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2019 Budget highlights

Draft Budget 2019 - At a Glance

Budget Highlights

This Term-of-Council’s first draft budget is one of transition. It moves forward upon past and current progress and successes, and takes into account uncertainty on possible upcoming budget pressures. This includes undefined funding from both levels of government and the provincial government tabling its first budget in 2019, where some fiscal decisions may affect municipal budgets.

The City remains in a strong financial standing, receiving the highest possible credit ratings from Standard and Poor’s Rating Services and Moody’s Investor Services. Our commitment towards renewing and maintaining our roadways, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, community safety and policing, and affordable housing will continue to progress. The budget will also extend existing funding for programs and services that matter to our residents, segueing to Council’s full 2020 budget that will be drafted and tabled this fall.     

This draft budget continues a commitment to fiscal responsibility–ensuring tax increases are predictable and affordable for residents, delivering key priorities and operating within our means, narrowing the capital budget deficits for infrastructure, and remaining responsive to the greater economic environment. The proposed three-per-cent tax rate increase strikes that balance of affordability and being responsive to the inflationary costs of delivering core services to our residents.   

This year, we will see the opening of the first stage of the O-Train Confederation Line light-rail transit system. Simultaneously, we continue to move forward with Stage 2 light rail expansion–which will extend the Confederation Line farther east and west, and the Trillium Line farther south to Riverside South.

The transit system will not only increase our capacity to move people, but it is an important vehicle to help drive our local economy and the development of vibrant communities around the transit system–creating more opportunities for more affordable housing.   

This focus on economic development sharpens Ottawa’s competitive edge with other large North American centres through smart investments and key partnerships with stakeholders–including Invest Ottawa and our post-secondary institutions. Emphasizing economic development as a priority will attract businesses, investment, talent and tourism dollars–making our local economy more vibrant and resilient.

Highlights of Draft Budget 2019 include:

A Caring City

  • The City will commit $15 million for more affordable housing–making it the largest single affordable housing investment in the City’s history
  • Maintaining our $26 million to local agencies to fund housing and homelessness supports and services to residents
  • Investing in our Paramedic Service by hiring 14 new paramedics
  • $5.7 million in the City’s four Long Term Care Homes to continue to enhance the quality of care and services
  • Providing funding for 32 new police officers to support crime prevention, community policing and traffic safety
  • $632,000 will be invested in Ottawa Fire Services for upgrading the fire station alerting and paging systems
  • Improving school safety by adding 10 adult school crossing guards
  • $500,000 investment for Pedestrian Crossover (PXO) Program
  • $1.6 million committed to the Temporary Traffic Calming Measure Program, with each Councillor receiving $50,000 for initiatives in their respective wards
  • Continuing EquiPass and EquiFare transit fare programs for low-income residents
  • A two-per-cent cost-of-living increase to community funding will mean a total investment of $24.2 million to fund community-based programs and services for residents who are low-income, in crisis, at-risk or isolated.
  • $210,000 is committed to initiate the new City of Ottawa Women and Gender Equity Strategy
  • Sundays, in addition to Wednesday, will be “no fee” days for seniors on transit
  • Funding for arts, heritage and festival organizations will increase by $250,000, increasing the total annual funding to $12.4 million

A Prosperous City

  • $340 million to renew City infrastructure in 2019
  • $20.4 million to renew City bridges in 2019
  • $49 million to resurface and upgrade roadways
  • $42.7 million will be invested for upgrading rural infrastructure including $12 million invested for rural culvert replacements and repairs.
  • $8.1 million to renew existing transit-related assets including the buildings, Transitway roads and bridges, an increase of $2 million
  • The pothole and minor asphalt base budget will be increased by $950,000 to just over $9 million.
  • $180 million in total infrastructure growth projects for 2019
  • $38.6 million to renew existing City buildings, facilities and parks
  • Increasing the winter operations budget by $2.4 million for a total of $70.8 million

A Sustainable City

  • $19.1 million is committed towards the Sewage Pumping Station Rehabilitation Program–involving lifecycle assessments, rehabilitation and replacements of equipment for environment protection
  • $1.497 million annually to plant 500,000 trees through this Term of Council and regenerate Ottawa’s forest cover across rural, suburban and urban communities.  Forestry Services will begin planting in areas impacted by the tornadoes as early as this spring and planting efforts will continue through the fall of 2019 and 2020 where properties may require significant reconstruction.
  • Almost $90 million will be invested to enhance transit operations:
  • $55.2 million is to replace 79 buses that reached the end of the 15-year lifecycle
  • $22.4 million for refurbishing existing buses in the fleet–ensuring they are in good and safe working condition
  • $7.8 million will purchase an additional 12 new buses to allow for expanded transit service
  • $3.4 million in 2019, or $5.1 million on an annual basis, for expanded transit service to provide improved connections, improved reliability, shorter wait times and additional capacity.  
  • $2-million increase to the Building Engineering and Energy Management program for energy efficiency and conservation retrofits and updating building automation systems at City-owned facilities

An Affordable City

  • Limiting the proposed tax revenue increase for City to three per cent
  • Increasing the police budget with a 4.5-per-cent increase.
  • Limiting the proposed transit levy to 3.5 per cent
  • Limiting the proposed transit fare increase to 2.5 per cent
  • Issuing green municipal bonds in Canada, making $102 million in capital available to build Stage 2 of light rail transit

2019 Capital Program $767 million - by funding source

2019 Capital Program $767 million - by service

2019 total revenues $3.6 billion - by funding source

2019 Total Expenditures $3.6 billion - by service

Draft Budget 2019 – Backgrounders

Supporting strong communities

A community’s strength is measured on its inclusiveness–ensuring all people have an opportunity to participate and benefit in the city’s growth, vibrancy and prosperity. The City continues its important investments in the health, safety, security, mobility and wellbeing of our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable. Draft Budget 2019 highlights people-focussed investments–funding for affordable housing, security, safety and access to public transportation.    

Affordable housing and homelessness

Creating more affordable housing is a cornerstone for a stronger, more resilient and sustainable economy. Greater access to suitable, affordable and supportive housing provides opportunities for people to improve their wellbeing, have more stability and engage in their communities. It also reduces the costs of health care, emergency services, corrections and other costs associated with homelessness.

Draft Budget 2019 proposes $15 million to create more affordable and supportive housing, the largest investment in the City’s history. This investment is in addition to the $111 million the City currently provides toward housing and homelessness, such as social housing, housing subsidies, support services and homelessness initiatives.

At this time, federal and provincial government funding for 2019 and beyond has not been confirmed. Should both or one of the levels of government match the municipal dollars, it could result in the approval of up to 250 new units of affordable housing in 2019.

Investing in the paramedic service

Ottawa is a large geographical city with a growing population, spanning urban, suburban and rural regions. This, combined with an aging population, places increased pressure on the paramedic system. Draft Budget 2019 invests in this essential service by adding 14 paramedics to help enhance response time across the city–especially in the rural areas.

Continuing EquiPass and EquiFare (monthly and single-ride fares)

To ensure everyone has equal access to public transit, Draft Budget 2019 continues the monthly EquiPass and EquiFare single-ride programs for low-income customers. It provides alternate fare pricing, including a $1.80 single fare, that is more affordable for those with limited financial means. At the end of 2018, more than 11,000 residents had registered as eligible EquiPass users and 223,000 trips were made by residents using the discounted single-ride EquiFare.

Increasing transit service

The first stage of the O-Train Confederation Line will open this year for full revenue service, creating a dramatic shift in how residents move around the city. The O-Train Confederation Line will carry up to 10,700 passengers per hour in each direction, alleviating bus traffic from the downtown core. 

Draft Budget 2019 includes $55.2 million to replace 79 buses that reached the end of their 15-year life cycles, and $22.4 million to refurbish and maintain existing buses in the fleet, ensuring they are in good and safe working condition. An investment of $7.8 million will purchase an additional 12 new buses to further increase rider capacity across the city.

Draft Budget 2019 includes $3.4 million in 2019, and $5.1 million on an annual basis thereafter, for new transit routes to meet emerging needs where there is a significant demand for service.

Sundays, in addition to Wednesdays, will be no-fee days for seniors on public transit.

Investing in long-term care

Draft Budget 2019 invests an additional $5.7 million for more direct care staff, to enhance staff supervision, promote continuous quality improvement and purchase new equipment and furniture to support resident care and quality of life in the City’s long-term care homes. This includes funding for 46 more support workers.

With approximately 80 per cent of long-term care residents suffering from some form of dementia, the City will enhance staff dementia training and implement new initiatives such as interactive displays, indoor gardens and MUSIC & MEMORY® iPod programs at long-term care homes. Leveraging this investment with grants from the Eldercare Foundation and the City of Ottawa’s Older Adult Plan will enhance the quality of care and services for residents.

Investing in safety and security

Safer communities–including crime prevention and traffic safety–is a key priority for Ottawa residents. Draft Budget 2019 addresses these priorities with a 4.5-per-cent increase (which combines a three-per-cent increase with 1.5-per-cent growth funding) to enable the Ottawa Police Service to hire 32 more officers for traffic enforcement, the guns and gangs unit, and to strengthen community policing.     

Further investments in traffic safety include: $1.6 million for the Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program, with each Councillor receiving $50,000 for initiatives in their respective wards, $500,000 for the Pedestrian Crossover Program and 10 more crossing guards to improve the safety of our children at school.

Arts, culture and festivals

Arts, heritage and festival organizations will see an increased investment of $250,000, raising the total annual budget to $12.4 million, contributing to the cultural vibrancy of our city.

Increasing our infrastructure investment

Like many North American cities, Ottawa has faced the growing challenge to balance investments to renew aging infrastructure with continued funding for new and growth projects that support expanding communities.

Draft Budget 2019 continues the City’s commitment to striking that balance of maintaining our critical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, buildings, and cycling and pedestrian pathways, with an increase of $9.8 million.     

The City’s infrastructure assets are valued at more than $42 billion. As seen in the Elgin Street renewal project, the City is continuing to invest in the renewal and maintenance of our aging infrastructure, ensuring it is in an optimal state of operation to support new and existing communities and neighbourhoods.

This year, the first stage of the O-Train Confederation Line will go into full revenue service. The expansion of the O-Train Confederation and Trillium lines (Stage 2) will continue this progress.

Renewing and upgrading City roads and infrastructure

Roads remain a high priority for Ottawa residents. Draft Budget 2019 invests in our roads to enable safe and easy travel through urban, suburban and rural communities by continuing our investment in infrastructure with an additional $9.8 million.

Overall, Draft Budget 2019 allocates $340 million towards infrastructure renewal for projects across the city, including:

  • $49 million to resurface and upgrade roads
  • $42.7 million to upgrade rural infrastructure, including $12 million to repair and replace culverts in rural areas
  • $20.4 million to renew City bridges
  • $9 million for the pothole and minor asphalt base budget, including an increase of $950,000
  • $8.1 million to improve transit infrastructure
  • $2.9 million to renew sidewalks and pathways

  Parks and other City facilities

The City’s recreation centres and other facilities will see a $38.6-million investment to renew and maintain our buildings, parks, swimming pools, splash pads, fitness spaces and outdoor courts, including Canterbury Pool, Ray Friel Recreation Complex, Nepean Sportsplex, Bob McQuarrie Recreation Complex–Orléans and Earl Armstrong Arena.

These investments will allow the City to keep pace with current population growth while ensuring that critical infrastructure is upgraded as needed. This will lead to a longer lifespan for our aging facilities and an improved experience for users and their families.

Managing winter operations

The recent trend in weather systems has brought increasingly varied and unpredictable winter weather to Ottawa. The City maintains a vast geographic area of roadways, sidewalks, pathways and parking lots. The 2019 winter operations budget is increasing by $2.4 million, for a total of $70.8 million.

Protecting our environment

The City is committed to preserving and protecting Ottawa natural environment, including our green spaces, waterways, groundwater and wetlands. These efforts include reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, and managing a strong stormwater management system that helps prevent flooding and pollution of our waterways.

Light-rail transit

The first stage of Ottawa’s O-Train Confederation Line will dramatically change the way residents move around the City and help drive the economy. It will also create a positive imprint on our environment, reducing the number of bus and car trips and the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere. The electric trains on the light-rail systems will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 110,000 tonnes per year by 2048–equivalent to planting 11 million new trees.

It will also reduce emissions of air contaminants such as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides and particulate matter by approximately 3,000 tonnes by 2048. The monetary value of these environmental benefits has been estimated at $32 million per year.

Sewage pumping station rehabilitation

To protect our waterways, the City will invest $19.1 million to ensure sewage pumping stations are operating effectively and safely. The program involves lifecycle reviews of several water pumping stations, including Britannia, Pooler, Lincoln, Harvard, Leonard, Laporte, St. Joseph, RCAF, RCMP, Dogwood, Hemlock, Cumberland and Tartan. After the review, any required rehabilitation and replacement work will be scheduled based to ensure all critical equipment and components are in good operating condition.

Energy conservation and efficiency

The Building Engineering and Energy Management program will see a $2-million increase for energy conservation retrofits and technologies in City-owned facilities.    

  Tree planting program

The City will invest $1.497 million annually to plant 500,000 trees through this Term of Council, regenerating Ottawa’s forest cover across rural, suburban and urban communities. Forestry Services will begin planting in areas impacted by the tornadoes as early as this spring and planting efforts will continue through the fall of 2019 and 2020 where properties may require significant reconstruction.    

Prudent financial management

Tax rate

The three-per-cent tax increase proposed in Draft Budget 2019 strikes the balance of being affordable for residents while remaining responsive to address inflationary costs.

Part of fiscal responsibility is being responsive to changes in the economic environment and uncertainty around possible added budget pressures over the next few months. This includes undefined funding from both levels of government and the provincial government tabling its first budget later this year. Both of these factors may affect municipal budgets.

Narrowing the infrastructure funding gap

Draft Budget 2019 addresses the funding gap for infrastructure by expediting payments in five years, instead of the originally projected 10-year timeframe. No new debt will be incurred to narrow the gap.

Maintaining solid credit

The City has the highest possible credit rating–achieving AA by Standard and Poor’s Rating Services and Aaa by Moody’s Investor Services.

The City’s credit ratings are based on several factors, including high levels of liquidity, a lower than average debt burden, a stable economic base, long-range planning and the economic outlook. The ratings reflect strong fiscal outcomes and prudent financial management.

The City’s excellent credit rating helps investors and creditors measure the City’s ability to meet its financial obligations. Excellent credit ratings mean that it is less expensive for the City to borrow money.