2017 State of the City

A Year of Celebration for Ottawa

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Good morning and Happy New Year.

Bonjour et bonne année à tous.

I am honoured to deliver my sixth State of the City address.

Today I want to reflect on the progress we have made together over the last year.

My 2016 State of the City address focused on collaboration.

Last year was an important year in the City of Ottawa.  Not only was it a year filled with planning and preparations for 2017, it was also a year of measured and steady achievement.

From balancing our budget and maintaining our tax commitment to residents – 2016 has been a year of rolling up our sleeves to get things done.

Not only have we been busy completing the Confederation Line tunnel, we are also planning for Stage 2. We have pushed ourselves beyond the original scope to include the Trim extension, a link to the Airport – and will undertake an environmental assessment to Kanata.

In 2016 we undertook our first Trade Mission to India that led to the announcement of a series of new technological and creative partnerships, with an estimated total value of over $80 million in contracts that will benefit Ottawa companies and their Indian counterparts.

We also invested $18.7 Million to repair existing social housing to enhance living conditions of our most vulnerable residents.

Last fall, the inaugural Mayor’s Gala for the Arts raised $75,000 for the Ottawa Art Gallery Expansion and Arts Court Redevelopment Project, which opens its doors this year.

I am pleased to announce that the Mayor’s Gala for the Arts will be held on a bi-annual basis, with the next event occurring in the spring of 2018.  I have every confidence that it will develop into Ottawa’s premiere Gala in support of our local arts scene.

We worked hard to get it right on the environment with the conversion of 58,000 streetlights to LED technology – saving $6 million annually.

We also have some of the highest ranked drinking water in the world.

We installed eight large solar rooftops on municipal building in partnership with Energy Ottawa – reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 41,382 metric tonnes over 20 years.

Construction also began on the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel to protect the environment, prevent floods and ensure future generations can enjoy swimming and boating in the Ottawa River.

And any list of accomplishments would not be complete without mentioning that Ottawa was named by the Mercer 2016 Quality of Living Rankings, as the most affordable among all Canadian and U.S. cities.

Ottawa was also identified as a top technology hub in North America, with strengths in digital media, wireless technology, photonics, defence and cyber security, and data analytics.

As a City, we have worked hard in 2016 and that enthusiasm has carried into the planning of our country’s 150th anniversary.

That’s why I believe that 2017 will be a year of celebration – a celebration that Ottawa residents truly deserve, and they worked hard at creating.

People want to live in our city.

People want to visit our city.

And they want to invest in our city.

Let me take a few minutes to remind everyone of what we are celebrating.

We get to celebrate as a City in 2017 because we live in a great country – one that has served as a beacon of tolerance, generosity and prosperity for generations of Ottawa residents.

Events are about more than having fun – they remind us of how privileged we are to call Ottawa and Canada our home.

It is well known that Ottawa is on a roll, and that we are making progress on a number of important City building fronts.

From city-wide LRT to the rejuvenated Lansdowne to our new Ottawa Art Gallery and redeveloped Arts Court, to the recently opened Innovation Centre.

This progress – in large part – stems from the collaborative efforts we have seen from all tiers of government investing in Ottawa, and from the vitality of our local businesses and community organizations doing the same.

Ottawa is a growing and thriving city.

Investors are confidently putting more of their dollars into our city, and the proof of that is all around us – from Bayshore to the Rideau Centre, Shoppers City East, to Tanger mall in Kanada, growth in Barrhaven, Stittsville, Orléans and Riverside South.

Ottawa is expected to be home to over 1 million people in 2019 – just over two years from now.

By 2036, our city’s population will reach more than 1.2 million residents.

I hear firsthand from visitors and residents alike how much they love visiting and living in Ottawa.

Just a few months ago, MoneySense magazine ranked Ottawa the best place to live in Canada.

In the same survey, Ottawa was also ranked the best place for new Canadians.

Ottawa is also at the top of lists for sustainable cities, cycling-friendly cities, and we’re ranked the most business friendly amongst large cities, with the most stable employment rate in Canada.

Our employment hotspots contain plenty of good paying government, high tech and service sector jobs.

And even though we have a large public service sector anchoring our local labour market, we are also fortunate that over 1,700 technology companies call Ottawa home.

So why am I taking time today to brag about our city?

…Because 2017 will be a year to celebrate Ottawa.

Earlier this month, the New York Times described Canada as the number 1 country to visit in 2017, and had a feature article about the wonderful places to see and things to do during a weekend spent in Ottawa.

Lonely Planet awarded Canada the same award last October.

And WestJet named Ottawa the #1 place to visit in the world in 2017.

Some will remember 2017 as a year of celebrations marked by great events.

2017 is also an opportunity to re-imagine Ottawa.

To see how we have changed and to demonstrate how much Ottawa has to offer.

Ottawa is our home and we will be rolling out the welcome mat to over 10 million visitors over the next twelve months.

It is the way in which we deliver service to residents and visitors alike that makes our City truly great.

Some of you may think that being a good host is a modest goal for 2017 – but let me remind you that it is a big deal for Ottawa.

Hospitality and tourism spending contributed approximately $1.6 billion to our local economy annually.

Also the accommodation and food service sector, which are the bulk of Ottawa tourism businesses, employs over 35,000 local residents.

It really is going to be an unforgettable year here in the National Capital region.

From the Skate Canada Championship last weekend to the Davis Cup next month, to the Junos and the Grey Cup, it will be a very busy year for residents and visitors alike.

Ottawa is very proud of our professional sports franchises and their contribution to the vibrancy of our city.

We celebrated with our Ottawa Champions Baseball Club when they won the Can-Am League Championships in 2016 and we look forward to hosting the 2017 Can-Am League All-Star game here at RCGT Park on July 25th 2017.

We also celebrated with our Ottawa RedBlacks football club when they won the Grey Cup in 2016 – the first-ever Grey Cup win for Ottawa in 40 years and we look forward to hosting the Grey Cup here at TD Place on November 26th 2017.

Our Ottawa Senators continue to be strong competitors and we feel optimistic about their chances of making the post-season play offs this year.

And of course Ottawa loves soccer and the Ottawa Fury will be starting their 2017 season off in a new league – the United Soccer league.

I invite you to check out the full list of events at ottawa2017.ca.

We will also be hosting more conventions in Ottawa in 2017 than ever before – doubling the number of business travelers to Ottawa next year.

Ottawa Tourism estimates that well over 58,000 convention delegates will visit Ottawa in 2017 – this is a 48% increase over last year.

Today, I want to highlight how Ottawa companies and Ottawa talent are helping to make 2017 a reality.

Take Inspiration Village as an example. This installation of about 40 sea containers will be located in the ByWard Market and will feature talent from around Canada.

Dymech Engineering of Greely, in Councillor Darouze’s ward, has been tasked with the design and build of this impressive construction that will be viewed by millions of visitors this summer.

Other events are firsts for Ottawa, but they will become permanent members of our events community, or make their way back every few years, such as Red Bull Crashed Ice.

This is all part of the legacy of Ottawa 2017.

Part of the 2017 legacy lies in our ability to develop and celebrate our local talent.

Another way we have of celebrating local talent and exceptional contributions to Ottawa is our City’s highest honour the Key to the City.

I am proud to announce that Algonquin College will be receiving this tribute in celebration of its 50th anniversary and Carleton University will be receiving this honour to mark 75 years of education excellence in Ottawa – accepting the award for these fine institutions will be their respective presidents, Cheryl Jensen and Roseann Runte.

Also this year the City will be presenting a Key to the City to:

Michel Picard, a well respected broadcaster and long-serving news anchor on Radio-Canada and current host on Unique FM;

Senator Murray Sinclair, a Canadian Senator, former judge, First Nations lawyer, and was the chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission;

Sheila Fraser, former Auditor General of Canada from 2001 to 2011, and the first woman to hold this post;

Henry Burris, the recently retired Canadian football quarterback for the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. He won three Grey Cup championships;  and,

Steve Yzerman, a native of Nepean and a   retired professional  hockey player and current general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.

I also want to reflect on an idea which could make 2017 even more fun – for future generations.

I am announcing that we will work with the Ottawa Archives  to create a “2017 time capsule,” to be opened by Ottawa residents in 50 years time, when Canada will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.

I am sorry to advise that I probably won’t be able to attend this event in 2067.

I would like to invite each Member of Council to work with their communities to propose a representative memento for inclusion in the 2017 time capsule – something that captures the essence of each of our city’s diverse wards.

Although events are great economic generators, 2017 will also be a year of legacy for the nation’s capital, with many new facilities and projects that will open to the public this year.

Here is a partial overview of how the face of Ottawa will change in 2017, including public and private partners:

  • National Arts Centre redevelopment will transform this artistic centerpiece;
  • George Street Plaza will see improvements to the public spaces and pedestrian experience;
  • The Stanley Cup monument will be unveiled;
  • The new Ottawa Art Gallery will open boasting three times the space of the previous facility;
  • The Arts Court Redevelopment will be revitalized as the center piece of the new cultural precinct;
  • The renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum will re-open in the east;
  • The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards will serve as an incubator of innovation; and,
  • The new Currency Museum, which will be called the Bank of Canada Museum, will open in July of this year.

Many of these new or newly renovated facilities will become landmarks in Ottawa.

They will become places that tourists have to visit – and they are all great examples of what can be achieved when we work together.

So what can we do to help support this year of celebration?

Everyone in the city has a role to play, from individual residents and families, businesses, first responders or transit operators – each and every member of our community can be part of the 2017 welcoming team.

Have you ever been in a foreign city, struggling to find a street or a building?

We all need to be more than tourism ambassadors this year and in the years to come – we need to communicate our city’s values to everyone we meet.

Our warmth and approach will communicate our City’s values.

Many visitors will want to see Parliament Hill, stop in at the Museum of Nature, drop into Lansdowne Park or skate on the historic World UNESCO Rideau Canal.

But they also want to experience Ottawa’s hospitality. Visitors may enjoy a pint at a local microbrew pub, a trip to a rural village or a meal at one of Ottawa’s new and exciting restaurants like Bar Laurel in Kitchissippi or Riviera just around the corner on Sparks Street.

There are hidden gems in every corner of Ottawa, including Martha’s Culinaire in Orléans, or the Three Sisters Bake Shop in Canterbury.

2017 is an opportunity to show a global audience that Ottawa is a fantastic place to live, work, learn, play and raise a family.

2017 is the start of a new page for tourism in Ottawa’s history.

That is why we are planning for the future.

We are partnering with Ottawa Tourism on our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy to attract more major sporting and cultural events to Ottawa…

I want to take this opportunity to thank Members of Council, and Sports Commissioner Jody Mitic, for supporting Ottawa’s bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.

This great community building, multi-sport event – the largest in Canada – would bring 20,000 visitors to Ottawa and generate approximately $165 million in economic activity, not to mention a legacy for our next generation of athletes as well as our sport facilities.

And on a smaller, but no less important scale, in 2018 we will be celebrating the Village of Richmond’s 200th anniversary with the help of Councillor Scott Moffatt.

City employees are also the face of the City – and I challenge everyone to remember  – what we do best as a team –  we put residents and visitors first.

I know that the events of 2017 will require you to do more, to work longer hours and to put even more of yourself into the services you deliver.

I want to thank you for your dedication to date and tell you all that I have confidence in your ability to handle what promises to be an exciting year.

Part of being a good host is ensuring our city is safe.

This means supporting and trusting our first responders.

First responders, like our brave women and men of the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Fire Service and Ottawa Paramedic Services, will be asked to do more over the next year.

I want to remind all of you that Ottawa is one of the safest cities to live in.

We recognize that crime in our communities is changing and we are working with our police services to address these challenges.

We have seen an increase in violent crime and an increased readiness last year to use knives and guns to resolve conflicts.

Like many of you, I agree that any increase in crime is a flag for concern and renewed effort.

I can assure you that we are ready for 2017.

I am confident that our officers of the Ottawa Police Service, under the leadership of Chief Charles Bordeleau and Board Chair  Eli El-Chantiry, are working hard to keep Ottawa safe.

The Ottawa Police Service has committed to hiring an additional 75 officers over 3 years.

But more officers are just one tool – we also need a strong bond – a bond of trust – between residents and our men and women in uniform.

I would like to read you a recent e-mail I received from a resident.

This is just one simple example of an Ottawa Constable that went beyond the call of duty to serve residents.

“My name is Heather and last night I was waiting for the bus across from Tunney’s Pasture. Although I was bundled against the cold, I became hypothermic.

I had been waiting for the bus for half an hour, and was getting cramps in my legs because of the cold, and my feet felt like they were becoming frostbitten. I couldn’t stop shaking.

One of your officers watched me and realized I was in trouble. He parked his marked SUV and approached me and asked where I was going. When I told him he said he would take me home. He loaded the walker I use because of some of my disabilities into the SUV and drove me home.

I would very much like to thank my hero… for what he did. In all the circumstances, I neglected to ask his name.

Please, if you could supply his name, I would be truly grateful… He truly saved my life by going above and beyond the call of duty.

It is unlikely that you would ever hear about Constable Ian Kemp in the news, or that he would receive an award for his actions, but I chose to highlight this example today as the type of action that our men and women in uniform take on a daily basis to build these bonds of trust.

I would ask that Constable Ian Kemp stand and be recognized.

It is the regular actions we take in performing our jobs – exercising our everyday business with intention, which provides opportunities to build the foundation for trust.

So I want to take this opportunity to point out and to thank Constable Ian Kemp specifically, and all his fellow officers, for their everyday efforts and for reminding us through this one small example of the impact of their work on our City.

Our paramedics are also there for our community.

Every day, members of the Ottawa Paramedic Service provide our residents and visitors with the highest level of immediate care during their time of need.

From first aid and CPR instruction, to community paramedicine programs, paramedics are also active members of the communities in which they serve.

For example, paramedics Michelle Farragher, Jonathan Sylvester, Matthew Di Monte and Deanna Schofield volunteered their time to staff an ambulance so that a palliative care patient at CHEO could attend this year’s Christmas parade in Orléans.

For most, a ride in an ambulance usually means going to the doctor, but this time was different for a child who instead got the chance to partake in the joy of the holiday season under medical supervision.

This small but impactful gesture exemplifies the compassion and goodness of the members of our Paramedic Service.

I would ask the 4 paramedic’s stand and be recognized.

Last year, Council also made important investments to add more paramedics and Emergency Response Vehicles.

I would also like to recognize the exemplary work of Ottawa Fire Services, whose members also consistently face danger on a daily basis.

Recently, a resident was seriously injured while doing maintenance at their home in Corkery.

In response, firefighters from Station 84 volunteered their time to demolish a deck so a wheelchair ramp could be installed. But these volunteers knew even more could be done, and the Station proceeded to host a pancake breakfast – raising $2000 for the family. Since then, firefighters continue to visit the family from time to time.

These actions supported the family during a difficult time, and reflect the dedication of the Fire Service to our residents and to the generosity of our entire community.

Today we have Lieutenants Scott Morphy and Stephen Logan here representing Station 84.  Please stand to be recognized.

Our City is at its best when we stand together in times of need.

By standing together with our first responders we are standing by each other to make our City even safer.

An increase in visitors can sometimes lead to an increase in big city challenges.

Many of you have heard about an increase in the number of Opioid overdose deaths in various Canadian cities.

I want to reassure you that for over 2 years, Ottawa Public Health has been leading the Overdose Task Force, which includes our paramedic service, the Coroner’s office, pharmacies, police and local hospital emergency rooms on overdose prevention in Ottawa.

We have been monitoring developments across the country and have confidence that, thanks to their public awareness efforts and leadership of the Overdose Task Force, our health department, along with its community partners, are actively engaged to address the situation locally.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Health Board Chair Shad Qadri and Dr. Isra Levy for their dedication to this issue.

The City is not only preparing for the increase in visitors in 2017 – we are also preparing for a change in demographics.

Our aging population will be the main story in 2017 — with the share of the population that is 65 and over expected to increase from about 13% in 2011 to over 21% by 2036.

This demographic shift is playing a key role in the City’s commitment to intensification and to making our transit system and public infrastructure fully accessible.

Again this year we will be investing to create an Age Friendly Ottawa through the City’s Older Adult Plan.

This plan includes 50 initiatives to make our city accessible to residents of all ages.

These practical initiatives include helping older adults navigate the built environment, City facilities and services, and finding creative solutions to help improve travel within Ottawa.

Ottawa will also welcome over 6,085 new permanent residents this year.

Last year, Ottawa also welcomed 2,000 Syrian refugees, hundreds of immigrants from other countries and hosted over 8,500 international students – of which approximately 3,000 new students arrive annually.

I want to thank Councillor Michael Qaqish, Special Liaison for Refugee Resettlement for his important work with this community.

To residents who stepped up to welcome newcomers from Syria through the Refugee613 initiative, and through other private initiatives, I want to thank you for representing Ottawa’s spirit of generosity.

Since last summer, I have been working with the Somali community on an action plan to help address local priorities.

In 2017 we will also celebrate multiculturalism in our city. Just like how Greece,  Lebanon,  Vietnam, China, Italy and many other countries celebrate their cultures with national festivals —  I hope to explore opportunities to celebrate the Somali culture by working with our community partners to develop a Somali Cultural Festival later in this Term of Council.

It’s the same spirit of generosity that led to the tremendous success of our Ottawa4 Fort McMurray fundraiser, in which over 750 residents and countless businesses took part – this event raised $128,000 for the families of Fort McMurray. I want to thank Ottawa Senators player Chris Phillips for co-chairing this event with me.

I hope that together we can keep the momentum of generosity going.

Towards that end, we will be planning a number of events to help demonstrate how we are an inclusive and open city.

That inclusive, open and bilingual City includes our vibrant Francophone community.

And I am proud to say that the services we offer our Francophone residents have steadily improved in the last few years.

The most recent data indicates a 26% increase in the number of programs offered by our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services since 2010.

The number of registrations to these programs is also up by more than 11% during this same period.

I’m also happy to report that the number of French Language Services complaints is going down year after year. That number went from 119 in 2014 to 83 in 2015, for a reduction of 30%, and this trend downwards was sustained in 2016.

This reduction in the number of complaints speaks to the City’s commitment to improving the quality of services offered to our Francophone residents.

In a few months, I will be hosting the 11th Annual Francophone breakfast at City Hall, which will once again provide an opportunity for City and Francophone leaders to come together with the community and highlight the City’s Francophone accomplishments. This year, the City is proud to be partnering with the performing arts centre “La Nouvelle Scène.”

2017 will be a year of celebration, but it is also a year to reflect and to build partnerships towards reconciliation.

As many of you know, Ottawa is located on un-ceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation.

I would like to honour the land and peoples of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, whose ancestors have lived on this territory for millennia, and whose culture and presence have nurtured and continue to nurture this land

I would also like to honour all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, their elders, their ancestors and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.

I am mindful that for many of our Indigenous friends and neighbours, the 150th anniversary of Confederation takes on a different significance. Therefore, as we celebrate the founding of our nation, my hope is that we will also continue to takes steps towards reconciliation so that 2017 can also be a year of healing, growth and celebration for all its citizens.

Towards that end, the City of Ottawa will again be holding an Aboriginal Awareness Day in June.

A particular passion of mine has been making City Hall a people place and I am happy to say that we have had some success on that front.

When I see Ottawa residents and tourists enjoy the SENS Rink of Dreams, visit the Barbara Ann Scott Museum or the Sports Hall of Fame, it reminds me of a very simple fact – that City Hall actually belongs to the people of Ottawa.

Why is this important? Ensuring that City Hall is a people place helps people feel included and involved; it makes them feel more closely connected to their city government.

Making City Hall a people place is just a small example of our larger commitment to welcoming the world to Ottawa.

As our 2017 celebrations unfold, Ottawa residents will be watching our vision of a world class transit system come to life.

The Confederation Line and Stage 2 LRT will change how residents move across our city.

The City of Ottawa is grateful for the investment of over $155 million in the new Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, from the Federal Government.

This investment is a significant boost to our City’s transit and active transportation network, which are important areas of focus for residents.

This funding includes over $65 million toward preliminary engineering and other planning activities that have helped keep the City’s Stage 2 LRT project on schedule and helped to ensure that we will have additional vehicles to manage ridership growth over the next five years.

This past June, in Councillor Bob Monette’s ward, the Province of Ontario announced a historical investment of $1.16 billion dollars towards the Stage 2 LRT expansion project.

This represents the largest provincial transit investment in Ottawa’s history.

In February, Council will be hearing more details on the Stage 2 project.

I am looking forward to discussing this issue with my colleagues and the public so that we can move ahead with the procurement of the next phase of LRT.

Ottawa will be the only city in Canada where a new LRT line is being commissioned for revenue service at the same time as its extensions will go under construction.

We are not merely shovel ready; we are building now, we are fully mobilized and we have a clear plan to continue to advance our environmentally friendly and affordable transportation agenda.

Once fully operational, the O-Train system comprised of the Confederation Line running east/west and the Trillium Line running north/south, will span over 50 kilometers of rail and include 39 stations.

It will accommodate up to 24,000 people per hour in each direction – more than twice the number of people than today.

When Stage 2 of the City’s O-Train system opens for revenue service in 2023, approximately 70% of the City’s population will be within 5 kilometers of rail.

While on the subject of our new LRT, I am pleased to announce that following the success of the school competition to name our road headers we will be having a competition in our local schools to name Ottawa’s LRT engines for our new line.

Information will be sent to Councillors and your schools in the fall of this year and winners will be announced in the spring of 2018.

I look forward to seeing our creative young minds come up with some inspiring and exciting new names. I have asked Councillors Blais and Egli to coordinate this activity.


Ottawa’s LRT projects will also change our land use planning to promote more density around LRT stations.

And I’m happy to say that our intensification strategy for residential development is working.

There were about 4,700 housing starts last year.

Of those, a record 58% of new housing in urban and suburban areas was developed through intensification.

New housing built in intensification target areas ─ such as rapid transit stations, the Central Area, and main streets ─ accounted for a record 41 per cent of new units.

The City is also committed to Transit Oriented Development — for example in just the properties around Hurdman, Lees, Tremblay, St-Laurent, Cyrville and Blair stations alone, there is the potential for more than 30,000 apartments and houses to be built, along with commercial and retail opportunities to provide these communities with better jobs.

We know this will take many years to unfold. But, I think it is very exciting that our business community is prepared to invest in transit-oriented development.

Just this summer, we approved plans for a residential highrise next to Blair Station, the eastern hub of the O-Train Confederation Line.

RioCan, Canada’s largest Real Estate Investment Trust, has long-term plans for several major buildings at Blair Station that will capitalize on light rail access.

New buildings are also being planned in the Preston-Carling area, next to the Trillium Line. This area includes the Sir John Carling Building site as the home for the new Civic Hospital.

Trinity Developments is proposing a major development at 900 Albert Street with three mixed-use towers – all steps away from the Bayview LRT Station.

And the future development of LeBreton Flats will create a large new neighbourhood at the heart of our light rail system.  This development includes a 1,600-unit, five-tower complex aimed at mixed-income households by Claridge Homes. It will also feature a new grocery store to service the downtown.

In 2017 a number of new affordable and supportive housing developments will be officially opened to coincide with the Sesquicentennial.

These include:

  • 455 Via Verona (Barrhaven): A 98 unit affordable housing community for families;
  • 55-59 Carruthers Avenue: A 36 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experienced chronic homelessness;
  • 1900 St-Joseph Blvd (Orléans): A 48 unit supportive housing program for individuals who experience chronic homelessness.

I want to thank Councillor Mark Taylor, our special liaison on housing and homelessness, for his great work on these issues.

Next month we will continue the dialogue on the proposed site for the new Central Library in Councillor Catherine Mckenney’s ward.

Like many of you, I believe that this is an extremely important City building moment.

I know that the Central Library team and Library Chair Tim Tierney have been working hard to ensure that the new Central Library will be a resounding success.

I am of the view that, like Lansdowne, our new Central Library will be a very important city-wide people place – one that residents from Fitzroy Harbour, Stittsville, Vanier, Cumberland and Beacon Hill will come to enjoy.

This year, the City will be challenged to guide the development of new suburbs, and the gradual evolution of existing ones, in a way that maintains their residential attributes.

As existing suburbs mature, these areas have seen an increase in density and greater diversity of demographics.

One initiative that will gain momentum in 2017 is the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative lead by Councillors Jan Harder and Alan Hubley.

This initiative is a practical example of how we can enhance our suburbs for future generations by making these communities more land efficient, affordable, more livable, and more cost effective to build and maintain.

As many of you know, I created the Heritage Matters Task Force last fall, on which I serve with the Chair of the Planning Committee, Jan Harder and Built Heritage Subcommittee Chair, Tobi Nussbaum.

This collaborative group composed of heritage community leaders and staff from across the corporation was formed to help ensure that future generations enjoy our rich architectural heritage and to reduce the instances of demolition by neglect.

Today, I am announcing the first major initiative that has come out of our work… the creation of a team, to proactively ensure our vacant heritage buildings meet property and building standards and to support heritage conservation by working with property owners so they are aware of consulting resources and City programs available to support heritage conservation.

It is my hope that these efforts will prevent any further demolition by neglect. This team is already on the ground visiting identified buildings to examine building conditions and categorize key heritage attributes.

Following the initial inspections, formal actions will be pursued to ensure property standards compliance to better preserve heritage elements of existing properties.

Ottawa also recognizes the importance of maintaining natural landscapes for the protection of the environment, water protection, and adaptation to climate change.

In 2017 we will complete the Urban Forest Management Plan that will provide a long-term vision for the urban forest and ensure that it is healthy and robust for years to come.

This year the Energy Evolution project will support Catalyst Projects to demonstrate Ottawa’s collaboration with community partners in advancing energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in Ottawa.

I am looking forward to a report outlining these projects in the coming months under the guidance of Councillor David Chernushenko.

The City will be planting 150 maple trees in each of the 23 Wards to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation. Information will be released this week to identify the grove locations and tree planting will commence this spring.

Ottawa is a Dynamic and Innovative City

There are so many reasons for optimism in 2017.

The Conference Board of Canada predicts that in 2017 Ottawa-Gatineau will post better economic growth than Canada’s for the first time since 2011.

In 2016, the federal government and its agencies employed an average of 130,800 in the capital region.

That’s up from 127,300 a year earlier.

High-tech employment averaged 68,000 in 2016. This makes the capital region the most technology intensive of Canada’s major cities.

Ottawa’s tech sector has grown in part due to the breakout of firms such as Shopify, which makes electronic software for online merchants around the world.

Shopify employed 1,750 at the end of September, more than one-third of them based in Ottawa.

Just last month in a major employee survey, Ottawa’s Shopify was ranked the best place to work in Canada.

And there are other tech firms expected to see gains locally in 2017.

Kinaxis, for example is a software pioneer specializing in applications for managing corporate supply chains, and has experienced steady growth over the last year.

Another solid member of Ottawa’s tech cluster is Ciena, an optical networking specialist that will put the finishing touches this year on a major new campus in Kanata North with over 1,600 employees.

Our city’s lengthy history in communications is helping to turn the innovation industry’s spotlight towards Ottawa once again.

The 5G technology innovation is largely thanks to advancements made by technological minds here in the nation’s capital.

The 5G cellular networks are expected to allow for far better coverage, reliability and speeds than are currently available.

Ottawa is now home to Ericsson, Avaya, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Ciena, all key players in the upcoming 5G cellular revolution.

Nokia and Ericsson — collectively employ more than 3,000 people locally.

In September, Chinese cellular giant Huawei announced a $500-million commitment over the next five years to bolster research and development of 5G cellular technologies in Canada.

They already employ over 500 people in their Kanata offices and we can expect to see this number grow as a result of these new investments.

Ericsson hired 900 former Nortel employees and is now in the process of setting up a 45,000-square-foot office building in Kanata that will employ 1,000 people locally.

And just last week a pair of promising Ottawa technology start-ups announced an influx of $18 million to expand staff and refine their products in Ottawa.

Clearwater Clinical Ltd. announced a total of $6 million to double its staffing over the next two years.

This company’s first commercial success was the Dizzyfix, a device and application that helps patients to recover from vertigo.

Also earlier this year, Ottawa’s Klipfolio announced a new $12 million investments to help expand its business and hire new staff.

Klipfolio is an Ottawa company that makes software to allow companies to monitor sales, handle shipping and inventory issues, and manage other business information.

Add in BlackBerry QNX – who recently announced a $100 million investment and 650 new jobs in Ottawa – and it’s no wonder that Apple is responding and has set up an office in Ottawa to lead the charge on autonomous vehicles.

The mix of technology being created in Ottawa, coupled with the proximity of major auto manufacturers in the Greater Toronto Area, is setting up Ottawa for a promising year in 2017.

Last November, Council approved a motion supporting the testing of autonomous vehicles on Ottawa’s roads – starting in the Kanata North Business Park.

I want to thank Councillor Marianne Wilkinson for her pursuit of a Centre of Excellence for autonomous vehicles here in Ottawa.

But there is more we can do to support this promising sector… which is why in a few weeks, I will lead a mission to Queen’s Park to showcase the great work that is currently being done in Ottawa, and explore how we can leverage our local high-tech sector to develop 5G in support of a sophisticated autonomous vehicle industry in Ontario.

I am pleased to announce that Sir Terry Matthews, who is a champion of technology in our city, will be co-chairing the delegation with me on this undertaking.

We often find ourselves in the shadow of Toronto and Waterloo, who have MaRS and CommuniTech as their innovation hubs.

But our strength is highlighted in our new Innovation Centre, in the talent we are able to attract here, in the patents that keep getting registered in Ottawa, and in the venture capital our local companies keep attracting, surpassing other Canadian cities on all these fronts.

Ottawa is where a growing share of strategic technology investments are being made, and should be made, and we are going to promote that reality proudly.

And this optimism is not limited to the technology sectors.

The Conference Board also predicts the construction sector in Ottawa and Gatineau will employ an average of 42,000 this year and next — about 13 per cent higher than in 2016.

We also need to support small business through a new attitude towards this important economic engine.

Invest Ottawa recently moved to their beautiful new home at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards in Councillor Jeff Leiper’s ward, at the intersection of the Trillium and Confederation Lines.

The Innovation Centre will be our city’s hub for creators and entrepreneurs; a place where great ideas will become businesses.

We hope many small companies will emerge from the Innovation Centre’s incubator and grow into larger employers in Kanata, Orléans or Barrhaven.

We need to clear the path to help small businesses get it done.

This is the new economy of opportunity – jobs not just in the central core but also supporting small business in rural and suburban areas.

2017 will also see major advances in a number of large City building developments like Zibi and LeBreton Flats.

These projects have the potential to become unique and dynamic places within the core of the City, creating a bridge between the downtowns of Ottawa and Gatineau and creating new river-fronts that have not been accessible for generations.

This year, the vision for the former Rockcliffe Air Base will also move ahead to create a complete mixed-use community in the east end that is walkable, cycling-supportive and transit oriented.

The former Rockcliffe Air Base area is one of the last remaining significant redevelopment sites in the inner urban part of the City, and will be the single largest development within the Greenbelt since amalgamation.

It will result in the construction of homes for approximately 10,000 residents and provide 2,600 jobs.

As you can see from all these examples… Ottawa is booming.

Ottawa 2017 will be one of the single largest efforts our community has ever undertaken and we need to align with community leaders and stakeholders to welcome the world to our City.

Now is our opportunity to change the way the world sees Ottawa.

With your help, everyone who comes to visit or moves to Ottawa will see an inclusive and optimistic city with an open attitude that sets us apart.

I want to thank my Council colleagues for their work to date but… I won’t hide the hard truth from you … in 2017 I expect we will be asking even more of you.

I believe that municipal governments that work together can be the incubator for creative solutions.

To grow prosperity, equity and sustainability in our city means we have to get transit right.

That is why we introduced the new Equipass, which will allow a greater number of residents to participate more fully in our city’s job market and socio-economic life.

And that is why we are building Ottawa’s LRT system – LRT is about putting people first – it’s about committing to environmental sustainability – it’s about creating the conditions for economic prosperity.

Many of the incredible services we deliver are made possible only by our hard working and dedicated City employees.

In 2017, our residents will continue to benefit from the strong partnership we enjoy with our employee groups – a partnership that has led to a period of unprecedented labour peace and productivity in our City’s recent history.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your work over the last year and to convey to you my confidence in your commitment to making Ottawa a place for all in 2017.

Some of you may have heard me say this before – but it has never been truer – Ottawa is going from Ottawa the old to Ottawa the bold.

Right from the kick-off celebration that occurred on New Year’s Eve with the lighting of the cauldron at City Hall to the many exceptional highlights we have planned – highlights like La Machine, Sky Lounge, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ignite 150, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge, the 2017 JUNO Awards, Argi 150 and the 2017 Grey Cup – it will be a year like we haven’t really seen before here in Ottawa.

Before I conclude I want to leave you with this video of the four hundred students from across Ottawa that formed a human chain of fire to kick off our celebrations here at City Hall. The 15 centimeters of snow that fell on New Year’s Eve could not stop over five thousand residents and visitors from welcoming in 2017.

The celebrations will be right across our entire city, and to do that, we are working with community groups, local business and local organizations to help get everyone involved.

I want to thank the 2017 co-chairs Mathieu Fleury and Jean Cloutier for their tremendous efforts alongside Guy Laflamme and his entire team.

This is an incredible opportunity to help build our community…and you can be a part of it!

Come, collaborate with us, and be a part of this wonderful celebration of our country and our City.

Together, let’s celebrate and continue moving our great city forward with optimism and confidence.

Welcome to a year of celebration.

Welcome to 2017.

Thank you