• Property tax deferral program for residents impacted by Ottawa area flooding

    The Ottawa River is now seeing higher water levels over the past few weeks resulting from the snow melt from the northern areas of the Ottawa River and higher than average rainfall over the past month.

    This has resulted in significant flooding in the low-lying areas that are adjacent to the Ottawa River resulting in the flooding of some pathways and roadways.

    To date, about 310 homes in the City of Ottawa have been directly affected by flooding and 75 families have been displaced.  275 of those homes are in West Carleton, 25 are in Cumberland and 10 are in Bay Ward.

    While various city staff assist residents during this time, Revenue staff are preparing to mail out the final property tax bills to all residents of the city of Ottawa.  The property tax bills will be placed in the mail in approximately one week.

    I am proposing that those residents affected or displaced by the flood have their final property tax due dates deferred to December 7, 2017 to mirror that of the City’s Farm Grant Program.  This will provide some temporary relief to residents most affected by the flood during this time of need so they can focus on  rebuilding their lives and properties.

    Over the course of the next few months,  properties affected by the flood  will be identified and a process developed to extend the due dates.

    I have asked Councillor Stephen Blais (Cumberland), seconded by Councillor Mark Taylor (Bay), to introduce a motion at Council on Wednesday that will direct staff to develop the tax deferral program over the course of the next 30 days and to bring it back to Council via FEDCO for final approval.

    I will be asking that Council waive the Rules of procedure to allow for immediate consideration of this motion and to fast-track the implementation of the tax deferral program for residents impacted by the 2017 flood.

     As Councillor El-Chantiry has been personally affected by the flooding, he has advised us that he has a conflict of interest in this matter, so please do not include him in your discussions on this initiative.

  • Information sessions for Ottawa residents affected by spring flooding

    The City of Ottawa will host information sessions for residents affected by the spring flooding.

    In attendance will be representatives from the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa’s Public Works and Environmental Services Department and the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which is responsible for the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program.

    Time and locations:

    Tuesday, May 9

    • 1 – 2 p.m. Nepean Sportsplex, Hall C and D, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue
    • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. R.J. Kennedy Arena, Main Hall, 1115 Dunning Road, Cumberland
    • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Fitzroy Harbour Community Association Community Centre, 100 Clifford Campbell St, Fitzroy Harbour

    Wednesday, May 10

    • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre, 262 Len Purcell Dr, Woodlawn

    If residents can’t attend any of the information sessions, they can visit  ottawa.ca for more information.

    Information about the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Program is available at Ontario.ca/disasterassistance.

  • City of Ottawa named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers

    Ottawa – For the sixth consecutive year, the City of Ottawa has been named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in a competition that recognizes organizations for their exceptional workplace diversity and inclusion programs.

    The winners were selected by editors at Mediacorp and are featured in a special section of today’s Globe and Mail. The competition judges recognized the City for its commitment to reflect, in its workforce, the diversity of the Ottawa community, including the following initiatives:

    Hosting an annual AccessAbility Day event to offer residents an opportunity to provide feedback on issues related to accessibility and learn about City initiatives and programs;
    Ensuring that all City owned and operated spaces and facilities are inclusive and accessible, with its Accessibility Design Standards;
    Championing diversity internally by having each City department create and implement their own diversity plan;
    Welcoming new Canadians through an immigration strategy that includes employment initiatives and economic development programs such as the Annual Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards, to recognize the achievements of new Canadians, and the Professional Internship for Newcomers Program, which provides temporary work placements for newcomers.

    Quotes

    “We’re honoured to be selected once again as a national leader in workplace diversity. We are continuously striving to offer a workplace that is as inclusive, welcoming and diverse as this great city we live in, where individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds are recognized and valued.”
    Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

    “Our employees deserve congratulations for this recognition. They are exceptional, hard-working people who represent every facet of our City’s diverse population, and together we are constantly developing new ways to enhance inclusion and remove barriers.”
    Steve Kanellakos, City Manager

  • State of the City 2017

    Mayor Watson: 2017 will be a year for Celebration

    OTTAWA – Mayor Jim Watson previewed a year of celebration in his annual State of the City address today, as Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations unfold in our nation’s capital. 2017 will be a year of continued growth and sustainability, and the face of Ottawa will change with the opening of new landmarks and facilities.

    “This year is an opportunity to celebrate Canada, while we welcome visitors to our truly inclusive and progressive city, and demonstrate to a global audience how much we have to offer,” said Mayor Watson. “Ottawa 2017 celebrations are one of the largest efforts in the city, as our communities join forces to welcome the world.”

    Ottawa will roll out the welcome mat to more than 10 million visitors over the next twelve months, as we host a year of celebrations and special events, and witness unprecedented economic development as we mark many important milestones:

    • Hosting major sporting events including the Davis Cup, the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, curling qualifying event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships, and the Grey Cup.
    • Bringing the Capital to life with thrilling events and cultural experiences such as La Machine, Sky Lounge, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ignite 150, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge and the 2017 JUNO Awards.
    • Hosting more conventions than ever before – doubling the number of business travelers to Ottawa this year.
    • Partnering with Ottawa Tourism on our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy to attract more major sporting and cultural events to Ottawa, in our bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
    • Supporting small businesses and great ideas through the Innovation Centre, our city’s hub for creators and entrepreneurs.

    This will also be a year of enhancing the legacy of the nation’s capital, with many new facilities and completed redevelopment projects set to open to the public and become landmarks in Ottawa:

    • The National Arts Centre redevelopment
    • The George Street Plaza
    • The Stanley Cup monument.
    • The new Ottawa Art Gallery
    • The Arts Court Redevelopment
    • The renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum
    • The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards
    • The new Bank of Canada Museum

    Ottawa is also planning for the future with strategic initiatives that foster prosperity, equity and sustainability:

    • Building a world class transit system by continuing construction of the Confederation line, and investing in planning for Stage 2 of the LRT;
    • Introducing the EquiPass, Ottawa’s new affordable transit pass;
    • Committing to Transit Oriented Development, including major residential developments, business hubs, and civic buildings with light rail access;
    • Opening new affordable and supportive housing developments;
    • Continuing the dialogue on the proposed site for the new Central Library;
    • Moving forward on the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative;
    • Creating a team to proactively ensure vacant heritage buildings meet property and building standards;
    • Planting 150 maple trees to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation; and
    • Moving forward on creating a complete mixed-use community at the former Rockcliffe Air Base, resulting in the construction of homes for approximately 10,000 residents and providing 2,600 jobs.

    During the speech, Mayor Watson shared two significant civic recognition initiatives that will happen in 2017:

    • Holding an Aboriginal Awareness Day in June, to honour all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, Elders, ancestors and their valuable contributions to this land; and
    • Awarding of the Key to the City to journalist and broadcaster Michel Picard, former First Nations judge and lawyer Senator Murray Sinclair, former Auditor General Sheila Fraser, retired CFL football quarterback Henry Burris, retired NHL hockey player Steve Yzerman, and to two fine local institutions: Algonquin College will be receiving this tribute in celebration of its 50th anniversary and Carleton University will be receiving this honour to mark 75 years of education excellence.

    In celebration of the next phase of LRT, Mayor Watson announced a competition in local schools to name Ottawa’s LRT engines for the Confederation line. The competition will take place in fall of 2017, with the winners announced in the spring of 2018.

    The Mayor also announced that in the coming weeks he will lead a mission to Queen’s Park to showcase our growing share of strategic technology investments, accompanied by Sir Terry Matthews, high-tech entrepreneur and champion of technology in our city. The goal is to explore how we can leverage our revitalized local high-tech sector to develop 5G network technology in support of a sophisticated autonomous vehicle industry in Ontario.

    The Mayor further proposed creating a 50-year “2017 time capsule,” to be opened by Ottawa residents in 50 years’ time, when Canada will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.

    Read Mayor Watson’s entire State of the City address on his website: www.JimWatsonOttawa.ca.

  • Council approves 2017 Budget – improving core services and maintaining two per cent tax commitment

    Today, City Council approved the 2017 Budget, focussing on strengthening core municipal services and long-term affordability. The budget maintains Council’s commitment to limiting the property tax increase to two percent.

    The budget also places emphasis on supporting core community priorities such as social infrastructure, safety, the environment, support for the arts and efforts to promote economic growth. Substantial investments are also made in active transportation, improved transit services, and programs that support our most vulnerable residents.

    Taking into account the provincial upload of social services, the city is increasing the level of investment in the Community and Social Services budget by $5.92 million in City money, which is a 3.1 per cent increased investment over last year. This includes the money for the EquiPass, Community Sustainability Fund, and increasing the inflationary funding from 1.5 to 2 per cent for community agencies.

    One of the key social investments is the introduction of the new EquiPass, which provides residents living below the low income cut-off with a 50 percent discount on a monthly adult transit pass. When it comes into effect this spring, a single person will see a $56 savings every month (close to $672 per year) – leaving more household finances for necessities – such as food, clothing and accommodation. EquiPass is the largest one-time increase in financial support for public transit in the City’s history.

    In addition, the City’s ongoing efficiency reviews – which included the recent corporate alignment – helped secure accumulated savings for both 2017 and 2018. The new alignment enabled the City to operate within its means and optimize its ability to deliver programs and services in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

    The budget also includes a 1.25 percent increase in the total amount generated from transit fares and limits the surcharges for water and sewer services to an increase of five percent. In addition to capping the residential property tax at two percent, the transit levy was set at 2.5 percent, and the garbage fee rose slightly by $2, amounting to approximately $72 per year for an urban home assessed at $395,400 and $60 per year for a rural home assessed at the same amount.

    Budget 2017 continues Council’s commitment to strengthen the long-term vision of an affordable, caring, sustainable and prosperous city. City-wide highlights include:

    An Affordable City
    • Limit the proposed tax revenue increase for the City-wide levy to two percent
    • Continue setting money aside to reduce the funding gap for the maintenance of City assets
    • Maintain the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase at five percent

    A Caring City
    • Introduce the new EquiPass, a transit pass to assist residents earning below Statistic Canada’s low income cut-off
    • Invest in city-wide safety by adding 24 new paramedic positions and five new emergency response vehicles to maintain our Paramedic Service’s ability to meet legislated response time targets
    • Maintain our $16-million investment in affordable housing and homelessness programs
    • Invest in community agencies currently receiving Community Funding that deliver a wide range of programs and services
    • Improve road safety by expanding the red-light camera program and funding new street lighting, traffic control devices and crossing-guards
    • Strategic investments in parks and recreation infrastructure and support to recreation programming
    • Increase funding for arts infrastructure and programs that support the long-term marketing and growth of our festivals and other arts, culture and heritage projects that will be chosen by the community

    A Sustainable City
    • Continue improving the City’s cycling infrastructure network with a focus on safety and convenience, featuring buffered bike lanes, enhanced cycling crossings and wider sidewalks for pedestrians
    • Invest in measures to protect the urban tree canopy
    • Build the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel – the largest Ottawa River Action Plan project
    • Rehabilitate the communal well system that serves rural Ottawa

    A Prosperous City
    • Bid on the 2021 Canada Summer Games to bring tourism dollars into the local economy
    • Continue work on the O-Train Confederation Line project
    • Invest $1.75 million to improve and expand bus service for customers in growing areas of the city
    • Invest in transportation infrastructure to support growing neighbourhoods in the west, east and south
    • Support for special events in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary

    For further information on Budget 2017, visit ottawa.ca/budget.

    Quotes

    “Affordability and inclusiveness are the building blocks of Budget 2017,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “That means keeping the property tax increase at two percent, ensuring equitable access to transit for low income earners, and providing assistance to the most vulnerable members of our community. These steps compliment our budget investments in growth, mobility, economic development, safety and the environment – creating a vibrant city and strong local economy.”

    “The City has worked hard to find efficiencies across the entire organization,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “We are creating a dynamic organization that will strengthen our core municipal services to residents and deliver on the Council priorities that enhance the lives of residents and our city’s future.”