Ground breaks on Mackenzie Avenue cycling lanes

(From left) Ambassador Heyman, NCC CEO Mark Kristmanson, Mayor Jim Watson and MPP Madeleine Meilleur break ground on Ottawa's Mackenzie Avenue bike lane. Credit US Embassy Ottawa.

Ambassador Bruce Heyman
Mackenzie Avenue ground-breaking ceremony
Ottawa, ON

As delivered

Thank you, Mayor Watson. I am pleased to be joined here by you, as well as Dr. Mark Kristmanson from the National Capital Commission and the Honorable Madeline Meilleur. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. I’d like to especially like to thank the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission, and the province of Ontario for their partnership.

This day is bittersweet for me and all of us here at the Embassy. On the one hand, I am thrilled that this day has come. But, you know, today’s events come at the end of a very difficult week for Americans and all our friends around the world. I am, of course, talking about the senseless shooting of so many people in Orlando, Florida who were killed simply for going about the business of living [their] lives. My Embassy, and I, and our family have been so overcome by the outpouring of kindness from Canadians from all walks of life and across this amazingly beautiful country, who have come out in great numbers to support us. This morning I sat and read many of the incredible thoughtful comments in our Book of Condolences. I was so touched by the kindness and generosity in their words of support. From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to say thank you.

Ambassador Heyman speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Credit US Embassy Ottawa.
Ambassador Heyman speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Credit US Embassy Ottawa.
We are not the only ones impacted by senseless violence. This week saw the murder of a Canadian who was kidnapped, Robert Hall, and the murder of British MP Jo Cox. During weeks like this and every week it’s important we stand together and support each other and defend the values we hold so dear.

So now let’s talk about today’s event. I am confident that this fantastic project will bring dedicated bike lanes to Mackenzie, but will not only do that, will be a welcome addition to downtown Ottawa. Not only does this create a more visually pleasing environment, but it promotes green transportation, and it raises Ottawa’s stature as one of the most “bikeable” cities in the world.

As you know, following the tragic events of 9/11, we installed concrete barriers as an additional layer of security for the Embassy. But today, 15 years later, we within the U.S. Embassy and the State Department have worked with our partners at the NCC, the City of Ottawa, and the Province of Ontario to replace the barriers with bollards. The new bollards – which I am sure you will agree are much more attractive and community-friendly – not only provide the security layer that the Embassy needs, but they contribute to the greening of the city.

As a matter of fact, the commitment of the U.S. Mission in Canada to the environment and our community does not end here. In 2015, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and our seven consulates across the country joined the State Department’s Greening Diplomacy Initiative. We have since invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve our footprint at all our facilities in Canada, and to use more efficient, less energy-[intensive technologies] at my official residence Lornado. We have also invested in energy-efficient printers, monitors, hybrid vehicles, and smart thermostats. This is just a sampling of what we are doing to improve the sustainability and efficiency of our daily operations in this beautiful country.

So, we’ve replaced our incandescent light with LED lighting and intensive technologies and equipment, but we’re not done. We’re going to continue to press forward. We at the Embassy are committed to being good friends and neighbors. So, on behalf of the entire Embassy community, and the entire team which seems to be all out here today, I would like to thank the residents of Ottawa for welcoming us into this beautiful city, and for proving again and again what wonderful friends you are, as we work together toward a greener future.

Thank you very much.