Council approves Budget 2019 and Stage 2 light-rail transit
Ottawa – Council approved the budget for 2019 and Stage 2 light-rail transit on March 6th, allowing construction of the City’s O-Train network expansion to begin this year.
The approved Budget 2019 makes investments to build more affordable housing, close Ottawa’s infrastructure gap, expand public transit service and enhance the safety of Ottawa’s communities.
“Council has approved a financial plan for this year that is prudent and affordable, and will make needed investments to close the City’s infrastructure gap sooner than previously planned,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The approval of Stage 2 of the O-Train is an important step forward for Ottawa as we near the one-million population mark, ensuring that future generations are well served by the world-class public transit.”
“Budget 2019 strikes a balance between the provision of quality frontline services to the public, including more paramedics and long-term care staff, and our commitment to renew and maintain the City’s infrastructure,” said City Manager Steve Kanellakos. “Ultimately, our goal is to help build a city with better roads and sidewalks, expanded transit, more affordable housing and safer communities.”
The budget includes $15 million to build more affordable housing for residents, including approximately 125 new affordable housing units which will be approved this year. Should other levels of government match the municipal investment, this could double the number of approved new units to 250. Many of these units would be built near transit or light-rail stations. The City currently provides $111 million towards housing and homelessness, such as social housing, housing subsidies, support services and homelessness initiatives.
The approved property-tax increase of three per cent will enable the City to spend an additional $9.8 million on roads and other municipal infrastructure, such as sidewalks, buildings and bridges. Increasing the City’s investment by eight per cent, from $118.7 million to $128.5 million, will close the infrastructure gap within the next five years, twice as fast as previously planned. The budget includes $49 million to resurface and upgrade roads, up from an average of $35.5 million per year in the last Term of Council.
Budget 2019 designates $70.8 million for winter operations, an increase of $2.4 million.
The budget designates $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. Budget 2019 includes an additional $7.8 million for new buses to expand service across the city, $22.4 million to refurbish buses and $55.2 million to replace 79 old buses. The City will spend $4.2 million to expand transit-priority traffic controls.
The approved budget includes measures to improve neighbourhood quality of life, such as a plan to reforest areas hit by the 2018 tornadoes. In this Term of Council, $1.49 million will be spent annually to plant 500,000 trees 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 and into 2020.
The budget includes a 25-per-cent increase in funding for ward-led traffic-calming projects across the city, up from $40,000 per ward to $50,000. The budget includes support for hospitality businesses through a 50-per-cent cut to patio fees for restaurants, saving the average restaurant about $3,200 a year.
The tax-supported operating budget for the City is $3.2 billion, an $85-million increase over 2018. The budget caps the residential property-tax increase at three per cent. The increase, including the transit levy, amounts to $113 for an average urban home, less than $10 per month.
The rate-supported budget, which supports water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, includes a water rate increase of 4.8 per cent in the urban area, in line with Council’s long-term financial plan for these services. This represents an increase of $36 per year for the average household.
The budget includes spending $340 million in 2019 on infrastructure, including roads, bridges, buildings, watermains, sewers and transit infrastructure. Budget 2019 contains $12 million for culverts in the rural areas to facilitate drainage and prevent flooding.
Council also approved the Stage 2 LRT, a transformative project that will expand the O-Train by 44 kilometres to the south, east and west, and add 24 new stations. The expansions will be completed in 2022, 2024 and 2025 respectively.
Stage 2 will extend the existing Trillium Line south from Greenboro Station to Riverside South, with a link to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. TransitNEXT is the preferred proponent to design, build, finance and maintain the Trillium Line extension, which will add 16 kilometres of rail and eight stations in the south.
Stage 2 will also extend the Confederation Line farther east to Place D’Orléans and Trim Road and west to both Moodie Drive and Algonquin Station. East-West Connectors is the preferred proponent to design, build and finance the Confederation Line extension, which will add 12.5 kilometres of rail and five stations in the east and 15 kilometres of rail and 11 stations in the west.
Stage 2 is funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa. The total project cost is $4.6 billion. Council received a report on the long-range financial for public transit that concluded the Stage 2 project is affordable for the City.
Council also approved two projects with significant economic development implications.
Council approved zoning for a film and television sound stage campus and creative hub in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt lands at 1740 Woodroffe Avenue.
This complex, on 8.4 hectares that was formerly used as an animal research centre by Agriculture Canada, will create 500 jobs during construction and an estimated 500 full-time jobs when the film complex is operating. The buildings planned for the film-television studio complex include four 20,000-square-foot sound stages, workshops, production space, training space and office space for film, television and animation production companies.
Council approved zoning and Official Plan changes to allow the redevelopment of a 6.5-acre block of land in Little Italy owned by the Government of Canada. This block, bounded by Rochester, Orangeville, Booth and Norman streets, located just south of the Queensway, has a number of older laboratory and office buildings. Some of these buildings, known as the Booth Street Complex and built in the early 20th century, were designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The buildings in the area have been vacant for many years and the land is polluted by past industrial uses.
The new zoning permits development of the remainder of the land, with high-rise buildings of mixed heights up to 25 storeys. The concept plan features green space, including a new City park. Instead of the existing surface parking lots, parking will be underground.
This new development, combining new and old buildings in a mix of residential, office and commercial space totalling one million square feet, will be managed by Canada Lands Company, which took control of the property from Natural Resources Canada in 2015.