Ottawa – Today Mayor Jim Watson delivered his first State of the City Address to members of Council, residents and staff at City Hall. The speech focused on progress made in 2011 and how Council can continue to move forward in 2012 on economic development, streamlined urban planning, better transportation and increased tourism. A number of new initiatives were also unveiled.

“Since being elected we have set a new tone around this council table and, most importantly, out in the community,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “In 2012 we need to keep up the momentum. This is what our residents expect of us and it’s also what we demand of ourselves.”

The Mayor noted that in the coming year the City will be choosing a successful proposal from one of three international teams competing for the Ottawa Light Rail Project – the biggest infrastructure project in the city’s history. There will be greater innovation and use of technology to reduce costs through the roll-out of Service Ottawa, which will allow residents to access City services online such as last-minute ice time, reporting graffiti, requesting a recycling bin, and registering for classes and activities. This year will also see the launch of Invest Ottawa, the City’s new agency for boosting investment, trade and innovation in the nation’s capital and the renewal of Ottawa’s Official Plan will begin with the upcoming Planning Summit.

A number of new initiatives were also announced:

 – Councillor Mathieu Fleury will lead a Youth Summit in the fall of 2012 to engage the city’s youth for their advice on issues ranging from employment to transportation to arts and culture and ways to eliminate bullying in our society.
– There will be a new breakfast series hosted in partnership between the Mayor and the Regroupement des gens d’affaires. The first breakfast will take place on Thursday, February 16th and the guest speaker will be the Federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Denis Lebel.
-Councillors Katherine Hobbs and Rainer Bloess will Co-Chair a new task force to plan for the celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation in 2017.
– Deputy Mayors Steve Desroches and Eli El-Chantiry will work with the Mayor to bring forward a proposal to renew and consolidate Ottawa’s civic appreciation awards and to create a new distinguished award – The Order of Ottawa – to recognize great people in the community.
– The creation of the Barbara Ann Scott Room at City Hall to showcase one of Ottawa’s most accomplished athletes and ‘Canada’s Olympic Sweetheart’.

The text of the Mayor’s Address can be found here.