Ottawa joins Canadian Accessibility Network

During today’s AccessAbility Day virtual celebrations, Mayor Jim Watson announced that the City was joining the Canadian Accessibility Network, part of Carleton University’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design).

The Canadian Accessibility Network focuses on five overarching domains:

  • Community engagement
  • Education and training
  • Employment
  • Policy
  • Research, design and innovation.

As a member, the City will choose an area of focus and partner with organizations interested in the same work. The City will benefit from collaborating and exchanging knowledge with organizations like postsecondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, service providers, associations and foundations, and public and private industry.

The City hopes to work towards a variety of goals with fellow Canadian Accessibility Network partners:

  • Improve service through innovation to meet the needs of the community
  • Invest in the professional development of the City’s current and future leaders
  • Attract talent from across Canada
  • Position the City as an inclusive employer of choice
  • Improve the safety, accessibility, culture, social and physical well-being for vulnerable residents, creating an inclusive city for all
  • Be a leader in accessible and sustainable designs

AccessAbility Day is celebrated annually by the City during National AccessAbility Week. It’s an opportunity to connect with residents, share successes and get feedback on emerging issues.

Quote

“Joining the Canadian Accessibility Network will position the City as a leader in accessibility and help us provide service that meets the needs of the entire community.. This partnership will broaden the knowledge and expertise of our employees on accessibility-related issues and advance our efforts of creating an inclusive City for all.” – Mayor Jim Watson


All adults 18 and older can book vaccine appointments beginning Tuesday

Beginning Tuesday, May 18 at 8 am, all Ottawa residents age 18 and older (born in or before 2003) can begin booking appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at community clinics.

Visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to access the provincial booking system or call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week. Only book or call if you are eligible.

If appointments fill up quickly Tuesday morning, more appointments will become available shortly. You can also ask your local pharmacy about their vaccine availability. Everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one soon.

Youth between 12 and 17 years of age will be eligible to book a vaccine during the week of May 31. 

Sign up for the COVID-19 vaccination update e-subscription for regular news on the vaccine roll-out including updates on second doses.

 

Accessibility at clinics

All clinic sites are accessible. If you require specific accommodations, please fill out the disability related accommodations request form at least 48 hours in advance to ensure your needs are met. If you need assistance completing the form, contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-691-5505.

For more information on what accessibility accommodations are available at the clinics or to access the form, visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca.

 

Walk-ins will not be accepted at community clinics

  • This includes walk-ins for second doses
  • This includes walk-ins at the end of the day
  • Remaining doses at the end of the day will be administered to pre-booked or pre-registered individuals.

 

For more information

Visit ottawa.ca or OttawaPublicHealth.ca for more information about Ottawa’s vaccine distribution plan including information about:


City makes progress on green bin use, waste diversion

The City’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management today heard that recent policy changes to the green bin program have helped shift resident behaviours to increase green bin use, diverting organic waste from the landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Since July 2019, the City has allowed plastic bag liners and dog waste in green bins to help make the green bin cleaner and more convenient to use, addressing the main barriers that residents identified in market research. In tandem with this change, staff launched a communications and outreach plan to promote the program.

In 2020, there was an eight-per-cent increase in the number of households setting out a green bin, compared to 2018. In 2019, the City sent five per cent more organic and leaf and yard waste for processing than in 2018. In 2020 that number increased a further six per cent.

The City has also made it easier for residents in apartment buildings to use a green bin by introducing a new collection contract for multi-residential properties that removed the main barrier of having to bring bins to the curb. This led to a 37-per-cent increase in the number of properties using green bins.

According to follow-up market research conducted in 2020, the yuck factor (concerns green bins are smelly, messy or gross) is no longer the top barrier to participation for respondents with curbside waste collection.

Because much of this information was collected during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a significant shift in behaviour and waste trends, staff will follow up on these interim results with an update at least one year after the pandemic ends.

Recommendations from today’s meeting requiring Council approval will rise to Council on Wednesday, May 26.


Release of main construction tender and final design drawings of the Ottawa Public Library-Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility

The City of Ottawa Supply Services has released the main construction tender to the pre-qualified General Contractors for the construction of the Ottawa Public Library-Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility.

The tender is scheduled to close this summer with construction work to begin this fall.

The release of the main construction tender coincides with another project milestone, the completion of the final design of the joint facility. The designs plans were endorsed by the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) Board and approved by the National Capital Commission Public Board of Directors in April 2021. The design is the direct result of an unprecedented public co-design process that asked Ottawa residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from across the country to provide design input and inspiration at every stage.

This engagement process helped shape all aspects of the facility, inside and out. Public input informed the shape of the building, its entrances, the interaction and location of its spaces, the indoor look and ambience, the inclusive and sustainable features, the landscaping and public art, and the exterior materials. There were also significant design enhancements made by Diamond Schmitt Architects, in joint venture with KWC Architects, to achieve net-zero carbon.

One of the most important aspects of this process was the generosity and engagement of Indigenous peoples in Ottawa and across the country, including the Anishnābe Algonquin First Nations of Kitigan Zibi and Pikwakanagan, the Ottawa-Gatineau urban Indigenous community and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation individuals from across the country. Their direction, advice, and feedback has been instrumental in shaping the design of the new facility.

Public and Indigenous engagement for the facility will continue as the project partners move forward with the next stages of the project. A gallery of the final design drawings and additional information on the project can be found at inspire555.ca.

Background

Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC) have partnered to develop a new joint facility that will house OPL’s new Central Library and LAC’s public programs and services in the National Capital Region. The story of this ground-breaking project is about two major public institutions coming together to build a place where Ottawa residents, Canadians and visitors from around the world will come together to connect to learn, discover, and create. 

Ottawa Public Library

Ottawa Public Library is the largest bilingual (English/French) public library system in North America. The OPL extends public access to information and services through the library’s 34 branches, physical and virtual (BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca), as well as two mobile libraries and a vending machine-style lending library service. Serving close to one million Ottawa residents, OPL’s mission is to inspire learning, spark curiosity, and connect people. 

Library and Archives Canada

As the custodian of our distant past and recent history, Library and Archives Canada is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.


Age limit for COVID-19 vaccine appointments lowered to 18 and older for hot spot communities, 50 and older for community clinics

New information

  • Age limit lowered to 18 for individuals in “hot spot” communities
  • As of Thursday, May 6, age limit will be lowered to 50 for individuals on the province’s online registration system

Lower age limit for community clinics

Beginning Thursday, May 6 at 8 am, all Ottawa residents age 50 and over (born in or before 1971) can begin booking appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at community clinics.

In addition, priority populations who have been only able to book via the provincial call centre will now also be able to book online, including individuals with the highest risk health conditions, child care workers in licenced child care settings and education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs.

Visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to access the provincial booking system or call the provincial vaccine booking line at 1-833-943-3900 between 8 am and 8 pm, seven days a week. Only book or call if you are eligible.

Lower age limit for “hot spot” communities

The Province has lowered the age limit for individuals living in one of the three provincially defined “hot spots” that have postal codes beginning with K1T, K1V or K2V. Residents 18 and over (born in or before 2003) living in one of these areas, can also visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to book an appointment at one of the City’s community clinics starting tomorrow.

When you book your appointments through the provincial booking system, you will receive a confirmation code. Please bring this code with you when you go to your appointments. If you do not have a confirmation code, your appointments were not successfully completed. Please revisit the provincial booking system or call 1-833-943-3900 to book your appointments and receive your confirmation code.

To enable physical distancing and to reduce the number of people in the clinic, please arrive for your vaccine no more than 10 minutes before your appointment time.

Walk-ins will not be accepted at any location

  • This includes walk-ins at the end of the day
  • Book your appointment in advance
  • Remaining doses at the end of the day will be administered to residents on the wait list.

 

Second doses

  • Information about the interval between doses and your appointment for a second dose is available on OttawaPublicHealth.ca

 

Transportation

  • Need assistance getting to your appointment, we may be able to help

Sign up for the COVID-19 vaccination update e-subscription for regular news on the vaccine roll-out.

Visit ottawa.ca or OttawaPublicHealth.ca  for more information on Ottawa’s vaccination distribution plan.


New short-term rental by-law designed to help address housing shortage and community nuisances

City Council today approved new regulations to govern short-term rentals across Ottawa over the next three years. The new Short-term Rental By-law establishes a host permit system for local short-term rental hosts, as well as rules for short-term rental platforms and property managers.

In line with a strategy that Council adopted in November 2019, the new by-law was designed to address community nuisance issues and concerns around public health and safety. Violations of the by-law could result in fines for both guests and host of up to $100,000 each day that an offence occurs. In addition, the City could suspend or revoke a host permit for violating the by-law.

To protect housing inventory for Ottawa residents, the by-law restricts short-term rentals to principal residences in urban residential zones and rural villages. Operators will need to get a host permit from the City proving the rental property is their principal residence. Some properties that are not a host’s principal residence would be permitted, but only in certain rural areas. Such properties would be defined separately as cottage rentals. 

Council approved changes to the municipal housing benefit programs, which provides rent subsidies either directly to a landlord or as a housing allowance paid to a household. These programs are at capacity, and the approved changes will reallocate more than $2.3 million from other municipal housing programs and provincial funding programs, enabling the City to continue funding current recipients and take on new applicants.

The changes approved also include updating the City’s housing allowance framework to be consistent with current provincial housing benefits. With that change, new recipients of City housing benefits will be better able to afford the costs associated with securing and maintaining an affordable home in the private rental market.

Council approved the annual Tax Policy report that sets tax ratios for various tax classes for 2021 and the property tax due dates for 2022. The City will adopt neutral ratios and use all optional property classes permitted by the Assessment Act to allow for different taxation levels within a property class and minimize shifting the tax burden between tax classes.

The approved report will enable staff to continue tax mitigation measures aimed at keeping Ottawa affordable. Similar to those approved in previous years, this year’s measures include rebates to charitable organizations, deferral of taxes and water bills for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities and the farm grant program.

Staff will also work on creating a small business property tax subclass that could provide a 10-per-cent tax discount for about 4,700 commercial properties in Ottawa that house roughly 7,800 small businesses. The discount would be offset by an increase of 0.68 per cent for 7,300 large commercial and industrial properties. Staff will consult and report back with final recommendations by the end of the third quarter.

Council welcomed Ottawa’s newest Poets Laureate, who each recited a poem in recognition of National Poetry Month. Albert Dumont will take on the role of Ottawa’s English-language laureate for the 2021 to 2023 term, while Gilles Latour will serve as French-language laureate.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Pre-registration begins Monday for pregnant individuals

Beginning Monday, April 26 at 2pm, pregnant individuals will be able to pre-register for a vaccine appointment. These individuals, as well as others previously identified as people with the highest risk health conditions, and one of their caregivers, can visit Ottawa Public Health to pre-register.

The Province of Ontario now lists pregnant individuals as part of the highest risk health priority group. Individuals who are pregnant are advised to have a discussion with their health care provider prior to getting vaccinated. A letter from a physician is not required for vaccination. The second dose interval for this group will remain at 16 weeks.

A pregnant individual may have someone who supports them be vaccinated. This would apply when the pregnant individual needs regular and sustained help with personal care or to help them with their normal daily activities.

Highest risk health priority individuals

Pre-registration is still open to individuals with highest risk health conditions and their caregivers, including:

  • Organ transplant recipients
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients
  • People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis)
  • Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago
  • People with kidney disease eGFR< 30

Community and pop-up clinic appointments are temporarily fully booked

There is currently a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines available. In the coming days, as the City receives more vaccines from the province more appointments will become available. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days.

 

Residents of all ages who are not yet eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to follow announcements on the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health websites and social media channels, and from your local news media to learn when they can receive their vaccine. They can also sign up for the COVID-19 vaccination update e-subscription for regular news on the vaccine roll-out.

 

Visit ottawa.ca or OttawaPublicHealth.ca for more information on Ottawa’s vaccination distribution plan.

 

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

 


OP-ED "The Mayors: High-frequency rail service from Québec City to Toronto is a sustainable economic recovery project"

*OTTAWA CITIZEN*

As mayors of the largest economic centres in Ontario and Quebec, we call unanimously on the federal government to invest in high-frequency rail to support Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery and long-term environmental objectives.

As businesses, communities and all levels of government across Canada continue to manage the impacts of the ongoing pandemic, it is imperative to invest in sustainable and large-scale infrastructure projects that will support a green and inclusive recovery for our cities and regions.

The federal government has repeatedly shown its interest and commitment in investing in sustainable projects, which would create a more resilient and greener Canada. If we are to come out of this unprecedented crisis stronger, we need projects that will serve the needs of present and future generations. This is exactly what VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail (HFR) project will achieve by connecting Québec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto.

High-frequency rail will upgrade and build new tracks dedicated to passenger service, connecting surrounding regions at the same time. It will offer more daily departures, shorter trip times, and increased punctuality. In other words, by connecting our communities more efficiently, this project will have huge repercussions for millions of Canadians and visitors from around the world.

This large-scale endeavour will have a substantial economic impact. In the short term, HFR will contribute to Canada’s economic recovery by creating thousands of jobs during the construction phase. In the long run, HFR will further increase the mobility of workers, as well as local economic development and tourism in communities along the corridor. That said, its impacts will be felt on a national scale, as it will operate in the most densely populated region of the country.

Beyond the direct economic benefits, VIA Rail’s HFR project will also transform the way Canadians travel and live. By providing more departures, HFR will make travel easier, offer a viable and sustainable alternative to the car, and therefore reduce road congestion, the cost of maintaining highways and greenhouse gas emissions.

For all the reasons stated above, we believe this VIA Rail project is in line with the government of Canada’s stated commitment to invest in sustainable infrastructure. Therefore, as the tabling of the 2021 federal budget approaches, we ask the federal government to invest in this nation-building project.

In times of crisis, we need to invest in projects that will not only boost our economy in the short and long term, but also ensure the resilience, sustainability and competitiveness of our communities. High-frequency rail is part of the solution.

Jim Watson is the mayor of Ottawa; Régis Labeaume is the mayor of Québec City; Valérie Plante is the mayor of Montreal; and John Tory is the mayor of Toronto. (photo credit: MIKE CARROCCETTO /Canwest News Service) 

Have fun, stay active, and be COVIDwise in our parks

One of the essential allowances in the stay-at-home order is exercising outdoors, which contributes to everyone’s overall physical and mental health.

You and your family have plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities and get some fresh air and exercise.  Some safety precautions need to be taken to help slow down the surge of COVID-19 and variants-of-concern cases.  With more residents getting vaccinated each week, we can look forward to better days ahead.

Wearing masks in City parks

Ottawa Public Health strongly recommends people wear masks in the park.  Though it may be necessary to remove masks for some vigorous activities, you are encouraged to keep your mask on as much as possible. The COVID-19 variants-of-concern, which are prominent in the community, are much more contagious and transmissible – even outdoors. Masks protect residents from the spread and will help turnaround the current surge of the virus.

Social gathering restrictions

Whether you are in a park, a public space, or your back or front yard, the social gathering limit is no more than five people. The social gathering limit does not apply with respect to a gathering of members of a single household, or with one other person from outside that household who lives alone. And when you’re with others from outside your household, be sure to remain vigilant in practising physical distancing.

Sports fields and ball diamonds

Sports fields and ball diamonds will remain closed until current restrictions are eased to allow sports activities. Permits for synthetic turf fields are also suspended until further notice.

The current provincial regulations do not allow team or group recreation, sports play, scrimmage or training.

Tennis court activities

The nets on City-owned tennis courts will be installed starting in mid-April and be completed by early May. Until nets are installed, courts can be used for informal non-team sports including singles tennis and pickleball. The activity must adhere to physical distancing.  It is highly recommended that masks be worn when playing and waiting to go on the court and social gathering restrictions apply. It’s strongly recommended to play with people from your same household.

Basketball courts

No scrimmage or team play is permitted, and social gathering restrictions apply. People can shoot hoops and some one-on-one is permitted – preferably with members of your household. Maintain physical distancing on and off the court. Wear a mask as much as possible on and off the courts.

Casual sports play – tossing a ball or hitting pop-flies

Like basketball, no team play or scrimmages are permitted in the park and outdoor social gathering rules apply.  However, you can take part in some casual activities, like pop-flies or play catch while maintaining physical distancing. Again, it’s preferred to stick with members of your household for these activities. Wear a mask as much as possible.

Skate parks

Skate parks are popular with so many young people in our city. Here are some important key safety tips:

  • Wear a mask when waiting for your turn, watching fellow skaters and as much as possible when using the facility.
  • Maintain physical distancing between yourself and others outside of your immediate household.
  • Leave the park if it’s too crowded and come back at a less crowded time.

Play structures and playground equipment

Play structures, swings, slides and other playground amenities are open. The social gathering limit of no more than five people applies, and children and parents are strongly encouraged to wear masks around the play structure.

The social gathering limit does not apply with respect to a gathering of members of a single household, or with one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Ensure your children avoid touching their faces and ensure their hands are washed with soap and water or hand sanitizer while you’re at the park and when you get home. Help your children to maintain physical distancing from people outside your household.

 


Mayor Watson’s statement following Premier Ford’s announcement of a four-week Stay-At-Home Order

*Sent on April 7*

“Today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario to impose a 28-day Stay-At-Home Order was undoubtedly a difficult, yet necessary decision to protect all residents from the continued rapid spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

I was pleased to see that stricter regulations will be imposed on big box stores, limiting their sales to grocery and essential products to avoid the massive gatherings we witnessed over the Easter weekend. This move also levels the playing field for small essential retail stores that were put at a disadvantage under past sets of measures.

Following several conversations with provincial officials, I am confident that the City of Ottawa will receive its fair share of vaccines, and that the distribution will be steady and predictable moving forward.

I can confirm that the City’s By-Law & Regulatory Services will ensure the new rules are enforced, and I urge all residents to adhere to the new lockdown orders. I am asking residents to comply with these new rules in an effort to give us a fighting chance against the virus, with the hope of a more normal summer and fall ahead of us.”

Mayor Watson will be available for further comments during a media availability on Friday, April 9 at 1:00 pm. Residents will be able to watch on the City’s YouTube channelrogerstv.com or RogersTV Cable 22.