November 3rd - Budget 2022 balances commitment to community health
Draft Budget 2022 will ensure the City continues to deliver essential services while still advancing Council priorities, including affordable housing and support for social services. At the same time, it prioritizes the health and safety of residents.
While City services continue to return safely and Ottawa edges closer to a 90-per-cent vaccination rate among eligible residents, Draft Budget 2022 maintains the flexibility to adapt the City’s COVID-19 pandemic response if the situation evolves.
Draft Budget 2022 reflects the City’s established record of fiscal responsibility and stewardship that has kept Ottawa on strong and stable financial footing. The City continues to have one of the highest possible credit ratings, achieving AA by Standard and Poor’s Rating Services and Aaa by Moody’s Investor Services. The ratings reflect strong fiscal outcomes, low debt levels and prudent financial management.
Continuing to rely on that prudent financial approach, Draft Budget 2022 will focus on affordability by capping the overall municipal tax increase at 3 per cent, as directed by Council – worth an estimated $56.1 million. This would see the average urban homeowner pay an additional $119 per year, while the average rural homeowner would pay an additional $91 per year.
Maintaining that tax cap will help keep Ottawa affordable for residents, but Draft Budget 2022 also commits other significant people-first investments that will deliver more affordable housing, will provide ongoing funding for social service providers as well as greater affordability for small businesses.
Draft Budget 2022 will also invest in new major renewal projects, with a total spending on roads increasing from $130.2 million in 2021 to $203.2 million in 2022 – an increase of 56 per cent. These will include widening the Findlay Creek area of Bank Street, an underpass on Earl Grey Drive and a roundabout on Palladium Drive.
The City will invest $17 million to develop more affordable and supportive housing, which includes approximately $15 million in capital and $2 million in development charge exemptions for residents in greatest need. That investment builds on commitments in the previous three budgets totalling $51 million in this Term of Council.
An additional $1 million in City funding will help local landlords make essential repairs and further increase the supply of affordable rental units in Ottawa.
The City has earmarked $27 million in Community Funding to non-profit social services agencies to help residents facing the greatest need. This is the largest increase the Community Funding Framework has received since 2006. This investment demonstrates the City’s commitment towards the sustainability of a strong and stable social services sector to support our most vulnerable residents.
Draft Budget 2022 also commits to greater affordability with a tax relief for local small businesses. Small businesses were greatly impacted by pandemic restrictions, and the City has implemented a 15-per-cent tax discount for small businesses on qualifying properties. The full discount will be phased in over two years starting with a 7.5-per-cent reduction in 2022. The tax relief will benefit an estimated 10,000 small businesses.
This year’s budget includes $67 million to support rural infrastructure and more than $11.5 million to improve pedestrian and cycling pathway connections – such as the cycling and pedestrian bridge at Carleton University. In addition, the budget commits $13.4 million to enhance active transportation through programs like the Cycling and Pedestrian Facilities Programs.
The City will continue to pursue partnerships with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Infrastructure Canada to purchase 74 new battery-electric buses and the supporting charging infrastructure. This is part of a gradual plan for OC Transpo to convert its entire bus fleet to zero-emission buses by 2036.
The cost of the EquiPass for low-income residents and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will remain frozen at 2018 rates.
The pandemic brought into focus just how important our parks, outdoor amenities and recreation facilities are to the social, physical and mental well-being of residents. Draft Budget 2022 continues to invest in these important assets, with $6 million to renew parks across Ottawa. The budget also commits $1 million to partner with community groups for the development, renovation and expansion of parks and recreation facilities, with another $1.8 million to upgrade recreation facilities for greater accessibility.
To protect the health and well-being of residents as Ottawa continues to grow, the City will invest $1.3 million to hire 14 paramedics and to procure emergency vehicles.
The proposed budget will be considered by all Standing Committees in the coming weeks, then adopted by Council on Wednesday, December 8. You can have your say about the budget:
· 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/budget to learn about meeting dates.
· Contact your City Councillor to express your views.
· Call 3-1-1 / 613-580-2400 (TTY: 613-580-2401).