Tough COVID choices for some Ottawa families

Troubling signs the coronavirus may be on the rise in the city, plus the biggest migration to Gatineau from Ottawa in 30 years thanks to the pandemic

Robert Hiltz
23 Mar

Good morning!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the roads in this town are not great. Especially now the spring thaw has begun and the potholes are blooming. But are they Ontario’s worst? Last year, three Ottawa roads made Ontario’s worst, the most of any city in the province!

With your help, we can (sadly) do it again. The CAA has opened voting for its annual worst roads survey. Vote early, vote often. (Kidding, you can only vote once.)

Speaking of surveys, thanks to the more than 1,400 of you who shared feedback for our food and events newsletter. We’ve got the results in this issue, and later this week we’ll announce the new newsletter.

Ah, right, the newsletter. Let’s go do that.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Wednesday: +3 🌡️ +1 | ⛅️

Thursday: +6 🌡️ +4 | 🌧

Friday: +8 🌡️ 0 | 🌧

Tough COVID Choices For Some Ottawa Families

Wastewater signal rising: About two weeks ago, the city’s wastewater viral signal hit its lowest point since the emergence of the Omicron COVID variant. Ever since, even before the mask mandate ended Monday, it has risen, indicating COVID hospitalizations and cases could be set to rise, CTV reports.

Tough choices: The disappearance of mandatory masking makes for some difficult choices for families with an immunocompromised family member. One family with unvaccinated children under five, and a parent with only one lung, made the call to put their kids in online school for the foreseeable future, according to CBC.

Another family with older vaccinated children, one of whom is a stem-cell transplant and cancer survivor, decided to keep their kids in school while the COVID numbers are low, fearing the isolation might be too much. 

It’s a difficult balance for families to make, as they’re forced to weigh the risks.

  • Read more: Should It Stay Or Go? Feds Weighs The Vaccine Mandate For The Public Service

Exodus across the Ottawa: The pandemic caused the highest number of people moving from Ottawa across to Gatineau in three decades of a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. study. The Ottawa Citizen reports about 16,500 people left the province, and it seems that the huge pandemic price spikes in Ottawa housing pushed so many to move across the bridge.

  • The Gatineau vacancy rate fell to 1.1 percent, and simultaneously pushed rents up 6.4 percent—the most ever recorded in the CMHC survey. Ottawa’s vacancy rate is now above three percent.

Different rules for travellers: The mask mandate hasn’t ended for everyone. If you’ve returned from travel abroad, you need to wear a mask for two weeks after your return no matter what your vaccination status, CTV reports. This is also the rule for children, who if they’ve gone abroad must wear a mask in school for the same amount of time.

  • Read more: Canadian Tire Centre no longer requiring masks as of Saturday [CityNews]

Ottawa By The Numbers

  • 72%: Out of the whole pandemic, the percentage of children who have been hospitalized with COVID at CHEO since December. [CBC]
  • 80%: The percentage of Canadians who say they plan to start buying cheaper items at the grocery store because of inflation. The same percentage said inflation was having a serious effect on their households. [The Canadian Press]
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By harnessing the power of 5G connectivity, communities will have access to digital innovations that can change our lives for the better. Learn how the right 5G policies can make it happen.

What Do Ottawa Readers Want? More Food And Events In Ottawa

The numbers: 1,400 of you shared your ideas for our Ottawa food and events newsletter.

The Results

What do you want for restaurant coverage?

  1. Restaurants reviews and suggested dishes to try
  2. Learning about hidden food gems throughout the city
  3. Niche stores to find interesting foods and local products

What you said about events: Share fun events throughout the city, including music concerts, food and wine, learning something new and art shows. Include a lot of options, but keep it short. Others mentioned theatre productions (great idea!).

  • Overwhelming: People wanted discounts and deals from restaurants. Keep your eyes peeled for news on that.

No one likes paywalls: But many of you said you’d support a paid food and events newsletter if it meant keeping our public-interest journalism and daily newsletter accessible for all.

What’s next: Stay tuned for our big announcement Friday. 

Witness In Cycling Death Goes Public

Screenshot/Apple Maps

City driver turned in: The grader that killed a woman on her bike in Overbrook last week was driving behind her, before the driver overtook and ultimately turned and killed the cyclist, a witness told CBC Ottawa

  • What they saw: Sheila Perry told the broadcaster she saw the woman on her bike stopped at the cross street, with a City of Ottawa grader behind her. The grader then pulled forward and turned right.

Later footage showed the bicycle underneath the grader. The woman was declared dead when she reached the hospital.

Changes wanted at intersection: The four-way stop at North River Road and Donald Street is one locals and activists want changed. The intersection is where the Adàwe Crossing goes over the Rideau. The roads are also often used by motorists skipping traffic on the Vanier Parkway, which runs parallel to North River. For her part, Perry wants the city to review its scheduling, wondering why the grader was out at a busy time of day on a side street.

The city says it is waiting for the outcome of the investigation, and for a formal study of the intersection before making any street changes.

Dave Robertson, who said this weekend was his fourth ghost-bike ceremony in six years, doesn’t think that’s acceptable. 

  • “There is so much we can do to make our streets safer for residents. Start today,” he said in an impassioned Twitter thread. “When residents say an area is dangerous, listen, and figure out what can be done immediately and then plan for long-term changes.”
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Basia Vanderveen can help. With the right listing price, a quick and easy sale is possible. As one of the top 10% of real estate agents at Royal LePage in Ottawa (2021), she knows the Ottawa market. 

Contact Basia today to see how much you could get for your home.

Stories You Might've Missed

One charged in attempted apartment arson: A 21-year-old man was charged with attempted arson and other charges for allegedly trying to set a downtown building on fire. The man is one of two who were shown on video allegedly lighting fire starters in the lobby of an apartment building after taping the front door shut. Police are still looking to identify the second suspect. They say there is no link to the convoy protests going on at the time. [CBC]

Medical supplies sent to Ukraine by Renfrew charity: A charity put together truck loads of supplies to send to Ukraine. The Renfrew chapter of Not Just Tourists usually sends a few supplies with a tourist to a region in need, but with little tourism they had a backlog of supplies. They were able to give five pickup bed loads of supplies to a veteran to the war zone. [CityNews]

City supports nuclear waste at Chalk River: The city says it supports the construction of a low-level nuclear waste storage area from the Chalk River nuclear plant and research centre. The waste would come from older buildings at the site that need to be torn down. The city has 10 recommendations including radiation monitoring in the Ottawa River, a weather shield for the site, and ensuring the materials are treated to prevent chemical leaching into the surrounding area. The city also opposes shipping nuclear waste in from other sites. [CBC]

Gatineau’s Hexo posts big loss: The cannabis firm Hexo posted a net loss of $690 million in the latest quarter. It’s in the middle of a turnaround plan and expects to start seeing real results in the spring when it launches new products. [The Canadian Press]

Double the limit in rush hour: Police impounded and suspended the licence of a driver caught doing more than 120 km/h in the bus lane on Heron Road yesterday morning. The speed limit in the area is 60 km/h. The driver’s licence was suspended for 30 days, and the car impounded for two weeks. [CTV]

Community Highlight

  • Kale Baire lives in Ashland, Kansas, whose tweet about living in the American Midwest as a suffering Senators fan for 15 years went viral. He says his favourite years as a fan was “the tail end of the Pizza Line” of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. [CBC]
  • Ottawa Grassroots Festival on April 21-24 is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a grass-tastic (see what we did there) lineup. Tickets start at $17. [Ottawa Citizen, $]
  • Your home could be worth hundreds of thousands more than you think. Discover how much — get a free home value assessment from Basia Vanderveen.*
  • The Parks of the St. Lawrence are opening up bookings for the 2022 season. Book your summer camping trip here. [CTV]
  • Nominate your favourite crossing guard and you could win a Family Fun Pack courtesy of the Ottawa Safety Council.
  • #ICYMI: TELUS is partnering with uOttawa to accelerate 5G innovation through applied research. The right 5G policies can create opportunities for Canadian research, business and innovation to thrive — learn how you can take action for 5G innovation.*
  • Congrats to Zexi Li who will receive the Mayor’s City Builder Award later today at 10am. You can watch the ceremony on YouTube.
  • Rainwater runoff ruins…. We can’t think of another r word, but you get the idea. Ottawa City Council has launched a pilot program to help improve landscaping rainwater issues. 
  • Narcity is at it again, this time with local treats for you Cadbury mini egg lovers.
  • Get a decal for your home so firefighters know if you have an animal that could need rescuing in the event of a fire. Get your sticker here. (The Lookout has ordered ours!) [CityNews]
  • Redditers shared their favourite boutiques for women’s dresses, including Victoire, Mission Thrift, Laysieng CouturierAlliance Bridal and Closet in the Sky rental dresses.

*Sponsored content

Today's Top Photo

Ron Dennis

The German embassy is showing its support for the besieged people of Ukraine. Reader Ron Dennis sent us this photo of the diplomatic outpost on The Driveway.

Have a shot you want to share with Lookout readers? Send it in! We love to run photos taken by the community.

Daily COVID Stats

All infection and vaccination data via Ottawa Public Health. You can find the status of the wastewater tracking here. And you can find vaccination stats here.

  • Active Cases: 777 (+43)
  • Deaths: 759 (+1)
  • Ottawans In Hospital: 8
  • Ottawans In ICU: 1
  • Acute Beds Occupied: 96% 
  • ICU Beds Occupied: 67% 
  • ICU Ventilator Beds Occupied: 18%

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Written by managing editor Robert Hiltz. Food stories written by Ralf Joneikies

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