One thousand COVID deaths
The 1,000th person in the city has died from COVID.
There is nothing quite as dangerous as having empty bookshelves to fill, at least around here. Despite having a few boxes of books that still need to be unpacked sitting in the basement, there’s always the temptation to fill the shelves.
You can imagine it did not help that I recently discovered I’d only been browsing about half the stock at my favourite local book store, Black Squirrel, and that there was an entire basement of shelves I hadn’t realized were there. Long story short, there is one fewer empty shelf in the bookshelf.
There are worse problems to have, especially on a cold winter’s day.
Now, how about we get to that newsletter.
— Robert Hiltz, managing editor
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Monday: -7 🌡️ -14 | ☀️
Tuesday: -4 🌡️ -6 | ☁️
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Privatizing healthcare: Today the provincial government is expected to unveil its plans for moving some surgeries done in hospitals to for-profit clinics, where OHIP will continue to cover the bills, CBC reported. The Ontario College of Physicians warned this will further drain resources and staff from a struggling public system.
SJAM renaming: This week the NCC will unveil the proposed new name for the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway at a meeting of the commission's board of directors on Thursday.
City council: The winter break is over for parts of council as two committees return to business. The planning committee will meet Wednesday and discuss zoning amendments, including whether to permit the building of lowrises in Orléans, reducing the width of a road planned for a development in the east end, and whether to allow a four-unit building be converted into a nine-unit building. The heritage committee will meet Tuesday to look at proposed changes to several homes in the city.
One thousand Ottawans have died of COVID
What happened: The city recorded its 1,000th COVID death last week. The virus is now the leading cause of death for Ottawa residents over the age of 65, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, said the milestone should be a call to action. Initial vaccination numbers in the city are high, but the rate falls off for boosters.
"This is distressing and needs to be acknowledged. People have these gaps and holes in their lives that they remember every day,” Etches told the paper.
The first COVID death in the city was a 90 year old man, who died March 25, 2020. That year would be the deadliest for the disease in the city, but only just. In 2020, 381 people died, last year 380 people died of COVID. Only 229 people in Ottawa died of COVID in 2021, according to the Citizen.
Inequality: Etches said the virus has not fallen equally on the community. Older people, those with lower income, and racialized people all had higher rates of death from COVID.
Memorial: Citizen columnist Bruce Deachman argued there should be an official memorial to the victims of the virus. He highlighted the work of Wilhelmina Ross, who crocheted a white star for every death of the pandemic, but also looked to memorials elsewhere in the world, including a wall in London, UK that stretches for 500 metres, with hand-painted hearts for each death. After so much loss, a proper memorial was in order.
“Now three years along, we are exhausted and going about our business, trying our best to put COVID-19 behind us. It has, after all, cost us terribly. But we would be doing ourselves a disservice by not remembering those whose lives were the greatest part of that cost,” Deachman wrote.
SPONSORED BY PARTICIPACTION
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Inactivity is a silent health crisis. And it’s costing our healthcare system billions annually – $3.9 billion to be precise.
Research shows that being active can help people manage stress, increase their self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression and increase social connectivity.
ParticipACTION is leading the charge to help Canadians stay active. But addressing this crisis requires resources.
For years the government has supported the work of ParticipACTION. And that work has paid off.
Because of ParticipACTION programs, 81% agree that physical activity is an urgent issue. And 600,000 people in 1,700 communities participated in their Community Challenge.
ParticipACTION is ready to get Canadians moving. But they need resources to make it happen. See why they’re calling for sustained investment from Ottawa that will save billions and lift a huge burden off our healthcare system.
OTTAWA BY THE NUMBERS
📚 1,831: The number of holds at the Ottawa Public Library for Spare, the Prince Harry autobiography. The waitlist could last as long as a year. [CTV]
🥅 7: The number of goals the Colorado Avalanche scored against the Sens in a 7-0 thumping. [CTV]
What if transit never recovers?
What happened: The budget issues facing OC Transpo are not unique. Across the country, and the continent, transit systems are struggling with ridership numbers that have not recovered nearly three years from the beginning of the pandemic. So what can be done to keep transit on track?
The numbers: In November, there were 5.6 million trips on public transit in the city, 3.7 million fewer than there were in 2019, when there were 9.3 million trips. That’s about 60 percent of the ridership. OC Transpo estimated it would have an $85-million deficit last year.
Budget problems: In the US, fares account for an average of about a third of transit operating budgets, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Ottawa, fares are budgeted to cover 55 percent of OC Transpo’s budget, but because of low ridership fares are covering about 44 percent of the budget.
In last year’s city budget, the transit agency estimated ridership would be nearly back to 2019 levels with 9.1 million rides. This was absurd at the time, and ridership never came close. But it leaves a huge hole in the budget the city hopes the province or the federal government will bail them out.
During the recent municipal election campaign, new Mayor Mark Sutcliffe argued a study of possible other funding ratios for OC Transpo, and look at how other cities pay for their systems, was a waste of money.
The trust factor: Ottawa’s system has the additional burden of the trains frequently breaking, the stations on the new system already decaying, buses frequently showing up late or not at all, and an inquiry showing the process to get the LRT built was riddled with problems.
Who it harms: Cuts to service fall hardest on people who don’t have the option to use another transportation method. Many people need to take transit to where they’re going, no matter how much service deteriorates.
Elsewhere: Montreal ridership numbers are better than Ottawa. There, ridership is back to about 70 percent of what it was in 2019, the Montreal Gazette reported. That city’s system, the STM, is looking at a $78-million deficit, and has cut service. In Toronto fares will increase and service will be cut to make up for a gigantic $366-million deficit, according to The Canadian Press.
Possible solutions: Some transit agencies, like in Calgary, argue higher levels of government should provide funding to make budgeting for transit more stable, CP reported. Relying on fares is difficult, because when times are tough and fares go up while service goes down, it creates a spiral of worsening service.
Cities could use the same logic to pay more for transit from tax revenues, rather than relying so heavily on fares.
NEW LOCAL JOBS
Check out these new open positions in Ottawa.
Manager of legal operations at Canada Post
Planning and policy analyst at National Research Council
Associate consultant at IBM
Diversity and inclusion programs and projects specialist at the City of Ottawa
Project director at LRO Staffing
🌲 Two people lost in the woods outside of Kanata were found safe by firefighters who used their cell phone signal to locate them.
🪤 Residents of Riverside Park South are questioning the city’s coyote management plans, and no longer feel safe in the forest, because of unauthorized traps. [Ottawa Citizen]
🧊 A woman who fell into the Rideau River to save her dog who had also fallen through the ice wants to find the stranger, Ruby, who helped save her life. [Ottawa Citizen]
🚨 Ottawa police are looking for any witnesses of a Friday afternoon shooting on the 417 between the Greenbank and Parkdale exits. One person was wounded, and police are looking for a GMC Yukon. [CTV]
🚒 The Ottawa Fire Service hazmat team had to clean up a large diesel spill on Hunt Club and Hawthorne roads, when an OC Transpo bus hit by a car had one of its fuel tanks rupture. [CTV]
The fourth-most expensive home ever sold in the city was listed for $7 million, and features plenty of opulence. [CTV]
The great service is just the start of what you should check out at Kimono Ramen.
Last night, snow clearing teams started removing snowbanks around the city. Keep an eye out for temporary no parking signs in your area. [CTV]
Artist Robbie Lariviere has been painting murals on buildings all over town, and CBC has mapped out where you can see his work. [CBC]
Several Ottawa stores put on sale the Nike Montreal Bagel shoe this weekend. [CTV]
Chelsea’s Théo Mallett became the first athlete to represent Haiti at the FISU World University Winter Games. [CBC]
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Celtic Celebration, Wednesday 8 pm: Featuring musicians Anna Ludlow and John Mitchell, it’ll be a night of Celtic music at Red Bird, 1165 Bank St., doors open at 6:30 pm. Tickets $23.
How to Plan for a Home Reno, Wednesday 7 pm: A workshop to take you through all the major things you need to know if you’re looking to renovate your home, hosted by an architect who recently completed a renovation of his own. At the Ottawa Tool Library, 877 Boyd Ave. Tickets $23.
Jeopardy! Style Trivia Night, Thursday 6 pm: Trivia night to support the ONL U16 AAA boys basketball team at Kichesippi Beer, 2265 Robertson Rd. Tickets $20.
Live Stand-Up Comedy, Thursday 7:30 pm: Live comedy at Beyond the Pale Brewing, 250 City Centre Ave. Featuring Dave Joseph, Chad Noonan, Trevor Thompson, and Glen Foster. Hosted by Logan Brown. Tickets $20.
Laura Kelly/Ottawa Lookout Reader
Today’s photo is of a very good dog sent to us by reader Nadie Boivin, and taken by Laura Kelly at Conroy Pit. “Gustave was a very happy dog and ready for a snowball fight,” Nadine said.
Send us your photos! We love running pictures from readers to share with our community!
Congrats to everyone who got last week’s Ottawa Wordle! The answer was WATCH, as in weather watch because of the storm.
We hit a sad milestone last week with the 1,000th COVID death. For this week’s quiz question, when did the city pass 500 COVID deaths? The first five people to write in with the correct answer will get their names mentioned in the next issue.
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