State of the City 2017 speech

2017 State of the City

A Year of Celebration for Ottawa

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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

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:

Fire & Ice tickets go on sale today

Ottawa 2017’s first Agri 150 event of the year to take place inside a rural greenhouse

Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are pleased to announce that tickets to Fire & Ice will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 19. This first Agri 150 experience will demonstrate an innovative way of showcasing Ottawa’s rural assets.

The culinary adventure will take place on Saturday, February 11 – just prior to Valentine’s Day – at the SunTech GreenHouses near Manotick Village.

Renowned chef Marc Lepine is creating the menu for this four-course gourmet experience, which highlights molecular cuisine. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a winter cocktail and outdoor fire and ice entertainment, followed by a small-plate fine dining meal inside the cozy ambiance of the tomato greenhouse.

Tickets for Fire & Ice are $100*, or $125* with a wine pairings. A round-trip shuttle service, from one of three points of departure, can be added at cost of $12* per person. (* plus tax and service charges)

To purchase tickets, visit

Announced in June, Agri 150 is an Ottawa 2017 program stewarded by Just Food to boost rural tourism during the celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday in the nation’s capital and for years to come.

More than 20 unique outdoor events will take place over the course of the year to allow people to discover Ottawa’s rural communities in all four seasons, and enhance their knowledge and appreciation of rural resources, while enjoying rejuvenating adventures.

Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences while bringing a record number of visitors to Ottawa in 2017 to celebrate this important milestone for our country.

Ottawa 2017 thanks its lead partner CIBC, premier partner Bell, the Government of Ontario ( #ontario150) and the Government of Canada ( #canada150) for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

Photos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Videos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

To download the free Ottawa 2017 App, visit: The App Store, Google Play or

Stay informed on plans for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in the capital. Visit, follow us on Twitter @2017ottawa (#Ottawa2017) and on Facebook.

Help bring Canada’s Games to Canada’s capital

Residents can join in the excitement as Ottawa bids to host the Canada Summer Games in 2021 by registering their support at As part of the bid process, the City wants to showcase the strong community support and enthusiasm for hosting the event.

The Canada Games are this country’s largest multi-sport event for the next generation of national team athletes and represent the pinnacle of interprovincial/territorial sport competition. It would be the biggest sporting event ever hosted in Ottawa.

In addition to the 4,600 elite Canadian athletes who would compete at the Games, the event would bring an estimated 20,000 visitors to Ottawa, creating more than 1,000 jobs and generating more than $150 million in local economic activity.

A community celebration held at City Hall today heightened excitement for the City’s bid, with more than 250 residents attending the party hosted by Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Jody Mitic, City of Ottawa Sports Commissioner, Ottawa 2021 Bid Committee Co-chairs Cyril Leeder, President of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, and four-time Olympian Sue Holloway.

The support shown by the community both online and at community events strengthens the City’s bid, which will be evaluated by the Canada Games Council and scored against other bids from Greater Sudbury, Niagara Region, and a partnership between the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. An announcement of the successful bid is expected at the end of March 2017.


“Ottawa is the destination of choice for the 2021 Canada Summer Games, and the resulting economic benefits for our community would be significant. The support expressed so far by residents has been phenomenal, and now we need to continue the momentum. We are asking residents to demonstrate their ongoing support by registering online at to help us bring the Games to Ottawa.”
Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

“Hosting the Canada Summer Games would provide Ottawa residents with the chance to experience firsthand national-calibre sporting events where they can cheer on our Canadian athletes and future Olympians. The Games will also provide an opportunity to showcase Ottawa’s own talented athletes and our outstanding facilities.”
Councillor Jody Mitic, City of Ottawa Sports Commissioner

Quick Facts:

  • The Canada Summer Games were last held in Sherbrooke, Québec in 2013, where they attracted 16,000 visitors and generated an estimated $165 million in economic impact.
  • Promoting the nation’s capital as an ideal location for major national and international events and conventions is a cornerstone of the City’s economic development plan.
  • The City developed the Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy in partnership with Ottawa Tourism to promote Ottawa as a world-class event hosting destination, create jobs and grow our local economy.
  • The Canada Games rank alongside other major sporting events like the Grey Cup, World Junior Hockey Championship and FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) championships.
  • The Games are a two-week long sporting event that would take place in late July and early August of 2021.\


Pull up a chair to Canada’s Table

Ottawa 2017 Signature Event will showcase Canadian culinary excellence at a 1000-person open-air table on Wellington Street

 Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are pleased to welcome Restaurateur Stephen Beckta and Chef Mike Moffatt of Beckta, Play and Gezellig restaurants, along with Sheila Whyte of Thyme & Again Catering, as partners for an unprecedented culinary experience: Canada’s Table.

On August 27, to celebrate our country’s 150th anniversary, Canada’s world-class food, wine and hospitality will be showcased at a single, 1000-person, open-air table on Wellington Street.

For this once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience, ten top local chefs will partner with ten top chefs from across Canada to stage a legendary four-course dinner with wine pairings in the shadow of Canada’s iconic Parliament Buildings.

This Ottawa 2017 Signature Event, under the Ignite 150 program, will feature all-Canadian products served to guests seated at a 305-metre long table (1000 feet) with the popular Sound and Light Show as a backdrop.

Canada’s Table is a non-profit event, with many partners donating their time or resources. Proceeds raised from the event will be used to aid local and national food security causes.

This is part of a four-day series of culinary events where celebrity chefs from across Canada will be featured in local restaurants. In addition, they will make a social contribution by sharing their skills with local charity organizations and by offering culinary demonstrations on how to prepare low-cost, healthy family meals using fresh local products.

Tickets for Canada’s Table will go on sale in the coming weeks. The list of Canadian chefs and ticket prices will be revealed at that time.


“As we welcome an influx of visitors to Ottawa for our country’s 150th birthday celebrations, we’re very pleased that two local success stories who have become part of Ottawa’s culinary identity, Beckta and Thyme & Again, have partnered with Ottawa 2017 to showcase the many flavours of our capital region in such a vibrant, dynamic and memorable way,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

“I am thrilled that Canada’s world-class food, wine and hospitality will be showcased at the epicentre of our country’s 150th anniversary celebrations. It is such an honour to work alongside these talented chefs and partners at this very special venue, to curate Canada’s Table with Thyme & Again and Ottawa 2017. We are proud to play a part in the long list of unbelievable experiences that Guy and his team are creating in our nation’s capital during this milestone year,” said Stephen Beckta, Owner, Beckta, Play and Gezellig restaurants.

“We’re excited to share our passion for exceptional food and service with guests at Canada’s Table. We look forward to partnering with Steven Beckta and Executive Chef Michael Moffatt and the talented chefs from across Canada and here in our city. This is a great opportunity for Thyme & Again to collaborate with our community and reinforce the strong support we all have for our local producers,” said Sheila Whyte, Owner, Thyme & Again.

“2017 will be an exciting and festive year where Ontarians have the opportunity to come together and celebrate the incredible province we live in. Canada’s Table is a great example of that, putting a spotlight on Ontario’s culinary talent and local cuisine. Sharing meals and food experiences is part of who we are as Canadians – it brings people together – and that’s worth celebrating,” said the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport.

“The concept of Canada’s Table is something that I had been attempting to do for over 5 years and was an important element of the original Ottawa 2017 plan. When I read through local media that Stephen had the same dream, I knew it was an alliance that was meant to be. Together with Beckta and Thyme & Again, we will create cherished, unforgettable moments and breathtaking visuals that will be shared around the globe,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau.

Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences while bringing a record number of visitors to Ottawa in 2017 to celebrate this important milestone for our country.

Ottawa 2017 thanks its lead partner CIBC, premier partner Bell, the Government of Ontario ( #ontario150) and the Government of Canada ( #canada150) for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

Photos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Videos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Stay informed on plans for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in the capital. Visit, follow us on Twitter @2017ottawa (#Ottawa2017) and on Facebook.

You are invited to the 2021 Canada Summer Games Bid Launch

As we begin this historic year of celebrations for our country’s 150th anniversary, we must already look to the future and determine what will keep this momentum going once our 2017 events have come and gone. As you may know by now, Ottawa is doing this by bidding for the rights to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games. We need your help in the race to win the bid by registering your support online at before Thursday’s launch party, which will take place at the Rink of Dreams at City Hall from noon to 1pm.

The Canada Games are the largest multi-sport event in our nation, bringing our country together to showcase our talented athletes. The Canada Summer Games attract 4,600 participants from every province and territory, competing in 20 different individual and team sports.

The Games legacy on the host community goes beyond the exciting two weeks of competition. It means new and upgraded athletic facilities that will benefit our local athletes and residents for years to come, as well as a boost of more than of $165 million to our local economy.

We are now in the second phase of the bidding process. The first phase focused on the readiness of our city’s venues. Now, this phase measures our community support, showing our enthusiasm and capacity to host this nation-building event that provides a preview of Canada’s Olympic stars of tomorrow. Past Canada Summer Games alumni include Steve Nash, Andre De Grasse and Eugenie Bouchard, just to mention a few.

The Canada Games rotate through all provinces and territories, meaning that Ottawa will not have this opportunity again for another 20 years. The other Ontario bids include Niagara Region; City of Greater Sudbury; and a combined bid from Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph.

Let’s bring Canada’s Games to Canada’s capital. Take a minute in the next few days to register your name for support. Get online to help us to the finish line at

I urge you to come out in great numbers on Thursday, January 12 at 12 p.m.

Visit Ottawa's rural attractions this year!

One of my favourite things about Ottawa is its particularly large geographical scale. But despite having a total land surface of 2758 km², it is easy to travel from our vibrant urban neighbourhoods to family-centric suburbs to rural and farming areas in 20 minutes. family-centric suburbs and.This year, visit Ottawa's rural attractions!

Ottawa 2017 ignites a year of sesquicentennial celebrations in the nation’s capital

Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are delighted to kick-off a full year of celebrations in the nation’s capital to mark Canada’s 150th birthday.

Tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations at Ottawa City Hall launched 12 months of festivities with the lighting of the spectacular Ottawa 2017 Cauldron.

Built in partnership with Enbridge Gas Distribution and natural gas companies from across Canada, the three-sided installation an artistic adaption of the Ottawa 2017 logo measuring approximately 5 metres high (16 feet) and 4 metres wide (13 feet) – is powered by natural gas. Enbridge has purchased an equivalent amount of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral fuel made from waste, in support of Canada’s sustainable energy future.

The cauldron will remain lit for this long weekend and will be a landmark throughout the year that will be re-lit for special occasions.

Earlier today, a First Nations sacred fire ceremony was held to kindle the flame that was shared from Ottawa City Hall to Parliament Hill. More than 400 youth, each carrying a torch, formed a human chain from the Ottawa 2017 Cauldron to Parliament Hill, lighting their torches one after the other until the entire line was aglow.

In a nod to Ottawa’s and Canada’s past, as well as to our future generations, the flame from this Fire of Friendship Torch Relay was used to re-light the Centennial Flame, initiating celebrations on Parliament Hill and in cities across the country.

History behind the Fire of Friendship:

For the 1967 celebrations, the Centennial Flame was lit on Parliament Hill by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. As part of that ceremony, the mayors and reeves of each of the local municipalities lit torches from the flame on the Hill, which were then couriered back to all parts of the region where “Fires of Friendship” were lit.


“As Canadians across the country ring in 2017, the nation’s capital is on the threshold of a dynamic, inspiring twelve months of celebrations to mark Canada’s 150th birthday. We look forward to seeing the year unfold and to welcoming residents and visitors for all the great experiences ahead,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

“For our government, the 150th anniversary of Confederation is a time to look back on the road we have travelled so far, while looking optimistically to the future. It’s an opportunity to work together to strengthen our ties as Canadians, and to enjoy unforgettable experiences in our communities,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

“2017 is Ontario’s 150th anniversary, and we have a lot to be proud of. In 2017, there will be events and programs across the province to celebrate our achievements, and to inspire us to build a better tomorrow. Ontario is Canada’s largest, most diverse and dynamic province.  We’re inclusive, innovative, and full of opportunities. Ontario 150 will be a celebration of all the things that make Ontario the most amazing place in the world to live,” said the Honourable Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.

“CIBC was founded the same year as Canada, in 1867, and we are very proud of our shared history that has helped shape the bank we are today, and the one we are building for the future. Through our partnership with Ottawa 2017, we are very excited to celebrate this great country and to offer exceptional and memorable experiences for all Canadians and visitors to enjoy,” said Monique Giroux, Vice-President, Sponsorship Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, CIBC.

“The cauldron’s flame kicks off a celebration of our rich history and our bright future. It also represents the importance of energy in our day-to-day lives, something that we at Enbridge have been proud to be part of for more than 165 years. This partnership with Ottawa 2017 is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and to contribute to the success of our country’s sesquicentennial,” said Al Monaco, President and CEO, Enbridge Gas Distribution.

“Canada’s big year happens right here in the nation’s capital. Tonight’s New Year’s Eve kick-off event is the first of over 150 events that will be produced or co-produced by the Ottawa 2017 Bureau in the coming year and we invite all Canadians to join us in 2017 to celebrate our past, explore and discover our present, and together, ignite our future,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau.

Canada���s 150th anniversary celebrations will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences while bringing a record number of visitors to Ottawa in 2017 to celebrate this important milestone for our country.

Ottawa 2017 thanks its lead partner CIBC, premier partner Bell, the Government of Ontario ( #ontario150) and the Government of Canada ( #canada150) for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

Photos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Videos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

To download the free Ottawa 2017 App, visit: The App Store, Google Play or

Stay informed on plans for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in the capital. Visit, follow us on Twitter @2017ottawa (#Ottawa2017) and on Facebook.

Ottawa 2017? There’s an app for that!

Download the free Ottawa 2017 App
to elevate your experience at events throughout the year

Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are pleased to announce the launch of the Ottawa 2017 App, powered by Ottawa 2017 Premier Partner Bell.

The free experiential App offers the latest information and updates on Ottawa 2017 programming as well as unique multimedia features to enhance the experience of residents and visitors at events taking place in the nation’s capital throughout Canada’s sesquicentennial year.

Available for iOS and Android, the Ottawa 2017 App enables users to access exclusive content. They can also take control of the action at specific events with interactive functions, share their experience with other Canadians and take part in Ottawa 2017 celebrations from every corner of the country.

On December 31, for the Ottawa 2017 New Year’s Eve kick-off event, App users will be able to download their very own virtual torch, which looks like the ones that more than 400 youth will be carrying in the Fire of Friendship Torch Relay. A countdown to the lighting of the Ottawa 2017 Cauldron will cue users to light up their virtual torch, which will also turn on the camera flashlight.

Year-round, a virtual photobooth will enable App users to take photos using a variety of special filters. The first filters will be very festive with a New Year’s Eve theme. New filters, themed around other Ottawa 2017 events, as well as more interactive features will be added on an ongoing basis throughout the year-long celebration.

To download the free Ottawa 2017 App, visit: The App Store, Google Play or

Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences while bringing a record number of visitors to Ottawa in 2017 to celebrate this important milestone for our country.

Ottawa 2017 thanks its lead partner CIBC, premier partner Bell, the Government of Ontario ( and the Government of Canada ( #canada150) for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

Photos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Videos for media use, courtesy Ottawa 2017:

Stay informed on plans for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in the capital. Visit, follow us on Twitter @2017ottawa (#Ottawa2017) and on Facebook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For further information on Budget 2017, visit


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

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