Tourism, tech and taxes are top of the list for many of Ottawa’s mayoral candidates

Editor's Note

OBJ reached out to all of the mayoral candidates to ask their views on the city’s business community and its priorities. This is a compilation of views from some of the candidates, in their own words. Find more content from the candidates here on

Brandon Bay
  • Ottawa’s business community felt the pain of the pandemic. While small retailers, restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, and anything tied to travel or tourism suffered, the e-commerce and tech industries thrived.
  • I have heard from very few knowledge workers who are interested in returning to their office. What we’re left with is a bittersweet but incredible opportunity to rebuild. This will require the City to redesign its transit and its communities and the private sector will be an essential partner in the latter. There is a great opportunity for coworking spaces to be built in the suburbs.
  • We must also take this opportunity to diversify Ottawa’s economy. Remote work means tech and government jobs no longer need to hire their staff in Ottawa. We must invest more outside high tech, grow local manufacturing capabilities, expand our agricultural leadership, and ensure Ottawa can weather the storm if public service and software jobs do start leaving town.
  • Ottawa can expand its startup and growth programming. For example, Invest Ottawa could acquire a fleet of food trucks and establish community pop-up retail spaces. These mini-markets will allow aspiring entrepreneurs to try out a new model with limited cost and risk. 
  • As tourism recovers, the City should take on a greater role in marketing itself and in finding ways to generate municipal revenue from visitors to minimize the property tax burden in this time of high inflation.
Bernard Couchman
  • Small and medium-size businesses are the backbone of our Canadian economy. 
  • I plan on investing $250 million into our high-tech sector. Technology is needed in every venture; we are terming this the “hyphen investment era,” with businesses that connect businesses. 
  • Because we already have multiple functioning businesses working in silos, these hyphen companies will connect all the businesses to maximize efficiency. It's a simple step to prove that Ottawa is truly the high-tech capital of the world. 
  • I would like to invite the financial services sector to set up shop in Ottawa, paving the way for greater investment from them into our community at the grassroots level. We have to create the environment for business to flourish. 
  • I want to bring the customers to the businesses. The only way to figure this out is the use of high tech. 
Gregory Jreg Guevara
  • International commerce has ruined our great city. 
  • Force all international business chains to rebrand to be more Ottawa-friendly. 
  • Small, local businesses will thrive. 
  • A universal basic government job program will give everyone enough money to spend.
Nour Kadri
  • We need to have a vision that will take Ottawa from good to great and that’s what we are proposing as part of our campaign, Vision Ottawa.
  • We tend to focus on the government and tech sectors without paying much attention to other sectors of the economy. 
  • We have the largest number of scientists and engineers per capita of any Canadian city and we are second to San Francisco in North America. We have high-end educational colleges and universities. We are known to be Silicon Valley North, yet we are far from being a “smart city.”
  • The City of Ottawa under Mayor Kadri will be a shaper, never an adaptor. We need to utilize our capabilities and capacities to help businesses start in Ottawa, grow in Ottawa, and stay headquartered in Ottawa. Many of our startups leave for places that have better incubation or potential to grow. 
  • Rural areas need to have the proper broadband high-speed Internet to transform our farms into smart farms and to help other industries flourish. 
  • We have about 100 startups every year. Invest Ottawa, L-Spark and others are doing a great job, but the City is watching rather than being an active partner. 
Mike Maguire
  • Streamline the planning, zoning and permitting processes to accelerate new construction. We also need to revisit development charges to find efficiencies and potentially reduce the upfront costs of new development. I have a plan for entry-level starter homes under $400,000. This move will facilitate a more stable workforce, as well as creating opportunities for existing businesses to service the needs of these new communities.
  • Ottawa does not have an acceptably functioning mass transit system. I propose that we restore as many bus routes as necessary. Additionally, I want to initiate a commuter rail service between Kanata and Orleans using existing rail and rail rights-of-way. A more mobile population using reliable and convenient transportation opens up many opportunities for business community engagement.
  • Ottawa has a public safety problem. No business can survive if its customers don’t feel safe. 
Ade Olumide
  • Pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-efficient government. A dollar in the hands of the non-profit or private sector stretches further than the same dollar in the hands of government. 
  • Up to 20 per cent of the $2 billion annual compensation budget might be outsourced to the non-profit and business community through a four-year hiring freeze and five per cent yearly attrition. 
  • Have a “rural home to LRT” shuttle and an “urban home to LRT shuttle.” These 13-seater buses can be back up capacity for LRT operational shortfalls and canceled bus services or routes. Free transit for employees that earn below $53,000 per annum. 
  • Attract more venture capital from the U.S., expand the incubator program for startups, lead more trade delegations to U.S. biotechnology hubs and build on the tourism industry legacy of Mayor Watson. 
  • Find an Ottawa ombudsman who will be tasked with how to safely reduce business red tape and transparently adjudicate business community complaints. 
Param Singh
  • More transparency, accountability and a budget that is affordable and allocated fairly. Ensure efficiency in managing the City. We cannot continue to increase property taxes to offset mismanagement.
  • I will tackle every issue with integrity and honesty and will always stay true to the residents of Ottawa. It is vital that we build an inclusive city whereby decisions are made but residents’ perspectives are also taken into account.
  • Transit, infrastructure, emergency services, affordable housing and investing in Ottawa’s post-COVID economy are on the top of my list. 
  • Ensure that Ottawa is future-proofed (look at a 10-, 15-, 20-year plan). 
  • We will continue to work with local BIAs, the Ottawa Board of Trade, National Capital Commission, Tourism Ottawa and other associations that advocate for a more collaborative and sustainable community prosperity.
  • As a city, we must continue in raising our visibility and our profile on the global platform so that we can not only attract new business, but tourists as well.
  • We must continue to find innovative solutions and ideas to attract tourism back to pre-pandemic levels. One idea is to create and develop a new permanent year-round attraction, like a Fisherman’s Wharf, a carousel and/or a ferris wheel.
Jacob Solomon
  • Ottawa has problems and they’re all easy to fix. Ottawa is a great city with even better potential, but let’s look at it realistically. Do you genuinely feel like the high price of living here and the high taxes you pay every year accurately reflect the quality of life that's given back to you? 
  • Our buses are some of the most expensive in the country. Our LRT goes four kilometres and doesn’t work in the winter.
  • Why do people barely have a reason to go downtown? Why is the downtown core right in front of Parliament essentially a barren concrete wasteland?
  • I believe that very simple steps such as plowing the paths during winter, adding more garbage bins, making downtown more walkable and using tax dollars in a more sensible way are all easy and productive ways of actively making this city a better place to live.