‘A lot of these have memories’: Watson reflects as he auctions off special items for food bank

In six weeks, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson will be leaving city hall, but he’s not taking much with him. Many of the items he has received over the years are being auctioned off for a good cause.

“Well, after 15 years as mayor, you accumulate a lot of different things that are given to you,” Watson said.

Dozens of items that were gifted to the mayor are up for auction Tuesday at city hall between 5 and 7 p.m., with all of the proceeds going to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Some are one-of-a-kind collectables that could get a lot of attention from bidders, like custom street signs.

“Ryan Reynolds Way, Paul Anka Drive, the signs that we put up across from the Russian Embassy, Sens Mile back in 2014-2015,” Watson said.

The outgoing mayor says it would be impossible for him to keep everything.

“I don’t need, you know, 35 jerseys for hockey teams and football and I don’t need 50 baseball caps or baseballs or soccer balls or paintings and so on,” he said. “So, I thought it was a good way to raise awareness of the food bank and particularly as we head into Thanksgiving, the need to support the food vank now more than ever.”

The Ottawa Food Bank says, right now, any donation helps.

“It shows what kind of mayor he’s been for the city of Ottawa to always be thinking about those in the community,” says Ottawa Food Bank CEO Rachael Wilson. “These funds will mean that we can go out and purchase healthy fresh items for people. We’re seeing, you know, dramatic increases month over month. So anytime we receive funding, all of that goes right back into the community to support those accessing food banks.”

This custom sign with the Ottawa Redblacks, Ottawa Senators and Ottawa Fury logos and Jim Watson’s name will not be auctioned, but will go in Watson’s den. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

Watson isn’t getting rid of everything though, a custom-made street sign with all three of Ottawa’s teams will go in his den. And the cracked windshield from the snowmobile accident in 2015 that broke his pelvis will be coming home with him too.

Jim Watson will be keeping the windshield from the snowmobile that he crashed in 2015, causing him to break his pelvis. (Dave Charbonneau/CTV News Ottawa)

Other special items will be sent to the archives.

And although Watson says he’s grateful for each and every gift he’s ever received, he knows they will all end up in a better place.

“A lot of these have memories,” says Watson. “But I think it’s better that they go to members of the community and the funds raised go to the food bank as opposed to sitting in a box in my basement.” 

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