Another week without LRT, picking a new councillor and lifted capacity limits: Five stories to watch in Ottawa this week
The Peace tower is seen through rushes in Ottawa, Oct. 18. 2021. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- The Confederation Line LRT remains offline, restaurants and gyms can welcome more customers, and applications open for the appointment of a new city councillor.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca takes a look at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.
Capacity limits lift
Restaurants in gyms in Ottawa will be able to return to full capacity this week as Ontario continues to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Starting Monday, Ontario is lifting capacity limits in the "vast majority of settings" where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, and indoor areas of sports and recreational facilities such as gyms.
This comes as COVID-19 case loads in Ottawa and the province show signs of decline. Ottawa's level of active COVID-19 was 242 cases on Sunday, down from more than 500 at the start of the month. The seven-day average for the city is also down by about 40 per cent from Oct. 1.
Vaccination rates continue to rise slowly, with Ottawa pushing to get 90 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated. As of Friday, 86 per cent of people born in or before 2009 had both shots.
New Kanata North Councillor
People interested in becoming the next city councillor for the vacant Kanata North seat will be able to submit their credentials to the city this week.
The ward councillor, Jenna Sudds, is now the Liberal MP for Kanata—Carleton. Councillors voted to appoint a new councillor for the ward rather than have a byelection. The municipality has the power to do either, and chose to appoint in this case in part due to the approaching budget consultations and in part due to the cost of a byelection, which wouldn't be held until the new year.
Applications open Monday and close at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.
A special city council meeting will be held on Nov. 10 to appoint a new councillor.
Police board consultations
The Ottawa Police Services Board meets Monday as 2022 budget season ramps up.
Among the items on the agenda is a recent survey which suggested a majority of Ottawa residents support increasing the police service's budget.
When asked about their preference between increasing, decreasing and maintaining the Ottawa police budget at its current level, 51 per cent of respondents favoured increasing the budget in 2022, while 26 per cent recommended decreasing the budget in 2022. Sixteen per cent of respondents supported maintaining the budget at 2021 levels.
The survey drew criticism from some community groups, including the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, the Coalition Against More Surveillance, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, and Horizon Ottawa, which said BIPOC respondents and people with lower incomes were underrepresented in the responses.
While the respondents disagreed on funding, a significant majority said they would like to see a shifting of responsibilities.
Seventy-three per cent of respondents were in favour of shifting some responsibility from OPS to community services, and 70 per cent want to see increased investment by the city of Ottawa in programs and services addressing social issues.
The Police Services Board meets at 4 p.m. Monday, but Chief Peter Sloly and board chair Diane Deans will address reporters at 11:30 a.m.
LRT remains offline
Ottawa is entering its sixth week without service on the Confederation Line LRT following a derailment on Sept. 19 near Tremblay Station.
Last week, the city's transit commission heard that a loose gearbox fell from the train that derailed because of a loose bolt.
The commission also heard details of the Rideau Transit Group's plan to restore service, which aimed to have up to seven trains and a spare ready for service by Nov. 1; however, the city manager noted that the plan must be verified by an independent firm named TRA, and trains must be tested before customers could return to the rails.
While the possibility of a Nov. 1 return to service has not been ruled out, the city expects service may not resume until later in November, setting up the possibility that the LRT will be offline for two full months before customers get back on board.
RTG said Alstom, the train manufacturer, is calling in workers from other projects in Ontario to temporarily bolster the workforce in Ottawa by up to 70 per cent in order to get service restored.
Ottawa's new Official Plan
City council meets Wednesday to vote on Ottawa's new Official Plan, which will be the blueprint for future growth in the city for decades to come.
The city expects to have a population of more than 1.4 million by 2046 and more than two million by 2100.
Dozens of delegates spoke at lengthy meetings to discuss their concerns with outward growth, intensification and other issues, such as tree canopies and the height of buildings on certain streets.
The major goals of the plan include more growth by intensification than greenfield development, increased access to sustainable transportation, and a city that is resilient in the face of the climate emergency
Committees eventually approved the document, which is slated to be discussed at Wednesday's council meeting. Should it be approved, it will be sent to Ontario's minister of housing and municipal affairs.