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