Case counts are alarmingly high (324 yesteday and 24 now in intensive care) and the wastewater tracking shows a continued rise of Covid-19 in Ottawa (here).
In the last two weeks, our ward has seen higher relative case counts than we're used to according to the ward mapping that has been updated to reflect pandemic numbers up to April 5. Check that here.
In the past few days, I've been asked about the stay-at-home order and whether one activity or another is permitted. The Provincial rules still list various gathering limits, for instance, which may be leading to some confusion. For the sake of clarity, I'd note that the basic rule is to stay home except for essential reasons like shopping for food or health/hygiene supplies or going to a medical appointment. Getting together to socialize
even outside and distanced is not an essential reason to leave your home. You are, though, encouraged to get outside for some exercise and I'd urge folks to mask up, especially if you're in a popular spot like a playground or dog park.
The rules for vaccination eligibility are becoming more complex as more groups become eligible. On Friday it was announced that home-bound health care recipients who receive home care are now eligible and will be contacted in turn by community health centres or other health partners. More health care and education workers are now eligible, people who have medical conditions that put them at the highest risk along with their caregivers, and eligibility in some neighourhoods that have been hardest hit by the virus has now been broadened to include
people who are 50 and older. Residents 16+ who are First Nation, Inuit and Métis can also begin making appointments. The general public who are 60 years and older can now get their shots at clinics run by the City ("community" clinics), and the general public who are 55 years and older can get their shots at pharmacies. It's a lot.
To clarify whether you are eligible, I strongly urge everyone to visit Ottawa Public Health's eligibility page here. It will let you know whether you're able to get a shot based on broad age criteria, health consideration, occupation, or residence in a neighbourhood that has been prioritized, and whether you will be booking your appointment through the Province's tool, pre-registering to be contacted by another authority,
pre-registering with a pharmacy, or whether you'll be contacted in turn by a health agency.
As of last night, no further spots are available for the time being for those age 60+ in the City's big vaccination centres. More spots will become available, though, when further supplies of vaccine are confirmed. My own guess is that bookings will re-open before the current appointments are completed.
New testing centres have opened in response to demand. The best place to get information on where to get tested is here.
Find all the latest news about the pandemic, including special statements by Dr. Vera Etches and other officials here.
Pop-up office hours April 20
I'll be hosting Zoom pop-up office hours on on Tuesday, April 20 from 3-5 pm. Send me an email for the link to join us one-on-one with no appointment during those hours to chat about whatever's on your mind.
Committee of Adjustment April 21
The Committee of Adjustment will hear one application in our ward on April 21. Find the details of that here.
979 Wellington re-design open house
The proposal to re-develop the 979 Wellington block (between Garland and Hilda) has undergone a re-design. It is now proposed as a squatter 12-storey building. We'll be hosting an open house to look at that on April 19. See more details here.
Domicile Roosevelt appeal unsuccessful
Residents' appeal against Council's decision to permit a six-storey mixed-use building on Roosevelt (behind the Starbucks) has been dismissed by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). I'm struggling to find some time to post a review of the decision, but it's clearly an important one. The LPAT determined that the site's proximity to Richmond Road and that it could be characterized as an "edge" condition justfied the additional height. I've posted the decision here. My thanks go to to the residents, Westboro Community Association, and their lawyer Kristi Ross for their thoughtful and persistent effort against this one.
SJAM open this weekend
The NCC has opened the SJAM Parkway this weekend for recreational use by walkers, runners and cyclists given the extraordinarily nice weather. My request of cyclists would be, where a roadway has been closed to cars, to please leave the adjacent pathways for the use of those on foot if you can.
Island Park/Clearview crossing
Last year, we'd been told that construction of the pedestrian crossing at Island Park Drive and Clearview was proceeding, but then the work was paused apparently because of covid-related supplier issues. Indications to my staff are now that work should proceed in May. We're all impatient for that and I appreciate your patience.
Street sweeping begins
Street sweeping is underway in the ward with a mix of "concentrated" and normal operations. A few years ago, "concentrated" sweeping that involves parking prohibitions, by-law enforcement and towing was expanded to include parts of our ward. There is a limited budget for that, however, and most streets will not receive that treatment. Most will see multiple passes sometimes over several days made until crews can complete the job. If the sweepers have been by and the street is not yet clean, they'll be back. The operation runs 24/7 and contractors have until the end of May to finish the whole city. Things
like line painting and traffic calming can't proceed until the sweeping is done, so it's in everyone's interest to get the job completed as quickly as possible.
Tree removals on Lemieux Island
Residents can expect to see some tree removals on Lemieux Island even as early as next week to prepare for conversion of the Prince of Wales bridge to pedestrian/cycling use. The work is being undertaken now to avoid bird-nesting season.
Join my Run For Women team!
I'm really pleased to join the annual Run For Women 5k/10k event, this year as a team captain. Consider joining my 5k run/walk team, WalkABitRunABit, here or making a donation. The proceeds will go directly to The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre's women's mental health program that is doing such critical work across the city right here in our ward. The event, of course, is virtual and participants will take part any time between July 4-11.
At City Hall
On Wednesday April 14, City Council meets. I don't see anything in the big agenda that's likely to generate a lot of debate being mostly comprised of various approvals that have been given at the committee level. The Women and Gender Equity strategy will almost certianly be approved. And, I expect the planning approval for 1655 Carling Avenue to be passed. The bike parking strategy will also likely be approved on the recommendation of the Transportation Committee. While a bike sharing program for Ottawa generated some discussion and headlines at the
committee level, it's unlikely we'll see any motions introduced to reverse City staff's recommendation that that not be funded at this time. Councillor Menard had asked that that be explored, but there is no concrete proposal on the table to move ahead with that at this time.
A briefing on the pandemic is also on the agenda.
View the full City Council agenda here.
Community and Protective Services Committee
On Thursday, April 15, the CPS committee meets to consider a single report on the current state of our housing assistance programs. These are under strain. The report proposes some re-allocation within the envelopes to provide some relief, but it's uncertain how the City will meet the demand for housing assistance without the help of other levels of government.
Read that report on the agenda here.
Ottawa Library Board
On April 13, the Ottawa Library Board meets with an agenda that includes a design update for the new central library branch and motion to approve that, as well as the 2021 work plan and semi-annual performance measurement.
Read the Library Board's full agenda and associated reports here.