Mayor Watson: 2017 will be a year for Celebration

OTTAWA – Mayor Jim Watson previewed a year of celebration in his annual State of the City address today, as Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations unfold in our nation’s capital. 2017 will be a year of continued growth and sustainability, and the face of Ottawa will change with the opening of new landmarks and facilities.

“This year is an opportunity to celebrate Canada, while we welcome visitors to our truly inclusive and progressive city, and demonstrate to a global audience how much we have to offer,” said Mayor Watson. “Ottawa 2017 celebrations are one of the largest efforts in the city, as our communities join forces to welcome the world.”

Ottawa will roll out the welcome mat to more than 10 million visitors over the next twelve months, as we host a year of celebrations and special events, and witness unprecedented economic development as we mark many important milestones:

  • Hosting major sporting events including the Davis Cup, the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, curling qualifying event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships, and the Grey Cup.
  • Bringing the Capital to life with thrilling events and cultural experiences such as La Machine, Sky Lounge, Red Bull Crashed Ice, Ignite 150, the Interprovincial Picnic on the Bridge and the 2017 JUNO Awards.
  • Hosting more conventions than ever before – doubling the number of business travelers to Ottawa this year.
  • Partnering with Ottawa Tourism on our Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy to attract more major sporting and cultural events to Ottawa, in our bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
  • Supporting small businesses and great ideas through the Innovation Centre, our city’s hub for creators and entrepreneurs.

This will also be a year of enhancing the legacy of the nation’s capital, with many new facilities and completed redevelopment projects set to open to the public and become landmarks in Ottawa:

  • The National Arts Centre redevelopment
  • The George Street Plaza
  • The Stanley Cup monument.
  • The new Ottawa Art Gallery
  • The Arts Court Redevelopment
  • The renovated Canadian Science and Technology Museum
  • The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards
  • The new Bank of Canada Museum

Ottawa is also planning for the future with strategic initiatives that foster prosperity, equity and sustainability:

  • Building a world class transit system by continuing construction of the Confederation line, and investing in planning for Stage 2 of the LRT;
  • Introducing the EquiPass, Ottawa’s new affordable transit pass;
  • Committing to Transit Oriented Development, including major residential developments, business hubs, and civic buildings with light rail access;
  • Opening new affordable and supportive housing developments;
  • Continuing the dialogue on the proposed site for the new Central Library;
  • Moving forward on the Building Better and Smarter Suburbs initiative;
  • Creating a team to proactively ensure vacant heritage buildings meet property and building standards;
  • Planting 150 maple trees to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation; and
  • Moving forward on creating a complete mixed-use community at the former Rockcliffe Air Base, resulting in the construction of homes for approximately 10,000 residents and providing 2,600 jobs.

During the speech, Mayor Watson shared two significant civic recognition initiatives that will happen in 2017:

  • Holding an Aboriginal Awareness Day in June, to honour all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, Elders, ancestors and their valuable contributions to this land; and
  • Awarding of the Key to the City to journalist and broadcaster Michel Picard, former First Nations judge and lawyer Senator Murray Sinclair, former Auditor General Sheila Fraser, retired CFL football quarterback Henry Burris, retired NHL hockey player Steve Yzerman, and to two fine local institutions: 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 celebration of the next phase of LRT, Mayor Watson announced a competition in local schools to name Ottawa’s LRT engines for the Confederation line. The competition will take place in fall of 2017, with the winners announced in the spring of 2018.

The Mayor also announced that in the coming weeks he will lead a mission to Queen’s Park to showcase our growing share of strategic technology investments, accompanied by Sir Terry Matthews, high-tech entrepreneur and champion of technology in our city. The goal is to explore how we can leverage our revitalized local high-tech sector to develop 5G network technology in support of a sophisticated autonomous vehicle industry in Ontario.

The Mayor further proposed creating a 50-year “2017 time capsule,” to be opened by Ottawa residents in 50 years’ time, when Canada will be celebrating its 200th anniversary.

Read Mayor Watson’s entire State of the City address on his website: www.JimWatsonOttawa.ca.