100 days of COVID-19 in Ottawa

Friday marked roughly 100 days since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic – a first since the organization’s inception in 1948. On the same day, March 11, Ottawa Public Health confirmed the presence of COVID-19 in the community. And on March 17, Premier Doug Ford declared a State of Emergency in the Province of Ontario.
In the blink of an eye, the people of Ottawa were presented with one of the most significant challenges in a generation. Life as we knew it changed as cities, towns and villages across Canada shut down. Businesses closed their doors, causing an unprecedented economic downturn. Residents were confined to their homes without knowing what the future held.
It was clear that the city needed to act quickly to protect residents from COVID-19. In response, staff and resources were quickly redeployed to provide for our community’s critical needs. We expanded online and remote services to continue serving our residents while much of the city’s workforce continued to deliver services in the field or from home.
The response to the pandemic in our nation’s capital has been tremendous due in large part to the phenomenal work of the staff at Ottawa Public Health and our local health partners who have been working around the clock to keep our residents safe.
In a short period of time, the Champlain Health Region Incident Command (CHRIC), in collaboration with OPH, opened an assessment centre that has so far seen more than 30,000 people present for testing. Shortly thereafter, two care clinics were opened to take some of the pressure off emergency rooms and family medicine clinics.
Of course, our ability to flatten the curve ultimately rests in your hands, Ottawa, and you have risen to the challenge. Since the people of our city have been so patient and respectful of public health guidelines, the province has given Ottawa the green light to move to Stage 2 of the provincial reopening plan. This has allowed us to gradually reopen the local economy and resume some of our municipal programs. Ottawa was the largest municipality in Ontario to be allowed to move to Stage 2 of reopening. Your efforts to flatten the curve are the reason we made it here.
Stage 2 has allowed many small businesses, like restaurant patios and barbershops, to serve patrons once again. New guidelines and measures have been put into place to ensure the safety of all employees and clients.
Supporting our local businesses has been a significant priority for the city. The health of our economy and of our community goes hand in hand. To support businesses, we created an Economic Partners Task Force to provide us with “on the ground” feedback from the business community as the pandemic evolved. The city has also put in place a property tax deferral program and created a Business Reopening Toolkit that provides advice and guidance on how to safely reopen.
While we have moved one step closer to a new normal, we need to remind the residents of Ottawa that COVID-19 has not gone away – the virus is still present in our community and we need to be COVIDwise. It is vital that as we continue to gradually reopen we remember what got us to this point.
We must all remain vigilant and continue to follow public health guidelines: staying at home when sick; practicing physical distancing; wearing cloth masks on public transit and when physical distancing is not possible; and washing your hands frequently.
And tens of thousands of residents who are not yet back at work need our support so that we can move on to the next phase of reopening as safely as possible.
There is no doubt that these past 100 days have been some of the most challenging times for our city. Since Day 1, we’ve witnessed incredible acts of kindness, such as neighbours picking up groceries for their sick or elderly neighbours, people sewing hundreds of cloth masks for those in need or a young girl donating all the savings in her piggy bank to her local food cupboard. Throughout these 100 days, we’ve been constantly reminded of the generosity and kindness of the people of Ottawa.
It has been 100 days. To some, this may already feel like too many. Rest assured, if we continue to support each other and work together to combat this pandemic, the people of Ottawa will come out of it stronger than ever.

Photo attributed to Postmedia.


Samia Hirani receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and Alta Vista Ward Councillor Jean Cloutier presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Samia Hirani at City Council today in recognition of her dedication to volunteering and fundraising.

Shortly after joining the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) as a volunteer guide, Samia Hirani expanded her volunteerism role to act as the local marketing lead for the AKFC’s World Partnership Walk starting in 2010. The Walk is Canada’s largest annual fundraising movement dedicated to fighting global poverty. Funds raised support development initiatives that allow women and men around the world to lift their communities out of poverty and build a brighter future.

Ms. Hirani also helped establish a Corporate Engagement Team for the Walk, volunteering over 100 hours to organize the team and help it achieve its fundraising targets. At the same time, Ms. Hirani was always available to assist and encourage other team leads in organizing their Walk efforts.

In this year’s Walk, Ms. Hirani raised funds by engaging her own workplace through their youth network and by creating the ‘Public Servants Shattering Poverty’ team, raising over $2,000. Samia Hirani also volunteered with the AKFC’s World Partnership Golf tournament and organized numerous fundraising efforts on behalf of the Walk throughout the year.


Agnes Warda and June Girvan receive Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson, Knoxville-Merivale Ward Councillor Keith Elgi and Rideau-Vanier Ward Councillor Mathieu Fleury presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Agnes Warda and June Girvan at City Council today. Ms. Warda was recognized for her dedication to her community and community association while Ms. Girvan was recognized for her service to children, youth and immigrant families.

Agnes Warda has been influential in transforming the Glens neighbourhood. She moved to the area in 1998, started working with the Glens Community Association in 2002 and has been president since 2004. Her commitment to the community has helped make the Glens a vibrant, green, family-friendly neighbourhood. Ms. Warda was also instrumental in establishing the Knoxdale-Merivale Council of Community Associations, which she chairs.

In her roles, Ms. Warda had contributed to City plans such as the Greenbelt Master plan and the City’s Official Plan and has provided leadership on issues ranging from transportation and infill development to community policing and environmental issues. She has also worked with both the Quality Care Alliance, Ottawa Chapter and the Canadian Polish Congress to advocate for better home care for seniors.

June Girvan was born to teach and as a teacher and an Education Officer, she was always committed to nurturing, protecting and affirming children and youth. When Ms. Girvan retired, she opened the J’Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre for children, youth and immigrant families, offering programming that fosters understanding, racial harmony and social justice.

Ms. Girvan has been recognized many times for her tireless efforts. She was awarded a Community Champion Special Award by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is a past recipient of the Martin Luther King DreamKeepers’ award for her distinguished community leadership and engagement. Ms. Girvan is also Acting President of Black History Ottawa, an organization that celebrates the history, culture, traditions and achievements of Canadians of African descent.

 


Graham Macmillan receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward Councillor Tobi Nussbaum presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Graham Macmillan at City Council today in recognition of his dedication to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa (BGCO) and the Ottawa Senators Foundation.

In 2017, Mr. Macmillan stepped down as board chair of the BGCO after a decade at the helm. The club grew dramatically under his leadership from an average of 10,000 visits and just over 2,600 members in 2009 to 114,000 visits and 4,500 members in 2016.

While at the organization’s helm, Mr. Macmillan oversaw numerous capital campaigns to improve services, modernize program space and make the clubhouses more accessible for all residents. The BGCO is a key resource for children and youth in Ottawa. It offers after school, weekend and summer programs for kids aged 6 to 18 and provides them with opportunities for new experiences, confidence-building and social interaction in a safe and caring space.

Mr. Macmillan also served as the Chair of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, aligning the organization with the BGCO. Mr. Macmillan continues to serve as a BGCO and Ottawa Senators Foundation board member today.


Mary Ann Varley receives the City Builder Award

Mary Ann Varley was recognized for her community leadership in visual arts and cultural development. The City Builder Award was presented to her by Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor and Beacon Hill-Cyrville Councillor Tim Tierney on behalf of Mayor Jim Watson at yesterday’s Council meeting.

Ms. Varley has volunteered with Arteast, a not-for-profit organization that helps its members develop their abilities and interests in the visual arts, in a variety of leadership positions. She has served as the President and Vice President of the organization, and now helps guide Arteast’s board and mentor other members.

Arteast fosters the growth of visual arts in Ottawa and the surrounding regions. In support of the organization’s community outreach, Ms. Varley has led the Grow With Art speaker series since 2009, and supported other outreach activities and art exhibitions. A life-long artist that generously and selflessly gives her time, Ms. Varley is also an active member of the Ottawa Art Association.


Karen Taylor receives the City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and West Carleton-March Councillor Eli El-Chantiry recognized Karen Taylor for her long-standing community leadership in Fitzroy Harbour, especially during the 2017 spring flood response, by presenting her with the City Builder Award at today’s Council meeting.

In her long-serving role as president of the Fitzroy Harbour Community Association, Ms. Taylor has been a master organizer of many successful local fundraising events and activities, such as Harbour Days summer festival, the Winter Carnival, the Spring Fling fundraiser, and the New Year’s Eve community event. Her leadership and community spirit were also key to securing the funding to improve the Fitzroy Harbour Community Centre.

Last May, Karen Taylor displayed the same passion and leadership for her community during the response of the 2017 spring floods. Her organizational skills were instrumental in organizing both volunteers and actions to help her community and neighbours in need.  Her community spirit has continuously brought together her fellow neighbours in both good times and bad.


Tony Mariani receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and Kanata South Ward Councillor Allan Hubley presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Tony Mariani at City Council today in recognition of his dedication to volunteerism, particularly for Ottawa’s Italian community.

Mr. Mariani has been involved with organizing Italian Week in Ottawa since 1975, putting together a week-long program of events that celebrates the history, heritage and impact that Ottawa’s Italian community has had on the City. Mr. Mariani has been instrumental in organizing an annual gala for St. Anthony’s Church for the past decade. St. Anthony’s is the unofficial home of Ottawa’s Italian community.

Mr. Mariani, the CEO of Mar Gard Builders Limited, is also a proud supporter of Make-A-Wish Foundation Eastern Ontario and has worked tirelessly to raise funds. He has been named an Honorary Lifetime Board Member for his continued dedication.


Dallas Greeley receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson and River Ward Councillor, Riley Brockington, presented Dallas Greeley with the Mayor’s City Builder Award at today’s City Council meeting.

Dallas Greeley first started volunteering with the Billings Estate National Historic Site tea room 12 years ago. Since then she has branched out to support City of Ottawa museums in other areas, including children's programs, site maintenance such as painting fences and gardening, Doors Open Ottawa, as well as mentoring, training and interviewing prospective volunteers. Dallas has proven her reliability and passion for public service. She is a valuable ambassador to both the public and other volunteers.

Contributing over two thousand hours, Dallas has been a leading example of community involvement on the front line of museums by delivering exceptional customer service and by contributing feedback, ideas, and suggestions for improving operations.

Dallas' record of volunteerism at the museum is unrivalled at over these twelve years. She has spent a great deal of time ensuring that visitors of all ages feel welcome and accommodated during their museum visits and many of them enquire about her on subsequent visits.

 


Jacob Baylin receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Jacob Baylin was presented with the Mayor’s City Builder Award at today’s City Council meeting by Mayor Jim Watson and Bay Ward Councillor, Mark Taylor.

Not many 16 year olds would think of donating their own money to a sports club. However, Jacob Baylin saw the financial challenges facing many families at the Bell Warriors Football Club and he chose to step up. Jacob was an award winning player at the Club and has continued to donate even after his playing days. He recently became the youngest person in the club’s 62-year history to be named a Friend of the Warriors sponsor.

A key mandate of the Bell Warriors Football Club is to keep the sport “Affordable for All”. The club also aims to instill the value of setting an example through one's actions. This idea has become a focal point in the Club's communication efforts and has ultimately led to more than a half dozen sponsors for the non-profit youth sports club.

True leaders strive to be part of the solution and that's what Jacob is all about. His selfless contribution has set an example of leadership and thoughtfulness. As one of the team’s most recent alumni, he has learned by example and become a catalyst for change.

 


Osman Naqvi receives Mayor’s City Builder Award

Osman Naqvi was presented with the Mayor’s City Builder Award at today’s City Council meeting by Mayor Jim Watson, Gloucester-South Nepean Ward Councillor, Michael Qaqish and Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor.

Osman Naqvi is a natural leader, social entrepreneur and youth empowerment advocate. He founded the Kiwanis Club of Barrhaven, and helped to create the YOUth Heroes initiative – a citywide campaign that empowers local youth to create positive social change in their communities. Osman has been an active leader with the Caring and Sharing Exchange, Carleton University’s Young Liberals Association, the Canadian Hearing Society and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.

He was nominated for the Best Volunteer in a Supporting Role award for his work in the programme named Assisting youth in the community. In March of 2016, Osman’s organization YOUth Heroes, had a proclamation passed by the City of Ottawa to recognize Superhero Week. The week consists of activities and events that provide at-risk youth with the mentorship and resources they need to achieve their dreams.

In addition to Superhero Week, YOUth Heroes hosted an afternoon school program for at risk youth in collaboration with YouthREX. The program was called Noise Superhero School and focused on the importance of philanthropy and education to inspire, guide and mentor youth to bring social change to their communities. One notable change that came from the Noise Superhero School program was the creation of the YOUth in the Hall event where youth spent the day at City Hall with the Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor and various City Councillors. Osman’s hard work, genuine care and the friendships he has created along the way have made these initiatives possible.

Osman is a graduate of the Master of Management program at the Schulich School of Business and he continues to use his talent and determination to give back. He is currently in the process of developing a social enterprise to bring hygiene products to areas in need.