Monthly Column: One year since Ottawa voted for change
This fall marks the one year anniversary since a new team was elected to serve the residents of Ottawa at City Hall. We have worked very hard to change the tone, tenor and efficiency of our Council and committee meetings. By working together, as a team and with our communities, we have achieved some significant accomplishments.
The change that has been realized since last October is because of you - the residents who make Ottawa a great place to raise a family, work and build a successful life.
Together we have brought a greater focus to saving money and spending wisely. With a 2.5% tax cap, a 66% reduction in transit fare increases and a commitment to keep recreation fees frozen, we have taken serious steps to protect the wallets of our taxpayers. We also froze Mayor and Councillor salaries while cutting the Mayor’s Office budget by 10%.
Together we have reaffirmed our commitment to caring for those less fortunate. We invested $14 million into a number of housing and homelessness initiatives that are delivering tangible improvements for Ottawa families. We also extended free bus service for seniors to Monday and Friday afternoons.
Together we have made progress on major city-building initiatives. We have fast-tracked the light rail project by one year as well as engineering a safer and more cost effective tunnel alignment under the downtown core. We continue to work with the community to bring the revitalization of Lansdowne Park closer to reality.
Together we have made the environment a serious priority, building Ontario’s first downtown segregated bike lane, installing solar panels on a number of City facilities and embracing a more sustainable waste collection system to increase recycling and waste diversion.
Together we have marketed Ottawa as a premiere tourist destination, landing the IIHF 2013 Women’s World Hockey Championship and bidding on the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Association of Ontario Municipalities will also hold their next two annual meetings at our fantastic new Ottawa Convention Centre.
Together we have made important investments in our economic sector to develop new strategies and create a revitalized economic development agency to foster success in these challenging economic times. We are also supporting arts and culture by reinvigorating Arts Court and building a new Ottawa Art Gallery.
While we undoubtedly still have many challenges and opportunities ahead, residents can be proud of what has been accomplished. We will continue to work together, in this energized spirit of cooperation, to ensure that the Ottawa we live in today and build for tomorrow is sustainable and prosperous.
As we mark this anniversary, I am grateful to my Council colleagues, to our staff and most of all to you, the residents of Ottawa.