The Finance and Economic Development Committee today approved guidelines and timelines to develop the 2020 draft budget, including the public consultation process.
The draft budget would include an overall three-per-cent increase to the municipal tax rate. These funds would address the financial pressures facing the City, including changes to provincial funding, while maintaining current service levels and investing in infrastructure and transit. The budgets of the police, library and Ottawa Public Health are also supported by this tax.
The draft budget would include $9.8 million to continue investing in transit infrastructure, including Stage 2 light rail transit and to compensate for the cancellation of the doubling of the provincial gas tax. This funding was previously budgeted to eliminate the infrastructure gap. The federal government’s one-time contribution of $57 million would now be used over the next three years to address the infrastructure gap and to renew roads, bridges and active transportation infrastructure.
The draft budget would be tabled at Council on Wednesday, November 6, followed by public meetings throughout the following month, where the Standing Committees of Council would consider each portion of the budget and hear from residents. Meeting dates and information on how to make your voice heard will be available on ottawa.ca.
The Committee also approved the process to develop the priorities for this Term of Council, which would set the strategic direction for the organization over the next four years. Councillors would consult with residents on the draft priorities during ward budget consultations. Council would approve the priorities in December, when it approves Budget 2020.
Major challenges in the first half of the year, including extreme winter weather and spring flooding, contributed to a budget deficit of $11 million, according to a quarterly budget report. The City is projected, however, to finish the year with a surplus of $2.05 million.
Nearly a decade of planning, consulting, designing, constructing, and testing will become a reality when the Confederation Line opens to the public this Saturday, September 14 at 2 pm. The Committee received an update on the launch of the Stage 1 Confederation Line, including details about the public opening, and a recap of the drills that have taken place in preparation for the launch. Staff also highlighted the many customer service initiatives and supports that will be in place when OC Transpo adjusts and expands its bus service following the launch of the Confederation Line.
Progress is being made on each extension of the O-Train Stage 2 light rail project. Work including borehole drilling, top soil stripping, site office set-up, utility relocation, pre-construction surveys, and tree clearing are currently underway. Staff also provided an update on work happening this fall, including drilling at future Trillium Line rail bridges, the widening of highway 174, and tree clearing along the Confederation Line East and West extensions.
The Committee received an update about the development of a Women and Gender Equity Strategy. A public forum will take place on September 30, and residents are invited to attend and share ideas about how the City can work towards greater gender equity in Ottawa. Registration to attend the Forum will be open the afternoon of Friday, September 13 on Ottawa.ca. An online survey will be available for those who cannot attend in-person.
Ottawa’s 19 business improvement areas invested $7.3 million in their respective districts, according to the 2018 annual report. They invested in projects that foster economic development and enhance neighbourhood liveability for residents.
Items requiring Council approval will be considered on Wednesday, September 25.