110 Laurier Ave. West Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
(613) 580-2496
Jim.Watson@Ottawa.ca

Speech – Summit of the États Généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa

Speech – Summit of the États Généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa

SPEECH

Summit of the États Généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa

November 18, 2012

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

************

Hello everyone.

It is my pleasure to be here with you today on behalf of the City of Ottawa and my City Council colleagues.

I would like to welcome:

– The Honourable Madeleine Meilleur

– The city councillors in attendance

– The honorary co-chairs:

– Michelle de Courville-Nicol

– Mehdi Hamdad

– Sommet des États généraux de la francophonie d’Ottawa volunteers and participants

 

The États généraux was held at Ottawa City Hall. Today, I am pleased to participate and to give the closing address of the Sommet.

Several citizen forums have taken place throughout the city since June 2011.

The organizers stated that the movement was created in the hopes of increasing Francophone representation on the City Council at the next elections.

I commend this energy and effort.

I believe that the community gains each time more residents become involved.

Let’s talk about the major projects in Ottawa.

The City has over 920,000 residents, of which over 150,000 are Francophones. The City of Ottawa has a higher growth rate than Canada and Ontario.

MoneySense magazine named the City of Ottawa as the best place to live in Canada for the third year in a row.

In 2011, Ottawa ranked among the 15 cities with the highest quality of life in the world according to a Mercer study.

The economic environment has changed since the beginning of my term.

The provincial and federal governments are working hard to eliminate their deficit.

This is putting considerable pressure on municipal services.

The City of Ottawa has set a budget in place that allows us to implement several major projects.

Prior to my election, I had promised that the property tax increase would be below 2.5% for each year of my term. This year, it was 2.09%. This is the lowest increase in six years.

The City is preparing to undertake the largest construction project in its history—the Light Rail Transit project.

It will span 12.5 kilometres from Tunney’s Pasture Station in the west end of Ottawa to Blair Station in the east end of the city.

It will have 13 stations and a downtown tunnel.

To improve our roads during the construction, the City is currently undertaking the Ottawa on the Move program.

This $340 million program will create over 2,500 jobs over the next few years.

Another one of the City’s major projects is the construction of the new Lansdowne Park.

Lansdowne will include the refurbishment of the stadium and Civic Centre, the creation of a large urban park and the construction of a mixed-use area that includes shops, offices and residences.

After all these years of waiting, the project is finally moving forward.

We are working to ensure that the stadium is ready for the 2014 CFL season and that the other parts of the project will be finished by the summer of 2015.

Let’s talk about my involvement in the community.

Over the past year, I participated in over 2,500 community events.

This amounts to, on average, six events per day, every day for a whole year.

This is a great privilege for me. This is also my lifestyle choice.

Since the beginning of my political career, my family, my work, my accomplishments and my challenges revolve around my city, Ottawa.

It is important for me to be attentive, and I always work with a spirit of cooperation.

Today, I am meeting you here at the Sommet des États généraux d’Ottawa.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some information, impressions and ideas with you.

When I first arrived at City Hall, there was much improvement to be made with respect to the francophonie.

French is not my mother tongue but, as I often say, I am a proud Francophile.

I believe it is important to meet the needs of the city’s Francophone community.

I would like to note that, as part of its mandate, the États généraux has the objective of encouraging citizens to reflect on their roles in the community and their capacity for action.

My objective as mayor is to be a role model.

I recognize our Francophone families’ desire to live in French.

The City is there to help and to provide service in the language of your choice.

Let’s talk about Francophone services.

Over the last few years, the city’s services have evolved.

For example, last year, we installed a new automated stop announcement system in all the 1,000 buses in the City.

This was a 15‑million dollar investment.

We made sure that the system to announce all 6,500 bus stops in Ottawa was bilingual.

The 3‑1‑1 Contact Centre is a fully bilingual service for directing residents’ inquiries regarding City services.

The Centre has received over 500,000 calls since January, 35,000 of which were from Francophone residents.

Improvements were made to Ottawa Public Health to the emergency services and children’s services.

We hired a new bilingual Police Chief, Charles Bordeleau. We celebrated the anniversary of the Franco‑Ontarian flag at Ottawa Police Headquarters this year. We also hired a bilingual integrity commissioner, Mr. Robert Marleau.

The City offers basic service to residents in the language of their choice.

The number of complaints made to the City has decreased since last year. 62 complaints were made in 2011—a 29% decrease compared to the previous year. This year, only 42 complaints have been received to date—a decrease of close to 32%.

I believe that the City’s bilingualism policy works well and that it has the support of the City Council.

Moreover, the requirement to have a policy on French services is in the City of Ottawa Act, 1999.

Therefore, under the Act, the City Council must have a policy on French services, and this requirement guarantees the continuity of the policy.

All services offered by the City to the public are available in the language of your choice.

Of course, we are not perfect. Adjustments are made every day. And it is with your help that we can make these adjustments.

Please write me if you feel that a service could be improved.

I find that the relationship between the community and the City is richer and more complex than your average City Council.

We help community organizations with the strategic development of their city projects.

We want them to be present whenever decisions are made.

For example, over the past six months, my office has held working meetings with several groups, including:

– The RGA;

– La Cité collégiale;

– The ACFO;

– The school boards;

– The Arts Court;

– La Nouvelle Scène;

– The volunteers for preserving the Silo Vinette;

– The Centre multiservices francophone de l’Ouest d’Ottawa;

– The MIFO;

– The Pan Canadian Forum on Economic Development in Canadian Francophonie; and

– The organizing committee of the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in our region.

As co-chair of Invest Ottawa, I made la Cité collégiale a permanent member of the board of directors.

Invest Ottawa is the new face of economic development in the City.

Bilingualism is an added value for our region.

Invest Canada works closely with the RDÉE, the RGA and la Cité collégiale to offer French‑language training programs for our businesses.

Since my arrival in Ottawa, I have helped organize a Seniors Summit, a Planning Summit and a Youth Summit.

Over the last year, I participated in organizing a number of events with the Francophone community.

In February, I organized my first Mayor’s and RGA’s Breakfast with our guest, Minister Denis Lebel.

This is a new initiative to bring together Francophones from the region and discuss the major issues.

In March, the 6th Rendez-vous francophone du maire celebrated the 15th anniversary of the SOS Montfort.

Ms. Gisèle Lalonde and Dr. Leduc gave moving speeches.

Next year, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of LeDroit. You are all invited to come celebrate at City Hall.

On June 8, 2012, I announced Véronic DiCaire Day in Ottawa with her friends and family.

For all the work she does as ambassador of La Cité collégiale, I wanted to recognize her career and the work she has accomplished for the francophonie.

Last March, my office supported the MIFO’s efforts to organize a completely Francophone evening at the Shenkman Arts Centre for the JUNOs.

We helped put the evening together with the JUNO organizers. I was very proud to be part of the event.

It was a good example of a national Francophone event that took place here, in our home city of Ottawa.

I would like Ottawa to host even more major events, and I want to ensure that Francophone organizations are involved.

For example:

– The 2012 NHL All-Star Game last winter;

– The 2013 Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship; and

– The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

In 2017, I would like Ottawa to be the destination of choice to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The preparations for celebrating Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in our region are also going well.

It is important to highlight one of Ottawa’s greatest strengths both economically and culturally.

Each year, Ottawa welcomes over 12,000 new immigrants.

They bring knowledge and openness to our region that helps us to develop closer ties with the international community.

It is also with these new members of our community that our local francophonie thrives and flourishes.

I encourage and commend the work of the États Généraux for inviting Francophone citizens to become involved in all areas of activity in the City.

It is up to each person to play their part in political, economic, social, sporting and cultural life.

I encourage you to play your rightful part in our community’s decision-making mechanisms.

Again, I would like to thank the Sommet organizing committee for inviting me here today.

Thank you very much.