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Budget at a glance

Budget Highlights

The 2015 draft budget provides the foundation from which City Council can continue to invest in and build a city that is affordable, caring, sustainable and prosperous for all residents. It maintains investments in the ongoing major projects that are currently reshaping and improving our city, while setting the course towards meeting the future needs of residents and businesses.

While this budget builds on the City’s momentum of progressing toward a more liveable city, it also includes funding to address the current needs of residents by improving mobility, supporting a new crime prevention strategy and increasing affordable housing to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents.

The budget provides stability for City Council as it establishes its 2015-2018 Term of Council Priorities this spring. The priorities are the framework in which the City will continue to develop sound and fiscally responsible plans for 2016 and beyond.

2015 draft budget will deliver:

An Affordable City

  • Hold the line on current spending, while keeping tax revenue increases to 1.75 per cent - the lowest increase in eight years, which translates to a 2 per cent increase for a residential property.
  • Limit the Rate-Supported Water and Sewer Charge increase to 6 per cent, as approved in the latest Long Range Financial Plan.
  • Freeze garbage fees for the third consecutive year.
  • Limit the average OC Transpo fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service - including increasing bus routes and approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.
  • Reduce 20 full-time equivalent (FTE) City positions, excluding Ottawa Police Services. This will be the fourth consecutive budget that reduces the number of FTEs for a total of 228 since 2012.

A Caring City

  • Fund a strategy for crime prevention and gang activity.
  • Increase funding for maintenance of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets.
  • Enhance and increase funding for the Adult School Crossing Guard Program.
  • Deliver funding for commemoration of the victims of the tragic September 2013 bus-train collision.
  • Involve the City in the renewal of the Ottawa Pride Festival.

A Sustainable City

  • Support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will see the expansion and improvement of cycling networks and multi-use pathways across the city to make cycling a safe and convenient option for residents.
  • Move the Ottawa River Action Plan forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, putting in place the last elements of funding from federal partners to match investments from the City and Province.
  • Increase funding for tree planting by $125,000 to $1.3 million.

A Prosperous City

  • Modernize Ottawa’s transit system through Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2).
  • Continue the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture, which is the backbone of the City’s planned light rail network.
  • Prepare for the transition from construction of the Confederation Line to full operation in 2018.
  • Launch the Western Transitway expansion as the City continues to seek funding for Stage 2 of the Light Rail Transit system that will extend to neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south.

New Term Of Council Priorities

Early in 2015, City Council will develop a City Strategic Plan for the four-year (2015-2018) Term of Council that will provide the framework for Council and City staff decision-making and guide future budgets. It will ensure City programs and services continue to address the changing needs of the community.

Since the Term of Council Priorities will be finalized after the 2015 budget is adopted, funding envelopes of $5.4 million in the City Manager’s Office budget and $32 million in the capital budget have been identified to fund newly established strategic initiatives. This totals an investment of $37.4 million. These envelopes allow for flexibility over the coming year to ensure public funds spent correspond with priorities once they are set.

The Strategic Initiatives are expected to include:

  • Housing and homelessness
  • The City’s transit plan
  • Neighbourhood road safety, including pedestrian and cycling mobility
  • Ottawa 2017 – Celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday
  • Economic development, specifically the growth of tourism and small businesses
  • Ottawa River cleanup
  • Increasing forest cover
  • Accountability and oversight on spending, procurement and contract management
  • Accessibility initiatives
  • Energy management
  • Arts and culture
  • Recreation services

Property Tax Revenue Changes

This image is a visual representation of the data in the table below.

Year Percentage of Property Tax Revenue Change
2008 4.9 %
2009 4.9 %
2010 3.9 %
2011 2.45 %
2012 2.39 %
2013 2.09 %
2014 1.91 %
2015 1.75 %

Property Tax Impact

  Urban Home Average Assessment: $355,000 Rural Home Average Assessment: $355,000 Commercial Property Average Assessment: $283,100
Area 2014 2015 2014 2015 2014 2015
City Wide  2,138  2,183  1,975  2,016  3,268  3,306
Police  542  553  542  553  827  841
Transit  577  589  174  177  890  906
Garbage Fee  82  82  82  82 Not Applicable  Not Applicable
TOTAL  3,339  3,406  2,773  2,828  4,985  5,053
$ Change Not Applicable  67 Not Applicable  55 Not Applicable   68
% Change Not Applicable 2.00% Not Applicable 2.00% Not Applicable 1.37%

An Affordable City

Effective budget management is a delicate balance between providing residents with optimal service, programs, building or renewing necessary infrastructure and holding the line on rising inflationary and operational costs to minimize the impact on the taxpayer. This draft budget takes a fiscally responsible approach to making Ottawa a liveable and vibrant city that is well positioned nationally and internationally to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Tax Rate

This budget holds the line on current spending and maintains the trend of the past few years in stabilizing tax-rate increases at lower levels. It proposes a 1.75 per cent tax revenue increase – the lowest in eight years, which translates to a 2 per cent increase for a residential property.

City staff will be reviewing the 2016 to 2018 operational plans for each service area and identifying measures that need to be implemented in order to ensure that Council’s target of keeping the annual tax revenue increase to 2 per cent or less can be achieved.

Transit Fares

Budget 2015 proposes to limit the average OC Transpo Fare increase to 2.5 per cent, while also providing a $4.2-million investment in new and improved service, including adding approximately 5,700 more Para Transpo trips.

Water and Sewer Rate

This budget proposes capping the water and sewer increase at 6 per cent - translating into a $48 per year increase for each household.

The water and sewer rate is in accordance to the City of Ottawa’s Long Range Financial Plan to finance capital projects, the Ottawa River Action Plan, and manage aging water and sewer infrastructure.

Recreation User Fees

Over the past four years, recreation fees have remained unchanged, while the cost of delivering these programs and facilities has increased. This budget proposes to limit the fee increase to 2 per cent with an effective date of either May 1 or September 1, depending on the program. 

Garbage Fees

In 2013, the garbage fee was reduced by 11 per cent from $93 to $82 for each Ottawa household. Budget 2015 proposes that this lower rate remain in effect for a third consecutive year.

A Caring City

As Ottawa moves towards becoming a more livable city as a result of infrastructure and transportation investments, the 2015 draft budget demonstrates the City’s ongoing commitment to addressing the current needs of all residents in our community. The budget provides support for Ottawa’s most vulnerable residents by removing barriers that prevent inclusion and by protecting the health and safety of all residents.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness

The budget continues the City’s $14 million commitment towards its 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan, in addition to increased funding of $3.1 million for the maintenance of the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation assets. A capital investment of $19 million for affordable housing is also proposed.

Guns and Gangs Exit Strategy

In 2013, Ottawa Police Services reported that the crime rate in Ottawa decreased by 11 per cent. The reduction of break and enters led the way with a 20 per cent drop. While these figures demonstrate that Ottawa remains a safe community, a spike in gang-related gun violence between members occurred in 2014.

This budget contains $400,000 to allow the City to work in partnership with Ottawa Police Services and Crime Prevention Ottawa to develop and implement an effective exit strategy for gang members – including employment and training strategies.

Neighbourhood Road Safety

As the City continues to build and improve our transportation network, the amount of traffic on our roads and the way we use them is changing. The 2015 budget allocates funding for road safety infrastructure that is tailored to meet the specific needs of each ward, which will promote safety among all road users.

The strategic budget funding envelope will allot funding to ward-based, community road safety initiatives that will enhance the safety of roads. A funding increase will also augment the Adult School Crossing Guard Program.


The 2015 draft budget will continue the necessary funding to ensure the City of Ottawa meets the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The provincial legislation legally requires Ontario organizations to meet specified accessibility standards under five areas: customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the design of public spaces.

In addition, a number of accessibility initiatives will be assigned to the Strategic Initiative budget allotment, including funds to retrofit various city assets.

A Sustainable City

Ottawa is renowned for its abundant greenspace and the easy access residents have to natural environments within and around the city. The budget continues to uphold a vision of a sustainable and healthy community that protects our natural environment and preserves and increases greenspace. It provides investments that encourage an active lifestyle and provide residents with multiple safe and convenient options for getting around the city.


The draft budget will continue to support the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan, which will expand and improve our cycling and multi-use pathways and will close gaps in our transportation network. Connecting pathway networks between communities will make it safer and easier for residents to bike or walk to where they want to go in the city.

Among other projects, the 2015 budget includes funding for consolidating the East-West Bikeway, widening Greenbank Road, ongoing construction of the pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Rideau River to connect Somerset and Donald Streets and the completion of the pedestrian and cycling bridge over Highway 417 near Coventry Road.

Ottawa River Action Plan (ORAP)

The Ottawa River and our many waterways are part of our community’s heritage and scenic beauty, essential for our daily consumption, and are an invaluable habitat for thousands of species of fish, birds and mammals. The budget will continue funding the Ottawa River Action Plan and efforts to protect the Ottawa River and the 4,500 kilometres of waterways – including four major rivers, four major tributaries and hundreds of creeks and streams – that run through this community.

Much work has been completed since ORAP started in 2010. With the longer-term, multi-year project continuing, projects will continue to build on those achievements, including an 80 per cent reduction in combined sewer overflows into the waterways. The budget also allots funding to help move forward with the construction of the central storage tunnel, a project aimed at further reducing runoff and protecting the purity of the Ottawa River. The final elements of funding will be put in place from federal partners to match that of the City and Province.

Tree Programs

In addition to the City’s forestry efforts with tree planting in new communities and replenishing the many areas and neighbourhoods that were ravaged by the Emerald Ash Borer, the City of Ottawa will also partner with Ecology Ottawa for Tree Ottawa – a special community effort to plant one million trees by 2017. The forestry budget has been increased by $125,000, resulting in a total of $5.6 million funding for trees.

A Prosperous City

The 2015 draft budget provides continued and strategic funding for key capital and operational projects that create a liveable Ottawa and a strong, diverse economy that attracts investment, tourism, and an experienced and talented workforce.

Light Rail Transit (Stage 1 and Stage 2)

The budget continues ahead on the modernization of Ottawa’s transit system by:

  • Continuing the construction of the Confederation Line, the light-rail transit line from Blair Station to Tunney’s Pasture.
  • Planning the transition from construction to full operations – including fare control and operational control centre.
  • Going forward with the Western Transitway expansion.
  • Continuing to work on the Stage 2 plan of the enhanced transportation system to reach neighbourhoods in the east, west, and south.

Tourism and Welcoming the World in 2017

Funding will continue to support the City’s Bid More, Win More, Host More economic development strategy, showcasing Ottawa on the national and international stage. Major events hosted here attract tourism and investment to the local economy.

Funding is also included to host a Tourism Summit in 2015 to develop long-term growth strategies for Ottawa’s third-largest industry. Each event also builds momentum, setting up Ottawa as the national centre of attention for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.

Redevelopment of Arts Court and Ottawa Art Gallery

The draft budget will fund the redevelopment of Arts Court and the Ottawa Art Gallery, with work beginning this year. This is a major centrepiece in the Rideau Street Arts Precinct of Ottawa’s centre core, cultivating the city’s local art, culture and talent. Arts and culture accentuate the quality of life in any major city, and this will be a key feature to attract and retain business, investment and talent into our local economy.

Innovation Centre at Bayview

With economic resiliency and diversity being keys to our city’s growth, the budget will continue to fund the economic momentum built from the efforts of Invest Ottawa. The commencement of the Innovation Centre’s development will expand the current works of Invest Ottawa for incubation and support of new start-ups and entrepreneurs. This budgetary funding is a key investment to the backbone to our economy: small businesses, which are major contributors to job growth in the local market.

Investing In Our Future

The City continues to invest in infrastructure that is essential to our ongoing prosperity by renewing our existing assets and building new infrastructure that will result in a more livable city by 2031. Work is underway on the Confederation Line light rail transit project, which is the most ambitious infrastructure project undertaken by the City since the construction of the Rideau Canal.

The 2015 budget proposes $689.1 million in tax-and-rate supported capital projects across the city. Of that total, $448 million consists of city-wide projects and $241 million for projects that are ward specific or span several wards. More than half the total capital budget is allocated to investing in the renewal of road, water and wastewater assets.

City-wide projects include:

  • $122 million for wastewater services, including $105.5 million for renewal of wastewater treatment assets and $9.2 million for stormwater management retrofits.
  • $104.9-million investment in transit services, including $60.6 million for renewal of transit assets, including bus refurbishments, Transitway projects and signals. There is also $4.2 million for 2014 and 2015 for increased bus service, Para Transpo trips and the Trillium Line.
  • $45.3 million for renewal and growth of various City water treatment assets.
  • $43.2 million for transportation services, including $18.6 million for city-wide road resurfacing, $2.4 million for major street lighting replacements and $2.8 million for new traffic control devices.
  • $32 million for capital Strategic Initiatives to be determined by City Council.
  • $19-million capital investment in affordable housing.
  • $15.7 million for renewal of fleet assets.
  • $9.1 million for solid waste investments, including $7 million for landfill capping.
  • $4.9 million for renewal of Paramedic Services assets.
  • $2.7 million for renewal of security and emergency management assets, including $2.35 million for a new corporate radio system.
  • $2.5 million for renewal of fire service assets.
  • $2.5 million for renewal of Parks, Recreation and Culture assets.
  • $2.1 million for a Library Strategic Initiative for the radio frequency identification (RFID) project.
  • $1.7 million for renewal of the City of Ottawa’s Information Technology infrastructure.
  • $1.3 million for lifecycle renewal of the Tree Program.
  • $403,000 for renewal of Long Term Care assets.

This image is a visual representation of the data in the table below.

2015 Tax and Rate Supported Revenue $3.073 Billion - By Funding Sources

Funding Sources Percentage
Property Taxes 46.9 %
Payment in Lieu of Taxes 6.1 %
Federal/Provincial/Municipal Grant 17.0 %
Reserves 3.0 %
Fees & Service Charges 25.3 %
Other 1.7 %

This image is a visual representation of the data in the table below.

2015 Tax and Rate Supported Expenditures $3.073 Billion - By Services

Service Area Percentage
General Government 7.1 %
Parks, Recreation, Cultural & Building Services 7.3 %
Emergency and Protective Services 8.5 %
Planning, Building Code & Economic Development 2.6 %
Community & Social Services 13.2 %
Housing Services 5.2 %
Solid Waste 2.2 %
Transit Service 15.6 %
Roads/Traffic/ Parking/Forestry 6.0 %
Capital Formation Costs 8.9 %
Public Health 1.8 %
Ottawa Public Library 1.6 %
Ottawa Police Services 9.5 %
Water/Sewer 10.6 %