Convoy protesters returning for the summer

It's deja-vu all over again...

Geoff Sharpe
20 Jun

Good morning!

I have some news - Robert is returning from his vacation today so today is my last day writing the Lookout for a while. 

It’s been a real pleasure writing for all of you. Thank you for all the kind words, even with my spelling errors (like when I wrote Pirate Island instead of Petrie Island). I love our Lookout community and can't wait to announce new things we're working on.

Today we’ve got an update on the LRT inquiry, details on summer protests and data on Ottawa’s health care challenges.

Enjoy!

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Weather Report

Monday: 24 🌡️ 13 | ☀️

Tuesday: 23 🌡️ 17 | 🌧

Wednesday: 28 🌡️ 16 | 🌧

Stories to watch this week

  1. The LRT inquiry continues this week with a number of key people testifying. This includes more individuals from Alstom, the City of Ottawa and the consortium that helped oversee the LRT construction. 
  2. The NCC will receive an update about the LeBreton Flats project on Thursday. One of those proposals could include a new arena. [CTV]

Convoy 2.0: Return of the convoy protesters

Ottawa city and police are preparing for more disruptive protests by convoy-related groups throughout the summer.

Not again… Yes it’s happening again. But this time, according to CTV, the police say they are prepared and planning accordingly for the disruptions, especially with all the upcoming Canada Day events.  

  • Who’s involved: Offshoot organizations that formed after the convoy, as well as other high-profile convoy individuals are involved. 

CBC reported that the first protest is expected on June 30th. It’s set to coincide with the arrival of protester James Topp, who is marching across Canada to protest vaccine mandates.

  • The first protest is organized by the group Veterans 4 Freedom, who organized the Rolling Thunder protests in April. They are planning multiple events over a three-day period.

How bad could it get: It’s unclear at the moment. But according to CBC, protesters say they are in discussions with police to ensure civilians aren’t impacted. The Ottawa Citizen reported that the police are boosting officer numbers from outside forces and are closing down roads. 

Okay but seriously, how bad could it get? Being concerned about the potential for disruption is understandable, given how the police and city managed similar groups in the past. We will keep you updated as we get closer to the planned protest date.

Ottawa by the numbers

$1,674: The average rental price for a one-bedroom in Ottawa, up 3.5 percent from May of last year. Ottawa ranks as the 15th most expensive rental city. [CTV]

 $1,481: The average price in Gatineau for a one-bedroom, which is up 9.8 percent since last year. Gatineau ranks as the 23rd most expensive rental city in Canada. 

Delays, delays, delays for LRT

Day 5 of the LRT inquiry: June 17

Who testified Friday: 

  • Antonio Estrada, CEO of Rideau Transit Group
  • Rupert Holloway, SVP for Construction at SNC-Lavalin, and member of the venture board at OLRT Constructors.

Background: The Ottawa Light Rail Transit Constructors (OLRT-C) is the consortium who oversaw the construction of Line 1. It’s made up of partner groups Dragados Canada, SNC-Lavalin and EllisDon. They hired the designers and subcontractors, Alstom and Thales, who made the vehicles and systems.

Here are some of the key takeaways from CBC’s excellent reporting on the inquiry:

  • Delays by the sinkhole created pressure for an unrealistic deadline pushed for by the city, after the consortium reported it would be delayed in handing over the LRT
  • Everyone was aware the new schedule was unlikely to be achieved
  • The relationship between the city and RTG grew worse as timelines weren’t met

For a more deeper analysis of Friday’s coverage, check out CBC

For a recap of previous days, check out our dedicated page covering daily updates on the LRT inquiry.

An Eataly in Ottawa?

Person sitting with wine in front of them
Tony Zacconi – Proprietor. Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Today we're featuring an excerpt from a story by our food editor Ralf. To get more stories like this about Ottawa's best restaurants, food stores and businesses, become an Insider member.

The idea of Mercato Zacconi grew, as so many recent pandemic ideas do, out of necessity.

The Zacconi family had been running their wedding and event space Sala San Marco on Preston Street for approximately 35 years when COVID came along. Wedding party sizes had been shrinking, but overnight, weddings were off the table entirely. 

What to do with 8,000 sq. ft. of event space and no one to entertain? Looking at those businesses that were still operating and succeeding, Tony Zacconi had the idea of opening an Italian grocery store. There was no such full-service shop anywhere along Preston and the plan came ever more into focus. 

Jobs around town

  1. Business Analyst at the University of Ottawa
  2. Digital Strategist at KPMG
  3. Director, Communications and Public Engagement at Oxfam Canada
  4. Director, Strategic Communications at the University of Ottawa
  5. Officer, Digital Services at Community & Social Services Deptartment at the City of Ottawa
  6. Director of Brand Strategy at Canada Learning to Code

Ottawa health care system facing increased pressures

Two new stories from CTV illustrate the challenges with Ottawa and Ontario’s healthcare system. 

1. OPH spent big on Covid

New data from Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) annual report, analyzed by CTV, shows the scale of the city’s Covid campaign over the last few years.

  • Key takeaway: 80 percent of OPH spending last year was on Covid-related activities. All of this funding for OPH comes from the province.

Here’s the breakdown of key costs and data:

  • $168.68 million spent by OPH, of which $135.5 million was spent on Covid-related activities. 
  • In 2020, $66.1 million was spent on Covid activities.
  • This helped fund the administration of over 2 million vaccine doses in the city.

2. Emergency room wait time problem

For the third straight month in a row, wait times in Ottawa’s emergency rooms grew. 

What the data says: Four out of five hospitals had a wait time of over two hours to see an emergency room doctor in April. According to CTV, this is longer than the provincial average of 1.9 hours.

  • The average wait time was between 1.8 hours and 3.4 hours. 

Here’s the data CTV compiled for each hospital:

  • Montfort Hospital: 1.8 hour wait
  • Ottawa Hospital Civic Campus: 2.5 hours
  • Queensway Carleton Hospital: 2.8 hours
  • Ottawa Hospital General Campus: 3.4 hours
  • CHEO: 3.4 hours

Why is it increasing? According to interviews by CTV, the Covid pandemic has increased burnout amongst doctors, nurses and staff. Places are short staffed as burnout has grown. 

  • Bill 124 also to blame: Health professionals interviewed by CTV also blamed Bill 124, which placed a one percent wage increase for three years on nurses. 

Last week: According to CBC, CHEO had its busiest month on record, with the hospital warning parents may want to find other options, like a family doctor or walk-in clinic, to avoid long wait times.

Stories you might've missed

Airport workers begin job action: Security screeners at airports across the country will ditch their uniforms to protest working conditions and pay. Many are working 16-17 hour days due to staff shortages, as workers find other jobs. Ottawa normally has 350, but only 210 are currently working. [CTV] 

Hate generates love: Residents in the Poplar Street area plan to hoist pride flags after one of their neighbour’s flags was torn down. [CBC]

Water park on hold: A planned water park at Petrie Island will arrive in 2023 and not 2022 as planned. Residents and nature lovers lodged complaints to Ottawa city council about the potential environmental damage to the island. [CBC]

Database removed: Security concerns prompted the removal of a searchable online database of Ottawa city employees. The city said there was no specific incident that caused the removal. There is no timeline for its return. [CBC]

Monkeypox vaccine delivery begins: High risk residents can begin getting vaccinated against monkeypox. This comes a week after the first monkeypox case was discovered in Ottawa. [CTV]

New school honours Algonquin nation: The Ottawa Carleton District School Board will name the new school in the Fernbank area the Shingwaakon Public School, in honour of the history and territory of the Algonquin nation. Over 100 names were suggested, with six being shortlisted. [CTV]

Bike share program needed: Critics of Ottawa’s transportation master plan say Ottawa should offer bike-sharing programs, like many other major cities. It would help people travel short distances, especially from transport stations, instead of having to walk kilometres where buses don’t travel. [CBC]

Highrise in Westboro: The Granite Curling Club at Scott Street and Athlone Avenue could be replaced by three towers with 840 rental apartments, six levels of underground parking, commercial spaces and a gym, if the city approves the development. The location is across from the future Westboro LRT station. Fear not, the curling club voted to move in March 2021. [OBJ]

Policy written for developers: That’s what advocacy groups ACORN Ottawa and Horizon Ottawa are alleging about the new rules around inclusionary zoning, which they say hurts renters and low-income residents. They are calling for a number of policies, including 25-35 percent affordable rental housing. [CityNews]

Photo of the day

Date night at Alegria
Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

Today we're featuring a photo from one of Ralf's recommendations for a great date night in the city. 

Chef Alex Gomez and his wife and business partner Elisa Torres deliver top-drawer Latin-American cuisine at Alegria at 77 Prom. du Portage in Hull in a colourful and energetic setting. Live music is on the menu on Saturday evenings and it’s worth checking their website for the occasional second music act added that week. Their patio is now open in the evenings.

One fun thing

We all know flying can be expensive. Now you have options for more affordable flights. Yesterday Swoop launched flights to Winnipeg and Halifax. We checked, and there are flights for as low as $196 in August.

Community highlights

  • Apt613 has a huge review of Fringe Festival performances. Make sure to check them out! 
  • The Solstice Block Party at ByWard Market is this Tuesday from 10am-6pm.
  • Ottawa City has a helpful map of where dogs are allowed in parks across the city.
  • Canadian Premier League Atlético Ottawa is undefeated in five straight games and are close to taking the top spot in the league. [CBC]
  • CTV has a helpful list of the biggest events to check out in Ottawa this summer. [CTV]
  • Narcity has a review of the new Imagine Monet exhibit at the EY Centre. 
  • Ottawa Citizen has a review of Spanish restaurant Cadena which offers a $300 seafood paella.

Daily COVID stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health

  • Active Cases: 451
  • Deaths: 817
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 7
  • Ottawans In ICU: 1
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 97% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 71% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 19% 

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