Canada was named the number 1 country to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet

I’m very proud to see that Canada was named the number 1 country to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet. With Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations just around the corner, our Nation’s Capital is ready to host the biggest party ever thrown for our great country. Be here for Canada’s Big Year!

Read Ottawa Tourism's News Release below:

Ottawa Tourism elated Lonely Planet recognizes Canada as #1 place to visit in 2017
Capitalizing on Ottawa’s year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday

OTTAWA, October 25, 2016—Ottawa Tourism lauds the decision by Lonely Planet, announced today, to name Canada as the #1 country to visit in 2017. As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday next year, Ottawa is the only city to plan a full year’s worth of celebrations. Under the direction of Mayor Jim Watson and with the leadership of Guy Laflamme and his team at the Ottawa 2017 Bureau, Ottawa will be THE place to be in Canada in 2017.

“Ottawa Tourism has been working closely with Mayor Watson and the Ottawa 2017 bureau throughout the planning process for next year’s celebration,” says Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism. “Our team has been promoting Ottawa 2017 for quite some time now, in our leisure marketing, convention sales, travel trade, travel media relations and social media efforts. The Lonely Planet announcement provides yet another boost to the worldwide awareness of what is planned.”

“As mayor of our nation’s capital, I’m very proud that Canada has been recognized as THE place to visit in 2017,” says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “We have put a lot of time and resources in creating and promoting our exciting year-long program of events for Canada’s 150th birthday, and this recognition confirms that our efforts have indeed captured the attention of the media worldwide.”

“The travel experts at Lonely Planet recognize that Canada will be a destination beyond compare in 2017, with festivities to mark our country’s 150th anniversary from coast to coast to coast,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau. “Ottawa in particular, will offer Canadians and visitors from around the world an exceptional and memorable year of high-caliber experiences to celebrate this important milestone for our country.”

Ottawa Tourism will leverage this recognition of Canada as it promotes such blockbuster events as

  • the lighting of an Ottawa 2017 cauldron at Ottawa City Hall to kick off a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that will extend to Parliament Hill on December 31, 2016;
  • the world championship Red Bull Crashed Ice event in March;
  • a series of 17 epic stunts and gatherings throughout the capital called Ignite 150 that will take place throughout the year and include a yoga session on a barge floating down a local waterway accompanied by a live orchestra, a movie on a downtown terrace rooftop, Sky Lounge, a gourmet experience 150 feet in the air, and more;
  • the Juno Awards (celebrating the best in the Canadian music industry) March 27-April 2, 2017;
  • a summer-long free underground multimedia experience in a future light rail transit tunnel downtown;
  • a series of 20 unique one-day outdoor events called Agri 150 taking place over the course of the year in rural Ottawa;
  • Inspiration Village, a free display using shipping containers in the ByWard Market neighbourhood from May 20 to September 4 to highlight each of Canada’s provinces and territories;
  • the first-ever Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge offering picnic spots overlooking Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River on July 2;
  • the North American premiere of La Machine’s roving, larger-than-life mechanical spider and dragon roaming Ottawa streets July 26-30, 2017;
  • the Grey Cup championship football game in November; among other reasons to visit Ottawa in 2017.

For a full list of next year’s events, visit

Ottawa Tourism provides destination marketing, strategic direction and leadership in cooperation with members and partners to service the travel media and attract visitors, tours and conventions to Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region. Its vision is to build recognition of Ottawa as an outstanding four-season tourism destination.


Education and the Economy Summit fosters increased collaboration between local government, education and business leaders to promote economic opportunity

The Education and the Economy Summit, held today at Ottawa City Hall, laid a strong foundation for ongoing collaboration between local school boards, postsecondary institutions, government and private sector partners, NGOs, and students, with the goal of generating more opportunities for students and increasing the long-term prosperity of the city with more start-ups and jobs.

“The Education and the Economy Summit is only the beginning of the conversation among the key partners from the education and economic sectors,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “This collaborative approach to education makes Ottawa an even more attractive place to receive an education and pursue a career, providing students with greater employment opportunities and the skill-set required in today’s workforce.”

Close to 250 students and stakeholders attended the one-day Summit, which featured remarks by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Riley Brockington, Chair of the Summit, and Jonathan Lister, VP Americas, Sales Solutions and Canada Country Manager at LinkedIn.

“The Summit highlighted the commitment of all key partners to provide students with opportunities to develop the skills and experience they need to excel once they enter our local workforce,” said Councillor Brockington. “The result for students will be greater access to training, internships and employment bridging opportunities, and our city will benefit from having an innovative and entrepreneurial workforce.”

“Our goal is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce,” said Mr. Lister. “With more than 60 per cent of the workforce on LinkedIn, we have a wealth of data insights into national and local labour markets. We are proud to be partnering with the City of Ottawa to encourage further collaboration between employers and educators.”

During the day, Summit participants attended workshop discussions on topics such as student attraction and retention, work integrated learning, entrepreneurship and pathways to employment.

Summit workshops were led by notable education and business community leaders, including:

  • Dr. Jaswinder Kaur, Director, India and Emerging Markets, Kivuto Solutions Inc.
  • Scott Bowman, Director, Government Relations, Futurpreneur
  • Ritch Dusome, President and CEO, Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks
  • Kathy McKinley, President and CEO, Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE)
  • Dr. Malcolm Butler, Dean, Faculty of Science, Carleton University
  • David Ritonja, Vice President, Broadband Access Business Unit North America, Nokia Networks
  • Bruce Lazenby, Head of Business Development, Regional Group of Companies
  • Christine Donoghue, Acting President, Public Service Commission of Canada

The Summit reinforced important components of the City’s economic development strategy for maintaining the growth and resiliency of our local economy:

  • Drawing students and talent to the city from across the country and the globe
  • Keeping talent in Ottawa
  • Attracting business and financial investment

Nurturing and supporting entrepreneurship and small business

Mayor’s inaugural Gala for the Arts raises $75,000 for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project

Ottawa – The inaugural Mayor’s Gala for the Arts, which was held on Saturday, October 15, in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park, was a huge success.

Through generous sponsorship, donations and ticket purchases, the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts raised $75,000. These proceeds will be directed towards the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project.

“Next year, our rich, vibrant and diverse Arts Community will find a new home in Ottawa’s premier arts hub: the newly expanded and renovated Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court facility,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The Gala’s beneficiaries, the Ottawa Arts Council and the Ottawa Art Gallery, work diligently to grow and support the professional development of our Arts Community. This is why hosting this Gala and supporting the arts is so important: by investing in the arts, we invest in our City.”

260 guests attended the sold-out Gala and enjoyed memorable performances by internationally acclaimed pianist Angela Hewitt, the Ottawa Symphony, the Aboriginal Experience Dance Troupe and Bear Nation Singers, the Ottawa Dance Directive, Fresh Meat Theatre, The Yips and the upbeat musical group Swing.

The Ottawa Art Gallery displayed artwork from their extensive collection, and local Arts Court partners ArtEngine, Saw Video and Saw Gallery brought a modern, fresh and technological facet to fashion and visual arts.

The culinary arts were also proudly showcased. Guests savoured delectable creations from an impressive dinner menu elaborated exclusively for the Gala through collaboration between the chefs of The WhalesboneAtelierBeckta and Thyme and Again.

“There are many priorities in any municipality but great cities can attest to culture remaining one of the key pillars, and Ottawa is no exception. On behalf of the Ottawa Art Gallery, we thank Mayor Watson for his inspired support of the arts in our city and his leadership on the OAG Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment project,” said Alexandra Badzak, Ottawa Art Gallery’s Director & CEO.

“We are delighted to have had Mayor Watson’s unwavering support for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment,” said Peter Honeywell, Ottawa Arts Council’s Executive Director. “Proceeds from this inaugural Gala will contribute to improving arts spaces that will be enjoyed by thousands of visitors for decades to come.”

Mayor Watson would like to acknowledge Platinum levels sponsors CF Rideau Centre and the Downtown Rideau BIA and Gold level sponsors Groupe Germain and the Rideau Transit Group, who rose to the occasion and showed not only their support for the arts community, but for the community at large.

Click here to view photos of the evening.

Government funding supports a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River

Ottawa, Ontario— Infrastructure investments are vital to creating jobs, strengthening the middle class and building more inclusive and healthy communities where families can work, learn and play. The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) project will help protect the environment, prevent floods, and ensure that middle class Canadians and their families can enjoy recreational activities like swimming and kayaking on a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean, and his Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa, announced that more than $232 million in government funding will go to the CSST project. The Honourable Andrew Leslie, Chief Government Whip and Member of Parliament for Orléans, also participated in the announcement.

The project will include the construction of two tunnels: an east-west tunnel through the downtown core from LeBreton Flats to New Edinburgh Park, and a north-south tunnel along Kent Street from Catherine Street to existing infrastructure, just behind the Supreme Court of Canada. This project will greatly reduce the frequency of sewage overflows into the Ottawa River during storms, reduce the risk of basement flooding for several low-lying lands in the Glebe/O’Connor area, and increase operational flexibility and redundancy to major collector sewers. Once rainfall has subsided, this water will be treated and returned safely to the Ottawa River.

Construction has already begun on the CSST project, the largest portion of the Ottawa River Action Plan, to help ensure that the Ottawa River is sustainable into the future. Today’s investment demonstrates a clear commitment to investing in local infrastructure projects that will ensure Canadians have access to a healthy local environment and reliable public services for years to come.

The governments of Canada and Ontario are each providing $62.09 million. In addition, the City of Ottawa has committed $107 million.


“The Government of Canada is committed to investing in infrastructure that will support a healthier environment, create job opportunities, strengthen the middle class, and better meet the needs of Canadians. The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel will help protect the environment, reduce basement flooding, and ensure that middle class Canadians and their families can enjoy recreational activities on a cleaner and healthier Ottawa River.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Our government is committed to building Ontario up, while ensuring our communities thrive today and for generations to come. This project will make the Ottawa River safer and healthier, improve the environmental sustainability of the surrounding community and generate economic activity in the Ottawa area, all while creating local jobs.”
The Honourable Bob Chiarelli, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean

“The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel is one of the most important projects of the Ottawa River Action Plan, which is the City of Ottawa’s roadmap for protecting the health and vitality of the Ottawa River for present and future generations. Federal and Provincial funding for the CSST project demonstrates a vote of confidence in our Council’s commitment to protecting our local environment, including one of our most precious resources, our water.”
His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

Quick facts

  • The CSST will hold up to 43,000m3 of sewer overflow during major rainfalls, the equivalent capacity of approximately 18 Olympic-sized pools.
  • In February 2010, Ottawa City Council approved the Ottawa River Action Plan, a collection of 17 projects aimed at improving the health of the Ottawa River and funded in part by the Ottawa River Fund, a cost-sharing program with the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada.
  • Completion of the project is anticipated in late 2019 with the intent of having the CSST in full operation by mid-2020.
  • Portions of the project are located on lands contributed by the National Capital Commission.
  • Dragados Tomlinson has been selected as the construction team building the project.
  • Ontario is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in the province's history - about $160 billion over 12 years, which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals. Since 2015, the province announced support for more than 475 projects that are helping to keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life.

Associated links

Investing in Canada, the Government of Canada’s new $120 billion infrastructure plan:
Federal infrastructure investments in Ontario:
New Building Canada Plan:
City of Ottawa programs and services: /
Building Ontario - infrastructure plan:

Mayor Watson announces transit pass for low income residents

Ottawa — Today, Mayor Jim Watson, along with the Chair of the Transit Commission Councillor Stephen Blais, announced that a low income transit pass will be included in the City of Ottawa’s 2017 budget.

The low income transit pass will be available at a significant discount on the adult general monthly fare for those residents who are at or below the income cut-off (LICO) as defined by Stats Canada. It will be available to residents with an annual individual income of approximately $20,000 or less, or a family income of approximately $38,000, for a family of four. The specific discount of the pass will be revealed when the budget is tabled at Council on November 9.

This announcement comes after a year during which options to provide a low income transit pass were thoroughly debated in our community. Time and again, Ottawa residents have indicated that they support the City’s efforts towards providing lower income residents with affordable access to transit.

“The low income transit pass will provide a more viable transit option for our working individuals who live on low wages,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Significant progress needs to be made wherever and whenever we can to make Ottawa a better place to live for all our residents. By offering a low income transit pass, the City is helping those who would otherwise not be able to afford to get around the City, either to maintain or find meaningful employment, or access healthcare.”

The low income transit pass will be offered as a new type of monthly transit pass and will not be subsidised by the cost of other transit passes. City Council’s policy on the amount that OC Transpo collects from its riders versus the amount it collects from taxpayer contributions to transit will remain the same.

“Introducing a new transit pass for low income residents will reinforce OC Transpo’s commitment to providing world-class, affordable transit for all Ottawa residents,” said the Chair of the Transit Commission, Councillor Stephen Blais. “This new transit option will help us create an even more affordable City for unemployed residents seeking employment, single parents, recent immigrants settling in Ottawa, or those temporarily out of work due to injury.”

This affordable transit pass could benefit as many as 8,800 eligible low income transit users.


New Federal Homelessness Funding Available for Municipalities

News release from Municipal Advocacy Solutions. September 30, 2016


Housing has been in the news a lot lately. Whether it is high home prices, families who require safe, affordable housing, or the consultations being led by CMHC on a National Housing Strategy, there is a lot to talk about.

Just today, FCM's Big City Mayor's Caucus released 7 ways to help fix the housing crisis affecting the Country. You can read that article here.

This week the Federal Government also announced funding for Municipalities to help alleviate homelessness. The funding stems from the 2016 Federal Budget and the infusion of $112 million into the Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

There are 2 funds Municipalities can apply for:

  • Innovative Solutions to Homelessness – Contribution projects
    Applicants are invited to submit proposals for projects that develop innovative and effective best practices or innovatively build capacity to prevent or reduce homelessness in Canada. Successful applicants will receive funding between $25,000 to a maximum of $500,000 to create and/or evaluate concrete and potentially groundbreaking best practices that can be used to improve client outcomes. (DEADLINE: NOV 14th, 2016)
  • Innovative Solutions to Homelessness – Microgrants
    Applicants are invited to submit proposals for small scale experimental projects or prototypes up to a maximum of $25,000 in grant funding to develop and/or evaluate effective, innovative and potentially groundbreaking practices, tools, or initiatives that prevent or reduce homelessness in Canada.(DEADLINE: OCT 21st, 2016)

If you require any assistance with ongoing funding opportunities, federal advocacy, or strategic advice, please feel free to contact us.

Shawn Menard
Municipal Advocacy Solutions

Angela Hewitt to perform at the Mayor's Gala for the Arts

Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson is proud to announce that internationally acclaimed pianist Angela Hewitt is the feature performer at the inaugural Mayor's Gala for the Arts, which will take place on on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park.

Angela Hewitt is one of the world’s leading pianists and recipient of numerous awards and honorary distinctions. As an Ottawa native, Angela spent her formative years in the Nation’s Capital before launching her international career and settling in Europe. Angela has been described as one of the reliably mesmerizing musicians of the day and her performance will undoubtedly dazzle guests.

Mayor Watson will also welcome the Ottawa Symphony and performances by local dance, musical and theatrical artists, along with art exhibits and displays by local Arts Court artists.

The Mayor’s Gala for the Arts 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.

Mayor Watson is pleased to welcome CF Rideau Centre and the Downtown Rideau BIA as Platinum level sponsors of the inaugural Mayor's Gala for the Arts and Groupe Germain and the Rideau Transit Group as Gold level sponsors.

The culinary arts will also be proudly showcased as guests will savour creations prepared by the chefs of The WhalesboneAtelierBeckta and Thyme and Again.

The beneficiaries of the 2016 inaugural event are Ottawa Arts Council and the Ottawa Art Gallery. Proceeds from the Gala will be directed towards the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project.

The Mayor’s Gala for the Arts will outline the vibrancy, diversity and charisma of Ottawa’s local arts community. Together, let’s Fall for the Arts.

Mayor Jim Watson calls for increased protection measures for cyclists and pedestrians

Ottawa – On September 22, Mayor Jim Watson wrote to the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, to request that further research be conducted on truck side guards and other safety measures that would reduce fatal collisions between cyclists, pedestrians, and heavy trucks.

Mayor Watson’s letter was sent following a meeting with key local cycling and pedestrian groups earlier this month, organized with the Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee, Councillor Keith Egli.

Today, following a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts earlier this week, Minister Garneau announced the creation of a task force to look at measures to increase safety. He also announced the launch of a new Transport Canada study that will examine new technologies that could reduce collisions involving cyclists, pedestrians, and heavy trucks.

“I am pleased that Minister Garneau has heard our call and is committed to enhancing safety measures; I look forward to seeing the results of their discussions and the proposed study,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “While it is impossible to completely eliminate incidents, the City of Ottawa will strive to reduce their likelihood and severity.”

"I'm pleased to work with my provincial, territorial and municipal colleagues to explore options to reduce collisions and improve safety for everyone on Canada's roadways. Whether it's through technology, equipment, or an educational approach, we need to find out what works best in order to improve safety for Canadians."  said Minister Garneau.

For more information on the Transport Canada study, please visit this link.

Ottawa students to add youthful momentum to Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations

Ottawa – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are pleased to announce partnerships with Ottawa’s four local school boards, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board, to engage students across the city in Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

“Ottawa’s school boards have been very supportive and enthusiastic about creating opportunities for students to get involved in the Ottawa 2017 celebrations,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Next year will be like no other in Ottawa and, through these invaluable partnerships, we’re ensuring that Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations will have a positive, lasting impact on our young people, their families and our community.”

The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Ottawa’s four school boards will work together to:

  • recruit local schools to pair with some of the 150 exchange groups that Experiences Canada will be recruiting across the country;
  • gather and share stories of immigration and how “home” is defined, in collaboration with the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership;
  • launch a poetry contest in partnership with the Ottawa Public Library, during National Poetry Month in April;
  • have students write postcards to family and friends across Canada, inviting them to come to Ottawa for the celebrations;
  • enable students to volunteer at Ottawa 2017 activities, accumulating valuable volunteer hours, which are mandatory for graduating;
  • have classes adopt a country, study its culture and traditions, then visit that country’s Ottawa Welcomes the World showcase at Lansdowne Park.

“The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est is proud to be part of the Ottawa 2017 celebrations and offer an unforgettable experience to our 22,600 students and their families,” said Johanne Lacombe, President, Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE). “By participating in the festivities for the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation, CECCE students will leave their mark in history.”

“The Conseil des écoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario is extremely proud of its many students and staff who are involved in the Ottawa 2017 celebrations,” expressed Linda Savard, President, Conseil des écoles publiques de l’est de l’Ontario (CEPEO). “It is for us an opportunity to showcase the talents of our youth, our school communities and to demonstrate our French and Canadian pride. Let’s celebrate together both the past and the future of Canada.”

Pino Bufone, Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) Superintendent of Instruction said, "at the OCDSB we support and encourage a culture which develops creative, confident and engaged learners. We believe this is in keeping with Ottawa 2017’s vision to contribute to the identity and positive reputation of our Capital City."

Denise Andre, Director of Education, Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB), noted that “the occasion of Canada's 150th birthday will be a wonderful learning opportunity for #OCSB students as well as a chance to engage with their community and celebrate our heritage and history."

“CIBC welcomes our new partners and the energy and perspective they bring to the celebration of our country’s 150th birthday,” said Monique Giroux, Vice-President, Sponsorship Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, CIBC. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for youth in Canada’s capital to become involved and discover more about Canadian culture, values and identity.”

The Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau, Guy Laflamme added: “Next year will be about celebrating our past and igniting our future. It will be about sharing. Sharing our stories and values. Sharing our culture and experiences. Sharing our hopes and dreams for the future and sparking the imagination of a generation with memories that will last a lifetime.”

Canada’s 150th 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 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:

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