Despite the pandemic, progress continues in Ottawa

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted nearly every single facet of our lives in Ottawa and around the world. Virtually no domain has been left untouched in the face of this public health crisis, with one exception: work continues to move forward on major projects that will transform this city for generations. I wanted to provide a brief update on a few of our largest infrastructure projects:

New Civic Campus – The Ottawa Hospital has completed the next stage of planning for the campus and plans to open in 2028 as one of the largest and most advanced hospitals in Canada. Construction of the project will help drive the regional economy, creating an estimated 20,000 jobs, as well as research and training opportunities. Once open, it will offer world-class health care in Eastern Ontario that will attract health care providers, researchers and students from around the world.

Stage 2 LRT – With Stage 1 of our Light Rail Transit system open and operating smoothly, we are keeping up the momentum to better connect the suburbs of Ottawa to the downtown core. Residents will see construction on all three O-Train extensions: South to Limebank and near the airport, East all along Highway 174, and West towards Moodie Drive and Algonquin College. I am encouraged by the pace of the ongoing work and look forward to seeing these next stages of our LRT roll-out over the next few years.

OPL/LAC Central Library – The new net zero carbon joint facility with Library & Archives Canada will be an accessible and welcoming space for all to connect, learn, discover and create. The plans include an area dedicated to the study of Indigenous culture, as well as an open "town square" on the ground floor, and a rooftop café that will have stunning views of our historic Parliament Hill and the beautiful Ottawa River. This exciting new space is expected to open in 2024.

With that, I would like to once again thank the people of Ottawa for their patience over the last fourteen months. Vaccines are rolling out in large quantities; the weather is getting nicer; we are making great progress on our key city-building projects and the end of this difficult journey is in sight. We will get through this together.

Photo: Digital rendering of the Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic Campus. (credit – TOH)

Get Vaccinated! #CommunityImmunity

Earlier today, I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Nepean Sportsplex. Like so many others who have shared their tremendous experiences with our great healthcare workers in Ottawa, my appointment went smoothly and I wanted to take a moment to thank every single volunteer, employee and partner that is working around the clock to ensure that Ottawans get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Remember, the best vaccine is the first one available to you.

 

 

ICYMI: The latest COVID-19 updates from Ottawa Public Health:

 


Committee hears about Civic Campus plans from The Ottawa Hospital

The City’s Finance and Economic Development Committee today received a presentation from the Ottawa Hospital outlining development plans for its new Civic Campus.

The Ottawa Hospital has completed the next stage of planning for the campus and plans to open in 2028 as one of the largest and most advanced hospitals in Canada. The facility will serve Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and Nunavut.

The Ottawa Hospital has submitted stage two of the Capital Planning Process to the Ontario Ministry of Health for development of the new campus. As part of the follow-up to that submission, The Ottawa Hospital presented to the Committee today, sharing the proposed design. The Ottawa Hospital will also organize consultations in the coming months to give the public opportunities to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposal.

The new campus will house the most advanced trauma centre in Ottawa. The main hospital building, including the emergency department and the inpatient and outpatient clinics, will sit atop the escarpment across from Dow’s Lake. Additional clinic space, medical offices, research and education buildings and a parking garage will be located on the lower portion of the site, connected to nearby Dow’s Lake Station.

The project is estimated to cost $2.8 billion. Construction of the project will help drive the regional economy, creating an estimated 20,000 jobs along with research and training opportunities and health investments. Once open, it will offer world class health care in Eastern Ontario that will attract health care providers, researchers and students from around the world.

The Committee also approved 2021 levies for the Rideau Valley, South Nation and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authorities as presented.

Recommendations from today’s meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, May 12.

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.


New community clinic location can accommodate residents from “hot spots”

Ottawa – New information

  • New clinic available at Infinity Centre
  • Additional groups eligible to book appointments beginning Thursday

 

A new clinic located at the Infinity Centre is now available in the provincial booking system

The City has added a new clinic at the Infinity Convention Centre, located at 2901 Gibford Drive. This location is adjacent to some of the neighbourhoods hardest hit by COVID-19, including the two provincially-designated “hot spots” (K1Tand K1V). Residents 18 and older in these locations can book an appointment at the Infinity Centre or any other community clinic through Ontario.ca/bookvaccine.

The City still runs pop-up clinics for residents 18+ in high-priority neighbourhoods who are not yet eligible to book at community clinics.

 

Eligible groups on Thursday, May 6

The Province recently announced that additional groups will be eligible to book an appointment through the provincial online booking system and call centre beginning Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 8 am including:

  • Individuals turning 50 and over in 2021
  • Individuals with high-risk and highest-risk health conditions:
    • Obesity (BMI > 40)
    • Other treatments causing immunosuppression (e.g. chemotherapy, immunity weakening medications)
    • Intellectual or developmental disabilities (e.g. Down Syndrome)
    • Pregnant individuals
    • Organ transplant recipients
    • Other health conditions listed as highest risk by the Province of Ontario.
  • First group of essential workers who cannot work from home including:
    • Education staff who provide direct supports to students with complex special needs
    • Elementary/secondary school workers
    • Workers responding to critical events (e.g. police, fire, special constables)
    • Enforcement, inspection and compliance (e.g. by-law, building inspectors, food inspectors, animal welfare inspectors, border inspection officers)
    • Individuals working in licensed child care settings
    • Food manufacturing and distribution workers
    • Agriculture and farm workers
    • Funeral, crematorium and cemetery workers
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals can also call:

 

See the Ministry of Health COVID-19: guidance for prioritization of phase 2 populations for COVID-19 Vaccination for more details.

Other residents may already be eligible based on age or risk factor as determined by the Province of Ontario. Check OttawaPublicHealth.ca for eligibility and to learn how to get a vaccine.

Additional groups will become eligible as the City receives provincial direction and additional vaccine. Information will be communicated as soon as it is received.

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.


Ontario Strengthens Enforcement of Stay-at-Home Order

*NEWS RELEASE - PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO*

FOR THE CITY'S PRESS CONFERENCE:

COVID-19: Update / Media Availability — 2021/04/16 - YouTube

 

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is strengthening enforcement of the province's Stay-at-Home order while imposing new travel restrictions and further strengthening public health measures. These urgent actions are targeted at stopping the rapid growth in COVID-19 case rates and relieving mounting pressures on the province's health care system.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

"As the latest modelling confirms, without taking immediate and decisive action COVID-19 cases will spiral out of control and our hospitals will be overwhelmed," said Premier Ford. "That's why we are making difficult, but necessary decisions to reduce mobility and keep people in the safety of their own homes. We need to contain the spread of this deadly virus, while getting vaccines in as many arms as quickly as possible."

To increase public compliance with the Stay-at-Home order and stop the spread of COVID-19, amendments to an emergency order (O.Reg 8/21 Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) have been made that will provide police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to support the enforcement of Ontario's Stay-at-Home order.

Effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., police officers and other provincial offences officers will have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence. In addition, police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables will have the authority to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual's reasons for leaving their home. This additional enforcement tool will only be in effect during the Stay-at-Home order and exclusively to enforce the Stay-at-Home order.

"With our hospital system under significant pressure and the continued increase of COVID-19 variants, we are stepping up enforcement to ensure that people adhere to the Stay-at-Home order and follow public health measures," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "This is a critical moment in Ontario's response to this deadly virus, that's why we are doing whatever it takes to stop the spread and protect our communities."

Both the provincial declaration of emergency and the Stay-at-Home order (O.Reg 265/21) have been extended for an additional two weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

"Now, more than ever before, businesses need to take all measures possible to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Minister McNaughton. "We're in workplaces every day to enforce safety requirements and we won't hesitate to stop unsafe work and ticket offenders. Today, we launched an enhanced, targeted provincewide inspection campaign of construction sites, dispatching 200 workplace inspectors, supported by provincial offenses officers, to visit 1,300 constructions sites to enforce COVID-19 safety requirements. In addition, provincial offences officers will also be visiting over 500 workplaces this weekend in the COVID-19 hotspots of Ottawa, Toronto and York Region. Their visits will include big-box stores, food processors, manufacturers and warehouses."

In order to limit the transmission of the variants of concern, the government is also restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.

"The rising spread of variants means we must take stronger measures to limit transmission and prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "As we continue to work to vaccinate those in the areas with the highest rates of transmission, everyone must adhere to public health measures and stay at home as much as possible to protect capacity in our health system and the health of thousands of Ontarians."

The government also intends to implement the following public health and workplace safety measures effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:

·       Prohibit all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household;

·       Close all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector;

·       Reduce capacity limits to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and,

·       Close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions.

In addition, effective Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Prohibiting social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.

All other public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake (i.e., curbside pick-up and delivery only), will continue to apply.

To further support "hot spot" communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods, as part of Phase Two of the government's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, the government is committed to dedicating 25 per cent of future vaccine allocations to the 13 public health regions with historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization and COVID-19 transmission.

"As we see the trends in key health indicators deteriorate to levels far exceeding anything we have seen before, it is necessary to follow public health and workplace safety measures given this continued and rapid case growth," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "By staying at home and limiting travel for essential purposes only, such as getting groceries or going to a medical appointment or to get vaccinated, we can reduce mobility and help interrupt transmission of this virus."


Quick Facts

·       Emergency orders currently in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended until May 5, 2021, as the province continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. In addition, orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, with the exception of O.Reg. 241/20 (Special Rules Re Temporary Pandemic Pay), have been extended until May 20, 2021.

·       Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government issued a provincewide Stay-At-Home order that requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

·       Based on the latest modelling data, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are continuing to increase rapidly and are now at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 29.2 per cent between the period of April 7 and 13, 2021. In addition, between April 8 and 14, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of patients in intensive care due to COVID related critical illness increase from 552 to 659, and admissions are projected to rise to over 1,000 patients by the end of the month. Over the past week, the positivity rate in the province is at 7.2 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent.

·       Today the government also confirmed that, as announced in the Budget, second payments of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant would start to be made early next week.

·       Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.


The Office of Mayor Jim Watson is currently accepting applications for a summer student position

The ideal candidate for Special Assistant: 

  • Is highly organized, motivated, punctual, and able to work well under pressure;
  • Has strong interpersonal skills including tact, diplomacy and the ability to interact well with people;
  • Must have an interest in municipal affairs and the ability to engage with residents on their issues and concerns;
  • Is available to work occasional evenings and weekends;
  • Will drive and staff the Mayor at community events throughout the city;
  • Must possess a full and valid driver’s license (i.e., Ontario Class “G” unrestricted);
  • Undertakes other duties as assigned, including but not limited to providing general clerical support, and preparing correspondence and outreach regarding resident inquiries; and

Bilingualism is an asset, as is the knowledge of additional languages. 

Flexible May start to end of August 2021. Please send your résumé in complete confidence no later than Friday, April 16, 2021 to: 

James Armbruster
Office of Mayor Jim Watson / Bureau du maire Jim Watson
City of Ottawa / Ville d’Ottawa
110 Laurier Ave. West / 110 ave. Laurier Ouest
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1
Please apply via e-mail only to E-mail : 
James.Armbruster@Ottawa.ca 

We thank all candidates for their interest, however, only those selected to continue in the selection process will be contacted. 


Mayor Watson unveils package of measures to help small businesses and special events rebound after the pandemic

OTTAWA – Mayor Jim Watson announced today a series of measures that will help small businesses and many economic development partners rebound as the pandemic comes to an end. The measures are contained in two staff reports that will be presented to City Council in April.

As part of the Tax Policy Report, and in response to Mayor Watson’s inquiry asking staff to look into the creation of a Small Business tax subclass, staff will explore offering a permanent 10% tax discount to approximately 4,700 commercial properties that house roughly 7,800 small businesses across the city – with no impact on residential taxpayers. This is out of approximately 12,000 commercial and industrial properties in Ottawa.

For the average small business property, assessed at $600,000 and paying $15,000 in municipal and education taxes, that means a discount of $1,000, and a possible additional discount of $500, should the Province decide to match the discount on the education taxes.

Although City staff are still waiting for the enabling provincial regulations, they have started to define what types of properties and businesses might qualify for the Small Business tax subclass, and how offering relief to small business owners would marginally impact the rest of the commercial class properties.

Property owners would be mandated to pass on the discount to their small business tenants. If they fail to do so and the City receives a complaint, the discount will be revoked.

The list of proposed eligible properties is comprehensive and includes the vast majority of small offices, small commercial with residential, small retail, various mixed-use properties, restaurants, fast food, small auto-repair/detailing shops, driving ranges, marinas and independent cinemas, taverns, motels and inns, daycares, recreational sports clubs, bowling alleys, small racetracks, and assembly halls and clubs. The

proposal also includes commercial and industrial condominiums, as well as neighbourhood shopping centres under 15,000 square feet, as these are mostly occupied by small businesses.

Coupled with the elimination of the commercial/industrial excess land discount, which currently provides a discount of 30% to 430 large properties, the Small Business tax subclass discount of 10% will be offset by an increase of 0.68% for the other 7,300 larger commercial and industrial properties in Ottawa.

For the average residual commercial property, assessed at $4 million and paying $102,000 in municipal and education taxes, that would lead to an increase of $700 in taxes, in order to offset the small business discount.

The Tax Policy Report will be presented to City Council later in April.

‘’I want to thank staff for their great work on this proposal, and I’m very pleased that it will lead to permanent and predictable financial relief for 7,800 small businesses in our city, which will no doubt help them reinvest in their business and rebound after the pandemic,’’ said Mayor Jim Watson.

The City has already deployed many programs and measures to help small businesses over the last year. More recently, Council renewed the Patio Innovation Program for the upcoming season – which was launched on March 18 instead of April 1, in response to the announcement that the City of Ottawa was returning to the red zone.

As part of the Patio Innovation Program, we saw approximately 350 patios and cafés spring up across the city last year – 260 more than in 2019. We also saw seven road closures that provided 500 additional paying seats for restaurants and happy customers.

For restaurants who paid patio fees in 2019, waiving patio fees once again this year will save the average patio owner $4,500, with savings ranging from $1,000 for the smallest patio to $19,000 for the largest patio.

As part of the Economic Recovery and Rebound Program report, which is informed by discussions held at the Economic Rebound Roundtable that Mayor Watson hosted on February 9, the Mayor announced a series of other measures that will help the rebound of our local economy and the recovery of our economic development partners.

These measures include:

· Reducing rental fees at City facilities: From September 2021 until the end of 2022, a 50% reduction on rental fees will be offered at showcase City facilities, including Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building, the Meridian Theatres @ Centrepointe and the Shenkman Arts Centre, for all public events that offer artistic and cultural programming. This will benefit not only our festivals and special event organizers, but also local musicians and the tourism sector as a whole.

· Welcoming our employees back to City workplaces: To support the economic health of Ottawa’s downtown core, where retail stores and restaurants have been disproportionately impacted, the City’s senior leadership team, in consultation with OPH, is actively working on a plan that will be ready early in Q3, charting a staged return to City workplaces. Although less than a third of City staff are currently working from home, we want to play a leadership role in bringing staff back to workplaces in downtown Ottawa, based on vaccination milestones and advice from OPH on the appropriate timing and precautions. We will continue to advocate for a similar approach for the federal government to bring back its workforce, which plays a key role in bringing significant vibrancy to our downtown core and supporting transit ridership.

· Creating opportunities for postsecondary students: Working with our colleges and universities, the City is committed to playing a greater role in experiential learning by increasing the number of co-op placements and meaningful seasonal hiring opportunities. In 2019, the City hired 60 co-op students and 1,047 summer students. These numbers reduced significantly due to COVID-19, but at the request of Mayor Watson, staff are proposing to increase the hiring of co-op students to 70 in 2022, and to surpass 100 co-op placements by 2024.

· Advocating with and on behalf of YOW: In collaboration with the leadership team at the Ottawa International Airport, Mayor Watson has been advocating with the federal government to secure the funding required to complete the Stage 2 LRT Airport Station, which is critical to the opening of the O-Train South Extension. Parallel efforts are also underway for regular international air service to resume in Ottawa. Early in the pandemic, the Government of Canada identified four hub-city airports to concentrate the flow of international traffic into Canada. The longer this model remains in place and resources from airlines and supporting services continue to be redeployed to the four hub cities, the more difficult it will be for the Ottawa International Airport to return to normal operations and volumes once the pandemic is over.

Other measures supporting the rebound of many sectors of our economy are contained in the report. These include support and continued advocacy with provincial and federal partners to advance large city-building projects in the planning stages, such as The Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic Campus, the development of LeBreton Flats, as well as priority infrastructure projects proposed by the City’s postsecondary partners.

‘’I believe we are putting forward a very strong package of incentives that will truly help small businesses and special events organizers during these difficult times. Not only will these measures provide them with the hope they need to make it to the finish line; this support will help them thrive once the pandemic is behind us.’’

The Economic Recovery and Rebound Program report will be presented to FEDCo at its meeting on Tuesday, April 6.


Interfaith service to mark COVID-19 anniversary

On the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson hosted an interfaith service to honour all City of Ottawa residents who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Mayor Watson was joined by Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Chief Wendy Jocko, Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, Mr. Francois Couillard, Bahá’í Community of Ottawa, Reverend Dr. Anthony Bailey, Parkdale United Church, Rabbi Idan Scher, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, and Imam Samy Metwally, Islamic Society of Gloucester for the solemn sunset ceremony at Marion Dewar Plaza at City Hall.

The first death in Ottawa from the COVID-19 virus occurred on March 25, 2020. To commemorate this day, the flags at Ottawa City Hall are lowered to half-mast from sunrise on Thursday, March 25 until sunset on Sunday, March 28.

Quotes

"We will remember all those who have lost their lives and we are thinking of the family and friends of loved ones who are grieving."

Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa

 


Supporting Chief Sloly’s mandate to reform the Ottawa Police Service

Having served on the Ottawa Police Services Board over the last year, I had the privilege of backing significant progress towards reform and countless new operational ways of supporting people in crisis including new sensitivity to people with mental health issues and a formal recognition of the impact race plays in these interactions.

I have witnessed a new openness and willingness to tackle these issues within the Ottawa Police Service and a directness and level of honesty to discuss these issues across police ranks.

Since he was sworn in a year and a half ago, Chief Sloly and his team at the Ottawa Police have been playing a key role in rebuilding relationships and trust within our racialized communities – and that starts with the makeup of our police service itself. I’m proud that this commitment to diversity is reflected in the Service’s recent graduating class of 96 recruits – which included 32 women, 31 racialized men and three Indigenous new officers.

Additionally, Chief Sloly has reinstated the Neighbourhood Policing Program, which helps our officers forge lasting and meaningful relationships with residents and community partners in at-risk neighbourhoods.

In 2019, three Neighbourhood Resource Teams were deployed in Vanier/Overbrook; Heron Gate/South Ottawa; and Carlington/Caldwell. Due to their success, the program was expanded to three more neighbourhoods last year: the ByWard Market/Lowertown in May – and Centretown and Bayshore in the fall.  Under this model, the officers are dedicated exclusively to their assigned neighbourhoods for a minimum of two years, where they work with local residents, schools, not-for-profit organizations, business associations and City staff to better understand and address crime and its underlying socio-economic issues.

Adequate mental health response, as well as anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism training, are at the core of these programs. At the Ottawa Police Services Board in January, Chief Sloly tabled a plan to engage with the community on how OPS can better support the safety and well-being of residents with mental health challenges, including how officers respond to people in mental health crisis.

I support the work of Chief Peter Sloly as he works to reform and bring about change within the Ottawa Police Service. If we remain committed and steadfast in our resolve, we can create an inclusive and responsive police service that can better serve all residents.


International Women's Day Virtual Celebration

His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, and Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, Council Liaison for Women and Gender Equity, invite you to a virtual celebration of International Women’s Day featuring an armchair discussion with Mayor Watson and Dr. Vera Etches, MD, CCFP, MHSc, FRCPC, Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health.

Monday, March 8, 2021 

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.  

Broadcast on Rogers tv Ottawa, Mayor Watson’s Facebook pageCity of Ottawa Facebook page, and the City of Ottawa YouTube Channel