• Speech to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

    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.


Page 46 of 46« First...102030...4243444546