Mayor Watson's State of the City Address 2012

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY      

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I am privileged today to deliver my first State of the City address after a year of accomplishment together and to share some thoughts on the year ahead. 

Since being elected we have set a new tone around this council table....and – most importantly – in the community.

We are committed to action – to getting things done...to delivering tangible, achievable results for our communities.

This is what our residents expect of us...and it’s also what we demand of ourselves.

Nous sommes résolus à agir, à nous lancer à l’attaque pour réaliser des choses… à obtenir des résultats tangibles, réalisables pour nos collectivités.

C’est ce que notre population attend de nous… et c’est ce que nous exigeons de nous-mêmes.

I know from my days as a Councillor that you are the best resource on what is needed in your ward, in your communities and neighbourhoods.

You are meeting with people every day and hearing the concerns and aspirations of the people you represent.

As Councillors, you hear first when things aren’t right, and you have the best understanding of what to do to set things on the proper course. 

Our last budget is a good example of what has come from listening and learning from Council.

I met with each of you about your wards and your priorities. 

Out of that effort emerged some common priorities: our road system was in need of repairs, our network of cycling paths needed to be improved, and our sidewalks needed upgrading right across the City. 

So our budget delivered Ottawa on the Move – and it’s fair to say that this initiative is – simply put – the result of better listening.

Council listened and acted to build a strong package of improvements that residents will value. 

But listening has to be an everyday job – it can’t and doesn’t happen just at Budget time.

I have tried to be there for you when you have an issue or a concern and to provide a Mayor’s Office that is there to help.

I have also pushed for more collaboration between members of Council, my own team and City staff and I am proud to say that we are making good progress.

La population veut une équipe de conseillers et une administration municipale à son écoute, qui réalisent des choses et qui trouvent des solutions.

Thanks to that philosophy, we were able to take on an ambitious agenda for our first year. 

One of our Council’s first decisions was to pass, with the power of a unanimous vote, a motion that demonstrated to taxpayers our collective commitment to capping tax increases at a maximum of 2.5%.

Councillors also undertook - in a unanimous vote – to find the money within each budget envelope to pay for new spending. 

It’s the kind of discipline that families impose upon themselves to live within their means.

Across the board, we have worked hard to contain increases in the various fees and rates the City charges, including freezing recreation fees and reducing increases in transit fares by 60% compared to the previous three years.

Putting transit on a sustainable footing was ambitious - a challenge others had tried to meet before without success. 

This Council created a transit commission with public membership and we moved our transit system forward, modernizing our routes and making key changes to make better use of scarce taxpayer dollars.

I want to thank Councillor Deans and members of the Transit Commission for their hard work in 2011. 

In 2012, we will continue to make progress on improving our transit - a vital service that delivers over 1 million transit trips each week across the largest municipality in Canada. 

And we’re listening to get this done. 

We have added $5.5 million in additional bus service - taking into account what residents told us and strategically addressing bottlenecks in the system. 

We will also continue to make progress on transparency and integrity. 

We are working to implement our promised registry of lobbying in a practical way – so it can work well without putting up walls to community access to elected officials - and add to the confidence residents have in their municipal government.

Our proposals for a Council Code of Conduct and a gift registry will also come to Council for your consideration, later this year.

We are also making progress on a number of ambitious infrastructure projects. 

La population d’Ottawa appuie le train léger sur rail, mais elle s’inquiétait des coûts et des risques associés à un tunnel creusé en profondeur, un tunnel qui circulerait sous les stationnements souterrains d’édifices comme le World Exchange Plaza.

Le projet de transport en commun par train léger sur rail est bien amorcé.

This Council moved to a new shallower alignment, one that reduces risk for taxpayers and improves the result. We have also carved out one and a half years from the schedule. 

We look forward to choosing a successful proposal this fall from one of three accomplished international teams competing for this important city building project.

This Council also continues to work steadfastly to ensure that we can proceed with the planned redevelopment of Lansdowne Park. 

The improvements and renewal we will see are quite impressive. 

I believe we will deliver a magnificent City-wide asset, revitalized to the benefit of all our residents. 

Last year we saw the first step of renewal with the demolition of the south side stands – ahead of schedule and under budget.

On Lansdowne we’ve listened more, worked with the community and set our sights on success. 

I was pleased that this approach led to a Pre-OMB agreement with community associations that expedited the process, saving time and taxpayers’ money. 

I want to take this opportunity to again thank the City Manager for his dedication and professionalism in moving this important City-building project forward.

We have also made progress on redeveloping Arts Court and the Ottawa Art Gallery. 

This project has been talked about for far too long – this Council has decided to move from talk to action.

Ce projet de plusieurs millions de dollars, un effort d’équipe réunissant nos principaux partenaires municipaux issus du milieu des arts, fournira un nouveau domicile à la Galerie d’art d’Ottawa et à la Cour des arts, qui abrite de nombreux organismes dynamiques à vocation artistique de la région.

Le réaménagement de la Cour des arts jouera un rôle déterminant dans la revitalisation du cœur du centre-ville et renforcera la vitalité culturelle de la ville en entier.

And 2011 saw Council create a new fund that will allow us to compete for more visitors. 

Managed in collaboration with our partner agency - Ottawa Tourism - this fund will allow the City to “bid more, win more and host more” marquee events that generate economic activity, tourism and jobs. 

This strategy is already paying off. 

This week, our City will host the NHL All-Star game; then Ottawa will welcome the Juno Awards in April; and the Women’s Hockey Championships in 2013. 

Also, earlier this year, thanks to the good work of Paul Benoit and the Airport Authority, Ottawa has announced two new direct flight options for our community – Delta Airlines direct to New York City and US Airways direct to Regan International Airport in Washington, D.C.

This is also the year we begin the process of renewing our Official Plan. 

Ottawa is among world leaders in air quality and water purity.  

We were chosen "Best Place to Live" again this year by Money Sense Magazine. 

The Mercer Group pegged us 14th best city in the entire world for quality of life...

All of this says a lot about why our city is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.

I want to make sure it stays that way as we grow as a City. 

Je veux, tout comme les membres du conseil municipal, m’assurer que ce plan officiel place la barre haute; je veux m’assurer que nous faisons preuve d’ambition pour cette merveilleuse capitale nationale et la collectivité tout aussi dynamique où nous vivons. 

I will be working closely with Councillor Hume on this year’s Planning Summit to kick off our work on our new Official Plan.

We want to hear about the City our residents want to build for the future and for their families. 

We will set the course that will govern our development from 2014 until 2020 with the rethinking of our Official Plan. 

We will decide what kind of improvements we want for our transit system over the long term and how we will safeguard and enhance our mobility as our city grows. 

We will make a lot of decisions that will affect the financial strength of our municipality far into the future. 

Le débat légitime entourant la densification se poursuivra dans le cadre du renouvellement de notre Plan officiel. 

Et c’est un débat que j’encourage, car il n’y a pas d’alternative acceptable à la densification. 

Les villes qui ne prennent pas de mesures énergiques pour contenir l’étalement urbain sont aux prises avec des centres-villes qui se détériorent petit à petit et de façon irréversible. 

The legitimate debate about intensification will continue as part of our Official Plan renewal. 

And it’s a debate that I welcome, because there is no acceptable alternative to sensible intensification.

Cities that have not moved aggressively to contain urban sprawl have seen their downtown core suffer a steady, irreversible decline. 

We all know intuitively that urban sprawl is both expensive and unsustainable. 

Yet, many of us find it difficult to accept that our communities will be different from those of our parents or of their parents.

In Ottawa, we are already seeing some of the benefits of intensification as our downtown core and many of our communities near the core are much more alive and vibrant than they were as recently as 10 or 15 years ago.

I can remember, not that long ago, when it was difficult to find a place to have dinner that was still open in the downtown core after 6 p.m. 

Now, more of our communities are bustling with people, activity and vibrancy.

Yet, we need to do more to strike the right balance between the need for intensification and the legitimate needs and concerns of our neighbourhoods. 

I don’t think we have struck the right balance yet, and I hope that our Planning Summit will identify some innovative ideas to move us in this direction.

2012 is also the year I want to challenge everyone in our organization to put more innovation into practice. 

Private business has its own discipline for companies that can’t innovate to keep up with the pace of change. 

They go out of business. 

In government we face the same relentless pace of change but we don’t have the same external force driving continuous improvement. 

So we need to create conditions that will foster that change. 

We have an excellent base in our existing administration and a solid start through our multi-year ServiceOttawa roll out. 

This year you will notice a big difference in accessing city services and information.

A restructured and redesigned website will soon be making ServiceOttawa easily available to our residents to conveniently access City services and information online instead of in person or over the phone. 

Residents will also be able to complete 250 different service transactions such as booking and paying for last-minute ice time, reporting graffiti, requesting a recycling bin, and registering for classes and activities through the ServiceOttawa gateway.  

And, the ServiceOttawa department will decentralize the majority of business licensing services from Ben Franklin Place to the seven Client Service Centres so that residents have more convenient locations and service hours to conduct business with the City.   

We have invested heavily in our program to deliver better services to residents and do so for less. 

And this year we will really begin to enjoy the benefits of that investment.  

But it can’t stop there. 

We’re going to improve our efficiency and effectiveness in planning this year. 

We will change the planning system to make it more inclusive, clear and easy to navigate. 

I have asked Peter Hume as Chair of Planning to oversee the implementation of the City’s new Green Express Lane for development approvals and I know he will be sharing good news with Council and the public on this front in the coming months.

And we need to keep showing innovation on the economic development front. 

Next month, we will see the official launch of Invest Ottawa, the City’s new agency for boosting investment, trade and innovation. 

Invest Ottawa has a job to do – a single mission - to aggressively and systematically attract investment to our City.

The Federal government will table its 2012 budget in the coming months, which will likely see the size of the public service decrease. 

So now – more than ever - we need to take our economic development destiny in our own hands. 

The days of relying on the Government of Canada to be the primary engine of this community’s growth are behind us.

Maintenant plus que jamais, nous devons nous approprier le destin de notre développement économique. 

L’époque où l’on dépendait du gouvernement du Canada comme moteur principal de la croissance économique de notre collectivité est révolue.

So much more is possible when we work together to get things done. 

Today I am announcing a series of new initiatives and ideas that I believe will be well received by our community. 

Young people play a critical role in the success of our community. 

These will be challenging times as they graduate and enter this job market. 

Councillor Mathieu Fleury will Chair a city-wide Youth Summit in the fall of 2012 on the issues that are important to young people. 

I invite members of Council to engage in this important dialogue. 

Building on the format and success of the Seniors’ Summit, we will also ask our city’s youth for their advice on issues ranging from employment to transportation to art and culture and ways to eliminate bullying in our society. 

Je suis aussi fier d’annoncer une nouvelle entente de collaboration avec le Regroupement des gens d’affaires.

 Ensemble, nous allons rassembler la communauté d’affaires, deux fois par année, dans le cadre du petit déjeuner du Maire.

J’aimerais remercier Joanne Lefebvre, présidente du RGA, pour son leadership dans le développement de ce partenariat.

Our first breakfast event with the RGA will be on Thursday, February 16th right here at City Hall....and we are privileged to host the Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities as our first guest speaker – the Honourable Denis Lebel.

With 2012 under way, we must also ramp up our Sesquicentennial planning, the 150th birthday of our nation. 

I have asked Councillors Hobbs and Bloess to Co-Chair a task force on Canada’s 150th Anniversary taking place in 2017. 

I am delighted to say that they are both very enthusiastic to take on the challenge of making sure that Ottawa is ready to roll out the red carpet in 2017.

We must aggressively go after national and international conferences, annual general meetings, sporting and cultural events, conventions and trade shows.

Quebec City was extremely successful in 2008 as it used its 400th Anniversary as a magnet to attract more and bigger events to their city.

I want to ensure that our city – the nation’s capital – owns 2017.

A number of our City’s partners are excited about taking part in the 2017 Taskforce.

I am pleased to recognize the following organizations that will help Ottawa welcome the world in 2017 in collaboration with the Tourism Development Council.

  • Ottawa Tourism, under the leadership of Noel Buckley;
  • The Ottawa Convention Centre, under the leadership of Pat Kelly;
  • The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, represented by Erin Kelly;
  • The Ottawa Airport Authority represented by Michael Crockatt;
  • The Ottawa Senators;
  • The City’s Economic Development team, represented by Saad Bashir;

...and several other groups who will participate on this important task, including:

  • Le Regroupement des Gens d’affaires lead by Joanne Lefebvre;
  • And the new CE Centre, under the leadership of Kevin McCrann;

Merci à tous nos partenaires dynamiques d’avoir accepté de faire partie de cette équipe.

Our City is first and foremost a gathering place of tremendous people who, from all walks of life and through all sorts of contributions, make this City welcoming, generous and an all-around exceptional place to live.

I am pleased to announce today that I will work with Deputy Mayors Steve Desroches and Eli El Chantiry - and all of Council - to bring a proposal forward in the spring to renew and consolidate our city’s civic appreciation awards and to create a new distinguished award to recognize great people in our community – the Order of Ottawa. 

This will be our chance to recognize distinguished residents of Ottawa for their incredible contributions to our community.

Further, I am very proud to report that Ottawa’s most decorated athlete, Olympian and world champion figure skater, Barbara Ann Scott has generously donated her entire collection of medals, awards and other historic memorabilia to the City of Ottawa.

C’est avec beaucoup de fierté que je vous annonce que Barbara Ann Scott, l’athlète la plus déterminée d’Ottawa, médaillée olympique et championne du monde en patinage artistique, a généreusement fait don à la Ville d’Ottawa de l’ensemble de sa collection de médailles, de prix et autres souvenirs liés à sa carrière. 

Ms. Scott – who is known as “Canada’s Olympic Sweetheart” - captured the imagination and the hearts of generations of Ottawans and Canadians through her amazing performance:

The winner of the Junior Women’s National title in 1940, the National Senior Women’s title from 1944-1948, the North-American championships 1945-1948,  two European championships 1947-1948; two World championships 1947-1948 and an Olympic gold medal at the 5th Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland on February 6, 1948.

When I spoke with her last week, Ms. Scott told me that “all of this material really belongs to Ottawa, because Ottawa gave me my start, and is my hometown”.

Working with the City Archives, the space soon to be vacated on the first floor of City Hall will be transformed into a showcase of Ms. Scott’s remarkable achievements, complete with historic photographs, costumes, silver plates and her champion gold medal.

The Barbara Ann Scott Room will nicely compliment our new and very successful Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, located in the heritage building.

I want to sincerely thank Ms. Scott for her thoughtfulness and generosity.

I look forward to hosting her later this year when we dedicate the room in her honour.

I would like to pay a special tribute to a great supporter of this initiative, the late journalist Earl McRae and to thank him for championing this idea.

Members of Council, we have come a very long way in a very short year. 

We have made a lot of progress in building confidence in our City government over the course of the last year, and each of you has played an important part in helping to make this a reality.

In the coming year, we will stay the course on taxes. 

We will continue to work to honour the commitment we made to cap municipal tax increases at no more than 2.5% for the remainder of this term.

But we will do so while preserving and protecting the important public services that our residents deserve and expect.

And I am proud to say that we will continue the spirit of listening and collaboration that have marked the first fourteen months of our mandate.

I would like to thank each member of Council for your strong commitment to listening to one another, to working together as a team and to making progress on the issues that matter to the people of Ottawa.

Because at the end of the day, that is what matters most. 

I want to conclude by introducing you to some special guests who are with us today in the front row of the visitors gallery.

Each and every day, like you, I have the incredible opportunity to meet some remarkable people who help make our City the special place it is. 

Through their everyday gestures and generosity, they contribute to making our City truly extraordinary.

They do so without expectation of reward, without great fanfare and outside of the glare of media.

Let me introduce you to some residents who I had the opportunity to come across this past year. 

I would ask that you hold your applause until the end.

Let me start with Raphaelle Ferland - a young woman I met last November who shared her story with me about living without a home from the age of 15 to 18. 

Eventually Raphaelle found support at the Youth Services Bureau....first by dropping-in and then attending counselling sessions.  

Raphaelle found a home and in 2008 enrolled in a social work program at la Cité Collégiale - graduating 2nd in her class.

Today, Raphaelle is 22 years old and in her second year of civil law at the U of Ottawa – where she is also president of the U of O chapter of Lawyers Without Borders. 

Facing adversity and numerous challenges....she found support from the community... 

And now, following her tremendous perseverance, she is giving back to our community.

Tyrone Henry is an 18 year old student at South Carleton High School.  

Last year, he sustained a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed from the waist down. 

The rehabilitation was a long process but Tyrone describes the experience as “having been given a new life.” 

He has set goals for himself and through courage and hard work is attaining them one by one. 

Last year, using his hand-cycle, Tyrone participated in the Army marathon and the 9-Run-Run marathon....inspiring crowds along the way. 

In November, he was invited to join the Rick Hansen 25th Year Anniversary Relay – carrying the medal as an Endurance Team member from Windsor to Thunder Bay. 

His father wrote us a note that day - it was filled with such excitement and pride. 

Great news came in last week and Tyrone will once again join the Rick Hansen Relay this coming March.

Tyrone, you have chosen to use your life and resources to inspire and help others overcome similar challenges. 

Ottawa is a stronger city because of you. 

J’aimerais maintenant vous parler d’une bénévole exceptionnelle qui s’appelle Jeannine Legault.

On la voie tout simplement partout. 

Depuis plus de 60 ans, Jeannine s’implique de façon fervente dans diverses organisations dont les Guides franco-ontariennes, la Caisse Populaire Vision, l’ACFO et la Fédération des femmes canadiennes-francaises de la paroisse Notre-Dame et Sainte-Geneviève.

Jeannine Legault has been a volunteer in our City’s francophone community for over 60 years. 

For context, Jeannine started volunteering when Louis Saint-Laurent was Prime Minister of Canada.

L’an dernier, elle a reçu le prix Grandmaître et on l’a reconnu pour son engagement exceptionnel!

Jeannine nous montre que c’est avec le travail et la persévérance que la communauté d’Ottawa s’épaule et grandit. Merci Jeannine.  

Tobias Lutke and Harley Finkelstein are the young founders of Shopify – Ottawa’s fastest-growing private company for the past two years. 

This start-up specialises in e-commerce and has mastered the art of creating and powering online stores. 

Last year, users of Shopify technology sold more than $250M in merchandise online.

Only in their 6th year, Shopify helps more than 16, 000 online retailers from over 80 countries worldwide. 

They expect to add 6,000 to 8,000 more stores this year alone. 

In 2010 Shopify was able to secure $7M in venture capital funding which was followed, 10 months later, by a $15M Series B round funding. 

The worldwide online community is keeping a close eye on Shopify’s headquarters located in the Ottawa Byward Market which employs 100 staff, several of them are recent graduates from Ottawa universities and colleges. 

Tobias and Harley are also engaging the start-up community of Ottawa by hosting an event called FreshFounders. 

It takes place at their office and invites the top 100 Ottawa based entrepreneurs to network and share stories.

Tobias, Harley and the Shopify team are exceptional entrepreneurs who demonstrate to the world that Canada’s Capital is place of innovation and ingenuity, a place of perseverance, a place where economic success can be realized. 

Ils sont des entrepreneurs exceptionnels qui font la preuve aux yeux du monde que la capitale d’Ottawa est un milieu d’innovation et d’ingéniosité, un milieu de persévérance et un milieu où le succès économique est possible.

Sam, Simon and Billy Saykaley own the Carleton Tavern and representing all the brothers here today is Billy Saykaley.

Each year, the brothers gather volunteers, food and musicians as they host one of Ottawa’s greatest Christmas dinners, providing local residents with a warm place to share a meal and feel at home.

They are joined by members of the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee, who help coordinate this event that – for the last 10 years - just keeps getting bigger each year. 

The last Christmas Day Dinner at the Tavern served or delivered over 800 meals – that’s over 30 turkeys, six hams, 60 meat pies and an endless supply of coffee and refreshments.

Volunteers show up in full force to be a part of what has now become a community tradition.

I have had the privilege of attending this event on several occasions. 

And each year turns out to be an incredible feast and celebration filled with music, crafts, gifts for the children and some Christmas carol warmth for all.

By treating their fellow residents as a part of their extended family, they help make Ottawa an exceptional place to live. 

Members of Council, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing these exceptional individuals for their contributions to our community.

I have chosen to highlight the contributions of these exceptional Ottawans to remind us, as a Council, and to remind the residents of Ottawa, that our sole purpose here is to improve the quality of life in our community for the people of Ottawa over the long term. 

J’ai choisi de souligner l’apport de citoyens et citoyennes exceptionnels pour nous rappeler à nous, en tant que conseil municipal, et pour rappeler aux résidantes et résidants de cette ville que notre unique raison d’être est d’améliorer à long terme la qualité de vie dans ce milieu pour l’ensemble de la population d’Ottawa.

It’s an inspiring reminder that community is about much more than places, budgets and infrastructure. It’s first and foremost about people.

I am deeply convinced that each member of Council has worked hard in the last year to make Ottawa a better place for our residents.

I encourage you to leave no stone unturned and to spare no effort to make Ottawa an even greater City in the course of the coming year.

Thank you.

Merci.