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2020 Budget highlights

Draft Budget 2020 - At a Glance

An affordable approach for responsible growth, mobility and housing

Budget Highlights

Ottawa passed a major population milestone in 2019 – reaching the one-million mark. Our residents live in dozens of communities that spread across a large geographic area. Ottawa has more than 1,000 working farms within its borders – and is the largest rural municipality of Canada’s big cities.

But as our city continues to grow, so too does the challenge of keeping Ottawa affordable for those who live and work here. The way we connect communities and keep residents moving plays a big part of this year’s budget, with significant investments in transportation infrastructure: roads, bridges, culverts and active transportation projects like cycling lanes and sidewalks.

The draft 2020 Budget includes a $7.5-million investment in transit, with major bus service enhancements. The City will also spend $817 million in 2020 on Stage 2, to extend our newly opened light-rail transit system even farther east, west and south.

The City is also devoting more funds to repaving and road safety projects to keep our city moving. Investing in both transit and transportation together does far more than simply ease traffic congestion. It connects us with one another and with the businesses and services we use each day, helping create jobs and foster a stronger economy and a higher quality of life for all.

The draft 2020 Budget finds balance by limiting the burden on taxpayers while maintaining the standard of service residents have come to rely on from their City. Homeowners will see that property tax increases have been capped at three per cent.

But it’s important to remember that affordable doesn’t mean the same thing to all residents. This year’s budget also builds on considerable past investments for Ottawa’s residents who are most in need, for instance with $15 million in new funds for affordable housing. Added support for community agencies is also included, along with continued support for long-term care and our older adult plan. Communities are stronger when everyone has a safe place to call home and share in a good quality of life.

The City continues to rely on prudent financial planning at a time of financial uncertainty from upper levels of government and volitivity in global markets. We have worked hard to ensure that the draft 2020 Budget is respectful of each dollar contributed by taxpayers, reinvesting those revenues back into our shared infrastructure and the countless services we provide to residents.

We remain committed to building a strong and vibrant Ottawa for the future.

Highlights of Draft Budget 2020 include:

A Caring City

  • Draft Budget 2020 adds $15 million to the City’s affordable housing investment – repeating last-year’s record as the largest in the City’s history.
  • A $31 million investment will maintain funding for local agencies to offer housing and homelessness supports and services.
  • Community Funding of $24.5 million for non-profit social services providers will help them deliver valuable services to residents facing the greatest needs. The budget also commits an additional $500,000 one-time funding to support agencies as the City transitions to a new funding framework.
  • To protect the health and wellbeing of residents, the budget proposes 30 additional police officers and 14 additional paramedic staff.
  • A promise of $4.4 million will help the City to provide quality and professional services for residents in the City’s long-term care facilities.
  • Funding of $2 million will be put towards building a new fire station in Kanata North and will add to the $1.8 million flagged for upgrades and repairs to other Ottawa Fire Services facilities across the city.
  • The budget includes $100,000 per ward, to be used at the discretion of the Ward Councillor, to enhance recreation or park facilities. Councillors would also guide spending on $50,000 of traffic-calming projects for each ward.
  • The budget includes $7.5 million for bus transit improvements, to enhance connectivity with light-rail stations, improve reliability, reduce wait times and expand service into growth areas. The City also earmarked $43 million to replace old buses and $9.6 million to support the EquiPass transit pass for lower-income residents.
  • The cost of the EquiPass for low-income residents and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will be frozen at 2019 rates for a year.
  • Draft Budget 2020 increases direct funding to Ottawa’s arts, heritage and cultural organizations by $255,000, for a total budget of $10.7 million
  • The City’s theatre and cultural arts will see an increase of $584,000 to upgrade equipment and systems at Shenkman Arts Centre and Meridian Theatre, and to repair and maintain other cultural facilities and museums.

A Prosperous City

  • Stage 2 funding for 2020, estimated at $817 million, will help extend Ottawa’s light-rail transit system east, west and south, adding 44 kilometres and 24 new stations.
  • Infrastructure renewal makes up 75 per cent of the City’s capital budget, including a $51 million budget for road resurfacing. This includes rural-road upgrades and road-surface preservation treatments, and represents a significant increase from the yearly average of $35.5 million spent during the previous Term of Council.
  • The City is increasing its pothole repair budget by seven per cent, bringing the annual investment to $9.8 million.
  • A $49-million renewal project for Montreal Road will contribute to greater mobility for all road users by rejuvenating the historic core area of the Vanier community.
  • The City will invest $49.3 million to renew additional City infrastructure, including $11 million to repair and improve sewers, $2 million to renew guiderails, $11.6 million to improve and rehabilitate water distribution systems and watermain infrastructure, and $1.5 million to rehabilitate stormwater management infrastructure
  • An investment of $4 million for the Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan will develop programs that manage the capacity of the sewer systems and reduce both risk of property flooding and impacts related to combined sewer overflows.
  • The $78.3-million winter operations budget for 2020 represents a $5.6-million increase over 2019 to maintain our 6,000 kilometres of roadway along with Ottawa’s sidewalks, pathways and parking lots.

A Sustainable City

  • The City is investing $17.5 million to rehabilitate the City’s wastewater treatment plant, the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre (ROPEC).
  • To maintain our high drinking-water standards, $11.3 million is being invested to upgrade equipment at the Lemieux Island and Britannia water purification plants.
  • Draft Budget 2020 includes $6 million to introduce electric buses into the OC Transpo fleet – another step toward environment protection.
  • The City will plant about 125,000 trees, investing $1.5 million this year as part of a larger strategy to regenerate forest cover across rural, suburban and urban Ottawa by planting 500,000 trees during this Term of Council.
  • Draft Budget 2020 includes capital funding to complete a barrier between contaminants and the ground (a $22-million, multi-year project) and another $1 million for a permanent methane gas-collection system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A $3-million investment in our Energy Management and Investment Strategy will help reduce the City’s environmental footprint and enhance Ottawa reputation as a leader in energy conservation and demand management.
  • The budget also includes $3 million to rehabilitate water pumping stations and $2 million to assess conditions in our wastewater collection system. A further $500,000 investment for engineering and construction of municipal drains would be recovered from landowners within the watershed once work is completed.

An Affordable City

  • The draft budget assumes a 1.5-per-cent increase in property assessment growth and caps the residential property-tax increase at three per cent. This includes a 6.4-per-cent transit levy that will add $9.8 million to capital, offsetting a cancelled provincial gas tax increase.
  • Draft Budget 2020 includes a $22.5-million increase over 2019 commitments to renew and maintain infrastructure assets like roads, sidewalks and facilities. That increase would allow the City to close the infrastructure gap – the difference between what the City spends and what it needs to spend annually to maintain infrastructure in good repair – in seven years, rather than 10 years.
  • The police budget would increase by three per cent and would also include an additional $2.4 million in one-time funding from the City’s tax stabilization fund.
  • The City expects to generate $1.3 million in additional revenues in 2020. That increase from $450,000 last year, will further help cover Ottawa Police Service operational costs. In 2019, six red-light cameras were installed and by the end of 2020 another 14 locations will be equipped with red-light cameras.
  • This budget limits the proposed transit-fare increase to 2.5 per cent.
  • The proposed tax increase, including the transit levy and a three-per-cent levy for police, amounts to $109 for an average urban home.
  • The rate-supported budget estimates 2020 rate increases will generate an extra $16.5 million in revenues from water, wastewater and stormwater services, with $4 million going to maintain existing programs and service, $12.4 million to infrastructure and the balance going to growth.

2020 Operating Budget

2020 Tax and Rate Supported Expenditure $3.764 Billion - By Service Area

2020 Tax and Rate Supported Revenue $3.764 Billion - By Funding Source

2020 Capital Budget

2020 Capital Program $813.8 million - By Service Area

2020 Capital Program $813.8 million - By Funding Source

Draft Budget 2020 – Backgrounders

Investing in our roads, pathways and flood-mitigation infrastructure

With 75 per cent of the capital budget dedicated to infrastructure spending, this budget continues our commitment to maintain and upgrade roads, parks and water infrastructure, enhancing the mobility of residents and decreasing our flood risk.

Paving the way for better roads and vibrant communities

The City is investing $51 million to resurface and preserve pavement on many roads. Ottawa’s roads are battered by a wide range and fluctuation of temperatures over the past two years, so the City is increasing the pothole repair budget by seven per cent, up to $9.8 million.

While the Elgin Street renewal will be in its final stages, the next major road construction project is the $49-million Montreal Road renewal that will increase mobility for all road users and rejuvenate Vanier’s historic core.

Investing in watermains, sewers and stormwater infrastructure

Protecting our waterways, reducing the risk of flooding and effectively distributing drinking water to homes and businesses are key investments for Draft Budget 2020. A $49.3-million investment will repair and improve sewers, watermains and water distribution systems.

The Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan, with a $4-million budget in 2020, will develop programs that manage the capacity of the sewer systems and reduce both risk of property flooding and impacts related to combined sewer overflows. Further flood-mitigation efforts include $15 million to repair and replace culverts, including $9 million for Ottawa’s rural areas.

Upgrading parks and other City facilities

While budget investments will fund repairs to City parking facilities, upgrades to outdoor tennis courts, new lighting for parks and pathways, outdoor rink and pool equipment, and improvements to public works yards, each ward will also receive one-time funding of $100,000 to upgrade recreation facilities and renew infrastructure in parks.

Improving winter operations

The past few Ottawa winters have seen unpredictable weather patterns, consisting of frequent freeze-thaw cycles and major snow and ice storms. The City maintains a vast network of roads – 6,000 kilometres – along with sidewalks, pathways and parking lots. The winter operations budget is increasing by $5.6 million, for a total of $78.3 million. Of the $5.6-milion increase, approximately $2.9 million will go to sidewalk maintenance.


Supporting strong communities

The hallmark of any great city goes beyond its economic strength and growth. It is measured by how it provides for all residents – especially the most vulnerable – an equal opportunity to share and participate in the community’s growth, vibrancy and prosperity.

While past efforts and significant investments in affordable housing and homelessness solutions have helped us move forward, plenty of work and funding are still required. Draft Budget 2020 places a strong emphasis on people-first investments, making affordable housing and public transportation key priorities.

Investing in affordable housing and homelessness benefits all residents

Strong affordable housing and homelessness investment strategies help create a stronger, more resilient and sustainable economy – benefitting all residents. Greater access to suitable, affordable and supportive housing provides opportunities for people to improve their wellbeing, stability and community engagement. It also reduces the costs of health care, emergency services, corrections and other services associated with homelessness.

The draft budget continues past funding priorities by proposing an additional $15 million to create more affordable and supportive housing. This is in addition to the $31 million the City currently invests in community-based housing and homelessness programs and supports.

Increasing transit service

In September, the first stage of the O-Train Confederation Line opened, starting the beginning of a dramatic shift in how residents get around the city. Despite early growing pains, the O-Train Confederation Line now carries up to 10,700 passengers per hour in each direction, alleviating bus traffic from the downtown core. The line carried more than three million passengers in its first month of operation.

Draft Budget 2020 includes $43 million to replace buses that reached the end of their 15-year life cycles and adds $7.5 million to expand bus service to better connect customers to Confederation Line stations. This funding will be used to increase the number of standby buses at key locations and increase capacity on high-ridership routes, possibly adding more early and late trips. Service needs are being reviewed for Orléans routes connecting at Blair Station, Barrhaven routes connecting at Tunney’s Pasture Station and for service to National Defence Headquarters. Staff are also reviewing connections for fast-growing areas in Barrhaven South, Ottawa South, Stittsville, Kanata, Orléans and Richmond.

A $2.85-million investment is also being made to enhance the customer experience at Transitway and O-Train stations, with another $900,000 to improve bus stops and shelters and $500,000 to add accessibility features.

Work continues on Stage 2, which will extend the Confederation Line farther east and west, and the Trillium Line farther south, with a connection to the airport.

Improving long-term care

Draft Budget 2020 invests an additional $4.4 million in providing quality and professional services for residents in the City’s long-term care homes.

Enhancing public safety

Ottawa is a growing city that covers a vast geographical area. The draft budget will fund an additional 14 full-time paramedic staff along with additional vehicles to better respond to medical emergencies.

The Ottawa Police Service will hire 30 additional officers to help protect the safety and security of our communities.

Investing in agencies that help others

The City is proud to have community partners and non-profit organizations that help support the many residents who need a helping hand. The budget maintains support to local agencies, investing $24.5 million in community funding to help residents facing the greatest needs find the services they require – this includes a two-per-cent inflationary increase over 2019 worth $475,000 and an additional investment of $100,000 in project funding.

The budget also commits an additional $500,000 one-time funding to agencies as the City transitions to a new funding framework.

Arts and culture

Draft Budget 2020 adds an extra two percent in direct funding to arts, heritage and cultural organizations, increasing total funding by $255,000 for a total budget of $10.7 million. These municipal arts and culture investments help cultivate a distinctive sense of place, fostering a shared identity and sense of belonging.

The City’s theatre, cultural and arts services will see an increase of $584,000 to upgrade customer service technologies and theatre equipment at Shenkman Arts Centre and Meridian Theatres. This funding will also help repair and maintain other cultural facilities and museums and preserve historical artifacts and art pieces.


Investing in the environment

The City is making the environment a priority in its funding, policy development, management and operations. Draft Budget 2020 includes key investments to preserve and protect Ottawa’s natural habitat – including our waterways – and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing transit’s environmental footprint

The opening of the first stage of the O-Train Confederation Line had a positive imprint on our environment. In addition to reducing the number of bus and car trips, the electric trains reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other particulate matter into our atmosphere. The line is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 110,000 tonnes per year. The annual monetary value of these environmental benefits is estimated at almost $32 million.

A $6-million investment for new electric buses will help further reduce the environmental footprint of OC Transpo.

Protecting our water and helping communities

Draft Budget 2020 continues to invest in maintaining our high drinking-water quality and effective stormwater management. These investments include $8.5 million to modify and upgrade equipment at the water purification plants, $11.7 million to upgrade sewage pumping stations and funding to assess and upgrade stormwater management facilities.

The draft budget also includes $17.5 million towards ongoing rehabilitation of the City’s wastewater treatment plant, the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre.

Protecting air and land at Trail Waste Facility

Draft Budget 2020 includes environmental protection with capital funding for solid waste, including funding to complete a geomembrane at the City’s landfill to act as a barrier between contaminants and the ground (a $22-million, multi-year project) and $1 million towards a permanent methane gas-collection system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Conserving energy

Draft Budget 2020 proposes $3 million per year for an increased energy conservation program to improve the energy efficiency of City buildings.

Planting trees

The City will continue to invest $1.5 million annually to plant 500,000 trees through this Term of Council, regenerating Ottawa’s forest cover.

A revised tree by-law is also being developed to coordinate with the City’s Urban Forest Management Plan, ensuring trees are considered in development and implementing new rules around replanting and protection.


Prudent financial management

The big differences between municipal government and federal and provincial governments are the number of revenue streams that fund their budgets and the impact on residents.

City services impact residents’ basic household needs – from drinking water piped into your home to the snow plow clearing your street. Municipal governments have limited revenue, consisting primarily of property taxes and service fees, such as for water, transit and recreation.

These are key services that affect the quality of life of you and your family. Draft Budget 2020 strikes a balance between providing the level and types of services that residents expect and ensuring affordability for all residents

Part of this fiscal responsibility is being responsive to changes in the economic environment and possible budget pressures over the next year. Undefined funding from both levels of government and uncertainty about the full extent of new provincial legislation affect the municipal budget.

Maintaining solid credit

The City continues to have 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.

Committing to affordability for residents

The three-per-cent property tax increase proposed in Draft Budget 2020 balances affordability for residents and responsiveness to address inflationary costs and any other emerging budget pressures.

Narrowing the infrastructure funding gap

The Province will not double the provincial gas tax contribution to municipalities, as promised by the previous administration. That doubling was built into the City’s Transit Affordability Plan.

In 2019, the City committed to use a portion of the one per cent citywide levy to invest $9.8 million per year to narrow the infrastructure gap – the difference between what the City spends and what it needs to spend annually to maintain infrastructure in good repair. That one-per-cent infrastructure levy would have eliminated the infrastructure gap in five years, half the time as previously estimated.

To compensate for the loss of provincial gas tax revenue, the City will use the $9.8 million, originally intended for the infrastructure gap, to now pay for transit capital investments. The City will use the $58-million one-time federal gas tax funding to continue to invest in infrastructure over the next three years, committing $20 million in 2020.

This innovative approach allows the property-tax increase to remain at an affordable rate of three per cent while continuing to fund renewal of infrastructure, especially roads.