By Jim Watson
A few months ago, staff at the City Archives notified me that on March 20, I would surpass Stanley Lewis as the longest-serving mayor in Ottawa’s history. That got me thinking about how grateful I am to be mayor of our wonderful city. I also reflected on a few of the projects I am proud of. With limited space, here are a few highlights that couldn’t have happened without the support of many people over the years.
ENVIRONMENT – Protecting Ottawa from climate change for future generations through the Ottawa River Action Plan, the Combined Sewage and Storage Tunnel and record investments in growing the city’s tree canopy.
LRT – Advancing one of the largest infrastructure projects in the city’s history, after years of dithering, to better connect all four corners of Ottawa to the downtown core through continued partnerships with the federal and provincial governments.
BRIDGE BUILDER – Connecting communities through multi-use bridges in all corners of the city: the Vimy Memorial Bridge, the Adàwe Crossing, the Flora Footbridge, the Corktown Footbridge, the Jackie Holzman Bridge and, later this year, the Prince of Wales Bridge.
INVEST OTTAWA – Seeing the creation of Invest Ottawa and the opening of the Innovation Centre to deliver economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, wealth and jobs in the National Capital region.
OTTAWA ART GALLERY – Opening a vital visual arts institution and cultural meeting place for residents and visitors to enjoy free of charge in the city’s downtown core, highlighting local and world-renowned talent.
CENTRAL LIBRARY – Breaking ground on a joint net zero carbon facility with Library and Archives Canada that will be an accessible and welcoming space for all to connect, learn, discover and create.
COMMUNITY CENTRES – Opening several recreation facilities in growing neighbourhoods across the city with improved programming, equipment and accommodations.
LANSDOWNE PARK – Overseeing the revitalization and improvement of an essential space with a new stadium for large events, increased green space with a community garden, housing and retail that has attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors over the last decade.
TOURISM – OTTAWA 2017 – Spearheading the creation of a group in charge of putting together a full year of activities and events for Canada’s sesquicentennial that drew millions of visitors to the nation’s capital to experience La Machine, Red Bull Crashed Ice, the Juno Awards, the NHL 100 Classic and the Grey Cup, to name a few.
IMPROVED GOVERNMENT RELATIONS – Fostering greater collaboration with the mayor of Gatineau on projects involving both municipalities and successfully advocating for ex-officio seats on the National Capital Commission’s board of directors for enhanced transparency and partnerships.
COVID RELIEF AND SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES – Working collaboratively with Ottawa Public Health and all city partners to lead the province in the response to the pandemic.
Again, my thanks to the residents of Ottawa for the honour of serving our community.
Jim Watson is the mayor of Ottawa.