In July 2013, Jim Durrell became chair of Hydro Ottawa. As Jim approaches the end of his term, I wanted to take this moment, on behalf of the Hydro Ottawa family, to thank him for his incredible leadership and service.
Jim’s influence on Hydro Ottawa can be traced back to an expression of his father’s: leave the campsite better than how you found it. Jim’s influence on Hydro Ottawa and our city has been profound. His legacy as mayor, as a philanthropist, business person and board member at Hydro Ottawa (and elsewhere) can be summed up in two words: community builder. I believe Ottawa would be a much different city without Jim’s leadership vision.
In 1980, Jim was elected alderman of Riverside Ward on Ottawa City Council. In 1985, he was elected mayor of Ottawa – a position he held until 1991. As mayor, Jim believed in the benefits of investing in large community projects. His achievements were transformative. He oversaw the expansion of the Ottawa International Airport and the construction of the Ottawa Convention Centre. He brought the Ottawa Senators, triple-A baseball and three Grey Cup games to the city.
Jim served on numerous boards and his charitable and volunteer contributions have been significant. In 2013, Jim was honoured for his achievements and received the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Order of Ottawa, and was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada. And in June, Jim was appointed chair of Hydro Ottawa.
In his 10 years as chair, Jim focused on three main achievements: financial success, large- scale capital projects, and steady leadership. Even though Hydro Ottawa is a regulated company, Jim encouraged us to grow, and we expanded our generation fleet and our energy services company. We acquired the Chaudière Falls generating station, the remaining interest in the Ottawa River ring dam, and refurbished numerous Hydro Quebec assets. These projects, managed in partnership with our Board of Directors, were delivered on time and on budget. In 2017, Hydro Ottawa became the largest municipally-owned green energy fleet of generating stations in Canada and built a corporate commitment to sustainability.
Through the years, we have weathered many challenges and storms – from generational floods, tornados, COVID-19, and the devastating May 2022 Derecho storm. Jim’s steady hand of leadership guided us through all of these events. Hydro Ottawa is a more community-centric, forward thinking and strategic company today because of Jim’s leadership. His vision for Hydro Ottawa to be the first municipally-owned utility in Canada to reach net-zero operations by 2030, ensures that his legacy of clean, green, forward thinking leadership will continue for generations.
Jim has surpassed his father’s expectations and our “campsite” is better because of Jim’s leadership. On behalf of all of us at Hydro Ottawa and in our community, thank you Jim!
President and Chief Executive Officer
Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc.