Ottawa area athletes compete in the Olympics and empty spots at vaccination clinics: Five stories to watch this week
Health-care worker Thi Nguyen administers Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at a COVID-19 clinic in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA -- Empty appointment slots at Ottawa's COVID-19 vaccine clinics, council prepares for a summer break and Ottawa athletes set to take on the world at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch this week.
WATCHING THE COVID-19 CASE NUMBERS
All eyes will be on the COVID-19 case numbers this week, following a slight uptick in new cases in Ottawa over the weekend and the move to Step 3.
Ottawa Public Health reported five new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and seven on Sunday, the highest one-day increases in new cases in over a week.
There have been zero patients in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 for the last four days, and ICUs remain empty.
In a special statement on Wednesday, associate medical officer of health Dr. Brent Moloughney said Ottawa Public Health is keeping an eye on hospitalizations as a key measure of whether the virus is reaching more vulnerable populations.
"We will continue to monitor the impact of each step we take which might give COVID-19 more opportunity to spread," said Moloughney. "We know the Delta variant is more transmissible and is giving rise to resurgences in other countries despite high levels of immunization."
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said last week that he "absolutely" expects to see a rise in COVID-19 cases starting in September.
EMPTY APPOINTMENTS AT OTTAWA'S VACCINATION CLINICS
The city of Ottawa is considering winding down some operations at COVID-19 vaccination clinics, as hundreds of appointment slots sit empty every day and vaccination rates increase.
As of Friday, 82 per cent of Ottawa residents 12 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The city of Ottawa is now accepting walk-ins for first and second doses at community clinics each day due to appointments not being booked in advance.
On Saturday, there were 3,067 appointments available for drop-ins, while on Sunday there were 4,116 walk-in appointments available at city clinics.
General manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte said last week that, "We're trying to balance to not diminish capacity so that people have easy access to the site, but we are starting to see at some sites that there are certain hours that are not as busy."
The Ontario government has said Ontario will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and older has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.
FINAL COUNCIL MEETING BEFORE SUMMER VACATION
Ottawa City Council will meet Wednesday before a bit of a summer break.
The agenda includes the proposed 2022 budget directions, which recommends a three per cent property tax increase and a three per cent hike in the Ottawa Police Service Budget.
Council will also discuss the "Lansdowne Park Partnership: Path to sustainability and next steps", which recommends tearing down the north side stands and the Arena at TD Place and building new facilities. The cost of the project is not yet known.
Coun. Catherine McKenney will introduce a motion calling on the federal government to address the opioid crisis, including through decriminalization and the provision of a safe drug supply.
Council will also vote for the new chair of the Planning Committee following Jan Harder's resignation. Coun. Glen Gower, Jeff Leiper and Scott Moffatt have put their names forward to serve as chair of the committee.
OTTAWA POLICE BUDGET DEBATE
The Ottawa Police Services Board finance and audit committee will discuss the 2022 budget consultation process during a meeting on Tuesday.
Staff have been preparing three options for the 2022 budget: a zero per cent increase in funding, a 1.5 per cent increase in funding and a three per cent increase in funding.
City staff have proposed a three per cent increase in funding for the Ottawa Police Service in the 2022 budget, which would provide an additional $13.5 million in funding for police.
Dozens of speakers called on the finance and economic development committee to reject the three per cent increase in funding for Ottawa Police in 2022.
"The police services board made a commitment in the fall of 2020 to make its best efforts to reduce and freeze the OPS budget at 2021 levels in 2022," said Diane Deans, chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board. "The board has been working hard to achieve this goal and I can say that we are committed to making our best effort to reduce the OPS budget ask this year."
SUMMER OLYMPICS IN TOKYO
Thirty-five athletes from Ottawa, eastern Ontario and western Quebec will represent Ottawa at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The COVID-19 delayed games kick off on Friday.
Local athletes competing at the Summer Games include defending Olympic gold medallist Erica Wiebe of Stittsville in wrestling, Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls in golf, Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Eganville in the 800 metres, cyclist Michael Woods of Ottawa and Aaliyah Edwards of Kingston on the women's basketball team.
EVENTS HAPPENING IN OTTAWA
Grocery Heroes Day
Ottawa Police Services Board finance and audit committee meeting – 10 a.m.
Ottawa City Council meeting – 10 a.m.
The Diefenbunker: Canada's Cold War Museum reopens
Beyond Van Gogh exhibition opens at Lansdowne Park