WEST CARLETON – “These are the most important decisions we make as a council in our term of office,” Mayor Jim Watson told his colleagues at yesterday’s council meeting (Nov. 6) before introducing the draft City of Ottawa budget for 2020.
While the media’s attention was firmly on the surprise appearance of embattled Coun. Rick Chiarelli who is facing several allegations of inappropriate behavior, the first draft of Ottawa’s most important document was revealed to the public.
The proposed operating budget is $3.76 billion, representing a $136.8-million increase over 2019. The three-per cent tax increase amounts to an extra $109 for an average urban home, or about $9 a month.
Mayor Watson called the draft budget “a plan for an affordable, economically vibrant city that invests in core public services, closes the infrastructure gap and helps residents achieve a better quality of life. The proposed 2020 Budget adds investments in public transit, road maintenance and affordable housing.”
In 2020, the road resurfacing budget, including rural-road upgrades and road-surface preservation treatments, would be $51 million – up from the yearly average of $35.5 million during the previous Term of Council. For Ottawa’s rural communities, $44.5 million in infrastructure spending is budgeted for 2020, up from a four-year average of $39.7 million.
The mayor promises to catch up on infrastructure gap (the difference between what the city spends and what it needs to spend annually to maintain infrastructure in good repair) faster than previously announced.
“We will have the infrastructure deficit gap fully closed in seven years instead of the expected 10 with no extra costs to taxpayers,” Watson said.
Without adding new debt, total investments to maintain and renew assets like roads, sidewalks and facilities would increase by $22.5 million, bringing the city to $151 million invested in 2020 – an increase of 18 per cent over 2019.
The draft budget adds $15 million to the city’s affordable housing investment. Draft Budget 2020 maintains funding of $31 million for local agencies that offer housing and homelessness supports and services.
“In response to severe winter weather challenges over the last two years,” a 7.7-per-cent increase in winter operations budget is proposed, adding $5.6 million to that budget and bringing the total to $78.3 million.
To protect the health and wellbeing of residents, the budget proposes 30 additional police officers and 14 additional paramedic staff.
The budget includes an array of projects to upgrade recreation facilities, such as sports courts, parks, theatres, outdoor rinks and museums. On top of that, it also includes $100,000 per ward, to be used at the discretion of the councillor, to enhance recreation or park facilities. Councillors would also guide spending on $50,000 of traffic-calming projects for each ward.
The draft budget assumes a 1.5-per-cent increase in property assessment growth, worth an estimated $24.9 million.
Following the council meeting, Mayor Watson held a press conference to discuss the draft. Questions focused on the appearance of Chiarelli, which Watson called “awkward and embarrassing” pointing out he and his fellow councillors did not want to be seen with him.
West Carleton Online asked if there was a possibility the infrastructure funding gap, a gap regularly reported on by this media, could be closed even faster that the new current target.
“If we are able to receive additional funds from the federal and provincial governments in their budgets that I think they will table in the spring time 2020, obviously as a council we would look at where that money would go, and usually it’s one time money if it’s at the end of the fiscal year, so it can be built in to the operating budget, but it would be for roads and culverts and other capital projects and I would be supportive of that,” Watson told West Carleton Online.
Watson says he realizes rural roads are in rough shape.
“We’ve seen an increase in spending for rural infrastructure, as you know from covering West Carleton there are some real challenges with some of those roads, but we’ve also seen some real positive progress,” the mayor said. “Things like the Carp Road on both sides of (the Queensway) have been paved in the last couple of years. We recognize rural Ottawa represents 81 per cent of our land mass and their mode of transportation is not OC Transpo its driving because they don’t have OC Transpo service so we have to do a better job of playing catch up on a lot of roads that have deteriorated for a long period of time.”
Following the council meeting and press conference, Ward 5 Coun. Eli El-Chantiry sat down with West Carleton Online in his City Hall office to focus a little more intently on West Carleton.
Focus on West Carleton
“It’s a budget I’m happy with,” El-Chantiry said. “The concerns I have are with the infrastructure. We identified damage to roads caused by the flood. It needs attention and money, but we can’t do it alone.”
El-Chantiry says roads such as Bayview, Armitage, Lighthouse, Moorhead and others need about $3.5 million to repair.
“Bayview Drive was under water for a long time,” El-Chantiry said. “With large trucks driving over sunk roads, the base is going to be compromised. They’re in bad need of repair.”
The 2020 draft budget has $10.7 million spending on infrastructure in Ward 5.
- $525,000 to design 25 culverts and $3.2 million to renew 25 culverts
- $1 million to upgrade gravel roads including Old Almonte Road and Spruce Ridge Road
- $570,000 for pavement maintenance on Golden Line Road, Hamilton Side Road, Stonecrest Road, and William Mooney Road.
- $2 million to resurface roads including Constance Lake Road, Ferry Road and the Ottawa River Ferry Dock
- $3.1 million on road surface treatment including Canon Smith Drive, David Manchester Road, John Shaw Road, Loggers Way, MacMillan Lane, Torbolton Ridge Road and Old Quarry Road.
“This isn’t going to be enough to fix the infrastructure gap in West Carleton, but it will fix the worst of our roads,” El-Chantiry said.
The draft budget also has $2.5 million earmarked to rehabilitate a section of March Road in Kanata.
“It’s not in our ward but that will help us,” El-Chantiry said. “Ninety per cent of our residents use that section of road to get to the city.”
In 2020, Ward 5 parks and facilities will receive:
- $2 million to expand the Corkery Community Centre
- $1.8 million for renewal projects including replacing the metal roof at the W, Erskine Johnston Arena; replacing the Carp Fire Station 64 roof; replacing the rink boards and sports lighting on the outdoor ice surface at the March Central Community Centre; repairing the floor framing at Pinhey’s Estate; and installing arena-stand handrails at the West Carleton Community Complex
In 2020, transportation upgrades include:
- $1.54 million to build a roundabout on Huntmar Drive at Richardson Road
- $1.3 million for intersection improvements at March Road and an as-yet-unamed new street
Infrastructure upgrades already underway that should conclude in 2020 include:
- $6.7 million to rehabilitate and expand the Carp water treatment facility
- $2.9 million to repair the Fitzroy Harbour Bridge and Ritchie Side Road Bridge culvert
- Renewal of sidewalks, multi-use pathways and traffic calming measures including sidewalks along Donald B. Munro Drive near Langstaff Drive
- Replacement of 20 culverts with in the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority boundary including along Carp Road, Constance Creek Drive, Diamondview Road, Ferry Road, Howie Road, John Shaw Road, Kinburn Side Road, Rochon Way, Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Vance’s Side Road
- Replacement of culverts on Upper Dwyer Hill Road, Diamondview Road, March Road, Creek Drive, Ivy Acres Road and Pinhey Point Road
- $728,000 to design and replace the Carp Road slope stabilization and culvert
- Repair of various sewer segments that require trenchless sewer lining, including along Deugo Street
Other projects expected to finish in 2020 include:
- $250,000 to decommission a stormwater weir section
- Addition of route signage and wayfinding to support rural cycling tourism
- $50,000 for swings in Baird’s Park
- $38,000 for fitness equipment at Langstaff Park
- $108,000 for kitchen renovations at the NorthWind Wireless Fibre Centre in Constance Bay
The proposed spending plan will be considered by all standing committees, then by council on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Residents can still provide input on the draft Budget 2020 by:
- Register as a public delegation to make a five-minute presentation at a budget review meeting of any committee, board or commission
- Visit ottawa.ca/citybudget to submit comments or questions online and to learn about meeting dates for committees, boards and commissions
- Contact your City Councillor to express your view about Draft Budget 2020
- Tweet @ottawacity using the hashtag #ottbudget
- Call 3-1-1 / 613-580-2400 (TTY: 613-580-2401)