Council passes $2.5B budget unanimously
Published Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:54PM EST
Ottawa's city council passed the 2012 budget in a unanimous vote Wednesday morning that took just about two hours.
A major highlight is a 2.39 per cent increase to property taxes.
Ottawa's mayor Jim Watson says he's proud the hike is the lowest one the city has seen in five years.
"I believe the budget of 2012 provides a very balanced approach for the coming year," he said.
The budget also provides $340 million dollars, $125 million of that borrowed, for new infrastructure projects including 70 kilometres of new cycling lanes.
"Borrowing $125 million to advance these infrastructure projects over the next couple of years is going to save the city five times as much," said Dale Harley of the National Capital Heavy Construction Association.
There will also be a 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares.
City officials say the fare hike means $5.5 million will be dedicated to help ease overcrowding on OC Transpo buses starting in late December.
Some said that won't go far enough to help address the issue.
"We've already had growth in this past year," said councillor Rainer Bloess. "We have more growth projected in the coming year that will be very difficult to accomodate with that amount of money or with those resources."
The cost of the U-Pass will increase to $180 a semester for students, still a discount but up from the $145 cost per semester this year.
"It's not giving students much of an option," said Chantle Beeso, VP student issues for Carleton's student union.
"The fact is they're getting an extremely good deal and I encourage them to support it," said councillor David Chernushenko, whose ward includes Carleton University.
For the average homeowner, it adds up to a cost of $75 more for city services next year.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman