Finance committee approves draft 2020 budget

CITY HALL – The city’s Finance and Economic Development committee (FEDCO) approved its portion of the draft budget for 2020, which includes $539.5 million in operating expenses and $2.2 billion in revenue, primarily from property taxes and payments in lieu of taxes.

The committee also approved its Term of Council priorities, which mainly focus on growing and diversifying Ottawa’s economy.

FEDCO received updates on the Stage 1 and Stage 2 light rail transit projects. Progress has been made on various technical and system-related communications issues on O-Train Line 1. Due to poor performance by Rideau Transit Group, the city intends to exercise some of its rights under the project agreement to improve service reliability for customers. In the interim, the City is taking steps to enhance service and increase capacity. Forty additional buses have been added, with 19 more to be added in January 2020. Twenty buses are now dedicated for R1 replacement services during peak times.

Construction work is progressing on all three Stage 2 extensions. Work is underway on station and vehicle design, roadway drainage, and bridge and pedestrian overpasses. Tree clearing along the Trillium Line, ongoing work on Highway 174, and utility relocation work within the west extension project limits will take place early next year. 

FEDCO received an interim report on properties acquired for Stage 1 of the light rail transit project. A final report will be tabled at the Committee once the remaining transactions have closed.

Professional baseball could return to Ottawa in 2021, following the committee’s approval to lease the Ottawa Stadium. Field of Dream Enterprises and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group would invest $500,000 into the franchise and cover $473,000 owed by the previous owner.

The partners would pay $125,000 a year to rent the stadium, which would become a destination for baseball, community activities and large entertainment events.

The committee approved brownfield rehabilitation grants for three properties. The grants would cover half the costs to remediate contaminated land at 716 and 770 Brookfield Rd. and 819 Bank St. Once occupied, the three properties are estimated to generate more than $3.5 million a year in increased property and education taxes.

Items from today’s meeting will be considered by council on Wednesday, Dec. 11.