City must look beyond public sector for growth: Watson

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson focused on diversifying the city’s economy during this morning’s state of the city address.

“The days of relying on the Government of Canada to be the primary engine of this community’s growth are behind us,” said the Mayor.

Kicking off today’s city council meeting, Watson said it’s time to forcefully market the city as a place to invest in the face of expected public sector job cuts.

Watson said the city wants to attract more investment and big events to the capital.

He added that the downtown is better and more vibrant today than it was 10 years ago.

When it came to development, he said the city needs to firmly favour urban intensification to limit urban sprawl.

"There's no alternative to sensible intensification," said Watson.

Other economic highlights in his speech congratulated the launch of Invest Ottawa next month. The new economic development group is set to replace the Ottawa Centre for Regional Innovation (OCRI.)

Watson said he’ll honour his promise to cap tax increases at 2.5 per cent while safeguarding city services.

Watson also introduced new initiatives for city council in his speech.

The mayor announced that Olympic skater Barbra Ann Scott is donating her medals and other memorabilia to the city. Watson said the city will display them soon.

A new youth summit will also be set up by next fall. Watson said the summit will ask young people for advice on employment, transportation, art and culture and how to eliminate bullying.

It will be chaired by council’s youngest councilor, Mathieu Fleury of the Rideau-Vanier ward.

Watson said the city is also planning to roll out a new civic award called the “Order of Ottawa.”