• Mayor Jim Watson’s 2018 State of the City Address

    State of the City Address
    Mayor Jim Watson
    Wednesday, January 31

    The beginning of a New Year always brings with it the opportunity to look back and acknowledge what we have accomplished as a City and as a Council.

    It’s an exercise I enjoy going through, because it reminds us of the memorable events that have helped define our city in the last year, and gives us an opportunity to remember how our community came together.

    With our city growing at a fast pace and so many issues coming before us, it’s easy to lose sight of the great community-building projects that are constantly taking shape around us.

    Before I start, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin People, who have lived on these ancestral lands for millennia.

    I value our ongoing relationship with the surrounding Algonquin communities – Pikwakanagan, Kitigan Zibi and the Algonquin’s of Ontario – and I look forward to continuing our work together to improve the lives of our residents.

    And I want to welcome Chief Kirby Whiteduck from Pikwakanagan who has joined us today.

    As I look back on this past year, it’s easy to recognize that 2017 was a great year of celebrations for Ottawa.

    Our city quickly became the centre of festivities as our country came together in its nation’s capital to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

    And after years of planning, our entire community embraced the celebrations and made 2017 an unforgettable year in Ottawa.

    But our community also came together through great challenges, and surmounted hardships like we had rarely seen before.

    And I am proud of how we rolled up our sleeves and overcame these challenges together – the way Ottawans usually do.

    As we begin the fourth and final year of this Council’s mandate, I want to highlight some of the progress we have made together in 2017 and over the last few years, before I take stock of the work that remains for Council and our staff to achieve in 2018.

    As you might have guessed, what really stood out for me over the past year is the success of our Ottawa 2017 celebrations and the boost it has brought to our city and to our local pride.

    There is absolutely no question that our Ottawa 2017 events have had a significant impact on our local economy, and our national and international reputation as a destination of choice.

    For example, a Conference Board of Canada report published in November indicated that Ottawa-Gatineau’s economy will enjoy in 2017 and 2018 its strongest two-year period in the last 10 years.

    The report also forecasted that our region’s GDP would increase by 2.5 per cent in 2017, and another 2.2 per cent in 2018, adding approximately 9,100 jobs to our economy.

    The study went on to say that, in addition to an increase in jobs in the federal public service, as well as the benefits of significant infrastructure investments like the Confederation Line, our region’s growth also benefited from an increase in tourism generated by our 2017 celebrations.

    It was truly a great year for our city.

    As we all know, Ottawa is always a national destination for Canada Day celebrations.

    But for 2017, we made it an entire year to remember in Ottawa, highlighted by events that captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors alike.

    And our efforts have received international attention.

    Ottawa was recognized in the LA Times as being “cool with a capital C,” and the New York Times also featured Ottawa in an article recommending all the hip attractions and best restaurants that tourists with 36-hours to spend in our city should visit.

    Ottawa has shed its reputation as a sleepy government town, and is emerging as an exciting and dynamic city for tourism.

    With Ottawa 2017, we went from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold.

    Our 12-month long program of events gave everyone a reason to visit Ottawa.

    We kicked off the year with a historic human chain of 400 children from City Hall to the Parliament of Canada.

    Each child passed along a sacred Indigenous flame that would see the Governor General reignite Canada’s Centennial Flame, first lit up in 1967 during our centennial celebrations.

    We offered our residents and visitors a series of unique culinary events.

    During two weeks in July, we lifted groups 150 feet in the air to offer them a gourmet dinner or cocktails with the best views in the city.

    More than 3,000 people enjoyed this experience called Sky Lounge, which had a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.

    Canada’s Table was another unforgettable culinary evening – a thousand-person dinner served by 20 of the best chefs in Canada, right in front of Parliament.

    This event had a 99 per cent satisfaction rate, and this once-in-a-lifetime event sold out in 12 seconds.

    Throughout JUNO Week, Ottawa threw a party, and Canada brought the music.

    We managed to put a spotlight on Ottawa as a music city by hosting the 2017 JUNO Awards, which were seen by more than 6.5 million viewers nation-wide.

    What a beautiful sight to see JUNO Award winner Ruth B. perform beside the incredibly talented kids from Orkidstra.

    We also took this opportunity to announce that the City would fund the development of Ottawa’s first Music Strategy, aimed at supporting our local artists, musicians and producers.

    Councillor Leiper and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) have been hard at work consulting with stakeholders and developing this strategy, and I look forward to their recommendations to FEDCO in April.

    Of course our sesquicentennial festivities included a celebration of everything winter, as well as our national sport, hockey.

    We dedicated an entire weekend to celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup, which was first presented in Ottawa by Lord Stanley.

    For the occasion, we were joined by Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, as well as former NHL stars.

    We hosted an exciting and scenic Red Bull Crashed Ice competition over the Rideau Canal Locks, between Parliament and the historic Chateau Laurier.

    Approximately 200,000 people braved the cold to join the crowd, 31 per cent of whom were out-of-town visitors.

    On July 2nd, we held the historic interprovincial picnic on the Alexandra Bridge, offering the best views in the National Capital Region.

    This sold-out event was a Canadian first, and 34 per cent of the people who attended were from out-of-town.

    It was an honour to welcome the Premiers of Ontario and Québec in the middle of the bridge with my colleague and friend, Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin.

    Throughout the year, Ottawa Welcomes the World partnered with over 85 embassies and high commissions to host an impressive 43 multi-cultural events at Lansdowne Park.

    These events surpassed our attendance projections and welcomed more than 232,000 students, residents and visitors, all wanting to learn more about other cultures and Ottawa’s rich diversity.

    This summer, we welcomed more than 325,000 visitors to Kontinuum, an underground sound and light show designed in the Lyon Station of the O-Train Confederation Line.

    And who could forget the last weekend in July, when we hosted La Machine and their two gigantic street performance creatures, Long Ma the dragon-horse, and Kumo the spider.

    They battled each other through our streets, as Long Ma sought to retrieve his wings, which Kumo had stolen from him.

    It was an incredible four days of performances that attracted 750,000 spectators and captured the imagination of every resident and visitor.

    It was a very special event – probably the event of the year for our city – and I’m very proud that we could deliver such an experience for the huge crowds.

    Last fall, residents and visitors were able to take in Mìwàte at Chaudière Falls and rediscover this stunning site and its spectacular illumination.

    This powerful tribute to Indigenous People and the Algonquin heritage of our region was produced in collaboration with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, with the great assistance and support of Christina Ruddy, who represented this community on the Ottawa 2017 Board of Directors and was an important voice for the Algonquin vision on all things 2017.

    Approximately 45,000 people experienced Mìwàte over four weeks, with a 98 per cent satisfaction rate.

    We were chosen to host the Can-Am League’s All-Star Game at RCGT Park for the first time, thanks to the efforts of the Ottawa Champions, their owner, Miles Wolfe, and their President, David Gourlay.

    We then had the honour of hosting the 105th Grey Cup and the Shaw Grey Cup Festival, which were tremendous successes.

    This was truly an incredible event – one that brought together CFL fans from right across the country to celebrate Canadian football here in the nation’s capital.

    TD Place – which was completely sold-out – was transformed into a picturesque snow globe during the game, which was one of the best Grey Cup games in recent history.

    And I don’t think you could have gotten a more Canadian moment than that snowy halftime show, which saw Shania Twain entering the stadium on a dog sled before being escorted on stage by a Mountie.

    It was a big boost for our tourism sector as well, with the event generating approximately $100 million in local economic activity.

    My thanks to former Mayor Jim Durrell who, together with Bernie Ashe and the team at OSEG, did a terrific job with not only the game, but also the festival.

    Ottawa also hosted Canada’s top curlers at the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.

    This was an epic battle to determine who would represent our country at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.

    It was a fantastic result for our local team, when Rachel Homan and her squad clinched the gold medal before an ecstatic crowd at Canadian Tire Centre.

    These local champions are now headed to South Korea next month, and I wish them the very best of luck in their Olympic journey.

    Finally, we capped the year off by hosting a very successful NHL 100 Classic on December 16, which marked the 100th anniversary of the very first NHL game.

    This game recreated the historic 1917 match between the Senators and the Montreal Canadiens.

    Despite the bitter cold, it was one of the most well-attended sporting events our city had ever.

    I have only scratched the surface of all the wonderful activities that took place throughout the city to mark this special year in Canada’s history.

    There were many other events that were put on by community associations, local clubs and arts organizations – events that brought our neighbourhoods together.

    And I want to thank Members of Council for their support of our Ottawa 2017 initiative over the last few years.

    These celebrations would not have been possible without your early commitment and support.

    Ultimately, we leveraged our City’s $5.8 million dollar investment to generate significant funding from other levels of government and from our generous private sector partners like CIBC and Bell.

    In the end, we delivered a $40 million program of major events and festivities for our residents and visitors.

    We all worked together to deliver this memorable year for our city, and our residents are even prouder of Ottawa thanks to our efforts.

    And I want to take this opportunity to thank all our Ottawa 2017 volunteers, who put in close to 25,000 hours to ensure these events were a success.

    We would not have been able to pull this off without them.

    I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the outstanding work of our board of directors and the team at Ottawa 2017, led by our very capable Executive Director, Guy Laflamme.

    I know every member of the team put in countless hours to make this a tremendous year in Ottawa, and you have succeeded thanks to your efforts.

    Our Executive Director, Guy Laflamme, and his entire team did amazing work, and we owe them all a warm round of applause.

    I would like to thank Councillors Jean Cloutier and Mathieu Fleury, as well as Steve Ball, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, who all played a key role in the planning and the exceptional delivery of these events.

    Now with the help of Members of Council, we have managed to preserve a bit of the historic record of 2017.

    Your communities have contributed mementos and keepsakes of these celebrations, which have been placed in the 2017 time capsule.

    On February 20th, we will be placing the time capsule inside the walls that make up this very building, with instructions for a future Council to open it in 2067 – during our country’s bicentennial year.

    I know a lot will have changed by then, but I hope our future residents will get as much enjoyment from their discovery as we did this year.

    I also want to recognize our hospitality sector – our hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions – who worked particularly hard throughout the year.

    You have been exceptionally busy, and I want to congratulate you on a job well done.

    I’m pleased to report that our full-year numbers for 2017 now show an increase of 7 percent in average hotel occupancy rates.

    A Smith Travel Research report published this fall confirmed that Ottawa’s hotel revenue growth outperformed every other major city in Canada.

    The great news is that hotels, restaurants and shops reaped the benefits right across the city – and let’s remember that Ottawa hotels employ over 6,000 residents.

    Hotels in our suburban centres like Orléans, Bells Corners, Kanata and Barrhaven, as well as the airport hotels, saw their occupancy rates increase significantly throughout the year, while those in the downtown were at full capacity on a number of occasions and saw much higher revenues than usual.

    2017 has also been a fantastic year for the Shaw Centre, which has welcomed almost double the number of conventions and delegates compared with previous years.

    Congratulations to Nina Kressler and her team at the Shaw Centre for their exceptional efforts to solidify Ottawa’s reputation as a great city to visit and to host outstanding events.

    And now after 2017, we can add events like the Grey Cup, Red Bull Crashed Ice, La Machine, the NHL 100 Classic, and many national and international sporting events to the list of successful events hosted here in the nation’s capital.

    Beyond the festivities and their economic impact, Ottawa 2017 also brought social benefits.

    As an example, let me point to the partnership that Guy and his team delivered with the Ottawa Mission at Inspiration Village.

    When Guy reached out to Peter Tilley to offer the Mission some space to showcase their programs, he quickly saw an opportunity to do much more – to give some of their former Mission clients a chance to earn money, build their confidence and slowly re-enter the work force.

    The Mission hand-picked five individuals who had recently graduated from their custodial program and who were looking for an opportunity to gain some work experience.

    What started as a simple work opportunity turned into a story of inclusion, personal growth and self-worth – one that George, Wenyin, Pierre, Noah and Kerry will not soon forget – and one that could change the course of their lives.

    Now we must work to sustain the momentum we have worked so hard to build in 2017.

    And with that goal in mind, we have already received some encouraging news leading into 2018.

    A few weeks ago, Taekwondo Canada announced that Ottawa will host the 2018 National Taekwondo Championships at the EY Centre in February.

    This national event is expected to attract almost 1,000 athletes, coaches and family members to the city, as well as hundreds of visitors, generating approximately $800,000 in economic activity.

    We will also be hosting the Canadian Track & Field Championships at Mooney’s Bay again this year.

    We will continue to focus on major events that will help us stimulate our economy.

    Since the launch of our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy, the winning bids and hosted events have generated approximately $250 million for our hospitality sector and our local economy.

    But beyond identifying future opportunities for growth, we must also secure the funds to attract these events to Ottawa and deliver them successfully.

    And I’m proud to say we have taken a crucial first step in that direction by working with our partners to implement the Hotel Tax, which will provide greater financial capacity for Ottawa Tourism and the Shaw Centre to attract more major events, conventions and visitors to Ottawa.

    I want to acknowledge all our tourism partners who have joined us this morning, and I thank them for their great work in 2017 and their continued efforts to grow tourism to Ottawa.

    For the last number of months, a team from Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa 2017 and my office has been evaluating the success and sustainability of our 2017 events to see which ones we can build upon, and which ones could potentially be brought back in future years.

    A number of announcements will follow in the coming weeks and months as their efforts come to fruition.

    But in the meantime, I’m pleased to announce that Ottawa Tourism has already agreed to set aside funding to repeat Agri 150 in the summer of 2018.

    Offered in all four rural wards of the city, Agri 150 was a successful series of culinary events that brought residents and visitors out to farms in rural Ottawa.

    There, participants rediscovered how local food is produced, in addition to enjoying farm to table gourmet meals on-site.

    I’m also pleased to announce that – after holding 43 very successful events under the banner of Ottawa Welcomes the World at Lansdowne Park – we will be repeating this rich cultural experience over the course of a week in July.

    Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement on the official program for 2018.

    I have also encouraged our tourism partners to sustain the momentum by continuing to bid on large-scale events like the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in 2021 and beyond.

    This type of event attracts great crowds and provides valuable international visibility.

    The Ottawa Senators and Ottawa Tourism continue to push on this front, and I wish them luck in their efforts.

    Another opportunity I’m excited to announce is that Ottawa was recently selected as Ontario’s host candidate for the 2020 North American Indigenous Games.

    These successful multi-sport games with a unique emphasis on Indigenous culture were held in Toronto in 2017, and the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario is excited at the thought of repeating the experience in the nation’s capital.

    This event would attract 5,000 athletes, coaches and officials from across Turtle Island to Ottawa in the summer of 2020, as well as more than $40 million in economic activity.

    But beyond this significant boost to our tourism sector, it would also be a meaningful way to engage in our country’s Reconciliation efforts and recognize the achievements of Indigenous youth.

    The North American Indigenous Games are specifically referenced in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report.

    I look forward to working with our Indigenous community partners, the Algonquins, as well Ontario’s other First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, along with Ottawa Tourism and the Aboriginal Sport and Wellness Council of Ontario to highlight what a great city Ottawa would be to host the 10th edition of the North American Indigenous Games.

    The City is also actively engaged in growing other industries that make our city vibrant and economically diverse.

    For example, just this fall, we created the new independent Ottawa Film Office.

    Led by Bruce Harvey – a former film producer – the Film Office will ignite the development and growth of our local film, television and digital production industry over the coming years.

    This is now a $100 million dollar a year industry for Ottawa, creating hundreds of cultural employment opportunities for local students, film crew, actors and set managers.

    The new Film Office board of directors – composed of industry stakeholders and tourism representatives – is actively working on a plan to take this sector of our economy to the next level.

    And given his leadership and dedication to the Ottawa 2017 board of directors last year, and his experience in the movie business, I’ve asked Councillor Cloutier to serve as the City’s representative on this board.

    This unparalleled enthusiasm and confidence in our local economy is spurring the development of new hotels in all part of the city.

    Construction will start this year on one of these hotels in Bells Corners – a $20 million dollar project that will play a key role in revitalizing that neighbourhood.

    This project was in part made possible by the Bells Corners Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which I committed to in the last election.

    This year, thanks to the advocacy of Councillor Fleury and to $100,000 secured in Budget 2018, Montreal Road businesses will provide input in developing their own Community Improvement Plan.

    This CIP will help revitalize the Montreal Road streetscape and will generate much needed investments and jobs in Vanier.

    With 2017 behind us, Ottawa will also benefit from a series of legacy projects – investments that have helped us strengthen our economy and revitalize our city for generations to come.

    Through our partnership with Just Food, we surpassed our goal, and delivered 30 new community gardens across the city, as well as our Canada 150 Maple Groves, where 150 Canadian Maples were planted in each of the city’s 23 wards for generations to enjoy.

    The Giver 150 playground at Mooney’s Bay is a great legacy project that was built with the help of kids from our community.

    This unique park is a wonderful tribute to our landscape and to the regions of Canada, with stables, moose, fish and snowshoes integrated into the playground.

    Since its opening, the Giver 150 playground has been extremely well received by the community in Councillor Brockington’s ward, with dozens of families enjoying the unique play structures every time I go by.

    Another facility that opened last year was the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    After a full year of operations in 2017, this new incubation hub for Ottawa’s entrepreneurs is doing phenomenally well and already bursting at the seams.

    It is the new home of Invest Ottawa, and a place where innovative ideas take shape and quickly become promising startups.

    And I’d like to share one of these success stories with you.

    Joining us in the audience this morning is Corey Ellis, a Telfer School of Management graduate who is now the co-founder and CEO of a company called The Growcer.

    Corey and his team at The Growcer have designed a state-of-the-art food growing system inside a sea container, where growing conditions are monitored every few seconds to ensure the greatest yield on their crops.

    This innovative agricultural solution reduces the cost of fresh produce and ensures greater food security for residents in these communities.

    This turn-key system can be deployed into any northern community where sustainable agriculture would otherwise be impossible.

    A system is now in place in seven northern locations, with the latest being recently installed in Churchill, Manitoba, where it is delivering fresh produce beyond the community’s expectations.

    This innovative idea has become a reality because of a local entrepreneur, and thanks in part to the business coaching of the team at Invest Ottawa.

    Congratulations, Corey.

    Several success stories like this one have materialized at Invest Ottawa.

    Since we opened Invest Ottawa in 2012, the team has facilitated the creation of more than 5,500 jobs locally.

    They have also led more than 100 missions abroad, which has helped 600 local companies grow their business in the global marketplace.

    The team at Invest Ottawa has also helped 25 international companies to setup shop or grow their footprint in Ottawa.

    In their quest to help local entrepreneurs start and grow a business, they have worked with approximately 350 startups annually, with more than 30 every year finding themselves in the accelerator program at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

    Another initiative spurring community collaboration is the House of Sport at the RA Centre, which we officially opened on January 18.

    The House of Sport was developed jointly with the City and Ottawa Tourism to offer a home to a number of sporting organizations that help us attract national and international events to Ottawa.

    A successful sports industry strengthens our local economy by hosting major events, stimulating tourism and attracting talent to Ottawa.

    I’m proud that the City of Ottawa supported this project with funding, which made this project possible for Ottawa Tourism and the RA Centre to deliver.

    The House of Sport will help Ottawa maintain a competitive edge over other cities, and it will assist Ottawa Tourism in its future bids to attract major sporting events.

    I want to thank Councillor Mitic, our Sport Commissioner, who was an early supporter of this initiative.

    The new Ottawa Art Gallery building, which is three times larger than the existing space, welcomed its first tenants in early January.

    I’m pleased to announce that the Ottawa Art Gallery will have its official opening on April 28.

    And later this year, many local arts organizations will be able to take over their new facilities at the redeveloped Arts Court.

    This includes a new Black Box Theatre, developed in partnership with the University of Ottawa.

    This $100 million redevelopment is a lasting investment into arts and culture – one that will become a hub for Ottawa’s arts community for decades to come.

    This represents only part of the growth that we will help the arts community achieve this year.

    Thanks to Budget 2018, the Arts Momentum Fund will receive a renewal of $150,000 in funding so that arts and culture organizations can work together to create a strategy that will define the future of Ottawa’s cultural sector for years to come.

    There is also great potential awaiting Ottawa with the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.

    I look forward to working with all our partners in the coming years to ensure that this prime, undeveloped downtown site becomes a major city attraction for all to enjoy.

    I am pleased that, just last Thursday, this project passed a significant milestone when RendezVous LeBreton and the NCC reached an agreement in principle to move forward with the development of the site.

    It was a very busy year for the National Capital Region.

    Even with all the 2017 celebrations going on across the city, Members of Council remained busy making important decisions and delivering progress for our residents here at City Hall.

    Our Planning Committee, under the leadership of Chair Harder, has a number of accomplishments to be proud of.

    Last year, the Committee dealt with 107 development applications involving either Zoning By-law or Official Plan amendments.

    Those applications often involve large-scale projects that help residents have sufficient housing options and keep the cost of living affordable.

    In 2017, Council approved a strong mix of new residential developments, from infill to subdivisions, and everything in between.

    We approved several high-rise condo towers in areas near O-train stations, delivering on our objectives to promote transit-oriented development.

    For example, the 22-storey tower at 1960 Scott Street will offer 149 residential units near Westboro Transit station.

    On Preston Street, in Councillor McKenney’s ward, we approved a 25-storey, 175-unit residential tower, close to the Carling Avenue station and the planned Gladstone Avenue station.

    This is in the same vicinity as the new site of the Civic Hospital – one of the largest projects in our city’s history, and one that will transform health care delivery in Ottawa, to be located in Councillor Brockington’s ward.

    We also approved the redevelopment of two urban mixed-use areas to revitalize the aging Westgate and Elmvale malls.

    These shopping centres have reached the end of their lifecycle, giving us the opportunity to redevelop the sites with transit-oriented residential projects and better-planned public spaces.

    The Planning Committee also paved the way for a number of new residential subdivisions in all corners of the city:

    • Two in Stittsville in the west end;
    • Two in Barrhaven and Findlay Creek in the South;
    • And Avalon West in the east end of the City.

    The Committee also invested many hours in developing revitalization strategies for existing neighbourhoods in need, such as Heatherington and Vanier South-Overbrook.

    This was part of the Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods initiative, and detailed plans have been adopted to help invigorate both neighbourhoods.

    Despite this busy year at Planning, I’m proud to report that in 2017, there were only six contested hearings at the OMB involving the City of Ottawa, down from 19 in 2015.

    That’s a decrease of roughly 68 per cent over two years.

    This speaks to the City’s successful collaboration with residents, applicants and community groups on development projects.

    I want to congratulate and thank Chair Harder for her leadership on this front – she should be very proud of these accomplishments.

    I want to point out that the projects that go before Planning Committee also play an important role in stimulating our economy, since they represent thousands of well-paying construction jobs across our city.

    Private sector employers are expanding their presence in our region.

    A recent report by CBRE Real Estate Brokerage showed that the industrial vacancy rate in Ottawa now sits at 4.6%

    This is the tenth straight quarter of declining vacancy rates in our city, and the lowest since 2006, which has the sector looking to build new capacity to meet the demand.

    And the residential sector is following suit, with residential building starts up 35% in 2017 compared to the year before.

    And the City is also investing record amounts in public infrastructure projects, playing a critical role in creating jobs in our city.

    Later this year, we will take major steps on building the exciting Central Library Project at Booth and Albert.

    Thanks to the leadership of Councillor Tim Tierney and his work with the Ottawa Public Library board, his team is currently evaluating outstanding proposals from some of the most respected architecture firms in the world.

    Five shortlisted designs will move on to the final round of the procurement process once partnership funding has been secured.

    In the coming months, the Ottawa Public Library team will be bringing forward a report to its Board and City Council for approval on project funding.

    But in order for us to finalize the budget for the new Central Library, we will first need to know if our partnership with Library and Archives Canada has been both approved and funded accordingly by the federal government.

    Councillor Tierney and I had a very positive meeting on Monday with Finance Minister Bill Morneau to discuss this exact point.

    I am very much looking forward to the next step in this community-building project for our city.

    This modern, collaborative facility will be located near LRT’s Pimisi Station, making access easier for all its users.

    And we will work with Councillor McKenney to ensure the facility has state-of-the-art connectivity to our pedestrian and cycling networks to better serve residents.

    Towards that end, 2018 will see 15 kms of new cycling infrastructure added to our cycling network, helping us reach our goal of adding 72 km of cycling facilities to the City’s growing network by the end of 2018.

    Over this Term of Council, we will have invested $80 million dollars to expand our cycling and pedestrian infrastructure in all parts of the city.

    These are historic investments in cycling and active transportation, and I want to thank Councilor Egli for his leadership and commitment to improving active mobility in our city.

    We know that cycling can become an important link for commuters wanting to use our new LRT system when it opens later this year.

    These investments can also help us increase safety for both cyclists and drivers who share our roads.

    For example, a recent safety audit of the Laurier Avenue bike lanes revealed that overall, segregated bike lanes in our city have reduced collisions involving pedestrians by 50%, collisions with other cyclists by 30% and, and motor vehicle incidents have decreased by 10%.

    I’m pleased that construction has started on the Rideau Canal cycling and pedestrian bridge that will like Fifth Avenue to Clegg Street.

    This facility will be a great asset to improve connectivity for old Ottawa East and Main Street residents wanting to get to and from Lansdowne Park.

    This $21 million dollar project is a great example of what we can accomplish when all three levels of government work together to fund important infrastructure projects.

    And I want to thank Ministers Catherine McKenna and Yasir Naqvi for delivering on this exciting project that will benefit their Ottawa Centre residents.

    Another great example of what can be achieved by working together with our federal and provincial counterparts is our light rail transit project.

    Thanks to the collaboration of all three levels of government, not only will Stage 1 of LRT come into service later this year – but we have already secured the funding for Stage 2 of this city-building project.

    Because of Council’s commitment to the Confederation Line and Stage 2 of LRT, the provincial and federal governments are both investing with confidence in the future of transit in Ottawa.

    And we had the pleasure of welcoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at our train assembly plant at Belfast Yard in June for his announcement of the $1.16 billion federal share of funding for Stage 2 LRT.

    This project is not only the most transformative since the Rideau Canal – it will also be the most environmentally valuable project in our city’s history.

    Once fully implemented, LRT Stages 1 and 2 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 200,000 tonnes annually by 2048.

    This investment will assist in the sustainable urban growth of our city, and will lead to a healthier future for many of our residents.

    I also want to thank Councillors Taylor, Wilkinson, Hubley, Qadri and El-Chantiry, as well as Chairs Blais and Egli, for their efforts in committing $3 million dollars to fund the EA for LRT from Bayshore to Kanata, a study that is underway this year.

    Thanks to the leadership of Kanata-Carleton MP Karen McCrimmon, this study is being cost-shared with the federal government.

    This year, we will finally see the results of our work and our investments.

    Although this will be a big year for transit transformation in Ottawa, we maintain our efforts to plan for the future.

    In just over a week, Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin and I will hold our first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Transportation, here at City Hall.

    I look forward to working with Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin, as well as my colleagues Chairs Blais and Egli, to see how our two cities can better integrate our transit services and large transportation projects.

    But building our city is not just about new construction – it’s also about preserving and protecting our heritage and what makes Ottawa a great place to live.

    On this front, I’m proud of the work that Councillor Nussbaum, Harder and I have accomplished in the last year working with the Heritage Matters Taskforce on behalf of our heritage community.

    The Taskforce has been meeting to review the progress of important heritage issues, and helps set priorities and establish next steps.

    Later this year, with the guidance of the taskforce, staff will be bringing forward a recommendation to Council regarding possible heritage incentives that would help prevent demolition by neglect, as well as enhance and modernize the current heritage grant program to streamline the process and cut red tape.

    And the City’s conservation efforts are not limited to buildings – they are also about preserving our city’s natural heritage and environment.

    Thanks to Councillor Qadri’s efforts, the City recently used $1.5 million from the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Acquisition Fund to protect roughly five hectares of Shea Road Woods, a recreational greenspace that is very popular with residents.

    Our Environment and Climate Protection Committee, under the leadership of Councillor Chernushenko, has been hard at work, focussing its efforts on reducing the City’s energy consumption and carbon footprint in the fight against climate change.

    This year, we will be investing more than $2 million into energy conservation, greening our fleet and protecting our environment.

    Along with our investments in Stage 1 and 2 of LRT, new buses for our transit system, and our cycling network, we will be investing more than ever to become more sustainable and protect our environment.

    The City has worked with more than 80 community partners, including Hydro Ottawa, Enbridge, Ecology Ottawa, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, to develop Energy Evolution, a plan to transform Ottawa into a leading city powered by clean energy.

    In Budget 2018, Council agreed to invest a total of $2 million into Energy Evolution and the City’s own environmental projects, which include energy efficiency, greening our fleet and supporting renewable energy use in Ottawa.

    And I want to reiterate that these energy-conscious decisions are not only good for the environment – they make great financial sense, with long-term cost savings being generated for taxpayers.

    As an example, our recent conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology will generate savings of $6 million annually.

    Our residents can also enjoy some of the highest quality and safest drinking water in the world.

    For the fifth year in a row, Ottawa’s drinking water system has received a perfect grade of 100 per cent.

    In addition to this, we’ve adopted new procedures that have led to a reduction in the number of times residents are without water during watermain breaks.

    These are significant accomplishments, since drinking water is one of our most important core services.

    We also want to enhance the quality of the water in the Ottawa River.

    To this effect, I’m pleased to see that construction on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel is well underway.

    This project will help us protect the environment while improving the accessibility and enjoyment of residents at our beaches, and allowing them to safely practice activities like canoeing and fishing downstream.

    On this note, I want to recognize the ongoing efforts of Deputy Mayor Bob Monette, who has worked tirelessly over the last two years to support the Petrie Island Canoe Club in its quest for better, more permanent storage facilities at Petrie Island.

    And as you know, it was Councillor Monette who helped initiate the Ottawa River Action Plan that will be completed and operational in the next Term of Council.

    Thanks to his work, hundreds of kids and families will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Ottawa River and discover the magnificent wetlands that make up Petrie Island and the Ottawa River.

    I also want to recognize the Ottawa River Keeper, Meredith Brown, for her ongoing work and dedication to keeping our river clean.

    Many of the systems that increasingly help us achieve these energy savings are powered by Smart City solutions.

    That is why we adopted our Smart City Strategy – Smart City 2.0 – this past November – to give us an overall view of how we can improve our systems to better serve residents and leverage cost savings.

    And I want to thank our three sponsors – Councillors Hubley, Tierney and Harder – for their commitment to realizing this initiative.

    Smart City 2.0 is centered on three goals: Connected City, a Smart Economy, and an Innovative Government.

    It’s a city-wide approach that seeks to offer our residents the very best in terms of connectivity and innovation.

    In 2017, the City continued to grow its Open Data program, adding 15 new data sets, which brings the total to 150 currently available through the City’s Open Data Catalogue.

    As a specific example, the City recently issued an RFP to procure a city-wide mobile application in 2018.

    The first release of this mobile application – which will be available for both Android and Apple devices – will allow residents to report any service request, like a damaged streetlight or a pothole, from their phones, while including photos and enabling the tracking of those requests.

    From a client perspective, this means being able to access City services through their mobile device – anytime, anywhere.

    Our investments in innovation also help us stimulate our economy.

    It means tapping into the amazing potential we have here in Ottawa’s technology hub.

    Last March, I led a mission to Queen’s Park, and along with our partners in the tech community and our colleges and universities, we highlighted Ottawa’s potential in the development of next generation networks and autonomous vehicles.

    And we’ve had impressive results so far.

    In October, Ottawa became the first Canadian city to launch testing of an on-street autonomous vehicle communicating with live City infrastructure, and I want to thank Councillor Wilkinson for her support of this project in the Kanata North Business Park.

    And if we can count on a recent statement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, humans will eventually be banned from driving because we’re apparently too much of a danger to ourselves.

    Another example of our potential is the project that Councillor Harder has been leading over the last year – Ottawa’s involvement in the Smart Agri-food Supercluster.

    Councillor Harder’s small but mighty team – made up staff from the City, Invest Ottawa and a few federal government agencies – has learned that Ottawa is capable of supporting the tech-driven agri-food revolution that is currently underway.

    As you may have heard, global food demand will increase by 70% between now and 2050.

    Our region – because of its talent base, our roughly 2,000 farms, and our proximity to the federal government – can support the cross-sector innovation this industry needs.

    The key challenges in this sector include the need for rural connectivity, big data analytics, open platforms, autonomous solutions, and innovation to reduce the environmental impact of farming.

    Councillor Harder’s group has come across the perfect site for an innovative test site: the NCC’s 1,800-acre Greenbelt Research Farm, located at the corner of Woodroffe Avenue and Hunt Club Road.

    There is tremendous interest in this site from a growing number of partners from across Canada and around the world.

    The NCC recently signed a letter to permit the City’s first private autonomous vehicle test track on the site, and this initial step will bring to the site a number of key investors needed to address issues of rural connectivity and 5G technology.

    I am very excited about this opportunity and about its potential for our local economy.

    I want to thank Councillor Harder for her passion and dedication to advancing this project.

    Sometimes, it’s the small things that have a lasting impact in our communities.

    For example, I want to recognize the good work of Councillor Darouze in improving the safety of his residents through the replacement of the old, often rusted 911 Blade signs in his ward.

    911 Blade signs are more than a way to identify addresses in our rural communities – they are a tool used by our front-line Emergency Response workers to quickly identify a location in need of assistance.

    After hearing concerns from residents, Councillor Darouze acted quickly and secured the funding required to have the rusted signs replaced.

    This initiative is an important public safety priority with a big impact, and I want to thank him for his efforts and his service to his residents.

    In 2018, I look forward to celebrating a milestone anniversary with Councillor Moffatt and his community, as we will mark the 200th anniversary of the Village of Richmond.

    There are festivities taking place throughout the year for the occasion, with the big celebration weekend taking place from June 15 to 18.

    I hope many of you will join Councillor Moffatt and I in marking this historic moment in our city’s history.

    Last spring, some of our rural residents and their homes were badly affected as the waters of the Ottawa River rose to levels that we see only once every 100 years.

    These floods lasted for weeks and demanded a sustained response from our emergency workers, as well as the thousands of volunteers who came out to lend a hand.

    Thanks to the leadership of Councillors El-Chantiry, Blais and Taylor, our community came together like never before to help families in their time of need.

    Whether it was filling sandbags or bringing in supplies, residents rolled up their sleeves and helped neighbours whose homes were in the path of this massive flooding.

    I want to thank our City staff and our front-line emergency personnel, who coordinated an effective and courageous response to this natural disaster.

    I also want to recognize the thousands of residents who came out to help their neighbours.

    To recognize their efforts, I’m pleased to announce that, in collaboration with Councillors El-Chantiry, Taylor and Blais, the City will be holding a community gathering later this year, both to mark the first anniversary of these events and to offer a sincere thank you to our dedicated volunteers for their assistance.

    This type of community effort requires the support of many City services, and we need to make the right investments to ensure we can respond and help our residents when they face this level of hardship.

    And I’m proud that the we have continued to increase our investments in our core services.

    Although Ottawa remains one of the safest cities in Canada, we have witnessed a recent increase in gun violence, and we need to do more to keep our streets and our residents safe.

    In light of this, I’m pleased that we are strengthening our commitment to public safety by hiring 25 additional police officers this year, for a total of 75 new officers this Term of Council.

    Our women and men in uniform play a critical role in the lives of our residents – in keeping our children and families safe.

    In light of the recent shootings, I called a meeting last Friday, along with Councillors El-Chantiry, Deans, Harder and Qadri, for Chief Bordeleau to outline our City’s ongoing efforts to tackle this issue.

    Chief Bordeleau took the opportunity to assure us that his members from across the force are actively engaged on the issue of guns and gangs, and we know they are sparing no effort.

    We will keep a close eye on their hard work over the coming months and by working together with the community, I am confident that we can fight the violence that is affecting our community.

    Over the last number of years, there has been an important dialogue between municipalities and upper levels of government on how best to coordinate efforts that will lead to a reduction of overdose deaths across Canada, including Ottawa.

    What is clear is that we need to see real change by working with our community partners on a nimble and responsive strategy that includes mental health promotion, prevention of drug use, as well as community withdrawal and treatment services for those who want and can benefit from them.

    I firmly believe we need a holistic approach to tackle this crisis from a variety of angles and with many partners in order to reach all of our vulnerable populations and to meet people where they are in their journey.

    This includes early supports for parents raising young children; mental health and resources to promote resiliency; equipment and training for first responders and front-line service providers; community withdrawal and treatment options for those who seek them; harm reduction services for those who need them; safe and adequate housing for those who are struggling.

    If we continue working together, I believe we can make a major difference.

    I want to thank Councillor Qadri and the Board of Health for their leadership and capable handling of this complex file.

    Although our efforts to date have played an important role in reducing overdoses in our community, I believe that there is more that can and must be done to get our most vulnerable residents back on their feet.

    I have always believed that we need to do more to offer addiction treatment options to residents that need them.

    That’s why later today, I will be bringing forward for Council’s consideration a notice of motion to encourage the Province to increase the number of detox and treatment beds in our region.

    In 2018, our police officers may face a new challenge and additional budget pressures, as they take on the implementation and enforcement of the incoming legalization of marijuana.

    Their new duties stem from federal and provincial policy decisions, and I believe the responsibility should rest on those levels of government to fund the impact of this legislative change on municipalities, especially since they will be collecting significant taxes on the sale of cannabis.

    And although the bulk of the impact will be felt by the Ottawa Police Service – Bylaw, Fire Services and Ottawa Public Health will also be asked to do more.

    City staff believe that the implementation and enforcement of marijuana legalization will cost the City approximately $8 million dollars.

    With this in mind, I have recently written to Premier Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa to highlight these budget pressures, and to ask them for their support in tackling this challenge.

    Following a recent federal-provincial ministers meeting, it was determined that provinces would keep 70% of all taxes collected, and we believe a portion of those revenues should go to helping municipalities fulfill their new responsibilities.

    My hope is the Ontario Government will acknowledge that this new mandate has indeed been downloaded on to municipalities, and that adequate funding should follow to help cities meet the challenge at hand.

    On another matter, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the work of the Ontario Government and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, who intervened swiftly last year to protect the safety of women accessing important abortion services in our city.

    After Councillor McKenney and I wrote to him to raise our concerns with the intimidation perpetrated by protesters and the absence of a safety bubble around abortion clinics, Minister Naqvi acted quickly to table legislation that has created new safe access zones around these facilities.

    This new law will be effective starting tomorrow, and will prevent protesters from coming within 50 to 150 metres from a facility that offers abortion services.

    Women seeking medical help and counselling should not be spat upon or heckled on their way to an appointment.

    I have confirmed with the Police Services that they are ready with an implementation plan to support this legislative change and keep women safe in these areas.

    Beyond our women and men in uniform, technology can also play a crucial role in making our community safer.

    In the last election, I committed to installing 20 new Red Light Cameras.

    I’m pleased that we have successfully installed 14 of those, and that the remaining six are currently being implemented and will be installed by the fall.

    Red Light Cameras installed at key intersections have led to a reduction of more than 50 percent in dangerous right angle collisions, as well as an overall decrease of 43% in injuries.

    And they are more than a simple deterrent to running red lights – they provided roughly $5.1 million dollars that was reinvested in the City in 2017.

    I will propose that the next Council allocate 100% of this revenue to the Police Service and Safer Roads Ottawa for further enforcement and to strengthen road safety initiatives.

    This will also free up revenue for more pressing issues like the work underway to reduce gun violence across our city.

    Since this Term of Council began, we have also delivered improvements in terms of social services for our residents.

    Since the beginning of this Term of Council, we have also delivered social progress for our residents.

    Progress on affordable housing; progress on affordable transit services; progress on active transportation, all of which make our city more affordable and more livable.

    Last year, the City welcomed three new affordable and supportive housing facilities with approximately 200 beds, thanks to funding from all levels of government.

    We also received $30 million through the Provincial Homes for Good Program, funding which will expand our Housing First Program and support residents living in transitional or supportive housing.

    This operational funding will support approximately 310 families to find and keep suitable affordable and supportive housing in Ottawa.

    And the capital portion will support the construction, renovation or purchase of approximately 150 new supportive housing units in Ottawa, which is much needed progress on this front.

    And with the announcement in November of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy, which will help us leverage funds from both the federal and provincial governments, we can expect to make even greater strides in the years to come.

    I look forward to continuing our work with all our housing partners and agencies to offer our most vulnerable residents a better and more stable life in Ottawa.

    I want to thank Councillor Taylor, our Council Liaison on Housing and Homelessness, and the Chair of CPSC, Councillor Diane Deans, as well as our staff at the City and Ottawa Community Housing, for their work and leadership on this complex and challenging file.

    At an upcoming CPSC meeting, we will be reviewing our progress on the City’s Ten-Year Housing Strategy, and I look forward to this important discussion with the community.

    Housing is a necessity of life, and everyone should have the right to a roof over their head.

    This is on everyone’s mind. And two students from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in Councillor Monette’s ward – Hammad and Zmarak – recently wrote in to bring this issue to the forefront.

    They conducted some research as part of their civics class, and were shocked to learn that 140 of 770 homeless veterans in Canada were here in Ottawa.

    They emphatically told me: “We must change this!”

    These two high school students recognized the sacrifices that these men and women in uniform have made to defend our country and want to find a way to help them.

    They also pleaded with me to bring attention to their plight by raising the issue in a high-profile speech – and I’m pleased that I can lend them a hand today.

    And thinking about this and about the importance of the DND’s presence in our city, I have asked Councillor Mitic to become the City’s first ever Liaison for Veteran and Military Issues.

    With an active service population of 23,000 members, and more the 53,000 veterans and their families living in our city, I think it is more important than ever that we make sure that this important community is receiving the support it needs from the City.

    Councillor Mitic’s mandate will be to solidify our important relationship with the military and our veteran community, by attending their events and association meetings to hear their concerns, as well as becoming their champion at City Hall.

    I want to thank Councillor Mitic for taking on this important mandate – I know he will be dedicated to the cause and will deliver for this community that has always been dear to him.

    As a City, we have also been able to deliver progress for residents falling through the existing support programs offered by OC Transpo.

    Last year, we introduced the Equipass, a monthly transit pass for low-income residents.

    Thanks to the leadership of Transit Commission Chair Stephen Blais, in 2018, we have been able to expand this service with the introduction of the single-ride 50% discounted EquiFare.

    And we are investing a total of $3.5 million dollars in these programs to make transit services more affordable and accessible to our community’s low-income residents.

    This new measure allows us to build the type of city we all want—a city that makes access to public transit more affordable for residents in need.

    This month alone, 3,100 low-income residents benefitted from their monthly subscription to the EquiPass.

    In total, 6,800 residents have registered as eligible EquiPass users, and hundreds of them have already made single-ride EquiFare trips in the first few weeks of January.

    And I’m proud that we have been able to accomplish so much at City Hall because of the eight years of unprecedented labour peace.

    This period of collaboration with our 17,000 employees and their unions is no small feat, and I would like to thank our staff in labour relations, human resources and our management team, as well as our union leaders, for their commitment to this open dialogue.

    With the help of our dedicated staff, under the leadership of City Manager Steve Kanellakos and his very capable Senior Management Team, we are making our community more affordable and welcoming for all our residents, and this is especially important for the most recent members of the community.

    In the fall of 2016, the City and its partners led a successful United for Refugees campaign that really saw our community coming together in compassion and humanity.

    Our efforts included a Welcoming Syrian Refugees Forum, which saw the creation of Refugee 6-1-3 and brought to City Hall more than 1,000 residents wanting to learn how they could help.

    As a result of these efforts, last year, our residents opened their arms and our community welcomed more than 2,100 Syrians in need – families and children who had fled their country to escape a brutal war.

    We also raised $1 million dollars to support their resettlement.

    And I’m very pleased to say that the Syrian community has found a new home in Ottawa, and they are enriching our city with their culture, which I have the pleasure of experiencing regularly at community events.

    I want to acknowledge the good work of Councillor Qaqish in engaging with our social service partners and the Syrian community to facilitate their resettlement.

    I’m also proud that we could help the Somali community host their first ever Somali Festival here at City Hall, which was a great success and will be held again in July of 2018.

    Events like these at City Hall have made this a destination for residents, and a real people place.

    Last year, City Hall hosted 363 events, an increase of more than 50 percent over 2013 numbers, with more community organizations thinking of City Hall to hold their meetings or festivities.

    The Barbara Ann Scott Gallery welcomed over 17,000 visitors in 2017, while more than 27,000 stopped to look at the chains of office of our former municipalities.

    We also have two wonderful art galleries and the Sports Hall of Fame.

    On March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day, I will have the pleasure of welcoming approximately three hundred of our city’s leading women to a breakfast reception at City Hall.

    We will take the opportunity to mark a first in Ottawa’s diplomatic landscape, as the representatives of France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States are now all women, and will be speaking at this special event I look forward to every year.

    We have also had an opportunity to pay tribute to our most accomplished residents who have changed the face of our city.

    The Key to the City recipients now have their own display at City Hall, to which we added the names of six illustrious citizens and institutions last year.

    This year, I’m pleased to announce that I will be presenting the Key to the City to Peter Herrndorf, the outstanding CEO of the NAC, to their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston and Sharon Johnston, and finally to Ms. Hélène Campbell, one of Canada’s most unrelenting advocates for organ donations.

    And City Hall is also more open and accountable than ever, inviting residents to participate in the debates that shape our city and welcoming them around the table at committee meetings.

    We have added four citizen commissioners – dedicated transit users – to provide their input at the Transit Commission.

    Our Board of Health and Built Heritage Sub-Committee also now have voting public members.

    I’m also proud that this Council has held fewer in-camera meetings than Councils of the past.

    Another new way I will be opening up City Hall this year is by holding a ‘’Mayor for a Day’’ contest, which will run from February 2nd to the 28th.

    This contest was suggested by Youth Ottawa’s Youth Engagement Committee, and will be open to Ottawa high school students in grades 9 to 12.

    Those who want to participate can submit their best three ideas to improve the City of Ottawa in a three-minute Youtube video or a 1,000 word essay.

    Two contestants will be selected to join me at City Hall to experience a day in the life of the Mayor of Ottawa.

    I truly believe that there is no better time to be living in Ottawa.

    In fact, our quality of life is the envy of many cities around the world.

    A report published last year by Deutsche Bank ranked Ottawa the best Canadian city to live in, based on eight factors like cost of living, health-care, safety, commute time and pollution.

    Our region added 3,300 net new jobs in December, and this hiring by local employers brought our unemployment rate to 5.5 per cent, the lowest rate since April 2017.

    Money Sense Magazine crowned Ottawa the best place to live in Canada for a second year in a row.

    In explaining why to its readers, Money Sense stated, and I quote: ‘’There are some cities that simply have it all. And for the second consecutive year, that place is Ottawa.’’

    And we have garnered many of these recognitions by keeping the cost of living in Ottawa affordable for our residents.

    That affordability relies on many factors – reasonable rents and housing prices, good paying jobs, low inflation – but governments must also do their part to ensure low taxes for their residents.

    And I’m proud that we are doing what we can to maintain tax increases at a low and predictable level.

    I also want to thank Councillors Hubley and Cloutier for their hard work as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Audit Committee – and the important follow-up work they are engaged with to ensure best value for taxpayers’ dollars.

    Budget 2018 marked the fifth year in a row that we have kept our commitment to capping tax increases at two per cent, a promise we all made in the first year of this mandate.

    I believe we have made great progress and the right investments to improve the lives of our residents.

    Ottawa’s future is promising, and I look forward to working with all Members of Council in 2018 to keep up this progress and the momentum we have created together.

    Ladies and gentlemen – the state of our city is very good, and its future potential is unlimited.

    As Eleanor Roosevelt once wrote: ‘’The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.’’

    Let our dreams ignite our future for an even better Ottawa.

  • State of the City 2017 speech

    2017 State of the City

    A Year of Celebration for Ottawa

    Note: Please check against delivery

    Good morning and Happy New Year.

    Bonjour et bonne année à tous.

    I am honoured to deliver my sixth State of the City address.

    Today I want to reflect on the progress we have made together over the last year.

    My 2016 State of the City address focused on collaboration.

    Last year was an important year in the City of Ottawa.  Not only was it a year filled with planning and preparations for 2017, it was also a year of measured and steady achievement.

    From balancing our budget and maintaining our tax commitment to residents – 2016 has been a year of rolling up our sleeves to get things done.

    Not only have we been busy completing the Confederation Line tunnel, we are also planning for Stage 2. We have pushed ourselves beyond the original scope to include the Trim extension, a link to the Airport – and will undertake an environmental assessment to Kanata.

    In 2016 we undertook our first Trade Mission to India that led to the announcement of a series of new technological and creative partnerships, with an estimated total value of over $80 million in contracts that will benefit Ottawa companies and their Indian counterparts.

    We also invested $18.7 Million to repair existing social housing to enhance living conditions of our most vulnerable residents.

    Last fall, the inaugural Mayor’s Gala for the Arts raised $75,000 for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project, which opens its doors this year.

    I am pleased to announce that the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts will be held on a bi-annual basis, with the next event occurring in the spring of 2018.  I have every confidence that it will develop into Ottawa’s premiere Gala in support of our local arts scene.

    We worked hard to get it right on the environment with the conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology – saving $6 million annually.

    We also have some of the highest ranked drinking water in the world.

    We installed eight large solar rooftops on municipal building in partnership with Energy Ottawa – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 41,382 metric tonnes over 20 years.

    Construction also began on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel to protect the environment, prevent floods and ensure future generations can enjoy swimming and boating in the Ottawa River.

    And any list of accomplishments would not be complete without mentioning that Ottawa was named by the Mercer 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, as the most affordable among all Canadian and U.S. cities.

    Ottawa was also identified as a top technology hub in North America, with strengths in digital media, wireless technology, photonics, defence and cyber security, and data analytics.

    As a City, we have worked hard in 2016 and that enthusiasm has carried into the planning of our country’s 150th anniversary.

    That’s why I believe that 2017 will be a year of celebration – a celebration that Ottawa residents truly deserve, and they worked hard at creating.

    People want to live in our city.

    People want to visit our city.

    And they want to invest in our city.

    Let me take a few minutes to remind everyone of what we are celebrating.

    We get to celebrate as a City in 2017 because we live in a great country – one that has served as a beacon of tolerance, generosity and prosperity for generations of Ottawa residents.

    Events are about more than having fun – they remind us of how privileged we are to call Ottawa and Canada our home.

    It is well known that Ottawa is on a roll, and that we are making progress on a number of important City building fronts.

    From city-wide LRT to the rejuvenated Lansdowne to our new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court, to the recently opened Innovation Centre.

    This progress – in large part – stems from the collaborative efforts we have seen from all tiers of government investing in Ottawa, and from the vitality of our local businesses and community organizations doing the same.

    Ottawa is a growing and thriving city.

    Investors are confidently putting more of their dollars into our city, and the proof of that is all around us – from Bayshore to the Rideau Centre, Shoppers City East, to Tanger mall in Kanada, growth in Barrhaven, Stittsville, Orléans and Riverside South.

    Ottawa is expected to be home to over 1 million people in 2019 – just over two years from now.

    By 2036, our city’s population will reach more than 1.2 million residents.

    I hear firsthand from visitors and residents alike how much they love visiting and living in Ottawa.

    Just a few months ago, MoneySense magazine ranked Ottawa the best place to live in Canada.

    In the same survey, Ottawa was also ranked the best place for new Canadians.

    Ottawa is also at the top of lists for sustainable cities, cycling-friendly cities, and we’re ranked the most business friendly amongst large cities, with the most stable employment rate in Canada.

    Our employment hotspots contain plenty of good paying government, high tech and service sector jobs.

    And even though we have a large public service sector anchoring our local labour market, we are also fortunate that over 1,700 technology companies call Ottawa home.

    So why am I taking time today to brag about our city?

    …Because 2017 will be a year to celebrate Ottawa.

    Earlier this month, the New York Times described Canada as the number 1 country to visit in 2017, and had a feature article about the wonderful places to see and things to do during a weekend spent in Ottawa.

    Lonely Planet awarded Canada the same award last October.

    And WestJet named Ottawa the #1 place to visit in the world in 2017.

    Some will remember 2017 as a year of celebrations marked by great events.

    2017 is also an opportunity to re-imagine Ottawa.

    To see how we have changed and to demonstrate how much Ottawa has to offer.

    Ottawa is our home and we will be rolling out the welcome mat to over 10 million visitors over the next twelve months.

    It is the way in which we deliver service to residents and visitors alike that makes our City truly great.

    Some of you may think that being a good host is a modest goal for 2017 – but let me remind you that it is a big deal for Ottawa.

    Hospitality and tourism spending contributed approximately $1.6 billion to our local economy annually.

    Also the accommodation and food service sector, which are the bulk of Ottawa tourism businesses, employs over 35,000 local residents.

    It really is going to be an unforgettable year here in the National Capital region.

    From the Skate Canada Championship last weekend to the Davis Cup next month, to the Junos and the Grey Cup, it will be a very busy year for residents and visitors alike.

    Ottawa is very proud of our professional sports franchises and their contribution to the vibrancy of our city.

    We celebrated with our Ottawa Champions Baseball Club when they won the Can-Am League Championships in 2016 and we look forward to hosting the 2017 Can-Am League All-Star game here at RCGT Park on July 25th 2017.

    We also celebrated with our Ottawa RedBlacks football club when they won the Grey Cup in 2016 – the first-ever Grey Cup win for Ottawa in 40 years and we look forward to hosting the Grey Cup here at TD Place on November 26th 2017.

    Our Ottawa Senators continue to be strong competitors and we feel optimistic about their chances of making the post-season play offs this year.

    And of course Ottawa loves soccer and the Ottawa Fury will be starting their 2017 season off in a new league – the United Soccer league.

    I invite you to check out the full list of events at ottawa2017.ca.

    We will also be hosting more conventions in Ottawa in 2017 than ever before – doubling the number of business travelers to Ottawa next year.

    Ottawa Tourism estimates that well over 58,000 convention delegates will visit Ottawa in 2017 – this is a 48% increase over last year.

    Today, I want to highlight how Ottawa companies and Ottawa talent are helping to make 2017 a reality.

    Take Inspiration Village as an example. This installation of about 40 sea containers will be located in the ByWard Market and will feature talent from around Canada.

    Dymech Engineering of Greely, in Councillor Darouze’s ward, has been tasked with the design and build of this impressive construction that will be viewed by millions of visitors this summer.

    Other events are firsts for Ottawa, but they will become permanent members of our events community, or make their way back every few years, such as Red Bull Crashed Ice.

    This is all part of the legacy of Ottawa 2017.

    Part of the 2017 legacy lies in our ability to develop and celebrate our local talent.

    Another way we have of celebrating local talent and exceptional contributions to Ottawa is our City’s highest honour the Key to the City.

    I am proud to announce that 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 Ottawa – accepting the award for these fine institutions will be their respective presidents, Cheryl Jensen and Roseann Runte.

    Also this year the City will be presenting a Key to the City to:

    Michel Picard, a well respected broadcaster and long-serving news anchor on Radio-Canada and current host on Unique FM;

    Senator Murray Sinclair, a Canadian Senator, former judge, First Nations lawyer, and was the chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission;

    Sheila Fraser, former Auditor General of Canada from 2001 to 2011, and the first woman to hold this post;

    Henry Burris, the recently retired Canadian football quarterback for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He won three Grey Cup championships;  and,

    Steve Yzerman, a native of Nepean and a   retired professional  hockey player and current general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.

    I also want to reflect on an idea which could make 2017 even more fun – for future generations.

    I am announcing that we will work with the Ottawa Archives  to create a “2017 time capsule,” to be opened by Ottawa residents in 50 years time, when Canada will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.

    I am sorry to advise that I probably won’t be able to attend this event in 2067.

    I would like to invite each Member of Council to work with their communities to propose a representative memento for inclusion in the 2017 time capsule – something that captures the essence of each of our city’s diverse wards.

    Although events are great economic generators, 2017 will also be a year of legacy for the nation’s capital, with many new facilities and projects that will open to the public this year.

    Here is a partial overview of how the face of Ottawa will change in 2017, including public and private partners:

    • National Arts Centre redevelopment will transform this artistic centerpiece;
    • George Street Plaza will see improvements to the public spaces and pedestrian experience;
    • The Stanley Cup monument will be unveiled;
    • The new Ottawa Art Gallery will open boasting three times the space of the previous facility;
    • The Arts Court Redevelopment will be revitalized as the center piece of the new cultural precinct;
    • The renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum will re-open in the east;
    • The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards will serve as an incubator of innovation; and,
    • The new Currency Museum, which will be called the Bank of Canada Museum, will open in July of this year.

    Many of these new or newly renovated facilities will become landmarks in Ottawa.

    They will become places that tourists have to visit – and they are all great examples of what can be achieved when we work together.

    So what can we do to help support this year of celebration?

    Everyone in the city has a role to play, from individual residents and families, businesses, first responders or transit operators – each and every member of our community can be part of the 2017 welcoming team.

    Have you ever been in a foreign city, struggling to find a street or a building?

    We all need to be more than tourism ambassadors this year and in the years to come – we need to communicate our city’s values to everyone we meet.

    Our warmth and approach will communicate our City’s values.

    Many visitors will want to see Parliament Hill, stop in at the Museum of Nature, drop into Lansdowne Park or skate on the historic World UNESCO Rideau Canal.

    But they also want to experience Ottawa’s hospitality. Visitors may enjoy a pint at a local microbrew pub, a trip to a rural village or a meal at one of Ottawa’s new and exciting restaurants like Bar Laurel in Kitchissippi or Riviera just around the corner on Sparks Street.

    There are hidden gems in every corner of Ottawa, including Martha’s Culinaire in Orléans, or the Three Sisters Bake Shop in Canterbury.

    2017 is an opportunity to show a global audience that Ottawa is a fantastic place to live, work, learn, play and raise a family.

    2017 is the start of a new page for tourism in Ottawa’s history.

    That is why we are planning for the future.

    We are partnering with Ottawa Tourism on our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy to attract more major sporting and cultural events to Ottawa…

    I want to take this opportunity to thank Members of Council, and Sports Commissioner Jody Mitic, for supporting Ottawa’s bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.

    This great community building, multi-sport event – the largest in Canada – would bring 20,000 visitors to Ottawa and generate approximately $165 million in economic activity, not to mention a legacy for our next generation of athletes as well as our sport facilities.

    And on a smaller, but no less important scale, in 2018 we will be celebrating the Village of Richmond’s 200th anniversary with the help of Councillor Scott Moffatt.

    City employees are also the face of the City – and I challenge everyone to remember  – what we do best as a team –  we put residents and visitors first.

    I know that the events of 2017 will require you to do more, to work longer hours and to put even more of yourself into the services you deliver.

    I want to thank you for your dedication to date and tell you all that I have confidence in your ability to handle what promises to be an exciting year.

    Part of being a good host is ensuring our city is safe.

    This means supporting and trusting our first responders.

    First responders, like our brave women and men of the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Service and Ottawa Paramedic Services, will be asked to do more over the next year.

    I want to remind all of you that Ottawa is one of the safest cities to live in.

    We recognize that crime in our communities is changing and we are working with our police services to address these challenges.

    We have seen an increase in violent crime and an increased readiness last year to use knives and guns to resolve conflicts.

    Like many of you, I agree that any increase in crime is a flag for concern and renewed effort.

    I can assure you that we are ready for 2017.

    I am confident that our officers of the Ottawa Police Service, under the leadership of Chief Charles Bordeleau and Board Chair  Eli El-Chantiry, are working hard to keep Ottawa safe.

    The Ottawa Police Service has committed to hiring an additional 75 officers over 3 years.

    But more officers are just one tool – we also need a strong bond – a bond of trust – between residents and our men and women in uniform.

    I would like to read you a recent e-mail I received from a resident.

    This is just one simple example of an Ottawa Constable that went beyond the call of duty to serve residents.

    “My name is Heather and last night I was waiting for the bus across from Tunney’s Pasture. Although I was bundled against the cold, I became hypothermic.

    I had been waiting for the bus for half an hour, and was getting cramps in my legs because of the cold, and my feet felt like they were becoming frostbitten. I couldn’t stop shaking.

    One of your officers watched me and realized I was in trouble. He parked his marked SUV and approached me and asked where I was going. When I told him he said he would take me home. He loaded the walker I use because of some of my disabilities into the SUV and drove me home.

    I would very much like to thank my hero… for what he did. In all the circumstances, I neglected to ask his name.

    Please, if you could supply his name, I would be truly grateful… He truly saved my life by going above and beyond the call of duty.

    It is unlikely that you would ever hear about Constable Ian Kemp in the news, or that he would receive an award for his actions, but I chose to highlight this example today as the type of action that our men and women in uniform take on a daily basis to build these bonds of trust.

    I would ask that Constable Ian Kemp stand and be recognized.

    It is the regular actions we take in performing our jobs – exercising our everyday business with intention, which provides opportunities to build the foundation for trust.

    So I want to take this opportunity to point out and to thank Constable Ian Kemp specifically, and all his fellow officers, for their everyday efforts and for reminding us through this one small example of the impact of their work on our City.

    Our paramedics are also there for our community.

    Every day, members of the Ottawa Paramedic Service provide our residents and visitors with the highest level of immediate care during their time of need.

    From first aid and CPR instruction, to community paramedicine programs, paramedics are also active members of the communities in which they serve.

    For example, paramedics Michelle Farragher, Jonathan Sylvester, Matthew Di Monte and Deanna Schofield volunteered their time to staff an ambulance so that a palliative care patient at CHEO could attend this year’s Christmas parade in Orléans.

    For most, a ride in an ambulance usually means going to the doctor, but this time was different for a child who instead got the chance to partake in the joy of the holiday season under medical supervision.

    This small but impactful gesture exemplifies the compassion and goodness of the members of our Paramedic Service.

    I would ask the 4 paramedic’s stand and be recognized.

    Last year, Council also made important investments to add more paramedics and Emergency Response Vehicles.

    I would also like to recognize the exemplary work of Ottawa Fire Services, whose members also consistently face danger on a daily basis.

    Recently, a resident was seriously injured while doing maintenance at their home in Corkery.

    In response, firefighters from Station 84 volunteered their time to demolish a deck so a wheelchair ramp could be installed. But these volunteers knew even more could be done, and the Station proceeded to host a pancake breakfast – raising $2000 for the family. Since then, firefighters continue to visit the family from time to time.

    These actions supported the family during a difficult time, and reflect the dedication of the Fire Service to our residents and to the generosity of our entire community.

    Today we have Lieutenants Scott Morphy and Stephen Logan here representing Station 84.  Please stand to be recognized.

    Our City is at its best when we stand together in times of need.

    By standing together with our first responders we are standing by each other to make our City even safer.

    An increase in visitors can sometimes lead to an increase in big city challenges.

    Many of you have heard about an increase in the number of Opioid overdose deaths in various Canadian cities.

    I want to reassure you that for over 2 years, Ottawa Public Health has been leading the Overdose Task Force, which includes our paramedic service, the Coroner’s office, pharmacies, police and local hospital emergency rooms on overdose prevention in Ottawa.

    We have been monitoring developments across the country and have confidence that, thanks to their public awareness efforts and leadership of the Overdose Task Force, our health department, along with its community partners, are actively engaged to address the situation locally.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Health Board Chair Shad Qadri and Dr. Isra Levy for their dedication to this issue.

    The City is not only preparing for the increase in visitors in 2017 – we are also preparing for a change in demographics.

    Our aging population will be the main story in 2017 — with the share of the population that is 65 and over expected to increase from about 13% in 2011 to over 21% by 2036.

    This demographic shift is playing a key role in the City’s commitment to intensification and to making our transit system and public infrastructure fully accessible.

    Again this year we will be investing to create an Age Friendly Ottawa through the City’s Older Adult Plan.

    This plan includes 50 initiatives to make our city accessible to residents of all ages.

    These practical initiatives include helping older adults navigate the built environment, City facilities and services, and finding creative solutions to help improve travel within Ottawa.

    Ottawa will also welcome over 6,085 new permanent residents this year.

    Last year, Ottawa also welcomed 2,000 Syrian refugees, hundreds of immigrants from other countries and hosted over 8,500 international students – of which approximately 3,000 new students arrive annually.

    I want to thank Councillor Michael Qaqish, Special Liaison for Refugee Resettlement for his important work with this community.

    To residents who stepped up to welcome newcomers from Syria through the Refugee613 initiative, and through other private initiatives, I want to thank you for representing Ottawa’s spirit of generosity.

    Since last summer, I have been working with the Somali community on an action plan to help address local priorities.

    In 2017 we will also celebrate multiculturalism in our city. Just like how Greece,  Lebanon,  Vietnam, China, Italy and many other countries celebrate their cultures with national festivals —  I hope to explore opportunities to celebrate the Somali culture by working with our community partners to develop a Somali Cultural Festival later in this Term of Council.

    It’s the same spirit of generosity that led to the tremendous success of our Ottawa4 Fort McMurray fundraiser, in which over 750 residents and countless businesses took part – this event raised $128,000 for the families of Fort McMurray. I want to thank Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips for co-chairing this event with me.

    I hope that together we can keep the momentum of generosity going.

    Towards that end, we will be planning a number of events to help demonstrate how we are an inclusive and open city.

    That inclusive, open and bilingual City includes our vibrant Francophone community.

    And I am proud to say that the services we offer our Francophone residents have steadily improved in the last few years.

    The most recent data indicates a 26% increase in the number of programs offered by our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services since 2010.

    The number of registrations to these programs is also up by more than 11% during this same period.

    I’m also happy to report that the number of French Language Services complaints is going down year after year. That number went from 119 in 2014 to 83 in 2015, for a reduction of 30%, and this trend downwards was sustained in 2016.

    This reduction in the number of complaints speaks to the City’s commitment to improving the quality of services offered to our Francophone residents.

    In a few months, I will be hosting the 11th Annual Francophone breakfast at City Hall, which will once again provide an opportunity for City and Francophone leaders to come together with the community and highlight the City’s Francophone accomplishments. This year, the City is proud to be partnering with the performing arts centre “La Nouvelle Scène.”

    2017 will be a year of celebration, but it is also a year to reflect and to build partnerships towards reconciliation.

    As many of you know, Ottawa is located on un-ceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation.

    I would like to honour the land and peoples of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, whose ancestors have lived on this territory for millennia, and whose culture and presence have nurtured and continue to nurture this land

    I would also like to honour all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, their elders, their ancestors and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.

    I am mindful that for many of our Indigenous friends and neighbours, the 150th anniversary of Confederation takes on a different significance. Therefore, as we celebrate the founding of our nation, my hope is that we will also continue to takes steps towards reconciliation so that 2017 can also be a year of healing, growth and celebration for all its citizens.

    Towards that end, the City of Ottawa will again be holding an Aboriginal Awareness Day in June.

    A particular passion of mine has been making City Hall a people place and I am happy to say that we have had some success on that front.

    When I see Ottawa residents and tourists enjoy the SENS Rink of Dreams, visit the Barbara Ann Scott Museum or the Sports Hall of Fame, it reminds me of a very simple fact – that City Hall actually belongs to the people of Ottawa.

    Why is this important? Ensuring that City Hall is a people place helps people feel included and involved; it makes them feel more closely connected to their city government.

    Making City Hall a people place is just a small example of our larger commitment to welcoming the world to Ottawa.

    As our 2017 celebrations unfold, Ottawa residents will be watching our vision of a world class transit system come to life.

    The Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT will change how residents move across our city.

    The City of Ottawa is grateful for the investment of over $155 million in the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, from the Federal Government.

    This investment is a significant boost to our City’s transit and active transportation network, which are important areas of focus for residents.

    This funding includes over $65 million toward preliminary engineering and other planning activities that have helped keep the City’s Stage 2 LRT project on schedule and helped to ensure that we will have additional vehicles to manage ridership growth over the next five years.

    This past June, in Councillor Bob Monette’s ward, the Province of Ontario announced a historical investment of $1.16 billion dollars towards the Stage 2 LRT expansion project.

    This represents the largest provincial transit investment in Ottawa’s history.

    In February, Council will be hearing more details on the Stage 2 project.

    I am looking forward to discussing this issue with my colleagues and the public so that we can move ahead with the procurement of the next phase of LRT.

    Ottawa will be the only city in Canada where a new LRT line is being commissioned for revenue service at the same time as its extensions will go under construction.

    We are not merely shovel ready; we are building now, we are fully mobilized and we have a clear plan to continue to advance our environmentally friendly and affordable transportation agenda.

    Once fully operational, the O-Train system comprised of the Confederation Line running east/west and the Trillium Line running north/south, will span over 50 kilometers of rail and include 39 stations.

    It will accommodate up to 24,000 people per hour in each direction – more than twice the number of people than today.

    When Stage 2 of the City’s O-Train system opens for revenue service in 2023, approximately 70% of the City’s population will be within 5 kilometers of rail.

    While on the subject of our new LRT, I am pleased to announce that following the success of the school competition to name our road headers we will be having a competition in our local schools to name Ottawa’s LRT engines for our new line.

    Information will be sent to Councillors and your schools in the fall of this year and winners will be announced in the spring of 2018.

    I look forward to seeing our creative young minds come up with some inspiring and exciting new names. I have asked Councillors Blais and Egli to coordinate this activity.


    Ottawa’s LRT projects will also change our land use planning to promote more density around LRT stations.

    And I’m happy to say that our intensification strategy for residential development is working.

    There were about 4,700 housing starts last year.

    Of those, a record 58% of new housing in urban and suburban areas was developed through intensification.

    New housing built in intensification target areas ─ such as rapid transit stations, the Central Area, and main streets ─ accounted for a record 41 per cent of new units.

    The City is also committed to Transit Oriented Development — for example in just the properties around Hurdman, Lees, Tremblay, St-Laurent, Cyrville and Blair stations alone, there is the potential for more than 30,000 apartments and houses to be built, along with commercial and retail opportunities to provide these communities with better jobs.

    We know this will take many years to unfold. But, I think it is very exciting that our business community is prepared to invest in transit-oriented development.

    Just this summer, we approved plans for a residential highrise next to Blair Station, the eastern hub of the O-Train Confederation Line.

    RioCan, Canada’s largest Real Estate Investment Trust, has long-term plans for several major buildings at Blair Station that will capitalize on light rail access.

    New buildings are also being planned in the Preston-Carling area, next to the Trillium Line. This area includes the Sir John Carling Building site as the home for the new Civic Hospital.

    Trinity Developments is proposing a major development at 900 Albert Street with three mixed-use towers – all steps away from the Bayview LRT Station.

    And the future development of LeBreton Flats will create a large new neighbourhood at the heart of our light rail system.  This development includes a 1,600-unit, five-tower complex aimed at mixed-income households by Claridge Homes. It will also feature a new grocery store to service the downtown.

    In 2017 a number of new affordable and supportive housing developments will be officially opened to coincide with the Sesquicentennial.

    These include:

    • 455 Via Verona (Barrhaven): A 98 unit affordable housing community for families;
    • 55-59 Carruthers Avenue: A 36 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experienced chronic homelessness;
    • 1900 St-Joseph Blvd (Orléans): A 48 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experience chronic homelessness.

    I want to thank Councillor Mark Taylor, our special liaison on housing and homelessness, for his great work on these issues.

    Next month we will continue the dialogue on the proposed site for the new Central Library in Councillor Catherine Mckenney’s ward.

    Like many of you, I believe that this is an extremely important City building moment.

    I know that the Central Library team and Library Chair Tim Tierney have been working hard to ensure that the new Central Library will be a resounding success.

    I am of the view that, like Lansdowne, our new Central Library will be a very important city-wide people place – one that residents from Fitzroy Harbour, Stittsville, Vanier, Cumberland and Beacon Hill will come to enjoy.

    This year, the City will be challenged to guide the development of new suburbs, and the gradual evolution of existing ones, in a way that maintains their residential attributes.

    As existing suburbs mature, these areas have seen an increase in density and greater diversity of demographics.

    One initiative that will gain momentum in 2017 is the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative lead by Councillors Jan Harder and Alan Hubley.

    This initiative is a practical example of how we can enhance our suburbs for future generations by making these communities more land efficient, affordable, more livable, and more cost effective to build and maintain.

    As many of you know, I created the Heritage Matters Task Force last fall, on which I serve with the Chair of the Planning Committee, Jan Harder and Built Heritage Subcommittee Chair, Tobi Nussbaum.

    This collaborative group composed of heritage community leaders and staff from across the corporation was formed to help ensure that future generations enjoy our rich architectural heritage and to reduce the instances of demolition by neglect.

    Today, I am announcing the first major initiative that has come out of our work… the creation of a team, to proactively ensure our vacant heritage buildings meet property and building standards and to support heritage conservation by working with property owners so they are aware of consulting resources and City programs available to support heritage conservation.

    It is my hope that these efforts will prevent any further demolition by neglect. This team is already on the ground visiting identified buildings to examine building conditions and categorize key heritage attributes.

    Following the initial inspections, formal actions will be pursued to ensure property standards compliance to better preserve heritage elements of existing properties.

    Ottawa also recognizes the importance of maintaining natural landscapes for the protection of the environment, water protection, and adaptation to climate change.

    In 2017 we will complete the Urban Forest Management Plan that will provide a long-term vision for the urban forest and ensure that it is healthy and robust for years to come.

    This year the Energy Evolution project will support Catalyst Projects to demonstrate Ottawa’s collaboration with community partners in advancing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in Ottawa.

    I am looking forward to a report outlining these projects in the coming months under the guidance of Councillor David Chernushenko.

    The City will be planting 150 maple trees in each of the 23 Wards to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation. Information will be released this week to identify the grove locations and tree planting will commence this spring.

    Ottawa is a Dynamic and Innovative City

    There are so many reasons for optimism in 2017.

    The Conference Board of Canada predicts that in 2017 Ottawa-Gatineau will post better economic growth than Canada’s for the first time since 2011.

    In 2016, the federal government and its agencies employed an average of 130,800 in the capital region.

    That’s up from 127,300 a year earlier.

    High-tech employment averaged 68,000 in 2016. This makes the capital region the most technology intensive of Canada’s major cities.

    Ottawa’s tech sector has grown in part due to the breakout of firms such as Shopify, which makes electronic software for online merchants around the world.

    Shopify employed 1,750 at the end of September, more than one-third of them based in Ottawa.

    Just last month in a major employee survey, Ottawa’s Shopify was ranked the best place to work in Canada.

    And there are other tech firms expected to see gains locally in 2017.

    Kinaxis, for example is a software pioneer specializing in applications for managing corporate supply chains, and has experienced steady growth over the last year.

    Another solid member of Ottawa’s tech cluster is Ciena, an optical networking specialist that will put the finishing touches this year on a major new campus in Kanata North with over 1,600 employees.

    Our city’s lengthy history in communications is helping to turn the innovation industry’s spotlight towards Ottawa once again.

    The 5G technology innovation is largely thanks to advancements made by technological minds here in the nation’s capital.

    The 5G cellular networks are expected to allow for far better coverage, reliability and speeds than are currently available.

    Ottawa is now home to Ericsson, Avaya, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Ciena, all key players in the upcoming 5G cellular revolution.

    Nokia and Ericsson — collectively employ more than 3,000 people locally.

    In September, Chinese cellular giant Huawei announced a $500-million commitment over the next five years to bolster research and development of 5G cellular technologies in Canada.

    They already employ over 500 people in their Kanata offices and we can expect to see this number grow as a result of these new investments.

    Ericsson hired 900 former Nortel employees and is now in the process of setting up a 45,000-square-foot office building in Kanata that will employ 1,000 people locally.

    And just last week a pair of promising Ottawa technology start-ups announced an influx of $18 million to expand staff and refine their products in Ottawa.

    Clearwater Clinical Ltd. announced a total of $6 million to double its staffing over the next two years.

    This company’s first commercial success was the Dizzyfix, a device and application that helps patients to recover from vertigo.

    Also earlier this year, Ottawa’s Klipfolio announced a new $12 million investments to help expand its business and hire new staff.

    Klipfolio is an Ottawa company that makes software to allow companies to monitor sales, handle shipping and inventory issues, and manage other business information.

    Add in BlackBerry QNX – who recently announced a $100 million investment and 650 new jobs in Ottawa – and it’s no wonder that Apple is responding and has set up an office in Ottawa to lead the charge on autonomous vehicles.

    The mix of technology being created in Ottawa, coupled with the proximity of major auto manufacturers in the Greater Toronto Area, is setting up Ottawa for a promising year in 2017.

    Last November, Council approved a motion supporting the testing of autonomous vehicles on Ottawa’s roads – starting in the Kanata North Business Park.

    I want to thank Councillor Marianne Wilkinson for her pursuit of a Centre of Excellence for autonomous vehicles here in Ottawa.

    But there is more we can do to support this promising sector… which is why in a few weeks, I will lead a mission to Queen’s Park to showcase the great work that is currently being done in Ottawa, and explore how we can leverage our local high-tech sector to develop 5G in support of a sophisticated autonomous vehicle industry in Ontario.

    I am pleased to announce that Sir Terry Matthews, who is a champion of technology in our city, will be co-chairing the delegation with me on this undertaking.

    We often find ourselves in the shadow of Toronto and Waterloo, who have MaRS and CommuniTech as their innovation hubs.

    But our strength is highlighted in our new Innovation Centre, in the talent we are able to attract here, in the patents that keep getting registered in Ottawa, and in the venture capital our local companies keep attracting, surpassing other Canadian cities on all these fronts.

    Ottawa is where a growing share of strategic technology investments are being made, and should be made, and we are going to promote that reality proudly.

    And this optimism is not limited to the technology sectors.

    The Conference Board also predicts the construction sector in Ottawa and Gatineau will employ an average of 42,000 this year and next — about 13 per cent higher than in 2016.

    We also need to support small business through a new attitude towards this important economic engine.

    Invest Ottawa recently moved to their beautiful new home at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards in Councillor Jeff Leiper’s ward, at the intersection of the Trillium and Confederation Lines.

    The Innovation Centre will be our city’s hub for creators and entrepreneurs; a place where great ideas will become businesses.

    We hope many small companies will emerge from the Innovation Centre’s incubator and grow into larger employers in Kanata, Orléans or Barrhaven.

    We need to clear the path to help small businesses get it done.

    This is the new economy of opportunity – jobs not just in the central core but also supporting small business in rural and suburban areas.

    2017 will also see major advances in a number of large City building developments like Zibi and LeBreton Flats.

    These projects have the potential to become unique and dynamic places within the core of the City, creating a bridge between the downtowns of Ottawa and Gatineau and creating new river-fronts that have not been accessible for generations.

    This year, the vision for the former Rockcliffe Air Base will also move ahead to create a complete mixed-use community in the east end that is walkable, cycling-supportive and transit oriented.

    The former Rockcliffe Air Base area is one of the last remaining significant redevelopment sites in the inner urban part of the City, and will be the single largest development within the Greenbelt since amalgamation.

    It will result in the construction of homes for approximately 10,000 residents and provide 2,600 jobs.

    As you can see from all these examples… Ottawa is booming.

    Ottawa 2017 will be one of the single largest efforts our community has ever undertaken and we need to align with community leaders and stakeholders to welcome the world to our City.

    Now is our opportunity to change the way the world sees Ottawa.

    With your help, everyone who comes to visit or moves to Ottawa will see an inclusive and optimistic city with an open attitude that sets us apart.

    I want to thank my Council colleagues for their work to date but… I won’t hide the hard truth from you … in 2017 I expect we will be asking even more of you.

    I believe that municipal governments that work together can be the incubator for creative solutions.

    To grow prosperity, equity and sustainability in our city means we have to get transit right.

    That is why we introduced the new Equipass, which will allow a greater number of residents to participate more fully in our city’s job market and socio-economic life.

    And that is why we are building Ottawa’s LRT system – LRT is about putting people first – it’s about committing to environmental sustainability – it’s about creating the conditions for economic prosperity.

    Many of the incredible services we deliver are made possible only by our hard working and dedicated City employees.

    In 2017, our residents will continue to benefit from the strong partnership we enjoy with our employee groups – a partnership that has led to a period of unprecedented labour peace and productivity in our City’s recent history.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your work over the last year and to convey to you my confidence in your commitment to making Ottawa a place for all in 2017.

    Some of you may have heard me say this before – but it has never been truer – Ottawa is going from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold.

    Right from the kick-off celebration that occurred on New Year’s Eve with the lighting of the cauldron at City Hall to the many exceptional highlights we have planned – highlights like La Machine, Sky Lounge, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ignite 150, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge, the 2017 JUNO Awards, Argi 150 and the 2017 Grey Cup – it will be a year like we haven’t really seen before here in Ottawa.

    Before I conclude I want to leave you with this video of the four hundred students from across Ottawa that formed a human chain of fire to kick off our celebrations here at City Hall. The 15 centimeters of snow that fell on New Year’s Eve could not stop over five thousand residents and visitors from welcoming in 2017.

    The celebrations will be right across our entire city, and to do that, we are working with community groups, local business and local organizations to help get everyone involved.

    I want to thank the 2017 co-chairs Mathieu Fleury and Jean Cloutier for their tremendous efforts alongside Guy Laflamme and his entire team.

    This is an incredible opportunity to help build our community…and you can be a part of it!

    Come, collaborate with us, and be a part of this wonderful celebration of our country and our City.

    Together, let’s celebrate and continue moving our great city forward with optimism and confidence.

    Welcome to a year of celebration.

    Welcome to 2017.

    Thank you


  • 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.