O’Brien lays out priorities for 2008 in state-of-city speech
Renewing Ottawa’s transportation and finding cost savings will be the big challenges for City Hall in 2008, the mayor’s state-of-the-city address proclaimed yesterday.
With a review of the transportation master plan and examinations of all city government branches scheduled early this year, Mayor Larry O’Brien said the seeds of change planted in 2007 would begin to bear fruit as transit plans develop and the municipality becomes more efficient.
“Infrastructure renewal of all types is the single biggest financial challenge the city of Ottawa faces,” he said. “The agenda in 2008 is very full. We are going to have a busy, busy year.”
Transit will take its place at the top of municipal priorities, he said, adding, “It is fundamental for creating prosperity for the citizens of Ottawa.”
He lauded council’s 2007 approval of a study for a downtown tunnel and said it will play a central role in developing the new Transportation Master Plan, which is up for review. Council in April will confirm a rapid transit network for the city.
O’Brien also announced that former Cognos executive Rob Collins will chair the Mayor’s E-Government and Information Technology task force, responsible for improving client service and operational efficiencies.
Collins said he wants to improve the “cumbersome‚ interactions people could process on-line, similar to renewing vehicle licences online with the provincial government.
“There are all kinds of things that people have to do with the city that you could do in that fashion,” he said.
In February, a citizens’ committee to monitor council’s internal review and make recommendations will be named. And in 2008 the mayor will host a second off-site summit with councillors.
Cost-saving governance measures and the branch-by-branch review should help the stated goal of a tax freeze, O’Brien said. “My goal will remain zero per cent (tax increase) every year of my mandate.