Prospectus: Ottawa’s economy moving from millions to billions

ottawa sparks street

In each edition of the OBJ newsmagazine, publisher Mike Curran shares his perspective on Ottawa's business community. This installment of his "prospectus" first appeared in the Dec. 2018 edition of OBJ.

One of the most fascinating aspects of working at OBJ is the ability to monitor all facets of the local economy and piece together various data points. This data often comes together like a big puzzle.

In mid-November, OBJ organized an event with the Ottawa Board of Trade that specifically looked at the region’s economic outlook. In addition to economic gurus such as BMO chief economist Doug Porter, the audience heard from City of Ottawa’s head honcho for planning and economic development Steve Willis. Plus, there were private sector real estate leaders, including Mathew Laing, Michelle Taggart of Taggart Group and finally Shawn Hamilton of CBRE.

Willis took a fun “numbers in the news” approach (mimicking Mark Sutcliffe of News 1310) and hit me with one number that I continue to think about. The city of Ottawa’s population will soon click to one million people. (I obviously knew we were close, but does a population of one million signal some great shift?)

Laing gave me more to think about when he unveiled another Trinity Developments project focused on light rail transit and the O-Train. This project, closer to Gladstone, has an estimated price tag of $350 million. When added to Trinity’s existing project at 900 Albert, directly across from Bayview Station, this single developer has $1 billion worth of projects nested around LRT.

So follow these numbers. One million people, $2.1 billion in LRT phase one and now anticipated related real estate developments that will certainly be in the billions of dollars. Does this seem like the Ottawa of the 1990s or 2000s? Millions moving to billions.

Read OBJ's December newsmagazine

Go inside Amazon's massive under-construction Ottawa distribution centre, meet the 2018 Best Ottawa Business Award recipients and learn about Mont Ste. Marie's latest expansion. Plus, read our special reports on Ottawa East and Orléans, local businesses going global as well as HR.