by Mike Bureau, Economic Development Officer at Planning, Infrastructure & Economic Development Department for the City of Ottaw.
Ottawa’s economic outlook for 2022 is promising as the local economy rebounds from the impacts of COVID-19. The Conference Board of Canada is forecasting that in 2022, the real GDP in Ottawa-Gatineau will expand by 3.3 per cent. They note that Ottawa-Gatineau suffered a milder recession than other areas in Ontario in 2020. The region posted a strong economic recovery in the first half of 2021, indicating that much of the recovery will have already occurred before 2022.
In July 2021, City Council approved the new Integrated Orléans Community Improvement Plan (CIP) which replaces the St. Joseph Boulevard and Orléans CIPs. CIPs are a useful tool to reinvigorate properties, businesses, and main streets, encourage the rehabilitation of lands and buildings, and stimulate new growth opportunities. The Integrated Orléans CIP provides new incentives in the form of Tax Increment Equivalent Grants to capitalize on fresh opportunities anticipated with the extension of the Confederation line to the east-end.
In October 2021, City Council approved the new Small Business Property Tax Subclass. Qualifying properties are eligible for a permanent property tax discount of 15%, phased in over two years starting in 2022. Approximately 5,800 commercial and industrial properties across Ottawa will qualify, representing more than 10,000 small businesses. Small businesses are foundational to a strong local economy and are important sources of employment for residents.
An exciting planning policy initiative that will have a positive impact on the local economy is Ottawa’s first new Official Plan since amalgamation in 2003. In October 2021, City Council approved the new Official Plan which sets the stage for Ottawa to become a global city of two million people by the end of the century. The Official Plan is the City’s most comprehensive planning document and will guide growth and redevelopment for the next 25 years. The Official Plan focuses on five big policy changes that will move Ottawa towards being the most livable city in North America:
Economic Development staff will develop a new economic development strategy for delivery in late 2022 to align with a new Term of Council (2023-2026). The goal of the strategy will be to build on Ottawa’s competitive advantages like access to talent, cost of doing business, quality of life, and reputation as a G7 capital to deliver on priorities including economic growth and diversification, business attraction, and talent attraction and retention.
After several positive developments in 2021 and a post-pandemic economic rebound already well underway, next year is shaping up to be an exciting time for residents, businesses, and the municipality to continue working together for a stronger, more resilient economy.