• Dr. Safaa Fouda receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

    Ottawa –Mayor Jim Watson and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward Councillor Tim Tierney presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Dr. Safaa Fouda for her volunteer work in bringing together Canadians and new immigrants, as well as all kinds of faith groups, with the goal of promoting mutual understanding and compassion.

    Dr. Fouda is a pioneering female engineer who moved to Canada from Egypt in 1969 and holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. She retired in 2005 as Deputy General for the CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Natural Resources Canada.

    During her career, she volunteered in a broad range of advisory committee roles with various federal government departments, the Police and RCMP, as a consultant on the tenets of the Muslim faith, and as a presenter in the interfaith community, consistently with respect to helping immigrants to integrate into and serve their new community, and to promoting shared respect and common values.

    After she retired, she became more involved in philanthropic and community work with an interest in helping vulnerable communities and in cross-cultural bridge building, peace-building, Muslim/non-Muslim relations, supporting human relief, education and advocacy for justice and human rights. She contributes finances and volunteers with numerous NGOs that focus on these causes. She has received several recognitions including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Ontario’s “Leading Women Building Communities” award.

  • How we’re cleaning up the Ottawa River

    Since I was elected Mayor in 2010, my top environmental priority has been to clean up the Ottawa River. I believe this would be the perfect gift for future generations as Canada approaches its 150th birthday. We have made a lot of progress on this issue and I want to share how we will finish the job.

    The issue

    Ottawa is a city of almost 1 million people, and our roads and sewers are feeling the pressure. We need to invest in upgrades in order to protect our communities, green spaces, and waterways.

    On the community level, we need to upgrade sewers and pipes that in some cases are over 140 years old. No one wants to see their basement flooded or their environment polluted.

    In the older parts of Ottawa, storm water and household sewage mix together in the same pipe, called a combined sewer. When we experience heavy rainfall, this older part of the system is designed to avoid flooding by sending excess water into the Ottawa River. The unfortunate result is that some untreated sewage flows directly into the River as well.

    Before I took office, in 2006, there were annual combined sewage overflow volumes of 1.09B litres into the Ottawa River. That’s the equivalent of 436 Olympic-sized swimming pools per year. Spills like these add to high bacteria counts in the Ottawa River, which can negatively impact the health of our river and our beaches.

    Your water and sewer bill helps fund projects to solve these problems. In the nation’s capital, we cannot accept having sewage flow into the river behind Parliament nor see frequent pipe bursts in our neighbourhoods.

    Progress so far:

    In 2009, we started working on a set of infrastructure projects called the Ottawa River Action Plan. The action plan is focused on protecting the quality of the Ottawa River by reducing the volume of combined sewage overflows and reducing the impact of stormwater on the Ottawa River.

    The City partnered with the federal and provincial governments to significantly enhance key parts of our wastewater infrastructure. This has included maximizing our use of the capacity available in our existing sewer system, better pipe monitoring, separating storm sewers from sanitary sewers and measures to reduce the risk of basement flooding. We also completed a lot of sewer work as a part of other road projects to ensure we did not need to tear up streets more than once.

    The progress to date has been remarkable. These efforts have led to a reduction of sewage overflow volumes of up to 80 per cent in recent years. These improvements are also helping to ensure the consistent delivery of drinking water to our homes and reduce the risk of basement flooding.

    Finishing the job:

    All three levels of government have committed the remaining funds to complete the most significant remaining project under the Ottawa River Action Plan, called the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel. In essence, we will construct large underground storage tunnels to be used during heavy rainfall. The extra water will flow into the tunnels instead of the river. Once the rainfall has ended, the tunnels will drain as the sewage and stormwater is taken to the plant for treatment. When this project is complete, Ottawa’s sewage overflows will be dramatically reduced to only one or two occurrences in most years.

    The tunnels will be constructed as two deep tunnels underneath Kent and Albert/Slater Streets, totalling approximately six kilometres. You can find more information on the City’s website.

    We are moving ahead swiftly. Some of the work on this part of the project will be undertaken in Summer 2015 as part of the Confederation Line LRT project near Lebreton Flats. For the larger remaining portions, we will secure a construction contractor before the end of 2015 and start work in 2016. We will ensure the downtown core is free from any disruption that would impact the 2017 celebrations, and work towards full completion of the project in 2019.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Mitch Kurylowicz

    Mayor Jim Watson and Osgoode Ward Councillor George Darouze presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Mitch Kurylowicz today in recognition of his volunteer work with Free the Children, the world’s largest organization of kids helping kids, and his four years to date of fundraising to build a boys’ secondary school in rural Kenya.

    Mitch, who is 17, has been doing volunteer work to benefit children in developing countries for 10 years through Free the Children. Inspired by Canadian philanthropists Craig and Marc Kielburger, who founded youth-targeted charities Free the Children and Me to We, Mitch has travelled to Kenya, India and China to work on community development projects.

    Since 2011, he has been raising funds through Project Jenga, a charity he founded to help Free the Children build an all-boys secondary school in the rural Narok south district of Kenya, which will complement the all-girls Kisaruni school that opened four years ago. Jenga is a Swahili word meaning “to build”.

    Free the Children has raised $1.8 million of the $2 million needed to build, furnish and start up the school, and Project Jenga is the biggest single contributor with more than $500,000 raised. The main fundraising event that Mitch organizes is an annual gala dinner; three have been held to date, and the 2015 gala held on March 31 raised $117,000. Mitch travelled to Kenya last August to break ground for the school; it is scheduled to open at the end of 2016.

    As the current Head Boy at Ashbury College, Mitch also works to organize collections for the Ottawa Food Bank and raise funds for Christie Lake Kids. Last year, he founded the Ashbury College Community Service Club. Also in 2014, he was awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award for community leadership.


  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Jean Séguin

    Deputy Mayor Bob Monette and Councillor Stephen Blais presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Jean Séguin today in recognition of his many years of leadership and volunteer contributions in the Vars community.

    From 2006 to 2009, he spearheaded the participation of Vars in the City’s Neighbourhood Planning Initiative pilot project. Many of the programs and projects currently underway in Vars flow from the community plan that was developed during this process.

    As the immediate past president of the Vars Community Association and a tireless booster of his community, Mr. Séguin volunteers his time and considerable diplomatic talents to initiatives including the Marketmobile, the Vars summer youth camp program, the local rink, the community garden, renewal of the Cenotaph war memorial, and the establishment of a community Christmas sing-along and the lighting of the village Christmas tree.

    He works with the Anglican and Catholic parishes, French and English service organizations, funding partners from the private sector and at all levels of government, and any benefactor he can find who is willing to help the community to move forward on its priority projects. While Vars has been literally on the map for 130 years (as of 2016), and Mr. Séguin is working on pulling together a history of the community, he also focuses stakeholders on the great future that the village has ahead of it.


  • Algonquin College joins U-Pass program, now 71,000 students-strong Primary tabs

    OC Transpo, Algonquin College and Algonquin Students’ Association officials signed a Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) Agreement today. Algonquin College is the fourth local post-secondary institution to adopt the U-Pass, which will make Ottawa’s U-Pass program one of the largest and most successful in Canada with 71,000 participants.

    “We are proud to work with our college and university students to make transit more affordable and convenient,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Through the U-Pass program and investments like light rail transit, student transit will continue to improve in the years ahead.”

    Starting this September, approximately 16,000 eligible students at Algonquin will pay an incidental fee of $192.70 per semester for a U-Pass, compared with $403 (regular routes) or $497 (regular and express) for four months of adult transit passes.

    “We’re pleased to welcome Algonquin students to the U-Pass program, offering huge savings for existing riders,” said Ottawa Transit Commission Chair, Councillor Stephen Blais. “Transit is the convenient, environmentally sustainable way for students to commute, and we hope the U-Pass will attract even more Algonquin students to let OC Transpo do the driving.”

    Algonquin College will be well-served by the Stage 2 light rail transit project, with a stop at Baseline Station. From there, students and other west-end residents will be able to get on the O-Train Confederation Line to travel downtown or as far east as Place d’Orléans. The Stage 2 project includes 30 kilometres of rail and 19 new stations, and will link Ottawa’s three largest post-secondary institutions by rail.

    “Our first priority at Algonquin College is student success,” said Algonquin College President Cheryl Jensen. “Providing safe and reliable transportation for our students will enable them to travel to the campus and around the city — one less concern during a busy term. Progressive cities and post-secondary institutions know how important this is.”

    “I would like to thank Algonquin students for making their voices heard and for being patient during this process,” said Algonquin Students’ Association President Christina Miller. “Thanks to your support, U-Pass is finally here!”

    Eligible students at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and St. Paul University already have U-Passes that are active for the fall and spring semesters. In total, this fall, 71,000 local college and university students will receive a U-Pass as part of their incidental student fees.

  • City Council approves 2015 budget

    Ottawa – City Council today approved the 2015 Operating and Capital Budgets, limiting the total residential property tax increase to 2 per cent, while moving ahead with significant city-building projects such as Light Rail Transit, Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    “This budget was designed to ensure Ottawa maintains momentum on the major initiatives already well underway across the region that are helping to enhance our reputation as a progressive, thriving and growing city,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “A new crime prevention strategy and increases to affordable housing are also among the budget’s centrepieces.”

    The 2015 budget promises investment in affordable housing, community facilities and crime prevention, while keeping taxes and user fees affordable. The transit fare increase has been capped at 2.5 per cent and recreation fees will increase by no more than two per cent. The garbage fee remains frozen for a third consecutive year.

    “The 2015 Budget does a good job of balancing competing interests and desires, while ensuring the provision of day-to-day services and important infrastructure,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “I want to thank residents, the Mayor, Councillors and staff for all their input and effort in the development of the budget.”

    Budget 2015 promises key investments that improve Ottawa’s reputation as a liveable city for all residents and businesses:

    A Caring City

    – Fund a strategy for crime prevention and gang activity.
    – Increase funding for maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets.
    – Enhance and increase funding for the School Crossing Guard Program.
    – Deliver funding for commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.
    – Involve the City in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.

    A Sustainable City

    – Support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will see the expansion and improvement of cycling networks and multi-use pathways across the city to make cycling a safe and convenient option for residents.
    – Move the Ottawa River Action Plan forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, putting in place the last elements of funding from federal partners to match investments from the City and Province.
    – Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000 to $1.3 million.

    A Prosperous City

    – Modernize Ottawa’s transit system through Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2).
    – Continue the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture, which is the backbone of the City’s planned light rail network.
    – Prepare for the transition from construction of the Confederation Line to full operations in 2018.
    – Launch the Western Transitway expansion as the City continues to seek funding for Stage 2 of the Light Rail Transit system that will extend to neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south.

    An Affordable City

    – Limit the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase to 6 per cent, as approved in the latest Long Range Financial Plan.
    – Freeze garbage fees for the third consecutive year.
    – Limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service, including increasing bus routes and approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.
    – Reduce 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) City positions, excluding the Ottawa Police Service.

    For more information about the Budget, visit ottawa.ca/budget2015.

  • Blog: 100 Days

    First of all, I want to thank the residents of Ottawa who have sent me their well-wishes over the past few weeks. It has not been easy for me to be away from City Hall while I recover but the phone calls, letters, emails, Twitter and Facebook messages, and kind words have meant a lot to me.

    Although I have been away, the work of Council continues and I’m happy to note that we have now marked 100 days in office.

    In November, the students of Algonquin College voted to join the OC Transpo U-Pass creating one of the largest and most inclusive U-Pass programs in Canada.

    In December, Council supported two of my governance-related election commitments with the elevation of the Audit Committee to a full standing committee and the creation of the position of Sports Commissioner.

    On these endeavours and others, I have been encouraged by the constructive, collaborative tone around the Council table. Working together, we are keeping life affordable, while investing in key community needs to ensure Ottawa remains the best place to live, raise a family, and grow a business.

    Doing so requires predictability from our tax system and I am proud to have kept my electoral promise of low tax rate changes in the recently passed 2015 budget. This budget ensures our continued financial stability while pushing forward on several significant city-building projects like LRT, the revitalized Arts Court, and the Bayview Innovation Centre.

    The top priority for my second term remains our LRT system and two project milestones were reached in these first 100 days: We opened the new pedestrian and cycling bridge near Coventry Rd. and unveiled a model LRT train at the Aberdeen Pavilion. The former will connect Overbrook residents to the coming LRT station at Tremblay while the latter is giving residents a taste of what the future of transit in Ottawa holds in store. I’m happy to report that construction on the Confederation Line remains on time and on budget and that the Environmental Assessments are ongoing for Stage 2.

    Speaking of which, the 100 day Western LRT Working Group that John Baird and I began reported last week that they had agreed upon a route for the Western LRT extension. This is an affordable and pragmatic route that will serve the residents of Ottawa well and enhance access to the Ottawa River. My thanks to the members of the 100 Day Working Group along with Minister Pierre Poilievre for their hard work and commitment to this project.

    Looking ahead, on March 31 the City will host and important public engagement session to hear from residents about a new central library. Later this year, tourism and hospitality stakeholders will gather at City Hall for a Tourism Summit, another one of my election commitments.

    Over the coming months, I am looking forward to working with Council to set the Term of Council priorities. I will advocate for economic development, road safety, and affordable housing to be central in these priorities.

    Our term is off to a great start and I am confident that working together we will build a more liveable, caring, vibrant, and prosperous city over the next four years.

  • WLRT Corridor Recommendation

    I am writing to update you on the work undertaken by the NCC-City Working Group regarding the western light rail transit (LRT) corridor.

    I am pleased to inform you that the Working Group has reached an agreement in principle, which was announced at a joint press conference with the NCC this morning.

    This agreement meets all of the City of Ottawa’s objectives in its unanimously-approved Transportation Master Plan and will remain within our affordability plan for the project. We would also be able to keep our long-standing commitment to the community to protect the Byron Linear Park and Rochester Field while providing even better access to the waterfront.


    In late November 2014, I met with then-Minister John Baird to discuss our Stage 2 LRT project. At that meeting, we had a very constructive discussion about this important project. We agreed to a 100-day dialogue between the City and the NCC to find a mutually satisfactory solution for the western extension of the Confederation Line between Dominion and Cleary.

    In December, the City of Ottawa and the NCC formed a joint Working Group to address this issue. The City representatives on the Working Group were Transportation Committee Chair Keith Egli, Transit Commission Chair Stephen Blais, Bay Ward Councillor and Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor, and City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

    I want to thank Councillors Egli, Blais, and Taylor for their hard work alongside our City Manager and our partners at the NCC. This was a very intensive review process which was supported by technical and urban planning expertise, and one that led to a historic outcome today.

    I also want to thank Minister Pierre Poilievre for his leadership. He was named Minister Responsible for the NCC during this process and brought the same constructive tone as his predecessor to this important partnership.

    The solution

    The Working Group has recommended a solution that would allow the western LRT extension to be fully buried under realigned Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway lanes between Dominion and Cleary stations. You will be pleased to learn that this solution would remain within the City of Ottawa’s project budget envelope.

    This solution would bring many benefits for the City of Ottawa, the NCC, local residents, and indeed all Canadians:

    – Protection of the Byron Linear Park and Rochester Field;

    – Minimal visual impact on the landscape and experience by users of the corridor

    – Continuous access to the corridor lands and 38% more usable shoreline parkland

    – Improved cycling and pedestrian access via two new crossings under the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

    – Retention and enhancement of the mature forest, lands and landscaping elements

    – An eventual reduction of nearly 500,000 bus trips annually on the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

    Of course, these highlights are on top of the city-wide benefits of our larger Stage 2 LRT project, which includes 30 kilometres of rail and 19 new stations. We hope to break ground on this world-class project once the Confederation Line is operational in 2018, which will help us deliver reduced commute times, cleaner air, and a stronger economy.

    Into the future, this recommended route would perfectly complement the NCC’s vision to create a new linear park of national significance along the waterfront.

    Moving forward

    Residents will be able to provide public feedback as part of the public outreach activities planned for the Confederation Line west LRT extension Environmental Assessment (EA) process:

    Monday, March 30
    Evening (time to be announced)
    Ottawa City Hall
    Jean Pigott Place

    This will be an open house to review the 100 Day Working Group Solution between Dominion and Cleary Station.

    The NCC will discuss the solution and the results of the public consultation session at its Board of Directors meeting in April.

    The Transportation Committee and Council will have the opportunity to review and discuss the results of the EA processes for all Stage 2 projects, including the Confederation Line west extension in June. The EA report will provide a recommended alignment for each of the corridors based on a technical review and results of the public consultation sessions for these extensions.

    The materials presented today, including a visual of the proposed alignment can be found online at ottawa.ca/stage2.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Chris Taylor

    Mayor Jim Watson, along with College Ward Councillor Rick Chiarelli, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Chris Taylor for his exemplary volunteerism providing educational presentations on computer-related topics as a member and current President of the Ottawa PC Users’ Group (OPCUG).

    Mr. Taylor has been an active member of the not-for-profit Ottawa PC Users’ Group since 1984, and was elected to the organization’s Executive Board in 1986. His ongoing involvement with the Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) Community Events Program, since it began in 2008, has provided hundreds of free technology-based presentations to the community at various library branches across the city.

    Through the Ottawa Public Library, the Ottawa PC Users’ Group has delivered more than 220 free two-hour educational presentations to the Ottawa community on a variety of computer-related topics, based on the group’s philosophy of “users helping users.” Mr. Taylor has worked tirelessly and selflessly for more than 10 years, often giving two or three presentations per week, on timely topics ranging from “How to Buy a PC,” “Protecting Your Computer,” and “How to Secure a Wireless Home Network.”

    Having personally delivered more than 200 presentations as of 2014, Mr. Taylor has demonstrated leadership, outstanding community service, and a strong commitment to educating and enlightening the residents of Ottawa. This dedication to public education continues with his commitment to additional presentations this year with the Ottawa Public Library on topics including digital cameras, photo editing, how the Internet works, media streaming and computer security.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building, or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.


  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Kerry MacLean

    Mayor Jim Watson, along with Beacon Hill-Cyrville Ward Councillor Tim Tierney, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Kerry MacLean for his outstanding community service as high school coach, founder and President of the Maverick Volleyball Club.

    Mr. MacLean is recognized for his inspirational leadership of the Maverick Volleyball Club that he started in 1985 and built into the largest and most successful volleyball club in Eastern Ontario, with 27 teams and more than 75 volunteers and coaches.

    Mr. MacLean has been building the volleyball community in Ottawa since he became a teacher at Colonel By Secondary School in 1984. He has been a volunteer coach for more than 150 teams during his career and has led both boys and girls teams to league, city, and provincial championships.

    He founded the Maverick Volleyball Club to offer children an opportunity to enjoy and excel at the sport through skills development and competition, and to gain valuable life and leadership skills. His leadership and vision has influenced and motivated thousands of children in the city, allowing them to develop as athletes and as productive and inspired citizens.

    It is a true testament to his leadership that, with the incredible growth and success of the club, he has also inspired many of the early members to return to volunteer and coach, as well as bring their own children into the program.


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