Ottawa – Draft Budget 2019, tabled today at City Council, is a prudent financial plan that ramps up investments to build more affordable housing, close Ottawa’s infrastructure gap, expand public transit service and enhance the safety of Ottawa’s communities.

In 2019, the City is looking to invest $15 million to build more affordable housing for residents. This funding will allow the City to start construction on about 125 new affordable housing units this year. Should other levels of government match this unprecedented municipal investment, this could double construction to up to 250 new units. Many of these units will be built near transit or light-rail stations. The City currently provides $111 million towards housing and homelessness, such as social housing, housing subsidies, support services and homelessness initiatives.

“Ottawa’s economy is booming, but we can’t lose sight of our most vulnerable residents. As such, we are proposing the largest one-year investment in affordable housing in the City’s history,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We are focussed on keeping the City affordable, while still delivering better roads and transit, and safer communities.”

The infrastructure gap is the difference between what the City spends and what it needs to spend to maintain its infrastructure in a state of good repair. The proposed property-tax increase of three per cent will enable the City to spend an additional $9.8 million on roads and other municipal infrastructure, such as sidewalks, buildings and bridges. Increasing our investment by eight per cent, from $118.7 million to $128.5 million, will close the infrastructure gap within the next five years, twice as fast as previously planned.

The proposed budget includes $49 million to resurface and upgrade roads, up from an average of $35.5 million per year in the last Term of Council.

The draft budget proposes spending $340 million in 2019 on infrastructure, including roads, bridges, buildings, watermains, sewers and transit infrastructure.

“The proposed budget for 2019 includes funds for frontline services such as long-term care and paramedics,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “The organization is committed to balancing the priorities of our community and delivering excellent service to our residents, businesses and visitors.”

The tax-supported operating budget for the City would be $3.2 billion, an $85-million increase over 2018.

As a direct result of the Long-Term Care Third Party Review, the budget plan includes $5.7 million to support resident care and quality of life in the City’s long-term care homes, including the hiring of 46 additional staff.

The budget includes $3.4 million in 2019, and $5.1 million on an annual basis thereafter, for new transit routes to meet emerging needs where there is a significant demand for service. Draft Budget 2019 includes an additional $7.8 million for new buses to expand service across the city, $22.4 million to refurbish buses and $55.2 million to replace 79 old buses. The City will spend $4.2 million to expand transit-priority traffic controls.

Draft Budget 2019 includes no-charge transit service for seniors on Sundays, in addition to no-charge service on Wednesdays.

Draft Budget 2019 includes measures to improve neighbourhood quality of life, such as a plan to reforest areas hit by the 2018 tornadoes. In this Term of Council, $1.49 million will be spent annually to plant 500,000 trees and regenerate Ottawa’s forest cover across rural, suburban and urban communities. Forestry Services will begin planting in areas impacted by the tornadoes as early as this spring and planting efforts will continue through the fall of 2019 and 2020.  

The budget includes a 25-per-cent increase in funding for ward-led traffic-calming projects across the city, up from $40,000 per ward to $50,000. The draft budget supports vibrant neighbourhoods with a 50-per-cent cut to patio fees for restaurants, saving the average restaurant about $3,200 a year.

The draft budget caps the residential property-tax increase at three per cent. The proposed increase, including the transit levy, amounts to $113 for an average urban home, which represents less than $10 per month.

Draft Rate-Supported Budget 2019, which supports water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, proposes a water rate increase of 4.8 per cent in the urban area, in line with Council’s long-term financial plan for these services. This represents an increase of $36 per year for the average household.

Draft Budget 2019 includes $12 million for culverts in the rural areas to facilitate drainage and prevent flooding.

Draft Budget 2019 also includes $70.8 million for winter operations, an increase of $2.4 million.

The proposed spending plan will be considered by all Standing Committees, then by Council on Wednesday, March 6.

Residents can:

  • Register as a public delegation at a budget review meeting of any committee, board or commission.
    • Members of the public can make a five-minute presentation at meetings taking place between February 14 and March 5. A list of upcoming meetings is available at
  • Contact your City Councillor to express your view about Draft Budget 2019.
  • Email
  • Tweet @ottawacity using the hashtag #ottbudget.
  • Call 3-1-1 / 613-580-2400 (TTY: 613-580-2401).