Mayor’s State of the City Address 2013

“A Year of Action”
 
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I want to welcome you to the first Council meeting of our third year together.
 
The State of the City is a chance for us to reflect on where we have been and where we are going.
 
And on this front – we have much to be proud of – and much to look forward to.
 
I want to thank you all for your tireless work on behalf of our residents.
 
On behalf of all of us, I also want to thank our City staff for their continued service.
 
Under the leadership of City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick, and Deputy City Managers Steve Kanellakos and Nancy Schepers, there is a real sense of enthusiasm amongst our employees.
 
Let’s reflect on some of our accomplishments from 2012.
 
It was a very exciting, very successful year, for the City of Ottawa.
 
J’aimerais souligner quelques-unes de nos réalisations de l’année 2012.
 
Ce fut pour la Ville d’Ottawa, une année des plus réussies.
 
Our city was ranked as the best place to live by MoneySense Magazine
 
Ottawa also made the list of the most dynamic cities in Canada compiled by CIBC, and ranked ahead of other Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Calgary in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey.
 
We welcomed the country and the world for such outstanding events as the JUNO Awards and the NHL All Star Game.
 
With these came tens of millions of dollars of economic activity and the priceless imprint of Ottawa on the minds of audiences around the world.
 
We also learned that we will host the 2014 Canadian Figure Skating Championships and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
 
Every new major event gives us another chance to showcase our beautiful city and bolster our tourism sector.
 
Chaque nouvel événement majeur nous permet de mettre en valeur notre magnifique ville et de renforcer le tourisme à Ottawa.
 
We hosted a Planning Summit where we brought together all elements of our community to begin the process of reviewing our Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan.
 
Shortly after, we put into action new initiatives like Guaranteed Application Timelines, the Zoning Consistency Team, and the Better Neighbourhoods Program.
 
We hosted a Youth Summit and I can tell you that you could feel the energy in City Hall that day!
 
Over 200 young people came to tell us about their ideas – and dreams – for their city and their futures.
 
Those ideas will help form an action plan – just like the Seniors Summit led to a Seniors Action Plan – and will be tabled at committee later this year.
 
While we are building spirit in the community through this kind of engagement – we are also building our city.
 
The new Ernst and Young Centre opened last year.
 
And since then it has been attracting a steady stream of special events and trade shows.
 
This has helped – along with our spectacular Convention Centre – make Ottawa a destination of choice for event organizers.
 
Last year, we continued to take decisive action on the economic development file to help Ottawa face some economic challenges associated with government downsizing.
 
It’s hard to believe it was only last February when Invest Ottawa opened its doors.
 
In this short time it has become a one-stop shop for small business owners and budding entrepreneurs.
 
More than 60 start-up companies are in the Aberdeen Street facilities.
 
Through the good work of Code Cubbit and Mistral Venture Partners, the new venture capital fund has exceeded $10 million – ahead of schedule – and continues to grow.
 
All this and more in less than a year – and more to come as Bruce Lazenby and his team help our city prepare for the future.
 
The biggest news of the year was that this Council finally got started on two of the biggest projects in our city’s history – Lansdowne Park and the LRT Confederation Line.
 
Lansdowne is absolutely bustling – and changing right before our eyes.
 
And with the LRT project – it was hard not to feel the excitement in the air when we cast a unanimous vote on December 19.
 
I am so pleased that our Council has been able to work so well together, and get so much accomplished, in the first half of our mandate.
 
2012 was a year of making decisions.
 
2013 will be a year of action.
 
2012 aura été une année de grandes décisions.
 
2013 sera celle où nous passerons à l’action.
 
We will achieve our goals as we continue our collaborative approach during the coming year and for the rest of our term.
 
This year – together – we have provided residents the lowest tax rate in six years at 2.09 per cent.
 
This is one of the lowest among major Canadian cities, including Montreal, Mississauga, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
 
Our fiscal framework is affordable, fair, predictable, and gives peace of mind to residents.
 
Our priorities – and our direction – are in step with what residents expect of us.
 
2013 will see the second full year of Ottawa on the Move – our made-in-Ottawa $340-million program to improve our roads, sidewalks, sewers and other critical infrastructure.
 
All areas of the city – east, west, south and the core – will see many much-needed projects started, continued and completed.
 
Families will also enjoy new recreation options this year, right in their communities.
 
We will soon open a new indoor pool in Orléans – the first indoor pool built since amalgamation.
 
This year we will also open a new recreation complex in Kanata North – providing a cornerstone to that part of our community.
 
This is in addition to breaking ground this year for a spectacular new recreation complex in Barrhaven.
 
We will also turn the sod for Sensplex East in Beacon Hill – an exciting new private-public partnership for our city.
 
And we will see the Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge completed later this year – connecting Barrhaven and Riverside South.
 
These are just a few examples of how we will continue to build our city in 2013.
 
But there is more to do.
 
Just a few months ago, in Jean Pigott Place, I stood with Mayors of other large Canadian cities to call on the federal and provincial governments for a long-term infrastructure plan.
 
In all corners of the country, the story is the same.
 
Gridlock in vital corridors.
 
And roads and sidewalks that don’t meet the public’s needs.
 
We saw this with the 174 – and other cities are seeing it with their own infrastructure failures.
 
In Ottawa, under this Council’s leadership, we put together our first-ever comprehensive report on the state of the City’s physical assets.
 
And we have weighed those realities against our long-term financial plan.
 
In 2013, we will continue to push our provincial and federal counterparts to come to the table with funds to help us continue to improve our infrastructure.
 
En 2013, nous continuerons d’inciter nos gouvernements provincial et fédéral à apporter une aide financière pour améliorer nos infrastructures.
 
Nous espérons obtenir un financement annuel prévisible, destiné à l’amélioration de nos routes, de nos trottoirs, de nos égouts, et des autres infrastructures essentielles.
 
The Ottawa River Action Plan remains a key environmental priority for all of us.
 
The Ottawa River is not only a local landmark, but a national treasure.
 
We need to protect it.
 
Both Ministers Baird and Chiarelli have stated publicly their support for this important initiative.
 
When the next round of infrastructure funding becomes available, I am hopeful that we will be able to secure funding from our federal and provincial partners and so that we can move forward with this key project.
 
In April, we will make a final decision on the PRESTO smart card system for OC Transpo.
 
Our goal is to provide a secure, convenient, reliable system for our passengers.
 
We need to be confident in the system... if we expect our riders to have confidence.
 
To accomplish this, we have secured a money-back guarantee from Metrolinx.
 
And if it doesn’t work properly – we will have no fear as a team to say “No” and move on – so that Ottawa taxpayers are protected.
 
I look forward to seeing the results of the next phase of the pilot and making a final decision in the spring.
 
Nous mettrons en place les dernières pièces de notre programme en matière d’intégrité.
 
Cela comprend l’adoption d’une politique sur les dépenses, un code de conduite du Conseil municipal et un registre des cadeaux.
 
With the assistance of our new Integrity Commissioner, Robert Marleau, our Council continues to stay ahead of the curve on these issues.
 
It is important to remember that these integrity measures are not just for those of us who are sitting around the table here today – but also future Councils and staff.
 
When you look at some of the issues faced in other municipalities – these actions show that we are ahead of the pack – and ahead of any potential problems.
 
We are setting important benchmarks.
 
You can be certain that other municipalities will look to our example – our leadership – in the months and years ahead.
 
2013 will be another big sports year for Ottawa.
 
We are in the final stages of negotiations that will determine whether we have been successful in securing a Double A baseball team for Ottawa in 2014.
 
In March, we will welcome the CIS Men’s Basketball Championships – with the top eight university teams from across the country – including our defending champion Carleton Ravens.
 
In April, the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships will come to Scotiabank Place and the Nepean Sportsplex.
 
We will watch our national women’s hockey team inspire our country – especially the girls and boys of Ottawa – as they go for the gold.
 
And for the first time in more than 120 years, the University of Ottawa Gee Gees football team will finally be able to make its home on campus – at its new field on Lees Avenue – a partnership with the City of Ottawa.
 
In addition, after a 15-year absence, the Carleton Ravens football team will return to the field.
 
In May, we will host the Canadian Gymnastics Championships.
 
Our country’s best – including some local athletes – will compete in a number of events such as artistic, trampoline and tumbling, at the Ernst Young Centre and other venues.
 
In August, the ITU Duathlon will come to Ottawa.
 
And in October, we will welcome a National Basketball League of Canada team – professional basketball – to Scotiabank Place for its first season.
 
All of these events will be great for spectators and participants, and they will provide a boost for our local economy.
 
Events like this are also great for our brand as a city.
 
Our 2017 Task Force has been working hard with our tourism partners to ensure we have a co‑ordinated strategy for Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.
 
We are focusing on leveraging existing events, attracting new ones, finding private sector funding, and exploring possible legacy projects.
 
Notre Groupe de travail sur les célébrations de 2017 a travaillé fort avec  nos partenaires du secteur touristique.
 
Ensemble, nous allons mettre en place une stratégie pour les célébrations entourant le 150e anniversaire du Canada ici, à Ottawa.
 
Nous allons également marquer le quatre-centième anniversaire de l'arrivée de Samuel de Champlain dans notre région.
 
2013 will see the launch of a brand for Ottawa as the destination of choice as we celebrate our great country’s 150th anniversary – just four years from now.
 
And as I mentioned from the outset – 2013 will be an even more exciting year for Lansdowne and the Confederation Line.
 
I am more confident than ever that we can deliver these – on time and on budget.
 
For Lansdowne, anticipation will build throughout 2013 as key parts of the project get started –including the urban park, and retail and residential buildings.
 
We will also begin to build the brand new outdoor ice rink that will be sure to be a great attraction.
 
Our staff and contractors are working hard to ensure the new stadium construction is ready for the return of CFL football and the introduction of professional soccer in 2014.
 
And I will be the first to say that it will be almost surreal to finally get to work on the LRT project.
 
Speaking with residents at community events, a lot of them take after the Missouri state nickname – the “Show Me” state.
 
With so much back and forth over the years, sometimes you really do need to see to believe.
Well, we are showing them with Lansdowne, and we will show them with the Confederation Line.
 
Work will start early this spring to widen the Queensway and fix the Split, adding an additional lane in each direction.
 
Later this spring, residents will have the opportunity to provide input on the design of the LRT vehicles.
 
The Alstom LRT vehicles can be customized for each city, and I am very excited to see what symbols and themes residents want to see reflected in the trains that will be assembled right here in Ottawa.
 
It will also be an exciting time for businesses, as Rideau Transit Group secures the local suppliers, skilled tradespeople and labourers that will be required to build the Confederation Line.
 
Among the many benefits of LRT, its construction will provide a five-year-long boost to the Ottawa economy.
 
In 2013, we will undertake several major planning and development initiatives.
 
This includes the Official Plan, the Transportation Master Plan, the Infrastructure Master Plan, the cycling plan and the pedestrian plan.
 
These will be focused discussions about how to implement the goal of creating a city that is environmentally, financially and socially sustainable.
 
And we will have these discussions with the new certainty and confidence that our city will finally get a world-class light rail transit system.
 
2013 will be a good year for arts and culture in Ottawa.
 
Because we are a city of artists and innovators.
 
Of spectators and celebrations.
 
In addition to the funding that we as a Council are providing the arts community, sometimes you just need someone to step up and facilitate – support – and bring creative people together.
 
Parce que nous sommes une ville remplie d’artistes et d’innovateurs.
 
De spectateurs et de célébrations.
 
En plus du financement que nous fournissons à la communauté artistique, nous pouvons aussi faire notre part pour encourager le rassemblement de gens créatifs.
 
In the fall, I will invite local artists and enthusiasts for a one day and night Mayor’s Arts Fair at City Hall.
 
It will be a chance to promote upcoming theatre and concert seasons, sell subscriptions and tickets, as well as learn more about what our arts community has to offer.
 
I will also lend my name to the first-ever Mayor’s Gala for Arts Court in November.
 
We will raise funds, as well as excitement, for the future arts and neighbourhood hub on Daly Avenue.
 
I am delighted to have accepted the invitation from Peter Honeywell from the Council for the Arts in Ottawa, and Alexandra Badzak from the Ottawa Art Gallery to put together an evening to remember.
 
I hope you will join me in supporting Ottawa’s arts and culture scene.
 
In the coming year we will also hold our first-ever Rural Expo.
 
It will be a showcase to allow our rural residents to promote fairs, museums, agriculture and crafts to our urban population.
 
After all, we are Canada’s largest rural community.
 
There is much to be proud of and celebrate in great places like Munster, Fitzroy Harbour, Carp, Navan, North Gower and Vars – just to name a few.
 
The Expo will be held at City Hall within the next year and act as a way for our rural community to boast and show off their talents and products to a larger urban audience.
 
In October, we hosted our first annual “State of the Economy” event in partnership with the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
 
At that event, I announced the new Capital Investment Track, a City program that will shepherd selected investments through City processes to ensure timely and customer-sensitive service.
 
We’ve already received much industry interest in this initiative, including a future hotel development being led by a local developer in the ByWard Market.
 
This new project is expected to create more than 100 jobs, and will enhance Ottawa’s tourism offering.
 
In 2013 – through this program and others – we can anticipate more good news like this.
 
At the same time, we must constantly be working to provide our residents with better service.
 
Service Ottawa will help us do this while providing an estimated $8.8 Million of savings in 2013 alone.
 
Since the Service Ottawa online portal launched less than a year ago, our website has processed over 33,000 service requests.
 
Service is now more timely and convenient for our residents
 
And it means fewer calls to 3-1-1, and shorter line-ups at Client Service Centres.
 
2013 will see new online service requests including various permits and pet licensing.
 
Up to 10 business licenses, permits and renewals will go online such as food premises.
 
We will also add a new “My Ottawa Account” feature for residents and “My Business Account” feature for business.
 
This will make it easier to do business with the City – all in one place – 24/7.
 
Also new for 2013, this year the Ottawa Police Service will introduce online reporting of property related crimes.
 
This will increase the efficiency of the Call Reporting Centre which currently processes approximately 30,000 reports per year.
 
Ottawa Police Services will also be opening Collision Reporting Centres this year.
 
These are just some of the ways we are offering new, innovative service options to make life easier for residents.
 
With hosting so many events in the coming years – the impression we make on our visitors is an important one.
 
We want to be good hosts.
 
While it is important that they enjoy themselves at a sporting event, at the Convention Centre, or one of our great hotels, it is often the little things that make an impression.
 
When you visit a city, regardless of how much fun you had, people will also always notice how clean a city is.
 
Far too often our streets and sidewalks are strewn with litter.
 
There are too many pop cans and too much paper on the ground, too many cigarette butts in the streets, and not enough places to put empty cans and bottles.
 
Il y a beaucoup trop de cannettes vides et de papier sur le sol, beaucoup trop de cigarettes sur les trottoirs, et pas assez d’endroits où les gens peuvent déposer leurs déchets.
 
In my travels around the city, and what I hear from residents, is that we can do much better.
 
In 2013, I want to do two things.
 
First, I will be working with the Environment Committee and staff to ensure we substantially increase recycling options on all major streets throughout the city.
 
My view is – if we put out garbage cans – we should be equally vigilant in ensuring they stand beside recycling receptacles.
 
It is a shame and wasteful to see so many recyclables thrown into garbage cans simply because recycling is not widely available on public streets.
 
Second, we need to find a way to build on such successful programs as Cleaning the Capital – through a new public awareness effort.
 
Let’s get more people involved in keeping our city green – and let’s make it happen all year around.
 
Because the City cannot and should not do it alone.
 
Through renewed efforts, it is my hope that we will see cleaner streets and a renewed sense of civic pride amongst residents.
 
Over the holidays, I came across a wonderful and appropriate quote from William Shakespeare, when he wrote:
 
“What is the city but the people?
 
True, the people are the city.”
 
Working with Council and staff over the past two years, I have tried to make City Hall more of a people place.
 
First we added the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame – a tribute to the athletes, coaches and builders throughout our rich sports history.
 
Then, in partnership with the Ottawa Senators Foundation, we added the Rink of Dreams.
 
In just its first year of operation, it has seen over 25,500 skaters visit.
 
Then, we opened the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery.
 
In its first few months, it has had almost 10,000 visitors.
 
Most recently, City Hall was the venue for a New Year’s Eve Hogmanay celebration with the Ottawa Scottish Society, and about 5,000 people gathered to ring in the New Year.
 
Next month, we will be an official host site to launch the 2013 Winterlude.
 
We also located the Centretown community police centre here.
 
And we’ve added dozens of pieces of art from our extensive collection to City Hall.
 
I’ve challenged our art branch to fill every nook and cranny in this building to celebrate our artists and enrich City Hall, with our existing art collection.
 
Later this year, we will welcome the Karsh Masson Gallery to a permanent home on the first floor.
 
Grâce au Temple de la renommée des sports d’Ottawa, à la Patinoire des rêves et aux oeuvres d’arts locales qui y sont affichées,  l’hôtel de ville est un endroit plus invitant pour les citoyennes et les citoyens.
 
Last year, staff tells me that more than 115,000 people came to City Hall for various events.
 
But in a city of 900,000, I think we can do better.
 
I want residents and visitors to feel at home at City Hall.
 
I want them to come and visit not just to pay their taxes or get a permit, but to admire art, or skate, or attend a lecture, or join a multicultural pot luck.
 
In an effort to open the doors even wider, starting this year, each Member of Council will be able to book Jean Pigott Place once a year at no charge for use by a not-for-profit or community group in their ward.
 
Whether it’s for veterans – a community association – artists – or a cultural group...
 
I hope that this small gesture will allow even more residents to come and explore their City Hall.
 
I want to close with a story that a resident shared with me in a letter last year – her name is Lina Gerebizza.
 
Her father – Mario – came to Canada via Pier 21 from Italy in the mid-20th century, eventually finding his way to start a family in our city.
 
He took up a job with the City of Ottawa.
 
Lina wrote, in part:
 
“Daddy would get all puffed up when relatives visited from out of town or abroad because he would regale them with stories of working for the City of Ottawa.
 
Over the years, he held a number of positions: landscaper, street cleaner, and road worker... doing repairs in the summer and snow removal in the winter.
 
All of these jobs he carried out with enthusiasm and dignity each day.
 
This is the sort of enthusiasm I hope we can continue to bring to our work while we continue to build our city together.
 
It is always the little things that make the difference.
 
As Shakespeare wrote: “True, the people are the city.”
 
And our employees day in and day out help us make our city the special place it is.
 
It’s the 26 Hydro Ottawa workers who went to the U.S. to provide relief after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
 
Or the two police officers who used a defibrillator to save the life of a resident who suffered a heart attack.
 
Or the OC Transpo drivers who helped raise money for a 14-year-old who had his cell phone stolen.
 
The people – our residents and employees – are the city.
 
Through our actions – big and small – we will continue to be fiercely proud of our city.
 
And unwavering in our commitment to make it better.
 
2012 put a lot of important projects in motion.
 
2013 will see us follow through, stay focused, and continue to get the job done.
 
En 2012, nous avons commencé une foule de projets importants.
 
En 2013, nous continuerons avec cette même énergie. Nous resterons concentrés sur nos objectifs et nous continuerons notre bon travail.
 
Because residents don’t pay taxes to watch us talk in circles.
 
They want good value for their money, and they want us to work together.
 
And we’re doing that.
 
Sometimes just getting as far as passing a motion can seem like the hardest part.
 
And while that is always a milestone to celebrate, residents will be watching to see if we can actually deliver.
 
And we will.
 
2013 will be an exciting year.
 
And I look forward to many more successes together.
 
Thank you.