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A double-homicide, Convoy leaders stand trial, and kids get back to school: 5 stories to watch in Ottawa this week

Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber (right) make their way with counsel to the Public Order Emergency Commission, Tuesday, November 1, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber (right) make their way with counsel to the Public Order Emergency Commission, Tuesday, November 1, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Two prominent leaders of the "Freedom Convoy" stand trial, the city sets out directions for budget 2024, and English school boards are back to class. looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.

Double-homicide investigation

Ottawa police are investigating a mass shooting outside a wedding venue in the south end of the city that left two men dead and injured six other people.

Little information was shared Sunday in the hours after the shooting occurred. Police did not announce any arrests, suspect descriptions or details about the victims.

The deceased were identified Sunday afternoon as two men from Toronto. 

Police tape could be seen blocking the Infinity Convention Centre Sunday, where the shooting occurred.

More information on the people involved is expected over the coming hours and days.

These killings mark the 11th and 12th homicides of the year in the nation's capital.

Ottawa police are investigating a fatal shooting outside the Infinity Convention Centre in Ottawa. Sept. 3, 2023. Two people were killed and six people were injured. (Natalie van Rooy/CTV News Ottawa)

Tamara Lich, Chris Barber stand trial

Two people who rose to prominence during the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration in Ottawa last winter will stand trial starting this week.

Tamara Lich and Chris Barber will be in court Sept. 5 for charges of mischief, obstructing police, counselling others to commit mischief and intimidation.

The charges stem from the three-week-long protest in downtown Ottawa that occupied city streets with heavy vehicles and hundreds of people who opposed COVID-19 public health protections and the federal Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more generally. Outside of Ottawa, protesters with the movement blockaded border crossings with the U.S.

The federal government invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in history during the protest and a massive, multi-day police operation was used to clear demonstrators off Parliament Hill.

Lich's lawyer says the focus of the trial should be on his client's charges and not on the "Freedom Convoy" itself.

Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber wait for the Public Order Emergency Commission to begin, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Hot and muggy temperatures this week

A late summer heat wave is blanketing the capital this week, with forecast highs not seen since July.

Ottawa experienced a cooler than average August, where the temperature did not go above 29 C once the entire month, but the weather is making up for it this week, with several days in the low-to-mid-30s.

A heat warning is in effect, saying Ottawa could see daytime highs between 31 and 35 C this week and humidex values around 40.

A cold air mass is supposed move in late in the week to cool things off, but the timing of it is unclear, forecasters say.

Duane relaxes on the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. A heat warning has been issued for the nation's capital and Ontario. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Back to school for tens of thousands in Ottawa

Tens of thousands of students at all levels of education are returning to classrooms in Ottawa this week.

Ottawa's English language school boards start their new school year on Tuesday for both elementary and secondary students. It comes one week after the majority of French-language students returned to classes.

Post-secondary institutions are also welcoming students back to classes and lecture halls.

The new school year comes with several challenges related to transportation, including about 9,000 students in Ottawa's rural west end who are without bus transportation, and a flagging public transit system. Ottawa's east-west Confederation Line LRT, which directly serves the University of Ottawa, is only using single train cars for service because of low ridership over the summer, but officials say double-cars could be put into service if required. The north-south Trillium Line, which connects with Carleton University, remains delayed and it could be November at the earliest before the city even takes ownership of it.

Health officials are also urging parents and guardians to ensure their children's immunizations are up-to-date ahead of the fall respiratory virus season.

Students returned to classes at two Ottawa elementary schools operating under a "balanced" calendar year. Aug. 15, 2023. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

Budget directions come to committee

An early step in setting the 2024 city of Ottawa budget comes before committee this week.

The finance and corporate services committee will vote Tuesday on the directions to staff for developing the 2024 operating and capital budgets. City staff are proposing a maximum 2.5 per cent property tax hike, along with higher fees for transit, recreation and culture activities, garbage collection and water and wastewater services.

The property tax cap would fit in with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe's election campaign promise to keep tax increases at a maximum of 2.5 per cent in 2023 and 2024.

The city is facing some significant budget challenges, most notably at OC Transpo, which projected a $39 million deficit for 2023 and $35 million revenue shortfall in 2024. Staff must also contend with inflationary pressures on everything from utilities and fuel to labour costs and construction.

The 2024 draft city of Ottawa budget will be tabled to Council on Nov. 8. Council will finalize the 2024 spending plan on Dec. 6. 

City Hall in downtown Ottawa is seen in this undated file photo. (CTV News Ottawa) Top Stories

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