Federal leaders submit their answers to Mayor Watson’s local issues questionnaire

The responses by the federal parties to Mayor Jim Watson’s questionnaire are now available to be viewed online.

City mobilizes to help refugees of Syrian crisis

Mayor Jim Watson launches Refugee 613, United for Refugees at Public Forum

Ottawa – Today, Mayor Jim Watson welcomed residents, local agencies, and subject-matter experts at City Hall to mobilize the community to help refugees of the Syrian crisis. The Mayor’s Public Forum on Syrian Refugee Resettlement Efforts saw the launch of Refugee 613, a short-term project in response to the global refugee crisis, and United for Refugees, a new fundraising initiative to support local sponsorship and settlement efforts.

More than 22 community agencies and faith groups were represented at the forum, as well as an information fair featuring community organizations involved with refugees, and a dynamic panel discussion with a question and answer period.

“Ottawa has an extraordinary resource pool of experience, insight and wisdom when it comes to issues of refugee resettlement,” said Mayor Watson. “We’re not sure how many and we’re not sure when, but we want to be ready to welcome these families properly when they do arrive. Like Canada, Ottawa has the reputation of being a place that is friendly to newcomers from around the globe, regardless of their background. We want to showcase Ottawa’s generosity by getting residents to help in one of two ways: either by sponsoring a family through Refugee613, or by donating through United for Refugees.”

Refugee 613

Community groups and concerned citizens created Refugee 613 as a short-term project in response to the global refugee crisis. Refugee 613 will coordinate refugee resettlement efforts in Ottawa and act as a clearing house for information and activities related to refugee settlement. Refugee613.ca is intended to be the first point of reference for anyone interested in sponsoring refugees, volunteering their time or learning where to donate.

“The goal of Refugee 613 is to relieve the pressure on local settlement agencies and help residents who want to offer a safe haven to people caught up in the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe,” said Louisa Taylor, director of Refugee 613. "We know Ottawa has a big heart, and we're here to help."

United for Refugees

Launched by United Way Ottawa, Community Foundation of Ottawa, the City of Ottawa, Refugee 613 and other community partners, United for Refugees will focus on raising the necessary funds for the sponsorship and settlement of refugees affected by the Syrian crisis.

“Ottawa is uniting to welcome refugees of the Syrian crisis as an important part of our community,” said Michael Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way Ottawa. “We are so proud to be part of this important initiative. Together, we can lift these families out of despair and offer hope.We can help bring refugees to Ottawa and give them the best start in their new lives.”

People can make a contribution by visiting UnitedforRefugees.ca (#UnitedforRefugees) or calling 613-228-6767.

Refugee Sponsorship Support Program

Also present tonight were many members of the legal community who have come forward to facilitate the process for residents. These approximately 40 lawyers from the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program were matched with residents wanting to sponsor refugees, to whom they will provide pro-bono legal advice and help in navigating the application process over the coming months.

The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) by the uOttawa Refugee Hub brings together pro-bono lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts to offer direct support to Canadians seeking to sponsor refugees. It aims to help more Canadians help more refugees, faster, by matching sponsoring groups with trained lawyers so that each group can have a designated 'legal guide' help them navigate the complex sponsorship process. Information for sponsoring groups seeking support and lawyers looking to help is available at refugeessp.ca.

Statement: Max Keeping

Ottawa has been blessed to have Max Keeping as an important part of its local family for as long as anyone can remember. As a journalist, he was a part of our dinner hour every night as he shared important stories of our city and our world. As a community leader, he worked tirelessly to raise funds to help children get healthy, stay positive, and reach their full potential.

Max devoted every part of himself to the people and the challenges around him. Even as Max battled cancer in recent years, he did so with his trademark brand of positivity. Even in his most difficult times, he still found a way to inspire us to build a better community.

As we remember Max, we will remember a man who encouraged us all to reach higher and dream bigger. He leaves with us a community legacy that is ours to protect and build upon. This legacy is to be a city that protects its most vulnerable, that cheers each other on, and approaches the future with a sense of hope and optimism.

Marie McIntosh receives Mayor’s City Builder Award


August 26, 2015 – Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award today to Marie McIntosh, recognizing more than 15 years of volunteer work improving the quality of life of seniors living at Clementine Towers, advocating for seniors residing in Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), and helping to raise funds for disaster relief around the world.

Marie, who is 88 years young, moved to the 258-unit Clementine Towers seniors apartment building in Alta Vista, operated by OCH, in 1999. The next year she became the president of the building’s social club and tenant association, a volunteer position she’s held ever since.

With her enthusiastic and energetic leadership, the tenant association has organized hundreds of social events over the past 15 years including card playing, bingo, exercise classes, knitting groups, teas, dinner-dances, and fundraisers to help victims of natural disasters in various countries. The social and fundraising events are important to keeping seniors in the independent-living apartments physically active and engaged, warding off loneliness and isolation.

In 2010, the Clementine Towers tenant association won an Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association Tenant Achievement Recognition Award for raising $1,500 for Doctors Without Borders to help earthquake victims in Haiti.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.


Ottawa and Gatineau mayors to ensure federal parties address local issues

OTTAWA – At a joint press conference today, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin outlined a three-point strategy to ensure local issues receive federal attention in the upcoming election.

“You cannot have a strong Canada without a strong capital,” said Mayor Watson. “The future prosperity of Ottawa and Gatineau depends on a federal government that is an active, constructive partner on the issues that matter most to local residents.”

“In the years ahead, we have big challenges and opportunities on issues such as affordable housing, infrastructure and transportation,” said Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin. “We will be encouraging any local candidate who wishes to be a Member of Parliament to engage in a constructive discussion about these issues.”

The strategy includes:

1.    Informing candidates about local priorities: All nominated candidates from each of the main political parties will be provided information on local priorities. Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin has already sent this information to Gatineau candidates. Mayor Watson will be holding in-person briefings at City Hall. Briefings will be held for each party separately, and will include transit, infrastructure and affordable housing, among other issues.

2.    Questionnaires: The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau will send short questionnaires on local priorities to federal party leaders and local candidates. Questionnaires will be sent out before the end of August and responses will be published simultaneously online before the end of September.

3.    Debates: Parties will be invited to send one candidate each to a local issues debate organized at their respective City Hall. The Ottawa debate will be held at Ottawa City Hall on Monday, October 5. The debate will be moderated by Mark Sutcliffe and Véronique Soucy.

Can you dig it? City to consider growing more community gardens

OTTAWA – Mayor Jim Watson today announced a proposal to allow for the creation of up to 20 new community gardens over the next four years.

“Community gardens better utilize our public spaces and provide greater food security for residents,” said Mayor Watson. “Volunteer-managed gardens are playing an important community-building role across the city.”

“This proposal is great news and builds upon the hundreds of volunteers who manage community gardens across the city, and the thousands who are able to participate in community gardening,” Moe Garahan, Executive Director of Just Food. “We’re seeing increased interest for community gardening and we would welcome more support to keep up with the demand.”

Ottawa’s Community Gardening Network is managed by Just Food Ottawa, a community-based, non-profit organization. If the proposal is approved, the City would increase the value of its funding contract to this project by $15,000 annually (from $161,337 to $176,337), increasing the number of grants available for community garden groups. The total number of gardens created through these funds will depend upon the proposed size and cost of each new garden.

There are currently 59 community gardens in the City of Ottawa. Several additional gardens are slated to open this fall, including the South Nepean Muslim Centre Community Garden, Kanata South Community Garden, the LindenLea Food and Wildlife Community Garden, and the Queensway Terrace North Community Garden.

The proposal is related to a campaign commitment made by Mayor Watson during the last municipal election. To date, City Council has supported almost all of these commitments, including those related to affordable housing, economic development, and transportation.

A staff report with full details will be available on ottawa.ca before the end of the day. The Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the proposal on August 20.

Tourism In Your City

With summer upon us, Ottawa has sprung to life with innumerable festivals, events and attractions that take place city-wide. Ottawa is not only home to tremendous natural beauty, but as the nation’s capital there are many local and national sites of historic significance to enjoy. In fact, tourism is the third largest contributor to our local economy, behind the high-tech and government sectors.

In collaboration with the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Tourism works tirelessly to promote Ottawa as a premiere destination by highlighting our city’s festivals, year round outdoor recreation, historic significance and natural beauty. Furthermore, Ottawa Tourism’s “bid more, win more, host more” program will further foster economic and social prosperity within our city by continuing to attract events like FIFA Women’s World Cup, the JUNO’s and more.

That is why I am excited to share with you Ottawa Tourism’s most recent campaign. Showcasing the voice talent of CBC’s Rick Mercer and some of Ottawa’s most prominent attractions; whether a visitor or long time resident, you will be excited about your nation’s capital. Enjoy.



City of Ottawa and partners launch Stage 2 LRT funding request

Stage 2 LRT - Mayor's Message from Ottawa Light Rail on Vimeo.


Ottawa – Mayor Jim Watson, Council members, and representatives from Ottawa’s business, tourism and academic communities have united together to officially launch the City’s LRT Stage 2 funding request to the federal and provincial governments.

The Stage 2 project will further reduce commute times by adding 19 new stations and 30 kilometres of rail to Ottawa’s O-Train system between 2018 and 2023. From an economic standpoint, the project is expected to generate 24,000 person-years of employment, increase tax revenue to approximately $170 million, and provide an economic output of $3.8 billion to the local economy.

“We are asking our provincial and federal counterparts to continue the great partnership we have established with the Confederation Line,” said Mayor Watson. “It is our hope that our partners will maximize their contributions to the project so we can continue the momentum, and proceed swiftly and confidently with Stage 2 of LRT.”
The City of Ottawa’s funding request is supported by several Stage 2 LRT Project Champions, including the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, the Orléans Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association, Ottawa Festivals, Algonquin College, Invest Ottawa and several Business Improvement Areas.

In addition, a recent business growth survey by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce indicated that 74 per cent of business owners feel that Ottawa’s LRT expansion will have a positive impact on their business.

“Stage 2 of LRT will make Ottawa an even more attractive city to create and grow a business,” said Ian Faris, of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. “Ottawa is the only G7 capital without a rapid rail system. We need to keep our economy moving by making this smart investment in our future prosperity.”

“Reliable transportation is always a key success factor for attracting visitors and major events,” said Geoff Publow, Chair of Ottawa Tourism. “Stage 2 of LRT will make it easier for visitors to explore our beautiful city.”

“Stage 2 of LRT will keep Algonquin College students moving for years to come – both from their homes to their classes, and from our campus to their work and co-op placements,” said Laura Stanbra, Vice President of Student Services at Algonquin College. “This expanded transit service will additionally provide residents with easier access to our student-run learning companies, programs, and services. We are delighted to serve as a Stage 2 Rail Champion and add our full support to the City’s proposal.”

It has been recently confirmed through Environmental Assessment work that Stage 2 can be constructed within the $3-billion budget that was established in the City’s 2013 Transportation Master Plan. The project would extend Ottawa’s O-Train system:

East: Extend the Confederation Line east from Blair to Orléans, with stations at St.Joseph, Jeanne D’Arc, Orléans Drive, and Place d’Orléans.
West and southwest: Extend the Confederation Line west to Algonquin College and Bayshore, with stations at Westboro, Dominion, Cleary, New Orchard, Lincoln Fields, Queensview, Pinecrest, Iris, Baseline and Bayshore.
South: Extend the O-Train to Riverside South and Bowesville, with a new station at Gladstone, and stations at Walkley, South Keys, Leitrim and Bowesville.
When completed in 2023, Stage 2 would bring LRT to within five kilometres of almost 70 per cent of residents.

For more information on Stage 2 of LRT, please visit stage2lrt.ca.

Celebrating its heritage and a new, green future, Lansdowne Park officially opens


Ottawa – After an intensive construction period, Lansdowne has its park. Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko today officially opened the new Lansdowne Park, and were joined for the opening event by City Councillors, partners from the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), and many of the professionals, stakeholders and organizations who helped design and build the newest attraction in Ottawa’s parks system.

“Exactly 13 months ago today we were breaking up the last of the pavement at the old Lansdowne,” said Mayor Watson. “What has emerged is extraordinary. This new park is rooted in the heritage of Lansdowne and our community. At the same time it has been transformed into a modern, urban destination that will resonate in the hearts and minds of visitors as much as the former fair grounds did for past generations.”

The 18-acre, intricately designed urban park includes expanses of lawn, courtyards, a heritage orchard, a farmers’ market square, an outdoor skating rink, a water feature and a children’s play area. Overall, the new Lansdowne will feature about three times more green space and four times more trees than the old site, as well as 20 event spaces available for community use.

“Our community is happy to see this additional green space at Lansdowne,” said Councillor Chernushenko. “It will be a great space for both recreation and relaxation. And with connections between Bank Street, the Rideau Canal and many cycling and walking pathways, the park will help unite residents of nearby neighbourhoods.”

City Council gave initial approval to the Lansdowne Partnership Plan in 2009. The overarching vision was to develop the 40-acre site into an urban destination that increases recreation and green space in the urban core, is accessible by many modes of transportation, preserves and enhances visitors’ understanding of local heritage and culture and exemplifies the City’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The final partnership agreements with OSEG were approved in 2012 initiating two years of construction activities across the site.

“The development and planning for the new Lansdowne showed us that good design matters,” said Peter Hume, Chair of the Planning Committee. “The beautiful park that we have today is the result of a commitment by City Council to seek the assistance of Canada’s best urban designers and architects and to entice the world’s best designers with an open competition that produced a first-class design worthy of this historic site.”

In recognition of the importance of heritage to the new Lansdowne, a representative of Ontario Heritage Trust presented Mayor Watson with a special heritage plaque during the event. Another plaque, commemorating the official opening of Lansdowne Park, was also unveiled during the event. Both will be prominently displayed in the park.

“Lansdowne Park completes the vision of transforming this historic site into a destination for all,” said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick. “Lansdowne Park is an example of how Ottawa is applying smart growth by incorporating active recreation, new green space and innovative design to create places that  benefit residents from across the City.”

The City’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department will be responsible for the ongoing programming and management of the urban park area. A range of programs with local community partners will be offered at Lansdowne Park beginning this fall and will include a Christmas farmers’ market, 2015 Winterlude events and programming at the outdoor refrigerated skating rink. Lansdowne Park and TD Place will also be among the six venues across Canada hosting the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Ottawa residents are invited to help celebrate the opening of Lansdowne Park with an old-fashioned carnival and picnic in the park on Saturday, August 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit ottawa.ca for details, or follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for updates.

The Family DayPass from OC Transpo is the perfect way for families to travel to Lansdowne on Saturday. DayPasses can be purchased from the driver for $8.10 and can be used for up to six people, with a maximum of two aged 13 or older. Event-goers should also consider riding bikes to the celebration and locking up at the free bike corral. More information on how to get to Lansdowne Park is available at ottawa.ca.