Ottawa cyclists pedal through two million trips on Laurier lanes

The Laurier Avenue cycling lanes, built to establish a safe bicycle corridor through Ottawa’s downtown, have reached a milestone with two million bike trips since its opening in 2011.

“The Laurier cycling lanes are a proven success, attracting more and more residents who are appreciative of this route through our busy downtown. We frequently see more than 3,000 trips a day along Laurier and there are times when there are nearly as many bikes as there are cars,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Our residents deserve credit for taking advantage of this important piece of our transportation system, using it as a way to improve personal health and reduce the number of automobiles on the road.”

“The Laurier lanes are now a core part of our Cross-Town Bikeway network, which is being built in the eight central wards to provide safer, continuous cycling facilities,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee. “The network was just 25-per-cent complete when the Laurier bike lanes were opened in 2011 as a pilot project. Our plan is for that network to be 71-per-cent complete by the end of this Term of Council, in 2018, which shows the City of Ottawa is serious about making cycling a real transportation alternative for our residents.”

The initial 1.3-kilometre segment of the Laurier cycling lanes has since been extended both eastward and westward and is part of a 12-kilometre-long bikeway connecting Vanier to Westboro. This east-west route is Bicycle Route #2 within the City’s Cross-Town Bikeway network.

On Laurier Avenue West, more than 4,000 bike trips were recorded through the day on Wednesday, June 29. On that day, the bike traffic reached 80 per cent of peak vehicle traffic during the morning rush hour.

The City made major investments in cycling infrastructure totalling $28 million between 2011 and 2014. Plans for further implementing the City’s Cycling Plan between now and 2031 include projects totalling more than $100 million.

Ottawa 2017 applauds Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group for Grey Cup touchdown

CFL championship to take place in the nation’s capital for Canada’s 150th anniversary

Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson are thrilled that the 2017 Grey Cup game and Festival will be hosted in Ottawa and congratulate the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) for their leadership role in securing this prestigious sporting event and national celebration.

“I’m very happy and proud that we’ve collectively succeeded in having Ottawa selected to host the Grey Cup and Festival during Canada’s sesquicentennial and anticipate that this will be one of the highlights of our year-long celebrations,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Having this Canadian tradition return to Ottawa has been part of our vision for 2017 from the start and supports the City’s tourism development strategy of attracting major sporting events that will create jobs in the tourism industry throughout the year.”

“We are honoured and excited to have the opportunity to host a week of festivities to help cap-off a spectacular, year-long celebration produced by Ottawa 2017,” said Bernie Ashe, CEO of OSEG. “The Grey Cup is the highest rated uniquely Canadian sporting event, by far. It will entertain Canadians from coast to coast to coast and generate $100 million in local economic activity. It would not have been possible without the support of Mayor Watson, City Council and the group of fans that have gained a reputation as the best in the CFL: RNation.”

Ottawa 2017 and Ottawa Tourism will support OSEG by offsetting a portion of the municipal services required to host the game and week of activities leading up to it. In addition, Ottawa 2017 will help create a festive spirit across the city by assisting with pageantry and finding innovative ways to ensure that residents from across the city are engaged in the event coming to Ottawa.

“We commend the team at OSEG for their hard work in clinching the Grey Cup for next year, which will greatly add to the excitement of the celebrations planned in Ottawa for Canada’s 150th birthday,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau. “This presents another excellent opportunity to showcase our nation’s capital, Canadian culture and Canadian sporting excellence through broadcast and social media platforms to millions of people across the country and around the world.”

Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations will offer Canadians and visitors 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, and the Government of Canada for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

Mayor Watson's statement on the passing of Mr. Abdirahman Abdi

Released on Tuesday, July 26


I was saddened to hear of Mr. Abdirahman Abdi’s passing on July 25, and would like to express my sincere condolences to his family, friends and neighbours. It is always concerning when a life is lost in our City, and my thoughts are with Mr. Abdi’s family and friends during this difficult time.

I am confident that Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit will conduct a fair and thorough investigation that will provide comprehensive insight into this tragic incident.

City of Ottawa and Ottawa Champions baseball team invite residents to join in honouring Max Keeping on Saturday

The City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Champions baseball team are inviting residents to remember popular local community builder Max Keeping, by filling the RCGT Park baseball stadium for the ball game on Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m., when the Champions will host the Rockland Boulders.

The game will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. with a short ceremony renaming the Coventry Pedestrian and Cycling Bridge over Highway 417 the Max Keeping Bridge in honour of the late broadcaster, community booster, longtime booster of baseball in our city, and tireless advocate and fundraiser for vulnerable and sick children and youth in Ottawa.

Mr. Keeping helped raise more than $100 million for organizations such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), Roger’s House, the United Way, the Boys and Girls Club, Operation Come Home and the Cancer Foundation.

In recognition of his generosity, the Ottawa Champions will donate $1 to CHEO from each ticket to the July 16 game that is purchased in advance.

Mayor Jim Watson and David Gourlay, president of the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, encourage residents to buy a ticket, enjoy the ball game as the Champions play the Rockland Boulders, and take a moment to remember Max — a local hero who changed countless lives for the better.

The Max Keeping Bridge connects the Overbrook community, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park (baseball stadium), the Via Rail station and the future Tremblay Station of the O-Train Confederation Line.

REDBLACKS touchdowns will be converted to trees at Trim Park and Ride

As if you needed another reason to cheer on the Ottawa REDBLACKS, here is one more. For each touchdown the REDBLACKs score at TD Place Stadium this season, a tree will be planted at the OC Transpo Trim Park and Ride.

The end result will be The REDBLACKS Forest, a partnership between the City of Ottawa and the REDBLACKS parent company, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG).

“Ottawa football fans who cheer-on the REDBLACKS can also celebrate the addition of green space, one touchdown and one tree at a time,” said Mayor Watson. “The REDBLACKS Forest is a great example of the City’s commitment to support an environmentally sustainable Ottawa.”

The trees will be planted in fall 2016 or spring 2017, weather permitting, and will be a mix of different species. They will be planted at the Trim Park and Ride in recognition of the thousands of football fans who use transit services to get to the games.

“This initiative adds a new dimension to our touchdown story and extends it to the entire community,” said Bernie Ashe, CEO of OSEG. “As fans know, we saw through a log with a chainsaw when we score a touchdown at TD Place and present those log slices (wood cookies), which are symbols of excellence, to community heroes. Now, we’re creating a forest of trees for the future and, with the exciting offence we’ve seen so far, it looks like it could be a very large forest.”

Last season, the REDBLACKS scored 35 touchdowns at TD Place (10 regular season games and one playoff).

For more information on the REDBLACKS, visit or connect with the team via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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North American Leaders Summit 2016

On Wednesday, June 29, 2016, I had the privilege and honour to welcome and meet United States President Barack Obama here in Ottawa, during the North American Leaders Summit. The American leader met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. Together they discussed and developed strategies for clean energy, economic growth and collaboration between the three countries.

In the receiving line, President Obama and I talked about my tie, the Obama cookie, but most importantly, the need to continue to welcome Syrian refugees in our countries. President Obama concluded his visit by addressing the Parliament of Canada House of Commons with a powerful and compassionate message of unity and respect between our nations.

I'd like to thank Global Affairs Canada for sharing photos of the greeting.

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#Ottawa4FortMac raised $ 128 580 for Fort McMurray relief efforts

On June 8, Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips hosted #Ottawa4FortMac, a western themed fundraiser in support of the Canadian Red Cross’s emergency appeal and the United Way’s relief efforts directed towards helping the residents of Fort McMurray rebuild their lives and their community.

Dozens of local businesses joined them in their commitment to helping those who have been affected by the devastating Fort McMurray fires, by providing the necessities needed to bring the fundraiser to life, from event production and performing artists to pizza and beer.

Together, Mayor Watson, Chris Phillips and the generous sponsors and donors raised $ 128 580.44.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park and enjoyed the performances of Kira Isabella, the River Town SaintsThe AbramsJordan McIntosh and Meghan Patrick, courtesy of Ottawa’s New Country 94 and Bell Media.

Operational logistics for the evening were generously donated by Brookstreet Hotel, Avant-Garde Designs, Event Design Group, Lamarche Electric, Securitas and Mediaplus Advertising.

Food was provided by Delta Ottawa City Centre, Gabriel Pizza, Milano Pizzeria, Beneci Pizzeria, Crust & Crate Public House, Newport Restaurant, Bakery Baby, Lone Star Texas Grill, Papa Jacks and Sobey’s Barrhaven.

Samplings of beer were provided by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co., Beyond The Pale Brewing Company, Bicycle Craft Brewery, Big Rig Kitchen & Brewery, Broadhead Brewing Company, Cassel Brewery, Clocktower Brew Pub, Dominion City Brewing Co., Kichesippi Beer Company, Lowertown Brewery, Whiprsnapr Brewing Co. and Waller Street Brewery and kept cool with ice provided by Levy Restaurants.

Mayor Watson and Chris Phillips would like to thank all the generous sponsors, donors, attendees, and supporters, and are proud of the compassion and leadership that Ottawa has expressed.

Fall for the Arts: Mayor Watson announces the Mayor's Gala for the Arts

Today, Mayor Jim Watson announced the first Mayor's Gala for the Arts, an event to celebrate, support and grow Ottawa’s artistic and cultural scene. He was joined by Ottawa Arts Council Executive Director Peter Honeywell and Ottawa Art Gallery Director and CEO Alexandra Badzak.

This unique dinner reception and artistic experience will showcase the vibrancy of Ottawa’s local arts community. It is an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate the achievements of Ottawa’s local artists, while supporting the upcoming talent of tomorrow.

“Ottawa is a city of artists and innovators; of spectators and celebrations,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The Gala will create a stage on which Ottawa’s artists and innovators can occupy the forefront, and elevate our City’s artistic scene. Together, let’s Fall for the Arts”.

“The Mayor’s Gala for the Arts will help to elevate our project partners by bringing broader engagement and increased resources,” said Peter Honeywell, Executive Director, Ottawa Arts Council.

“The Mayor’s support of the OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project is fundamental. Not only has the City assembled an exceptional team to lead design and construction on the project, the Mayor’s Gala will further our shared goals of building excitement and community support for the most important facility development project for the arts in Ottawa’s history- a true 2017 legacy!”, said Alexandra Badzak, Director and CEO, Ottawa Art Gallery.

Mayor Watson also announced that CF Rideau Centre and the Downtown Rideau BIA will partner as the title sponsor of the Mayor's inaugural gala for the arts.

Mayor Watson added that “This investment by CF Rideau Centre and the Downtown Rideau BIA in the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts is a major vote of confidence in the future of Downtown Rideau as the heart of Ottawa's Arts, Fashion & Theatre District”.

The inaugural Gala will take place on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. The proceeds will be directed to the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project, which is currently under construction. Click here to purchase your ticket.

Together, let's Fall for the Arts.

Downtown Ottawa is open for business with free special bus service and free two-hour parking

This weekend, Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury and I encourage you to to spend some time in downtown Rideau and in the ByWard Market to support our local businesses and the people who work there. We want to make it easy to get to the core, so the the City will provide two hours of free parking on Sunday June 19 and 26, and free shuttles on those same Sundays from Trim, Eagleson and Fallowfield Park & Rides. More information is available by clicking here.

We would also like to thank the crews who have been working day and night to rebuilt Rideau Street. Thank you.


My message in the wake of the Orlando tragedy

It was with great sadness that I learned this morning of the horrible tragedy that happened in a nightclub in Orlando overnight, where the lives of 50 members of the LGBTQ community were taken. This was the deadliest shooting in the history of the United States. My condolences go to the families and friends of the victims, and to our American friends who are mourning this loss.
I have been advised that a vigil organized by Capital Pride will be held at 8 p.m. this evening at the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street. As a show of solidarity to those who are mourning this loss within their community, I have asked that the Pride flag be flown in front of the Heritage Building, and that the American flag be flown at Marion Dewar Plaza, both until sundown on Thursday, June 16. 
We are fortunate to live in a city and a country that embrace diversity, and where people are free to love who they wish to love. But this act of hate and terror reminds us that we must keep making progress until this climate of acceptance is extended to all members of the LGBTQ community around the world.
There is simply no reason for this senseless act of violence. We will keep those affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, and we wish them strength in their battle against hatred, discrimination and extremism.
Jim Watson