At the first City Council meeting of the year, Mayor Watson delivered his annual State of the City address, highlighting key City accomplishments from the past year and outlining plans for the year ahead. Ottawa continues to rely on its strong and growing technology sector and a robust tourism industry. The Mayor highlighted 2019 achievements in those sectors before highlighting measures to diversify our local economy by growing the television and film industry, the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles sector, precision agriculture and job creation in our rural villages.
The Mayor focused on the continuing challenges with O-Train Line 1 and the need to significantly improve the reliability of the Confederation Line and the experience of OC Transpo customers.
Mayor Watson highlighted the City’s $15-million investment in building new affordable housing – repeating last year’s record as largest in the City’s history. He emphasized plans to grow the supply of affordable housing and transit-oriented development, including at sites near Bayshore Shopping Centre and at 450 Rochester Street, about 700 metres from the Carling LRT station.
The Mayor indicated that he would recognize several distinguished Canadians with the Key to the City, including professional golfer and three-time Canadian Press female athlete of the year, Brooke Henderson, former Governor General, journalist and Secretary-General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Michaëlle Jean, and TSN sportscaster, James Duthie. He also plans to recognize the longest continuing local business in Ottawa today: the Ottawa Citizen.
Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches, provided an update to Council on the current situation and local actions regarding the Novel Coronavirus. For more information on the Novel Coronavirus, visit ottawapublichealth.ca.
Council declared an affordable housing and homelessness crisis and emergency in Ottawa, recognizing the need to call on provincial and federal governments for increased emergency to deliver housing units and housing supports. Through the motion, Council directed City staff to include in the update of the 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan more aggressive affordable housing targets, to develop a framework for action to preserve and increase the affordable housing supply, and to work to eliminate chronic homelessness by 2024.
Council approved the Climate Change Master Plan and its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent – by 2040 as a corporation and by 2050 as a community. The new targets are in line with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has called for a 100-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Over the next five years, the City will continue to implement Energy Evolution, develop a climate resiliency strategy, apply a climate lens to the new Official Plan and infrastructure, pilot corporate carbon budgets and encourage community action.
The new Tree Protection By-law will come into effect in May. It consolidates two existing by-laws, streamlining regulation and enforcement. Other changes include requiring compensation for trees removed with a permit, implementing new fines for tree removal without a permit and changing internal processes to consider trees earlier in planning processes.
Council approved designating the Clemow-Monkland Driveway and Linden Terrace Heritage Conservation District under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act. Encompassing about 160 properties, the district is an example of an early 20th century streetcar suburb, with tree-lined boulevards and impressive historic houses.
Council also approved heritage designation for two properties: the Standard Bread Company Bakery at 951 Gladstone Avenue in Little Italy and the former Traders Bank of Canada at 1824 Farwel Street in Vars.