National Capital Commission Board

April 11, 2016 was a historical day for the Mayor of Gatineau Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and I as we signed the National Capital Commission (NCC) Declaration, which welcomes our participation on their Board on an ex-officio, non-voting basis. I'd also like to thank Minister Mélanie Joly for her warm welcome. My first NCC Board meeting will be on April 28, 2016.

Ottawa’s first trade mission to India poised to make history

Mayor Jim Watson is set to lead a trade mission to India to attract investment for Ottawa businesses and build opportunities in training, research and tourism. The 35 delegates represent technology companies, academic institutions, business and tourism associations, and Invest Ottawa, the city’s economic development agency.

The delegation is working to attract investment and build opportunities in training and research for post-secondary institutions. Mayor Watson will meet with government representatives and, along with Ottawa Tourism President & CEO Michael Crockatt, will encourage tourism to Ottawa ahead of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation in 2017. Mayor Watson expects a number of partnerships and agreements to be signed during the mission.

Ottawa technology companies that design and manufacture cellular, satellite and fixed wireless systems are represented on the five-day mission that takes place from April 17 to 22, as well as companies with expertise in hardware, software and optics.

Participants will explore business development opportunities with Indian counterparts in the technology sector and other industries. The delegation also includes Ottawa companies with a focus on film production, online education and E-learning solutions, as well as water management, real estate development and legal services. Mayor Watson will also be meeting with some of his counterparts and officials from other levels of government.

“India is a market that requires a fair degree of relationship building to forge trust and demonstrate serious intent,” said Mayor Watson. “I am pleased with the technologies, services and expertise of participating companies and I am confident this trade mission will help local companies to open doors and establish credibility much faster than venturing into this vast market on their own.”

More than 1,700 knowledge-based companies in Ottawa deliver cutting-edge technologies and services to the world. They employ over 68,000 people in our community, 35,000 of which operate in the telecom sector alone.

The talent pool in Ottawa, with expertise in hardware, software and optics can motivate partnerships and leverage investment with the rapidly growing technology sector in India.

Representatives from the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College, the Kanata North Business Association, and TWU Global Education Academy are also on the trade mission to promote Ottawa as a leading knowledge and innovation centre in Canada.

During the mission, delegates will have the opportunity to participate in major events and receptions in which all delegates will be able to network with Indian decision-makers, government officials, and industry and academic leaders. B2B meetings in each destination city have been organized in collaboration with the Canadian High Commission to India’s trade commissioners.

Donna Gray receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Donna Gray at today’s City Council meeting. Donna was recognized for her community-building efforts in the Rochester Heights community of Ottawa Community Housing (OCH).

A resident of Rochester Heights for the past seven years, Donna is a vital connector and resource to fellow residents, helping them to locate and navigate all kinds of supports – from public transit to household furnishings to access to fresh, affordable food. She is a community leader who nurtures friendship, dignity, and a sense of belonging and being respected.

In 2010, she was a driving force in a community-wide effort to build two new play structures for the families of Rochester Heights. With her help the community raised $33,000 and built the play areas and structures together.

She was also instrumental in neighbourhood revitalization projects such as repaving the basketball courts and applying for OCH community capital grants used to install picnic tables and flower planters at every unit.

Donna works for the Somerset West Community Health Centre and is the coordinator of Good Food Markets, which improves access to healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income communities. When Good Food Markets were piloted in 2012, Donna carried out the initial needs assessment, insuring a strong foundation for the project and the best possible service for families.

She recruits volunteers for each market day, building community and offering job experience to community members. She continues to advocate for more funding for Good Food Markets to increase food security for low-income families.

City Council approves new vehicle-for-hire regulations

With the approval of new vehicle-for-hire regulations by City Council today, Ottawa has become one of the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt regulations for Private Transportation Companies. ‎The City has also adopted a lighter regulatory framework for the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate with new service offerings.

"Today’s decision moves our transportation system in the right direction by challenging the status quo and opening up the market to competition," said Mayor Jim Watson. "Ottawa should be a place where people have access to safe, competitive, affordable, and effective transportation options."

"I want to thank the more than 6,000 people who participated in consultations and helped us come up with a smart set of 21st century regulations," said Councillor Diane Deans, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “Under the new rules, I have every confidence that the traditional taxi industry will change and succeed in this competitive environment.”

Effective September 30, 2016, a Private Transportation ‎Company (PTC) that wishes to operate in the City of Ottawa would obtain an operating license similar to that of a taxi broker. Prior to commencing operations and on a regular basis thereafter, each PTC must supply to the City information about its drivers and their vehicles. This will include proof of police background checks, vehicle inspections, and proper insurance. PTCs will pay the same broker fee as traditional taxi companies, while also paying a comparable licensing fee on a per-ride basis.

‎The Community and Protective Services Committee met for 18 hours over two days last week to listen to public delegations and discuss the proposed changes. The Committee adopted several motions to amend the staff report, many of which were based on feedback received from the taxi industry. These changes addressed issues such as stronger oversight of PTCs, compliance, enforcement, accessibility, HST, and delaying the by-law implementation date by three months.

Through its new vehicle-for-hire regulations, the City of Ottawa has modernized regulations for the traditional taxi industry to allow it to compete more freely, while protecting key features on which residents have come to rely. The new features of the taxi regulations include:

  • Allowing taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
  • Eliminating the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
  • Reducing the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96)
  • Waiving the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
  • Eliminating interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles
  • Increasing maximum vehicle age from 8 to 10 years
  • Allowing taxi companies to determine their own industry-specific customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver course at Algonquin College
  • Retaining taxis’ exclusive ability to accept street-hails, together with exclusive use of taxi stands and lanes
  • Retaining exclusive Para Transpo contract, worth about $9-million annually
  • ‎Allowing for nominal cancellation fees and surcharges for premium vehicle options when rides are booked through an app

‎The City of Ottawa will enforce the existing by-law until the new regulations come into effect on September 30, 2016.

Ottawa to Host 2016 and 2017 Canadian Triathlon Championships and CAMTRI Continental Cup Races

March 31, 2016—Canada’s top triathletes will be swimming, biking and running into the Nation’s Capital Region for the 2016 and 2017 Canadian Sprint and Standard Distance Triathlon Championships, along with the CAMTRI Continental Cup.

 “Having the opportunity to host major events in all corners of the country is critical to the growth and future success of our sport across Canada,” said Tim Wilson, chief executive officer, Triathlon Canada. “Eastern Canada is extremely passionate for all Olympic and Paralympic sports. That enthusiasm is no different for triathlon. I can think of no better place to showcase our national championships than in the heart of Canada’s capital city.”

Triathlon Canada made the announcement in partnership with Mayor Jim Watson and the City of Ottawa, along with Ottawa Tourism, on Thursday at Dow’s Lake Pavilion – the host venue of the premiere domestic triathlon race event for the next two years.

“Thanks to the City’s Bid More, Win More, Host More program, Ottawa residents can look forward to a growing number of high-profile sporting events over the next few years, now including the Canadian Triathlon Championships in both 2016 and 2017, " said Mayor Jim Watson. "That strategy has been incredibly successful in positioning Ottawa as the ideal host city, enhancing our reputation on the world stage and boosting our local economy.”

Greg Kealey will lead an experienced group of professionals, as well as Bytown Storm Triathlon Club, who will form the Ottawa Triathlon’s local organizing committee responsible for staging a total of 10 major races over the two-day sporting festival that promises to bring thousands of visitors to the area:

Canadian Standard Distance Triathlon Championships

Canadian Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships

Canadian Paratriathlon Championships

Ottawa CAMTRI (Confederation American Triathlon)

Triathlon American Cup Canadian Elite Championships (CAMTRI Continental Cup)

Canadian Under-23 Championships (part of CAMTRI Continental Cup)

Canadian Junior Championships and Triathlon Series Event (ages 16-19)

Ottawa Youth Triathlon (ages 13-15)

Canadian Mixed Relay Triathlon Championships

Kid of Steel Triathlons (Under 5-Under 13) 

Richard Price, who has more than five years of international experience working on the World Triathlon Series and at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, will lead the competition team.

Price and his team have developed a spectacular city-based triathlon minutes from Ottawa’s core. Located just three kilometres from Parliament Hill, athletes will dive into Dow’s Lake for a single lap swim. The bike courses will be flat and fast with a 20-kilometre out and back loop. The run will take athletes past many of Ottawa’s top sights and neighbourhoods while winding along the beautiful Rideau Canal and past Carleton University before making a turn to the finish stadium near Hog’s Back Falls.

“Ottawa has a long history of staging successful world-leading events. From the facilities and services available for the athletes to the scenic course Richard and his team has been able to build out on this incredible landscape – this race promises to be a great test for Canada’s best triathletes at all levels,” said Wilson. “It is a fast course. It will be fun and it will be action packed. Even more importantly – it provides great sightlines of all three race disciplines, and will draw visitors to many of the city’s most famous landmarks. The Ottawa Triathlon simply should not be missed.”

To register for the Ottawa Triathlon, or for more information, please visit

Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000 and Paralympic medal sport as of 2016, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at

Moment Factory and Ottawa 2017 to produce momentum-building Signature Event in future Light Rail Transit tunnel

March 30th, 2016 – The Ottawa 2017 Bureau and Mayor Jim Watson, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, announced today a world first: an impressive underground multimedia production in the city’s highly anticipated light rail train system.

The Confederation Line of Ottawa’s new Light Rail Transit (LRT) service is scheduled to launch in May 2018. To showcase this modern mode of travel and to build anticipation for this new era of transportation in the nation’s capital, the Lyon Station will be open to the public for a free, innovative multimedia experience in the summer of 2017.

“LRT is the most transformative project in Ottawa since the construction of the Rideau Canal. Trains will start running in 2018 and you can already sense the anticipation building,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “People are excited for the future and we want them to have a first glimpse of what that future looks like next year, when we host landmark celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday.”

“In 2017, as Canadians mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, Canada’s capital will itself be on the cusp of a new age of public transportation,” said the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre. “The Light Rail Transit project will support the single largest one-time reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa’s history. Our government is extremely proud to support this turning point in Ottawa’s sustainable future.”

The production, which will run for a period of approximately ten weeks, will highlight this once-in-a-generation infrastructure project, its role in transforming Ottawa, and will galvanize the support and anticipation of Ottawa’s residents for the LRT network one year before it officially opens.

“As a funding partner for LRT in Ottawa, we’re delighted to be showcasing this important infrastructure investment in our future,” said Minister Yasir Naqvi (MPP, Ottawa Centre). “This exciting Ottawa 2017 Signature Event is an opportunity to highlight the opening of Confederation Line and Canadian innovation, creativity and excellence as part of what we’re celebrating as a country in 2017.”

“CIBC came on board as lead partner of Ottawa 2017 to help create memorable experiences for Canadians as we celebrate our 150th,” said Monique Giroux, Vice-President, Sponsorship Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, CIBC. “This sensory multimedia journey highlighting Ottawa’s thriving infrastructure is a great example of how we’re bringing our nation’s birthday celebrations to life for Canadians and visitors alike.”

Today’s announcement took place in the former Place de Ville theatre, which will be updated and included as part of the experience, alongside the newly built Lyon Station.

“Knowing the importance of the Confederation Line to Ottawa’s future, this was the very first concept that I proposed when I took the role of leading the Ottawa 2017 celebrations, and this is the program element that I’m most proud of,” said Guy Laflamme, Executive Director of the Ottawa 2017 Bureau. “This Ottawa 2017 Signature Event will be more than just entertainment. We want to elevate people’s souls and inspire them to do great things, in 2017 and beyond.”

Following an open, competitive process, Moment Factory, a world-renowned Canadian production company, has been commissioned to bring Guy Laflamme’s original concept of an underground experience to life. Moment Factory is no stranger to creating large-scale productions in Ottawa, having produced the original version of Mosaika in 2010, the popular sound and light show on Parliament Hill.

“At Moment Factory, we tell stories with light, video and sound. But more than this, we bridge the divide between the digital and physical realms to allow a sense of magic to flourish,” said Sakchin Bessette, Co-Founder, Moment Factory. “We are honoured to collaborate with Ottawa 2017 on this futuristic, momentum-building project to tell the story of a city in motion toward an innovative and connected future.”

The full concept and title of the underground multimedia experience will be revealed soon.

Ottawa 2017 is thrilled to present this project as one of its Signature Events and thanks our lead partner CIBC, the Government of Ontario, Ottawa Tourism and the Government of Canada for their contributions. To make this exciting event happen in its remarkable subterranean location, Ottawa 2017 is collaborating with the City of Ottawa’s Rail Implementation Office, Brookfield Office Properties and Rideau Transit Group, the consortium delivering the Confederation Line, the first stage of Ottawa's LRT project.

For more information on the Lyon Station cavern and Confederation Line, visit

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.

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Tysen Lefebvre receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

March 23rd, 2016 - Mayor Jim Watson and Stittsville Ward Councillor Shad Qadri presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Tysen Lefebvre at today’s City Council meeting. The 15-year-old youth was recognized for his tireless and enthusiastic work to raise funds for Make-a-Wish Eastern Ontario to make big wishes come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.

In November 2012, Tysen had his own wish granted: to fly to Los Angeles to meet his hero, actor Adam Sandler, who does extensive philanthropic work while filming movies and raising his family. The actor’s generosity and hard work inspired Tysen to launch Mission to a Million the next year, an ongoing fundraising project to raise $1 million for Make-a-Wish so 100 local kids can have their wishes come true.

This was a lofty goal for Tysen, who has Pfeiffer Syndrome Type 2, a rare genetic disorder that affects the skull, facial features and limbs. He had his first operation when he was nine days old and, by the time he was three, he had spent more than half of his life in hospital. He has more surgeries in his future, but he is always planning and working on how he can make life better for others.

Tysen has a website ( and a Facebook page devoted to the campaign, but it is the time he puts into being the face and voice of Mission to a Million that has made it a remarkable success. To date he has inspired businesses, schools, children’s groups, philanthropic organizations and individuals to raise more than $360,000, and on March 14 he was on hand for the presentation of the 46th wish of the campaign. He says every time the funds raised by Mission to a Million grant a wish, it feels like having his own wish granted again.

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Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin receives Ottawa's Highest Honour

March 23rd, 2016 - We all carry keys with us:  keys to doors, cars, lockers, you name it — anything we feel is valuable enough to put a lock on. But very few people own a Key to the City of Ottawa.

An ornamental key – the Key to the City – is presented to esteemed residents, visitors and others whom the City of Ottawa wishes to honour. The key is symbolic of medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. Being given such a key means the recipient is free to enter and leave the city whenever they want, as a trusted friend of city residents.

On Tuesday, March 22, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada. She was the most recent of 85 individuals and organizations to receive Ottawa’s highest honour.

Chief Justice McLachlin is the 17th and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the first woman to hold this position, and the longest serving Chief Justice in Canadian history.

The first Key to the City of Ottawa was presented by Mayor Stanley Lewis at Union Train Station on

November 4, 1935, to Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir as they arrived in Ottawa to begin Lord Tweedsmuir’s term as Canada’s Governor  General.

Past Key-to-the-City recipients include Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, author Margaret Atwood, photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, actress Sandra Oh and Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.

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

February 24, 2016 – For the fifth consecutive year, the City of Ottawa has been named one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in a competition that recognizes organizations for their exceptional workplace diversity and inclusion programs.

The winners were selected by editors at MediaCorp and are featured in a special section of today’s Globe and Mail.

“The City is working to implement best practices for creating a diverse workforce by strengthening partnerships with community organizations and building new ways to enhance diversity and inclusion,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

The competition judges recognized the municipality for its commitment to reflect, in its workforce, the diversity of the Ottawa community. In particular, the judges selected the City as a national leader for:

  • its immigration strategy, which incorporates employment initiatives and economic development programs. The judges lauded the Annual Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards, which recognizes the achievements of new Canadians, and the Professional Internship for Newcomers Program, which provides temporary work placements for newcomers.
  • its partnership with Hire Immigrants Ottawa to host an annual coaching event for new Canadian job-seekers
  • its role as a member of the Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN), an initiative to help persons with disabilities find employment, and as the host for EARN's annual career fair, which attracted more than 155 job-seekers with disabilities in 2014, the career fair’s first year

“We are shaping the City’s future with a Corporate Diversity Plan and departmental strategic plans that outline how the City will continue to remove barriers and create opportunities for residents,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

The Mayor and City Manager thanked and congratulated City employees, who are continuously developing ways to improve services, access and business practices to reflect the community’s burgeoning diversity.

Elizabeth Dessureault receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

February 24, 2016 – Mayor Jim Watson and Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper presented a Mayor’s City Builder Award to Elizabeth Dessureault at today’s City Council meeting. She was recognized for her contributions to lung cancer awareness, research, treatment and patient advocacy.

In April 2015, Elizabeth, a lifelong non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage IIIB (late stage) lung cancer. She was 25 and five months pregnant for her first child. She was told her cancer was incurable and she was given a year at most to live.

As a teacher, newlywed (to Dax Dessureault, an RCMP officer) and mother-to-be, she refused to accept the prognosis and had her tissue sent to the United States for genetic testing. The tests revealed a rare genetic mutation called ROS-1, which meant her tumour could be treated with a pill.

She also intensively researched lung cancer and found that, while it is the most frequent killer among cancers, the stigma attached to lung cancer as a smoker’s disease means a disproportionately low share of cancer research funding is allocated to it. She decided to become an advocate for lung cancer awareness and to do all she can to change the image, and the conversation, around lung cancer.

She offered her services as a spokesperson and fundraiser to Lung Cancer Canada and Team Draft, a lung cancer awareness, research and advocacy organization in the States founded in 2011 by NFL player Chris Draft and his late wife Keasha. Elizabeth’s central message is “If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer”.

She raised funds for lung cancer awareness last fall by designing and manufacturing white leather “Just Breathe” bracelets, which raised over $10,000 during November and December for Lung Cancer Canada, Team Draft, and the Ottawa General Hospital to help fund their planned Molecular Oncology Diagnostics Laboratory. Having a laboratory in Ottawa will help make genetic profiling of tumours a standard part of medical care, allowing physicians to determine which medications will work best for a particular patient.

She blogs about her battle with cancer at

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