Mayor Mark Sutcliffe discusses 2023 draft budget

By Anil Jhalli

Earlier this week, the City of Ottawa tabled its 2023 draft budget. 

The draft budget includes a 2.5 per cent property tax increase and a freeze on transit fares. 

Affordability remained top of mind for Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, who pointed out that it doesn't make sense to hike transit fares especially with inflation continuing to increase. 

“Our residents are facing an affordability crisis and a significant increase in taxes will only add to their burden,” he said. “The budget also includes a freeze on transit fares which not only helps with the affordability crisis, but it also demonstrates respect to our customers and their recent experiences with trains and buses.”

Mayor Sutcliffe joined The Sam Laprade Show on Feb. 3 and said he felt really good about the budget process. 

“It's a very challenging process,” said Mayor Sutcliffe. “But I am very pleased this budget meets many of the commitments in my campaign , and we are making some very important investments including fixing roads, hiring more paramedics and supporting our most vulnerable people.”

Sutcliffe noted that “we were able to invest in those areas, while not cutting any programs and services and keeping the tax increase low.”

Ottawa's mayor said the budget process will be “tight” over the next few years, and “we are going to have to count on getting the appropriate level of funding to support things like housing, public transit, and helping the most vulnerable people.”

Sutcliffe said the City of Ottawa has growth from new properties that are paying taxes for the first time in 2023 of 2.2 per cent adding that staff have identified $54 million in “savings and efficiencies” meaning programs won't need to be cut. 

Draft budget 2023 includes $4.55 million for community safety, well-being and social investments, including funding for:

  • Community agencies in support of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, with interventions to support racialized youth, prevent gender-based violence against women and girls and improve community-based access to mental health programs
  • An integrated, on-the-ground community engagement team that links residents in need to services like housing, food and mental health supports
  • Culturally appropriate, trauma-informed, enhanced or new mental health and addiction crisis response systems
  • Integrating, coordinating and enhancing health and social services in priority neighbourhoods, including the ByWard Market, Lowertown and Centretown

Parks, recreation and culture

  • Over $100 million to replace or rehabilitate parks, recreation, cultural and city facilities
  • More than 25 parks in new residential communities through creative partnerships with developers
  • Help community groups develop, renovate, expand and improve parks and recreation facilities 
  • $510,000 for cultural projects or upgrades, including:
    • Culture master plan
    • Museum sustainability plan
    • Enhance or upgrade cultural facilities and equipment
    • Restore and maintain artifacts and art
    • Supply or upgrade virtual programming equipment


A $31.7-million investment for:

  • Safer Road Ottawa’s awareness and outreach safety campaigns
  • Expanding temporary traffic-calming measures across the city
  • Selection of 10 locations for low-cost cycling safety improvements
  • Automated speed enforcement camera installation at 17 locations to reinforce speed limit and promote greater safety – especially near school zones. Monies collected from automated speed enforcement cameras are reinvested to help support the Safer Roads Ottawa program.
  • Improve electrical vehicle charging stations at parking lots and garages
  • Piloting new winter operations technology


  • $35.4 million to replace or renew OC Transpo's fleet including:
    • Modifications to buses required to improve customer service
    • Purchase of a new light to heavy road support vehicle
    • Replace 82 Para Transpo buses that have reached end of life
  • $16.5 million to replace or renew OC Transpo facilities, including:
    • Improve accessibility at Transitway and O-Train stations and other facilities
    • Upgrades to stations, shelters, benches, signs and administrative buildings along transitway
    • Support unforeseen and unplanned infrastructure repairs
    • Improvements to customer information signage and systems
    • Preventive maintenance, renew facilities and refurbish or replace tools and equipment
  • $7.4 million for technical upgrades, including:
    • OC Transpo’s fare systems, including launching O-Payment, to enable fare payment by credit card and debit card on buses, at O-Train stations, and on Para Transpo
    • Customer facing IT systems, including improvements to the provision of real-time information
    • Upgrade and maintain the suite of software used for Para Transpo operations
    • Enhance the software of the computer-aided dispatch control system for bus operations

Emergency services

  • 29 additional Ottawa Police Service personnel
  • $1.8 million to hire 14 paramedic staff and procure associated vehicles to address response volume and population growth
  • $1.7 million to install permanent generators at prioritized Emergency Reception and Lodging sites to assist residents in the event of a power outages caused by extreme weather events  
  • $250,000 to install back-up generators at fire stations 
  • $320,800 to transition fire services equipment to battery powered 

Long-term care

A $2.6-million investment for:

  • Four registered nurses to support infection prevention and control
  • Continued response to COVID-19, including PPE and staff

Affordable living and housing highlights

Community services

  • $193 million to reduce child care fees and support workforce compensation through the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care system

Housing and homelessness

  • Continue our committed investments, including $15 million in new funding for 2023, to support more than one thousand units of affordable and supportive housing, including:
    • A Nepean Housing Corporation development on Dunbar Court with 31 affordable housing units – part of a multi-year investment of $7.2 million
    • A Wigwamen development on Arrowsmith Drive with 50 affordable housing units and space for the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard – part of a multi-year investment of more than $5 million plus City-owned land
    • A Shepherds of Good Hope project on Murray Street with 48 supportive housing units and a drop-in centre – part of a multi-year investment of $7.8 million
    • An Ottawa Community Housing Corporation development on Mikinak Road with 271 affordable units – part of a multi-year investment of $20 million
    • Two Ottawa Community Housing Corporation developments on Gladstone Avenue with 608 affordable units – part of a $102-million investment
    • A Cornerstone Housing for Women development on Eccles Street with 46 supportive units
    • A Dream/MHI development at LeBreton Flats (Library Parcel) with 247 units – part of a multi-year investment of $20 million
  • Additional investments in pre-development work to support projects that promise to deliver additional affordable, supportive and transitional housing units in the coming years


  • Freezing transit and Para Transpo fares for 2023 to help all customers, residents and households who are coping with the higher cost of living – including youth and seniors
  • Continuing the fare freeze for the EquiPass for low-income residents and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients

Recreation and culture

  • An increase in funding for the hand-in-hand program to help low-income families and youth, reduce summer camp enrollment fees by 10 per cent, and provide free recreation and cultural services in areas of need

Overall affordability

  • Limiting the proposed overall tax increase to 2.5 per cent
  • Limiting the police budget to a 2.5 per cent increase
  • Limiting the proposed transit levy increase to 2.5 per cent
  • Proposing no transit fare increases

Infrastructure investment highlights


  • $136 million to renew roads – including paving and resurfacing across Ottawa
  • $34 million to renew bridge structures  
  • $7.7 million to renew sidewalks and pathways
  • $3.2 million for guiderail renewal
  • $245.9 million to design and construct integrated sewer and road projects  
  • $21 million for widening the Airport Parkway’s southbound off-ramp at the Walkley Road overpass. This will also include a roundabout on Walkley Road at the southbound off-ramp and enhanced cycling and pedestrian access between the Walkley Road roundabout and the signalized intersection at McCarthy Road.
  • $15 million to renew drainage culverts
  • $4 million to rehabilitate storm and surface water rehabilitation 
  • $2.3 million for traffic engineering strategies and road renewals that provide preferential treatments for buses
  • $1.5 million to repair asphalt for OC Transpo operations at multiple locations
  • $1 million to adapt and extend the life of parking facility infrastructure, including monitoring and engineering work at 210 Gloucester Street, City Hall and in the ByWard Market

Infrastructure preparation design and study work

  • $2 million to design Mer-Bleue Road widening between Decoeur Drive and Renaud Road
  • $2.9 million to design the Carp Road widening between Highway 417 and Hazeldean Road
  • $19.4 million to complete detailed design and acquire property for modifications at the intersection of Leitrim Road and Bank Street to ensure active transportation and protected intersections
  • $1.6 million for environment assessment study on arterial roads
  • $5 million for design and studies for the Major Active Transportation Structures Program
  • $7.5 million for design and studies for the Cycling Facilities Program
  • $356,000 for Transportation Demand Management initiatives
  • $174,000 on new development sidewalks
  • $3.6 million towards the Network Modification Program
  • $3 million for design and studies for the Pedestrian Facilities Program
  • $800,000 for design and studies for the Transportation Missing Links Program
  • $2.5 million for study and design work for Neighbourhood Permanent Traffic Calming program
  • $2.5 million for the Rapid Transit Environment Assessment Study
  • $968,000 for the Transportation Master Plan Studies
  • $2.4 million for design and study work for transit corridor protection
  • $6.2 million for Transit Priority Network study and design work
  • $8.4 million for Intersection Control Measures design and study work

Environment and climate change investments


  • $1 million for the Wet Weather Program to continue to develop a coordinated approach to wet weather flow management within the urban area and reduce flood risks 
  • $4.1 million for slope stabilization of the Ottawa River along Ottawa Road 174 to protect against erosion during significant spring runoff 
  • $12.2 million for integrated infrastructure renewal projects that reduce combined sewer overflows in heavy rains, protect the Ottawa River and reduce the risks of basement flooding
  • $3 million for the Energy Management and Investment Strategy to implement energy conservation measures in city facilities 


  • Investment for the selection of 10 locations for low-cost cycling safety improvements
  • Investment to improve electrical vehicle charging stations at parking lots and garages
  • $315,000 to research and test continued improvements in ice and snow control operations to prepare for winter weather


  • $582,000 to continue to update the city’s flood plain mapping with conservation authorities 
  • $5 million to support implementation of the Climate Change Master Plan, including Energy Evolution and the Climate Resiliency Strategy 
  • $725,000 for acquisition of greenspace to build resiliency to increasing temperatures and precipitation levels 
  • $1.7 million for forestry tree planting programs to enhance the City’s forest canopy
  • $725,000 for the Bear Brook Watershed Study which will recommend measures to reduce risks from flooding and build resiliency to other future climate conditions 
  • $7.7 million for sanitary and stormwater linear system improvements, condition assessments and flow monitoring 
  • $14.7 million for upgrades to the Britannia Water Purification Plant and Lemieux Water Purification Plant
  • $54.5 million for upgrades at the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre
  • $14 million in water system rehabilitation and watermain transmission/distribution rehabilitation 

Recycling, waste diversion and landfill lifecycle management

  • $1.8 million for the evaluation, development and implementation of enhancement of the Solid Waste Master Plan and component projects, including the implementation of individual producer responsibility (IPR) and other waste management and diversion priorities
  • $3 million for the expansion and development of the Barnsdale bufferland properties to support leaf and yard waste operational requirements
  • $500,000 to expand and maintain the Trail Road Landfill gas collection system


  • Continued investment of $4.7 billion for the Stage 2 LRT project – expansion of the electrical light rail system will reduce emissions and will reduce vehicles on roadways
  • Continued investment in zero emission buses, with $350 million in funding from the federal government and an additional $23.3 million from draft budget 2023, for an overall investment of $503 million

Equity, diversity and inclusion investments

Community services

  • $1.3 million in the community funding framework to help non-profit providers deliver social services to residents facing the greatest need, part of an overall investment of $27.5 million
  • $435,000 to fund community safety and well-Being plan work, with a focus on mental health crisis response for Lowertown 
  • $400,000 to implement strategies related to equity, diversity and inclusion, including:
    • $250,000 for the Anti-Racism Strategy and the Women and Gender Equity Strategy
    • $150,000 for the advancement of municipal Indigenous relations

Parks, recreation and culture

  • More than $3.2 million to enhance or upgrade accessibility at city parks and facilities, including:
    • $400,000 to upgrade pool changerooms for accessibility at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex
    • $100,000 to upgrade Des Pionniers Park with an accessible structure
    • $15,000 to enhance accessibility at Tulip Tree Park
    • $30,000 to enhance accessibility at Varley Park
    • $65,000 to install an accessible swing at Constance Buckham’s Bay Community Centre Park
    • $53,000 to enhance accessibility at Kingsmere Park, including landscape improvements, a new pathway connection and an accessible bench
    • $235,000 to enhance accessibility at Centrepointe Park, including an accessible swing
    • $168,000 to install fitness equipment at St. Luke’s Park
    • $45,000 to install an accessible swing to Raven Park
    • $6,000 to enhance accessibility at Redpine Park, including an accessible picnic table
    • $1.3 million to expand the playground at Notre Dame des Champs Park
    • $8,000 to install an accessible Core Communication board at Andy Shields Park
  • $200,000 to install a universal washroom at the Stittsville Ottawa Public Library branch
  • $460,000 to modify the entrance ramp to the Navan Memorial Centre
  • $20,000 to enhance accessibility at the Lindenlea Community Centre


  • $212,000 for the design and implementation of accessible pedestrian facilities through the Pedestrian Access and Intersection Ramping Program, as well as small localized active transportation projects across the city
  • $823,000 to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility at Lafontaine and McArthur avenues


  • $352,000 to install 44 new accessible bus stop landing pads across Ottawa

Laura Shantz, with the group Ottawa Transit Riders, told The Sam Laprade Show on Feb. 2 that she's happy to see there aren't any changes to routes or cuts, but expressed concern regarding the $54 million in “savings and efficiencies.”

“We are concerned that these efficiencies the city is finding are basically on the backs of transit riders,” she said. 

Shantz said it's time to realize how the transit service can be improved for the people who have been relying on OC Transpo system, and a plagued light rail transit (LRT) service. 

Councillor-led consultations for the City of Ottawa's 2023 budget have begun.

Sessions are set up to give residents an opportunity to share comments and concerns and provide input regarding what should be prioritized for this year's budget.

An up-to-date list of sessions can be found on Engage Ottawa, along with additional resources related to the budget and budget process.

Those who cannot attend their councillor's session can complete a survey online on Engage Ottawa or submit ideas directly to their ward councillor.

Events currently scheduled for February

Monday, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.

Goulbourn Municipal Office, 2135 Huntley Road

  • Ward 21 – Rideau-Jock (Councillor David Brown)

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m.

Heron Road Community Centre, 1480 Heron Road.

  • Ward 10 – Gloucester-Southgate (Councillor Jessica Bradley) 
  • Ward 16 – River (Councillor Riley Brockington)
  • Ward 17 – Capital (Councillor Shawn Menard) 
  • Ward 18 – Alta Vista (Councillor Marty Carr)

St. Mother Teresa High School, 440 Longfields Drive.

  • Ward 3 – Barrhaven West (Councillor David Hill) 
  • Ward 24 – Barrhaven East (Councillor Wilson Lo)

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m.

West Carleton Client Service Centre, 5670 Carp Road.

  • Ward 5 – West Carleton-March (Councillor Clarke Kelly)

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m.

Virtual session – link will be posted at Engage Ottawa when available.

  • Ward 19 – Orléans South-Navan (Councillor Catherine Kitts)

Thursday, Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m. – Race equity budget consultation

  • Virtual session – please register at Once you fill out the information fields, you will receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link.
  • As the Ottawa City Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives, Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor Rawlson King will host a virtual race equity budget consultation for Ottawa’s Black, Indigenous and racialized communities.

Saturday, Feb. 11, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. (Drop-in meeting)

Place d’Orléans, 110 Place d'Orleans Drive

  • Ward 1 – Orléans East-Cumberland (Councillor Matthew Luloff)
  • Ward 2 – Orléans West-Innes (Councillor Laura Dudas)
  • Ward 11 – Beacon Hill-Cyrville (Councillor Tim Tierney)
  • Ward 19 – Orléans South-Navan (Councillor Catherine Kitts)

Monday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.

Virtual session – link will be posted at Engage Ottawa when available.

  • Ward 6 – Stittsville (Councillor Glen Gower)

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.

Kanata Recreation Center, 100 Charlie Rogers Place

  • Ward 4 – Kanata North (Councillor Cathy Curry)
  • Ward 23 – Kanata South (Councillor Allan Hubley) 

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

Virtual session – link will be posted at Engage Ottawa when available.

  • Ward 14 – Somerset (Councillor Ariel Troster)
  • Ward 15 – Kitchissippi (Councillor Jeff Leiper)
  • Ward 17 – Capital (Councillor Shawn Menard)

Thursday, Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m.

Virtual session – please register at  

  • Ward 13 – Rideau-Rockcliffe (Councillor Rawlson King)

Thursday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.

Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive (The Chamber)

  • Ward 7 – Bay (Councillor Theresa Kavanagh)
  • Ward 8 – College (Councillor Laine Johnson)
  • Ward 9 – Knoxdale-Merivale (Councillor Sean Devine)

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m.

Virtual session – link will be posted at Engage Ottawa when available.

  • Ward 22 – Riverside South-Findlay Creek (Councillor Steve Desroches)

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m.

Virtual session at – link to be active in advance of meeting

  • Ward 3 – Barrhaven West (Councillor David Hill) 
  • Ward 21 – Rideau-Jock (Councillor David Brown)
  • Ward 22 – Riverside South-Findlay Creek (Councillor Steve Desroches)
  • Ward 24 – Barrhaven East (Councillor Wilson Lo)

Thursday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Virtual session at – link to be active in advance of meeting

  • Ward 12 – Rideau-Vanier (Councillor Stéphanie Plante)

Council considers the final budget on Wednesday, March 1.

Listen to the full interview with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe below:




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