The more I travel, the more I appreciate Ottawa. It’s easy to knock on Ottawa as the boring conservative city, a city of brown shoes, a city of beaurocrats. It’s also easy to assume that what is found here is replicated in all Canadian cities. I found that’s not the case.

There are many things about Ottawa that I appreciate. I for one enjoy its size: a small city where going downtown takes no more than 30 minutes, and that’s if you drive slow, as we Ottawans do. I enjoy the level of safety I feel walking down the streets, and the affordability of living here. I love Ottawa’s location: the Gatineau Hills in our backyard, the canal running through the heart of the city, both providing winter and summer activities.Having Montreal, one of my favorite cities, just two hours away is another bonus: close enough for a day trip to enjoy its arts, food, culture and shopping but without having to live there.

Multiculturalism in Ottawa is another aspect I greatly appreciate, not just that it exists, but that it’s varied: pockets of cultures mingling in the city as opposed to one large minority representing the multiculturalism of the town.And it’s a pretty city, with its old understated architecture, its cleanliness, its waterways and bike paths.

But more then that, what’s fantastic about Ottawa is that its a small city with large city programs. Programs have the opportunity to be involved with three levels of government, and are run by the well educated and ambitious creative class that lives here. Because it’s a small city, the programs are accessible: as an individual, you have a good chance of hearing about the programs, a good chance of finding your place within them, and a good chance of getting some one on one attention for your personal growth. For me, those programs include: TalentBridge, a program which has nurtured my entrepreneurial interest through education, hands on experience and mentorship, joining the City’s Steering Committee for Economic Development, which has allowed me to represent my generation’s vision of the future of the city, and getting to share ideas with the close knit and extremely helpful entrepreneurial community in Ottawa.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are still improvements to be made: the city needs some life injected into it; the charm found downtown, in the Glebe, and in Westboro needs to be expanded into the suburbs instead of losing character in a sea of strip malls; and Ottawa needs to keep embracing and nurturing the entrepreneurial nature of its community. But it’s a city that’s actively trying to do this, which makes me appreciate it all the more.

I might be moving in the next couple years of my career, but for the reasons above, Ottawa is definitely where I want home to be and where I intend to set up shop, work and live.  It’s just my kind of city.

Note:  Post also posted on Who’s Your City where you can see how different cities rank.

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