some of you highlighted during the election. Today, booking an arena to play hockey with friends involves calls to the City and waiting to be called back to find out what’s available and when. An application is then faxed to the resident, filled out and signed and faxed back. I think we can do better.

    This will be a thing of the past by the end of next year. As a result of our Service Ottawa investment, a resident will be able visit Ottawa.ca, take a virtual tour of most City facilities with video and pictures, search geographically, check available times at each site, book the facility, agree to the terms and conditions online, pay online and have the reservation receipt emailed to their home computer. And all of this will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    This modernisation saves you time, frustration and money as a taxpayer. But it saves your city time and money, too. A true win for everyone. And it won’t stop there. Business people will be able to apply for their small business licence or renew the one they have online – without ever leaving their place of business. You will be able to apply for and receive the full range of permits through your home or business computer. That is modern government and modern service. I look forward to more solutions from our IT subcommittee including a review of our software licences for savings next year.

    A special point of pride for me is the fact that this Budget provides for a 4-year, $8 million campaign to improve accessibility of our City for the disabled and for our aging population, including power-assisted doors, improvements to elevators, ramps and door width enlargements. This is the City’s largest campaign ever to improve accessibility to ensure we can all enjoy our City facilities. In addition to this, another $1.5 million will be spent this year alone to make our city safer including the deployment of more audible signals, pedestrian countdown signals, and new street lighting. This year I will be hosting a senior’s summit to continue the momentum in addressing the needs of our changing demographics.

    Our Para Transpo fleet carries over 800,000 passenger trips each year. In 2011, we will begin a $13 million tender for the complete renewal of our Para Transpo fleet with all new vehicles. This renewal of the Para Transpo fleet is part of our commitment to provide comfortable and safe transportation for the frail elderly and people with disabilities, who are unable to use public transit.

    As part of the 2011 budget, recreation fees across the city have been frozen. At the same time we will accelerate investment in developing and improving community recreation facilities. This Budget provides for a brand new complex in Barrhaven that will include a twin-pad arena, a 25 m indoor community pool, a full-service community centre including a gymnasium, and outdoor facilities such as a play area and an outdoor sports field. It provides for moving the domed sports field now at Lansdowne to a new year round sports field that will serve the community for decades to come. Investment in new “Ecochill” environmental ice systems and second ice pads at the Goulbourn Recreation Complex and a plan for similar upgrades at the Potvin Arena in Gloucester are provided. This Budget provides $1 million of capital each year over the next four years for recreational facility upgrades that we will be asking Council to target over the coming years to improve our places to play.

    This year’s budget provides significant new investment for our emergency and protective services. A total of 24 new staff will be added to the paramedic service. Two new fully supported ambulances will be on the streets this year. Almost $15 million of new capital is being deployed this year for our fire and paramedic services. Two new fire stations in Barrhaven and Stittsville will come on line this year and the Budget provides for 45 new full time fire fighters. With the staffing of the Stittsville fire station we complete the phase in of Stittsville into the urban service zone.

    Planning and work will continue over the coming years on Light Rail and we are looking forward to a successful deployment of the single largest capital project of any type in Ottawa’s history. But for the rest of this decade and beyond, the bus system will be the backbone of what moves our community. Budget 2011 brings unprecedented focus to improving bus service and setting it on a sustainable footing.

    Our support for the transit service will increase again this year to an all time high with a $392 million operating budget and $310 million in new capital authority. We are providing more than $161 million in new capital authority this year on projects that will improve the bus system. We will spend $2 million this year as part of a 4-year, $10 million plan to expand park and ride facilities in Orleans, Barrhaven and Kanata. This year authority is provided to undertake $63 million in Transitway improvements including our share of the funds for the important bypass of today’s bus bottleneck from Bayshore to Moodie. I will work with the federal and provincial governments to ensure they provide their share of these projects quickly.

    This Budget is about more express service and smarter routing. A better service does not mean more milk runs through every neighborhood stopping every 200 meters and crowding through the downtown bottleneck. It means express service that runs on time reliably even when there is a storm or a traffic snarl. The Transit Commission, under Councillor Deans’ chairmanship, will work with staff to reduce the cost of operating the OC Transpo system, to carry the same number of customers at a lower cost. There will be opportunities to increase productivity by carrying customers on larger transit vehicles, for instance by expanding the capacity of the O-Train or by buying more double-decker buses.

    This investment in the renewal and modernization of the bus system is the single most important initiative in this Budget. We will be making better use of resources by welcoming 74 new bus drivers to improve service, reduce our overtime and get more service hours for the same money. We are implementing the results of the American Public Transit Association’s comprehensive best practices peer-review to correct inefficiency that has crept into our network over time. These changes will save time. They will also save $7.2 million this year and $22 million next year while improving system reliability and overall rider experience. If we fail to make these changes our bus system alone will drive annual an tax increase of 1.5-2% all on its own. We need to act to set our transit system on a sustainable financial footing.

    We will do all of this while restricting fare increases of the past. After three years of consecutive 7.5% fare increases, this budget respects the pocketbooks of transit users and restricts fare increases to 2.5%. This Budget also expands free transit for seniors now available Wednesdays. Free transit for seniors will be extended and made available after 12 noon on Mondays and Fridays as well, to increase the flexibility for our seniors to get around be it to get groceries, attend medical appointments or enjoy themselves with friends. This new service will commence at the beginning of April.

    This year we will also embark upon some long-delayed and much needed major improvements to our roads network. Almost $30 million will be spent over the next two years on extending and expanding Trim Road in Orléans, another $17 million on the east-end extension from Navan to 10th Line Road and $9.5 million on St. Joseph Boulevard. We will also fund our share of the important interchange on the 417 at Hunt club to allow east end commuters heading south to bypass traffic headed downtown. The Alta Vista corridor linking the General Hospital campus to Riverside Drive, a $55 million project, will finally be started this year. This will be a crucial transportation corridor and will relieve congestion on Alta Vista Drive and Smyth Road.

    We will fund $28 million in investment this year to address the sewage backup problem in Kanata and safeguard those homes so punished by the flooding effects of heavy rains and basement sewer backups. I want to thank Councillor Hubley for his help over the holiday period in making sure this problem was addressed.

    And finally, we introduce a new $2 million annual budget for economic development. This envelope will be available for Council to target smart and high-impact, job-creating initiatives.

    A Caring Community

    This Budget plan achieves our target – no more than a 2.5% tax increase – without cutting back on funding to our community partners. We will stand by our partner agencies that provide a host of vital social services. This means no cuts in funding, and providing an increase for cost of living increases as well as some modest increases in the base funding. Arts groups, often threatened with cuts a budget time, can rest assured that in this Budget you will not experience any cuts to your funding.

    As many of you know while I served as the Provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, I was pleased to work with AMO President Peter Hume to sign an unprecedented agreement to upload cost off city governments. This year that agreement will remove some $25 million in annual costs. In keeping with my commitment during the campaign, this Budget provides a new $10 million poverty and homelessness annual fund. This envelope will be available for Council to direct over the coming year into measures to help the poor and homeless, including rent supplements and provision of new beds in shelters. In addition to this, we are adding $4 million in capital funding each year for four years to invest in new and renewed housing stock. I look forward to working with Councillor Desroches as well, in his capacity as Chair of Ottawa Community Housing.

    We will strengthen public health and our resilience in the face of new health threats like H1N1 or antibiotic resistant bacteria. This new package provides a $560,000 boost to Ottawa Public Health to enable better response to emerging health threats. Councillor Holmes will help with these initiatives in her role as Chair of our new Board of Health.

    The 2011 budget contains a number of initiatives for Long-Term Care, totaling almost $1 million. In addition, new funding is here to prevent infectious diseases in long-term care facilities and retirement homes. New funding is here to improve the safety and security of our seniors in care.

    This Budget plan has a special focus on safeguarding our children. We will provide for a new program to prevent head and brain injury among our youth. Almost 6000 children and youth under the age of 20 visit Ottawa ERs because of head injuries and of these, about 400 are hospitalized. We aim to do something about this problem.

    This last year, we had a sad and sobering reminder of how vulnerable our children can be. In November, twice as many children were admitted into CHEO for mental health crises compared to the same period last year. A $300,000 annual allocation is devoted in this Budget to buttressing community efforts to help our families fight the problem of youth suicides in partnership with the Youth Services Bureau, ROH, CHEO and on the ground service providers.

    This budget also invests $750,000 dollars to be used for non-profit community childcare agencies for major and minor capital projects. This funding will be used to assist these centres to keep children learning and playing in healthy and safe environments.

    Part of having a caring community is caring for our environment.

    The 2011 budget includes a $2.8 million envelope for making our city a cyclist-friendly city. This will allow Council to move ahead with targeted improvements to cycling in the City within the fiscal framework.

    As part of our Smart Energy Initiative, almost $2.5 million has been approved for 2011 to improve our energy efficiency and to reduce our carbon footprint. We are deploying solar on City buildings. I also want to bring special focus to our Hydro to ensuring that we make it easy for our residents to take up the opportunity of Ontario’s feed-in renewable energy program. We aren’t making fast enough progress on this and I am determined to become the number one city in the province in this area.

    Councillor McRae and our newly created Environment Committee will be called upon to move this agenda forward with her colleagues.

    Our forestry program will benefit from an increase of $1.5 million to support the Growing a Healthy Forest initiative and to deal with threat of the Emerald Ash Borer. An additional $1.2 million in capital funding will be provided for new trees. This initiative plans for, protects, and nurtures a healthy forest in our nation’s capital.

    This Budget introduces a new $500,000 annual environmental envelope to be used for priority initiatives. Following Council direction, we will also be devoting some of our year end surplus this year to our new fund for acquiring environmentally sensitive lands.

    Taken together, I hope you will agree that this document is a budget to be proud of and that, once committees have worked to improve aspects and make adjustments within the envelopes provided, it can be passed as strong package for our future together. This budget delivers on the 2.5% target that many of us committed to in the election. It does this while balancing reductions with long-term investments that will ensure a safe and prosperous city. Our taxpayers want more and better service. They have a right to expect that from us and to see that done responsibly.

    In the coming weeks we will have 5 public meetings across the City, every committee will review the Budget and take public delegations, and I will hold a savings Town Hall on March 1st to gather additional ideas for saving more money this year and next.

    Once again I want to thank each of you for giving me, my office and City Staff the opportunity to start this Budget process on the right foot and with a balanced, responsible package. I look forward to working with you to improve it further and to a successful four years together.

  • Speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Primary tabs

    Let me begin by congratulating the new chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Mr. David Donaldson and thanking Tim Redpath, your outgoing chair.

    This is my first major speech since being sworn in on December 1st. Over the past six weeks, this Council has already shown it can come together in a spirit of cooperation to effect the change that Ottawa voted for.

    There is a real sense of collaboration already apparent. A new dedication to work together. But the challenges are only beginning and we’ll face our first serious test tomorrow with the tabling of our first budget that will govern our work together over the coming year. I know that my fellow council members will help me deliver on both a new commitment to prudent spending but also a renewed focus on the better services our residents want and deserve.

    I am very proud to have been elected to lead a great group of representatives at City Hall. We have on Council a solid mix of experience and new energy. With ideas and ingenuity, we’ll set the course and deliver. The public sent us all to City Hall with a very strong message: It’s time to pull together. We are focused on working together to strengthen our municipal government and on delivering the vital services taxpayers have a right to expect.

    And I am pleased to say that we are off to a running start.

    Working together, we have already:

    – Established a new transit Commission, that will for the first time consist of councillors and members of the public

    – Implemented a discretionary spending freeze and a hiring freeze on non-emergency personnel

    – Created a reserve fund for environmentally sensitive land

    – Struck a new Environment Committee to bring greater focus to the importance of making Ottawa a green, sustainable place to live

    – Created the Finance and Economic Development Committee, FEDCO, to bring greater focus on economic development in our city

    – Brought forward a comprehensive integrity package that includes the creation of a lobbyist registry; an integrity commissioner; and a new policy to post expenses online beginning this month

    I am especially pleased to say that on December 15th, City Council unanimously passed a motion to keep taxes predictable and dedicated itself to cap tax increases at no more than 2.5%, As a Council, we understand the importance of living within a tighter fiscal environment. Families in our communities live within their means, and they rightfully expect their municipal government to do the same.

    We want more than restraint. We expect excellent value and we need to be able to rely on good services. In our first two Council meetings a lot has already been accomplished, and I am proud of that. Early on, it’s already clear that when we work together, we get more done. It won’t always be perfect, and we certainly won’t agree on everything. But through respectful dialogue and discussion, we know, as a team, that we can deliver more for the people of our City.

    Tomorrow’s tabling of the 2011 budget will be the first major test for both me and my Council colleagues. Establishing our fiscal framework is the single most important task we will undertake this year. It sets out our course for the coming year.

    It establishes our goals and priorities. And, it sets the foundation for budgets to come. This budget is about our entire city – from Cumberland to Constance Bay from Ottawa’s downtown to Watson’s Mill – and beyond. I have had the benefit of receiving advice from each councillor on the special needs and priorities of our residents. Along with City staff I will be privileged to present a Budget that will strike the balance and will mark the start of a new era.

    We will not be putting things off, or sweeping them under the carpet. We will be facing the challenges and looking to the long-term health of our community. The unprecedented leadership demonstrated by council, unanimously committing to keep tax increases to 2.5%, will give the City Manager a roadmap for the next four years. And while I can’t reveal what’s in tomorrow’s budget, needless to say, I have been working night and day to ensure my campaign pledge will be embraced and respected.

    I believe this will put Ottawa on the path to becoming a sustainable community for the long term. There are tough choices to be made in this Budget, but that’s why we were elected. It is tough in business right now and people worry about their jobs. In some families, a parent may spend more than half a year in between jobs, because employment opportunities are harder to come by and business is cutting back. Families want us to hold the line on taxes and we need to make the right decisions now. Restraint in some areas, difficult decisions in others – but most importantly, the decisions that our City has to make to put us on a sustainable path for the future.

    We have to make these decisions because we care for our children, and our families. Because we care for our environment and our health. Because we care for our businesses and our hard earned tax dollars. And because we care for the quality of services that make Ottawa such a great place to live. Tomorrow’s budget will reflect these values.

    After the budget is tabled, there will be opportunities for improvement and public engagement. I will hold the first ever Spending Control Town Hall Meeting. My Town Hall will be a chance for individual members of the public to come forward with specific and realistic ideas to contain costs and to innovate. Those that merit consideration will be sent to appropriate staff or committees for follow-up for this budget or future ones.

    This Town Hall Meeting will take place March 1st at 7pm at Ottawa City Hall. While many of our delegates to committees appear and ask for more funding, this unique Town Hall will be dedicated to realistic and practical ways to save money. I am committed to engaging taxpayers in the budget process, and I believe this Town Hall Meeting is a valuable and important addition to the five multi-ward consultations and committee hearings that will take place throughout the City in February and March.

    I want to thank the Chamber, and its members, for the work you do. You are vital to the fabric of our City – creating jobs, making it work, creating a payroll and watching the bottom line. My door is always open to the Chamber, and I look forward to speaking with you at regular meetings and working with you as we build a more prosperous Ottawa together. You are the job creators and the engine of our prosperity.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to discuss some important opportunities for our City when it comes to economic development. I look forward to renewing common cause among the agencies and organization that help to make Ottawa’s economy grow. We will renew that common table of The Ottawa Partnership (TOP) and bring everyone together again to push new common goals. Once again, we will see the Chamber working hand in hand with our Business Improvement Areas, Ottawa Tourism, our post secondary partners, OCRI and other private sector leaders.

    Reinvigorating this partnership will deliver economic opportunities for our small businesses and our City, and I look forward to personally chairing the TOP meetings. Of special interest to me is the often ignored importance of our tourism advantage. Tourism is the third largest industry for our city and contributes significantly to the local economy.

    Over the next seven years we have a unique and exciting opportunity to mobilize around the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. I believe that we need to be in a position to welcome the country and the world to this incredible celebration and engage our business community to assist us in this important journey. And as the Capital twinned with Beijing, we are especially well positioned to benefit from Canada’s new status as an approved destination for travellers from the world’s most populous and fastest growing nation.

    I expect us to be actively engaged with Ottawa Tourism, specifically focusing on the attraction of major events. Ottawa has successfully hosted numerous major events, including: the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships, 2008 Skate Canada Internationals, 2007 FIFA U20 World Cup Canada, and the 2001 Brier, to name just a few, and I would like to see us build on this. We also need to leverage incredible assets like our new convention centre opening this spring.

    A gem along the Rideau Canal, the convention centre will bring prestige and dollars to our City while serving as a major hub for national and international conventions. All of us have a responsibility to fill this marvellous new convention center with events, and that will take a team effort. Small businesses, the backbone of our city, will be the driving force behind this initiative.

    Their strength drives our quality of life and provides us with many exciting and dynamic opportunities. As we move forward within our new fiscal framework, I will establish a council of Business Improvement Areas. In today’s environment, where both the knowledge-based work force and investment capital are highly fluid, our challenge is to find ways to relentlessly retain and grow this knowledge resource.

    We have vibrant young companies that are growing and leading the next wave of high tech success. You can count on me to be a champion for our businesses and entrepreneurs. I am in your corner and stand ready to be Ottawa’s marketer in chief whenever I am needed. I understand the need for a vibrant private sector, partnership and a team approach to getting things done.

    There is a new tone of collaboration. A new “can do” attitude. This new group of Council members will deliver for you and with you. And I thank you for inviting me to speak to about the great future I know we are building together in Ottawa.

    Thank you.

     

  • Inaugural Address

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

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

    – The Honourable Mauril Bélanger, MP (Ottawa Vanier)

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

    – David McGuinty, MP (Ottawa South)

    – Royal Galipeau, MP (Ottawa Orleans)

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

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

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

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

    Tonight, we gather here to launch anew.

    The people of Ottawa voted for a strong team.

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

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

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

    Council will also be infused with new blood and energy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Merci beaucoup.

     

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