Wat­son steers drive for au­tonomous cars

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - MATTHEW PEAR­SON mpear­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/mpear­son78

Mayor Jim Wat­son de­liv­ered his an­nual state-of-the-city speech Wed­nes­day at the first coun­cil meet­ing of 2017.

Here are five de­vel­op­ments that are worth watch­ing.

1. Hyp­ing high-tech

Coun­cil has al­ready ap­proved the test­ing of driver­less cars on Ottawa roads, start­ing in the Kanata North business park, and Coun. Mar­i­anne Wilkin­son has been push­ing for the city to be des­ig­nated a “cen­tre of ex­cel­lence” for au­tonomous ve­hi­cles.

Now, the mayor and tech cham­pion Terry Matthews will lead a del­e­ga­tion to Queen’s Park to ex­plore ways for the lo­cal high-tech sec­tor to de­velop 5G in sup­port of a “so­phis­ti­cated” driver­less car in­dus­try in On­tario.

Wat­son says it’s a chance for Matthews, In­vest Ottawa and oth­ers to do a “dog-and-pony show” for peo­ple at Queen’s Park, re­mind­ing them of Ottawa’s vi­brant tech sec­tor and its de­sire to be in­volved in de­vel­op­ment of driver­less cars.

“If you’re not there and you’re not ed­u­cat­ing min­is­ters and MPPs and the pre­mier’s of­fice about what’s go­ing on in your com­mu­nity, we tend to get over­shad­owed by ju­ris­dic­tions that are closer to Queen’s Park, such as Kitch­ener-Water­loo and Toronto,” he said.

2. Name the train

Chewrocka, Jaw­breaker and Crocodile Rouge were the monikers be­stowed by Grade 4 stu­dents on the mas­sive ma­chines that carved down­town’s LRT tun­nel.

And now, the city is turn­ing to young­sters again to name the en­gines that will soon travel on the new Con­fed­er­a­tion LRT line. Wat­son said in­for­ma­tion about the nam­ing con­test will be sent to schools in the fall and the win­ners an­nounced next spring.

Some Twit­ter users were quick to sug­gest “Trainy McTrain­face,” but we’re hop­ing school­child­ren can come up with some­thing slightly more cre­ative.

3. Her­itage mat­ters

In keep­ing with the city’s fight against de­mo­li­tion by ne­glect, the mayor an­nounced the cre­ation of a team to proac­tively en­sure the city’s va­cant her­itage build­ings meet prop­erty and build­ing stan­dards, and to en­cour­age her­itage con­ver­sa­tion by mak­ing prop­erty own­ers aware of city re­sources avail­able to them.

Staff from the her­itage and prop­erty-stan­dards de­part­ments will work to­gether to mon­i­tor des­ig­nated her­itage prop­er­ties to en­sure own­ers are aware of any cur­rent prop­erty-stan­dards vi­o­la­tions — and ad­dress them — be­fore it’s too late. “In many in­stances, her­itage ne­glect is tak­ing place be­cause of prop­erty stan­dards ne­glect,” Wat­son said.

4. In­dige­nous cel­e­bra­tion

Ever the booster of 2017 cel­e­bra­tions, Wat­son said he is “mind­ful that for many of our in­dige­nous friends and neigh­bours, the 150th an­niver­sary of Con­fed­er­a­tion takes on a dif­fer­ent sig­nif­i­cance.”

Wat­son says he is the first Ottawa mayor to visit the Al­go­nquins of Pik­wakana­gan ter­ri­tory near Golden Lake, and noted he has also de­vel­oped a good re­la­tion­ship with the Al­go­nquins of On­tario.

In keep­ing with th­ese ef­forts, the city will hold an abo­rig­i­nal awareness day in June.

5. Keys, please

Wat­son loves to give out the key to the city. By year’s end, he’ll have handed out more keys than any other mayor in Ottawa his­tory.

In 2017, the city’s high­est honour will go to broad­cast jour­nal­ist Michel Pi­card, Sen. Mur­ray Sin­clair, for­mer fed­eral au­di­tor gen­eral Sheila Fraser, re­cently re­tired Ottawa Red­blacks quar­ter­back Henry Bur­ris and Ne­pean-born NHL star Steve Yz­er­man. The city will also be­stow the honour on two in­sti­tu­tions: Al­go­nquin Col­lege and Car­leton Univer­sity. Al­go­nquin is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary this year, and Car­leton its 75th.

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