Gatineau’s mayor made a direct pitch to Ottawa businesses Monday by asking them to consider his city’s bilingual workforce, development opportunities and other assets in their growth plans.
Pitching Gatineau as “an exceptional economic partner,” Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin delivered what he and local economic development officials believed to be the first speech by a Gatineau mayor to members of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
In his speech, he praised the increasing levels of cooperation between the two cities, highlighting joint work on tourism, policing and immigration, and his relationship with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
However, he came out strongly against the perennial suggestion of more formalized joint planning in the National Capital Region by creating new bodies such as a regional transit commission.
“I think it (would be) a mistake,” he said. “We must first talk about everyday realities – how do we make our routes connect (and) be more efficient? ... Starting from reality is a good strategy.”
He told the audience that he hoped in the coming weeks that Ottawa and Gatineau would complete the first official agreement on transit in the history of the two cities.
Transit officials are looking at how to integrate bus service with Ottawa’s light-rail line, which is scheduled to enter service next year.
“We don’t want to get rid of all our buses on streets like Wellington and Queen and Albert and Slater just to have them replaced with even more buses from STO,” Mr. Watson said in January. “But at the same time, we have to respect that STO customers don’t want to have an extra transfer or two extra transfers.”
‘Even the sun is on our side’
Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin used his speech to highlight several of Gatineau’s leading businesses, such as software firm Macadamian, renewable energy giant Brookfield and recycler Kruger. He also touted reforms aimed at cutting red tape and attractions such as Gatineau Park, cycling trails and the city’s claim to having the most hours of sunshine among major Quebec municipalities.
“As a region, we are much, much stronger when we work together.”
“Even the sun is on our side,” Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin joked.
However, he stopped short of asking Ottawa businesses to uproot and move across the river. Instead, he asked the audience to consider leveraging Gatineau’s strengths to build a stronger regional economy.
The city’s bilingual workforce, for example, “is an asset for us, but is also an asset for you on this side of the river,” Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin said.
“On the other side of the bridge lies a gem, an exceptional economic partner … As a region, we are much, much stronger when we work together.”