State of the City 2016

A Year of Collaboration

Good morning and Happy New Year.

I hope everyone had a healthy and restful Christmas and holiday season.

I also want to welcome those in the audience for joining us this morning.


As I said in last year’s State of the City speech, 2015 was a Year of Momentum.

And 2016 will be a Year of Collaboration – working together for an even better city.

Before we look ahead, let’s review some of our accomplishments from the last 12 months.

We broke ground on the revitalized Arts Court and expanded Ottawa Art Gallery.

We began work on the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards.

And we moved forward with LRT construction… on time and on budget.

We also saw several community projects completed.

We opened our 5th bridge in three years, the Adàwe Crossing over the Rideau River.

We also opened the new Miracle League of Ottawa accessible baseball field.

We also unveiled a full-size rendering of the Alstom Citadis Spirit train in the Aberdeen Pavilion.

2015 was also big for our sports franchises.

Baseball returned to the nation’s capital with the Ottawa Champions, in a refurbished RCGT Park.

The Ottawa Fury FC came very close to capturing the NASL championship.

And the Ottawa REDBLACKS made it to the Grey Cup game…

Ottawa’s first Grey Cup appearance since another Trudeau was Prime Minister.

I am proud that we have strengthened our local sports industry through projects like Lansdowne Park and the baseball stadium.

Residents have rallied behind our new franchises.

Last year we also hosted a number of major events, to the direct benefit of our local economy.

2015 saw Ottawa host the FIFA Women’s World Cup at Lansdowne Park and the Canadian Little League Championships, in Barrhaven.

These major events will prepare for an exciting calendar of activities that is still to come:

  • 2016 Brier
  • 2016 One Young World conference
  • The 2016 and 2017 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Championships
  • 2017 FCM and AMO Conferences
  • 2017 and 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships
  • 2017 Roar of the Rings (Olympic trials)
  • 2017 Canadian Canoe and Kayak Championships
  • 2017 Juno Awards / 2017 : Les prix Juno
  • 2017 Red Bull Crashed Ice

And, it remains my hope, we will be able to add the 2017 Grey Cup and an NHL Outdoor Game to that impressive list as well.

A few years ago, we established our “bid more, win more, host more” tourism strategy.

I am pleased that this plan has been such a huge success.

I want to thank our 2017 Co-Chairs, Councillors Fleury and Cloutier…

And our entire 2017 team, under the leadership of Guy Laflamme, for their impressive work to date.

It probably feels like we have been talking about 2017 for quite some time.

Some people have joked that they’re looking forward to 2018 even more because it means I will stop talking about 2017!

Today, I am pleased to announce that the very first event of our 2017 calendar will be a New Year’s Levee at City Hall.

We will gather as a community on January 1 to get the year started on the right note.

From there, we will set off for the year and welcome the world.

Colleagues, these major events are not just great for the economy and job creation.

They are also important opportunities to showcase our city.

A city that will become even stronger in the years ahead.

I am ever more confident of this any time I sit down with a Minister or other elected officials from a senior level of government.

When you look at what’s happening at the federal and provincial levels…

You cannot help but get the sense that the stars are aligning in many ways.

There’s a new sense of optimism.

For quite some time, municipalities such as Ottawa have called for increased investment in community priorities:

Housing, transit, community facilities…

And, finally, it looks like we have all three levels of government agreeing on these issues.

It presents us with a unique opportunity in the months and years ahead.

For this reason and others…

2016 will be a Year of Collaboration.

Let me tell you how.

This year we will host two important summits focused on the future of our local economy.

You may recall that in the past we’ve hosted summits on topics such as youth and seniors, with very positive and meaningful results.

I like these events.

They bring together the right people at the right time.

And they set multi-year goals for how we will be successful.

We will host a Tourism Summit this spring.

The purpose of this discussion will be to focus on long-term growth strategies for our third-largest industry.

Yes, we have a solid game plan for 2017.

That game plan has attracted millions in private-sector sponsorship to ensure we make it a year to remember.

But we need to avoid a possible “2017 hangover” by being ready to build upon that success year-over-year.

I have asked Councillor Jean Cloutier to be the Chair of this summit.

At the event, we will be collaborating with our key partners…

Such as Ottawa Tourism, major facility owners, sports franchises, and arts and festival groups.

Let’s come up with some winning strategies to ensure we keep the momentum going.

As for the second summit…

In the fall, we will host a Summit on Education and the Economy.

The reason for this is simple.

Ottawa is blessed with one of the most educated workforces in the world.

We are a knowledge-based economy.

We’re often recognized as having the most creative and innovative entrepreneurs and workers in the country.

Ottawa is home to more engineers, scientists and PhDs per capita than any other city in Canada.

This is of course bolstered by our excellent colleges and universities – which are significant contributors to economic growth.

When you look at all of this together: There’s a big opportunity here.

Let’s sit down with these education leaders to talk about the future of our economy.

I am pleased that Councillor Riley Brockington, a former school trustee, has accepted my invitation to Chair this summit.

At the event we will be asking some important questions.

How can we make the most of our new Innovation Centre?

How can we better collaborate with researchers and skilled trades people to ensure we stay ahead of the curve?

How can we attract and retain the best and brightest students and workers?

These two summits were election commitments that I will be pleased to see move forward in 2016.

Winners in the economy of tomorrow will depend upon those who know how to make connections and work together.

We have seen some of that success when we’ve collaborated with our sister city Beijing.

I have led several economic development missions to China during my time as Mayor…

And each time we have come back with agreements and leads for our local businesses, in the millions of dollars.

I am pleased to announce today that I will be leading another such trade mission in 2016.

This time… to India.

At over 1.2 billion people and a large middle class, India is an important market for our city to have a presence in.

Ottawa’s business community has made it clear to me that they have the potential for significant growth in India.

Further, the City of Ottawa also has growth potential as a major tourism destination.

This delegation to India will be a first for our city.

And I am pleased that there has already been a strong response to the mission among our business leaders.

This delegation will feature companies like Ottawa’s EION Wireless.

They are a local businesses looking to build on the high bandwidth and WiFi products they have already deployed for public and private sector clients in India.

Representatives from EION are here today and they are joined in the gallery by members of our great Indo-Canadian community who are supportive of this important trade mission – thank you all for being here.

That’s collaboration on a global scale.

Now let’s look at collaboration on a community scale.

This year, we will move forward with our Canada 150 Groves program.

You may recall that this is one of our Strategic Initiatives and it will be a special project for 2017.

As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, there will be different ways we will leave a legacy for future generations.

A Canada 150 Grove will be a grove of 150 maple trees in each of the 23 wards.

These will be native Canadian sugar, red and silver maple trees.

In 2016, staff will work with Members of Council to identify a suitable location in their ward.

Then, we’ll plant the groves in spring and fall of 2017.

It is my hope that we will collaborate with community associations, schools and other interested groups…

As we pass along this gift to our community during Canada’s 150th.

The Canada groves project is in addition to our collaboration with Ecology Ottawa and the one million tree campaign that Tree Ottawa has well underway.

We will also work to make our communities even safer.

The core of this effort will be the 25 new police officers we approved in the 2016 budget.

Also… under the leadership of our Police and Crime Prevention Chairs, Councillors El-Chantiry and Qadri…

We’ll continue our efforts with our gang exit strategy.

We know that gun and gang violence will not be solved in one month or even one year.

It’s a complex social issue that requires constant attention.

But we will continue to show these young men and women that there are better options out there.

2016 will also see the City begin to roll out the first of 20 new red light cameras that we’ll install before the end of the term.

Every Member of Council knows that road safety is a top concern in neighbourhoods across the city.

It’s also an issue that requires constant attention.

We want to make sure that all of our road, path and sidewalk users feel safe.

These new red light cameras will be another tool we can use to ensure our streets are safe for everyone.

And they will complement the funds each Councillor has to implement traffic calming measures in their wards.

Of course, some of the collaboration I’ve talked about is in addition to the important work being already done by our colleagues around this table.

Let me give you some examples.

I have admired the hands-on approach that Councillor Bob Monette has been using to drive economic development in Orléans.

I took part in a very informative real estate tour of the east end where he brought realtors and other potential investors on a bus tour to see firsthand the available land and development sites.

It’s the same tour that Councillor Monette has taken potential investors on many times.

This is the sort of hands-on collaboration that will lead to real results for our local economy.

I also want to give kudos to Councillor Jan Harder, Chair of our Planning Committee.

She is collaborating on two related projects: Building Better Smarter Suburbs and the Infrastructure Standards Review.

These are very important to the quality of life of our residents and financial sustainability of the City.

Looking ahead, the Planning and Growth Management department has some important collaboration initiatives on its work plan.

As a result, we will see stronger community and stakeholder engagement…

And continued progress in improving the calibre of planning proposals in the months and years ahead.

Let me give you another good example of a Councillor leading economic development.

Councillor Allan Hubley raised the idea of allowing local businesses and entrepreneurs to pilot their technologies at City Hall.

After all, with a significant number of employees and many lines of business…

The City of Ottawa would be a perfect laboratory to test new products, technologies and ideas.

This concept led to a new program in our Economic Development and Innovation department called the Innovation Pilot Program.

To date, I am pleased to update you that the City has received nearly 50 applications.

We have selected about 5 of them to pilot.

The City will be announcing the successful participants in the next few weeks.

I think you will be very impressed by the quality of the innovation and ideas of our local entrepreneurs.

We’ll also be collaborating more on our efforts to sell surplus properties in 2016.

These efforts will be led by Councillor Marianne Wilkinson, Chair of the Ottawa Community Lands Development Corporation.

There are unneeded properties in many parts of our city.

For example, on Randall Avenue in Alta Vista there is a site which used to house a water tower but has sat vacant since 2002.

Finally, this past fall the site was put up for sale for $1.6M and has generated significant interest from the private sector.

When they sit idle, these types of properties are a double-loss for us financially.

We don’t receive the one-time revenue from the sale of the property.

And we aren’t receiving the payment of any property taxes.

We will aim to improve this situation in 2016.

Also, since 2016 will be the Year of Collaboration – there’s no better example of collaboration than music.

Councillor Jeff Leiper has accepted my invitation to be my representative on the local host committee for the 2017 Juno Awards.

He is working hard with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition to bring together members of our music community.

When we host the Junos…

We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in this important celebration of Canadian talent.

The two co-chairs of our Juno local host committee are here with us today and I would like to thank them for accepting this role and for their hard work on this important celebration.

We need to use this event to strengthen and grow our economy for years to come.

Here’s another example.

Councillor Mitic, our Sports Commissioner, has been working closely with Ottawa Tourism and our bid office to identify potential events we can bring to Ottawa.

As you know, we don’t secure these events overnight.

It often takes years of work.

In 2016, he will lead exploratory efforts for a potential bid for the Canada Summer Games in 2021.

The last Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke in 2013 attracted over 16,000 visitors.

It had a local economic impact of $165 million.

If we decide to bid on and win this prestigious event…

It would mean the potential to upgrade some of our aging sports facilities, alongside our federal and provincial partners.

We look forward to considering a bid on this exciting event.

As well, Councillor Qaqish has accepted my invitation to be the City of Ottawa’s special liaison on refugee resettlement.

Councillor Qaqish will work and liaise with refugee settlement groups like Refugee613 and Ottawa Catholic Immigration Services.

He will also work with staff to monitor the progress our new residents are making to integrate – especially after their first 12 months.

And he will coordinate a community welcome celebration, and if necessary, fundraising to help with resettlement costs.

It is hard to not be touched by the amazing support that we have seen in our community.

To date, we have welcomed more than 500 refugees to Ottawa.

Let me share one of my favourite stories.

Two Sundays ago I was invited to a very special community event at McNabb Community Centre.

The event was organized by former Vietnamese refugees who have since raised a generation of children in our beautiful city.

The purpose of the event?

To raise funds to support the sponsorship of Syrian refugees.

To see the generosity once shown to these people come full circle many years later was truly a beautiful thing.

And it’s one of many examples of Ottawa’s residents showing their compassion for their new neighbours:

In Manotick, in Councillor Moffatt’s Ward, Mary Barr and her “Quilts 4 Kidz” program at the Manotick United Church are making blankets for newly arrived Syrian refugee children;

In Old Ottawa South, barber Ali Sultan is offering free haircuts to refugees at his Opus Barbershop.

These are stories that I am tremendously proud to see.

Ottawa is putting its best foot forward.

The refugees are now arriving… but we know that is only the first step.

We need to make sure they have the opportunity to grow and participate as full members of our Ottawa family.

I also want to thank Councillor David Chernushenko for his leadership on Lansdowne Park transportation issues.

He has worked closely with the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, and the surrounding communities to ensure transportation to, from and within the site will continue to improve.

According to a survey by the Glebe Community Association, a full 70% of respondents say they use Lansdowne either regularly or frequently.

It is clear that Lansdowne is becoming a cornerstone of that great community.

Colleagues, these are strong examples of the kind of collaboration we will continue to do in 2016.

It is important to also recognize the past collaboration from which we have all benefited.

Max Keeping was one of our city’s great collaborators.

Whether as a father, friend or public figure, Max was a true bridge builder and brought people from all walks of life together.

To recognize these contributions…

I am announcing that I will be bringing forward a proposal to the commemorative naming committee to rename the new pedestrian and cycling bridge near Coventry Road, over the 417 as…

The Max Keeping Bridge.

The bridge links the wards of Councillors Nussbaum and Cloutier, and stands not far from the Cancer Survivors Park and CHEO.

And, as you know, Max was a big supporter of baseball, and of course CHEO.

This bridge serves RCGT Park and will soon serve thousands of people when the LRT station at Tremblay opens.

I think this would be a perfect fit to recognize a man who gave so much to our community.

I want to recognize the presence in the audience of several members of Max’s family who have taken time to join us today.

I also want to announce a second recognition that will come forward in 2016.

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin is the longest serving Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the history of our country.

She is also the first woman to hold the post.

The Chief Justice has been at the center of some of the most significant legal decisions in Canada’s history.

I am delighted to tell you that… the Chief Justice has accepted my offer to receive the Key to the City.

She will receive our highest civic honour at a ceremony on March 22 of this year.

And she will do so as a role model, a leader and a nation-builder who deserves to be recognized by our city.

Looking to the year ahead…

There will be no bigger initiative in 2016 than work to expand light rail transit in the nation’s capital.

Let’s not forget…

Just five years ago Ottawa did not have a clear plan for light rail.

Before that, it seemed like it may not ever happen.

Fast forward to today.

Several kilometres of rail have been installed.

The downtown tunnel is nearing completion.

And the trains are being assembled, as we speak.

That’s progress of which we can be very proud.

Now, how did we get here?

We set a plan and we stuck to it.

We were consistent.

And as we did this, we built confidence in our vision for LRT.

This plan and this confidence were crucial to gaining support from the public and our partners.

All parties at all levels of government have lined up to support Stage 2 of LRT.

In 2015, we saw two big milestones reached.

We signed the historic 100-Day agreement with the NCC.

This was due to the hard work of all parties, including the City’s representatives Councillors Taylor, Blais and Egli, as well as our City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

The second milestone came with our unanimous approval of the Stage 2 project by City Council.

This year we will continue to advance this important project.

In 2016, we will collaborate with our federal and provincial partners to secure firm funding agreements.

We will also make the case that the Trim Road and airport extensions should be included in this project.

If we can secure funding commitments this year…

We can expect to move into procurement in late 2016 or early 2017.

Working together, we will expand the benefits of LRT across our city.

The project will bring rail as far west as Bayshore Shopping Centre, as far east as Place d’Orléans, and as far south as Riverside South.

When we open the Confederation Line in 2018…

We want to turn around and pick up the shovel to break ground on Stage 2 of the LRT project.

Stage 2 will bring close to 70 percent of the city’s population within five kilometres of rail by 2023.

LRT is the single most important step we can take as a community to enhance our quality of life for generations to come.

Of course, our investments in light rail transit are enhanced by how we’re also building other active transportation infrastructure.

We’ll break ground on the first part of the O’Connor Bike Lanes this year.

This will serve as a north-south complement to the highly successful Laurier Bike Lanes – over 1.7M trips and counting.

We’ll also begin to install bike lanes on Mackenzie Avenue near the U.S. Embassy – in partnership with the Embassy and the NCC.

Looking in the west end…

We’ll move forward with construction on the Bayshore-Moodie Transitway extension in 2016.

This will be an important transit improvement for residents travelling to and from the west end.

You will recall that this is a 100% municipally-funded project because we did not want to wait to improve transit for Kanata residents.

We will also advance design work on a Fifth-Clegg pedestrian and cycling bridge.

This connection has been needed for quite some time.

This is now even more so due to the success of the revitalized Lansdowne Park.

It is my hope that we will be able to secure a funding agreement with upper levels of government this year or next.

Doing so would build upon the already historic investments we’ve made in transit and active transportation in recent years.

These are the biggest contributions we can make to fighting climate change and protecting our environment.

Speaking of which…

In 2016, we’ll move forward on our top environmental priority with the Ottawa River Action Plan.

We’ll break ground on the final portion of the project: the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel.

When commissioned, this project will mean we will pass along the gift of a clean Ottawa River to the next generation.

Also in 2016…

We can also be excited by the steps we’ll take towards a new main library branch.

Last year, the Ottawa Public Library released a Request for Expression of Interest for a new main facility.

The reaction in the market and in the community was more positive than we could have ever imagined.

Library and Archives Canada stepped forward as a potential partner.

We have also learned yesterday that the proponents for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats are also interested in our project.

This is very promising.

Under the leadership of Councillor Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library board…

We will continue to engage with the community and potential partners to make this dream a reality.

It is my expectation that the new main library will be a truly regional facility enjoyed by residents from all parts of our city.

It is my hope that we will be able to break ground on this new facility before the end of our term in 2018.

We also expect to open the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards before the end of this year.

There is no more perfect example of collaboration than this amazing facility, which will be the new home of Invest Ottawa.

Ottawa has been recognized as the most business-friendly mid-sized city in the western hemisphere by the Financial Times.

We’re seeing jobs and investment return to Ottawa.

But we need to make sure that entrepreneurs and other business owners have the support they need.

The Innovation Centre will be a one-stop shop for anyone with an idea they want to take from the drawing board to the marketplace.

We want our businesses to launch, grow, and thrive.

And, of course, this facility will come at just the right moment.

Because everything we do should be looked at in front of the backdrop of the economy.

We remain in challenging economic times.

Locally, growth is down.

The dollar is weak.

Families are also seeing their personal investments, pensions funds, and savings decline in value with changes in the market.

We must continue to stay true to our principles:

  • Keeping taxes affordable.
  • Protecting the most vulnerable.
  • Investing in community infrastructure.
  • Supporting job creators.

When you are faced with tough times, you have two paths to take.

One path you may have heard chatter about in the pages of certain newspapers recently.

It’s the path of cynicism.

Of those who are disappointed in themselves and their surroundings.

It’s the path of grumbling.

No matter how historic the investments we’re making.

Or how many awards the city receives about quality of life… or business friendliness… or sustainability.

It will never quite be good enough.

I prefer to take the other path.

The path that looks forward.

That recognizes we will never leapfrog cobblestone cities that are hundreds of years older than us.

Instead, we will focus on ensuring a high quality of life.

On protecting our most vulnerable.

On cutting commute times.

On cleaning our water and air.

That’s the path on which we should be focused.

I will borrow a phrase from Bruce Lazenby, head of Invest Ottawa when I say:

City BUILDING will always beat city BASHING.

We all love this city.

And we will do everything we can to make it an even better place to raise a family and grow a business.

As we resolve ourselves for 2016…

As we get ready to host the world in 2017…

Let us take this path of optimism.

The path of pride.

The path to building the best city in the most blessed country in the world.

Thank you.