COVID-19, 2021 City of Ottawa budget and support for Lansdowne: Five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

OTTAWA — COVID-19 case numbers slowly rise ahead of the Christmas season, Council finalizes the 2021 City of Ottawa budget and Hanukkah celebrations begin.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.

COVID-19 in Ottawa and eastern Ontario

With the holiday season getting underway, health officials will be keeping an eye on the COVID-19 numbers across the region.

Ottawa Public Health reported 62 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest one-day increase in cases in a week.

Ottawa’s cases per 100,000 people has increased from 23.9 on Nov. 29 to 30.4 cases per 100,000 on Dec. 6.

Meantime, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health is concerned the region could see more COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise.

There were 43 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday, a one-day record for the area.

“We’re really hovering above that red line for the most part. Above the red line, persistently, is orange and I’m quite worried about that,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, noting the “red line” to move into the orange zone is 25 cases per 100,000 people.

Hanukkah begins on December 10.

Waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine

As Canadians wait for word on when the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved, a “dry run” for the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine will be held on Monday.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is the vice president of logistics and operations within the Public Health Agency of Canada, has said the drill will test the distribution factoring in all the delicacies of the doses and ensuring health care workers are comfortable with the administration process.

On Sunday, Fortin told CTV’s Question Period the preparations are centred around the expectation of receiving doses early in 2021.

“All I can tell you at this time is that we expect to receive them in January, and we expect to receive them as soon as possible in that timeframe, and in successive amounts… multiple deliveries,” Fortin said.

“We’re planning on January onwards. It would not be prudent military planning on my part, on our part, to take us close to that date. So we’re really planning on being ready by mid-December,” he said.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told CTV News Ottawa on Sunday that Ottawa Public Health is working with the Ottawa Hospital and the city’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce to prepare for the arrival of the vaccine once it’s approved by Health Canada.

COVID-19 vaccine generic

Final debate on the 2021 City of Ottawa budget

On Wednesday, Council will finalize the 2021 City of Ottawa budget, including the fiscal plans for Ottawa Public Health, OC Transpo and the Ottawa Police Service.

The $3.9 billion budget includes a three per cent property tax increase, plus an increase in water rates, the transit levy and transit fares.  OC Transpo fares are scheduled to increase 2.5 per cent on New Year’s Day.

The Ottawa Police Service’s budget calls for $13.2 million in new spending, including plans to hire 30 additional officers and boost spending on mental health support and training for officers responding to mental health related calls.

On Twitter, Councillor Catherine McKenney said rejecting the increase in the Ottawa Police Service budget would “free up $13.2 million that can be used for housing, social and mental health supports, building equity and trust in our communities.”

Ottawa City Hall

Financial support for Lansdowne

On Wednesday, Council will vote on a plan to extend the partnership between the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group another 10 years.

As part of the deal, OSEG has asked for permission to use $4.7 million from a maintenance reserve fund to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OSEG told CTV News Ottawa last month that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt financially at Lansdowne Park this year.

“We’re the sports and entertainment side of the business and that’s gone effectively to zero right now and zero for the foreseeable future and then we’re a retail operation and the retail operation is carrying on best it can with the restrictions that are in place,” said OSEG President and CEO Mark Goudie.

“We’re expecting it’s going to be about three or four years to get back to kind of where we were going in and over the next five years it’s going to cost about $40 million to operate the business, with the lion’s share of that or $15 million kind of in the next 12 months.”

Mayor Jim Watson and Councillor Mathieu Fleury sent OSEG managing partner Roger Greenberg a letter on Thursday, asking OSEG for a firm commitment to operate the Ottawa Redblacks and the Ottawa 67’s for an additional 10 years.

OSEG committed to operating the football and hockey clubs for eight years when the partnership was initially formed with the city.

Lansdowne

Hanukkah during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Thursday is the first night of Hanukkah, the festival of lights.

The Congregation Machzikei Hadas on Virginia Drive will host “LIT: A Drive-In Hanukkah” Experience on Thursday.

It will include the lighting of a giant Menorah, a pyrotechnic drive-thru photo booth and LED Lit Rabbis and Dancers delivering Hanukkah surprises to your car. RSVP is mandatory to get a spot for the two shows during the COVID-19 safe Hanukkah celebration.

The Ottawa Torah Centre is hosting a Hanukkah Drive-In Theatre on Dec. 14.

Ottawa Public Health is asking people to celebrate the holidays with members of their household only due to COVID-19.

Events happening in Ottawa this week:

Tuesday

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board’s committee of the whole meets at 7 p.m.

The Arnprior Rink of Dreams opens

Wednesday

Ottawa City Council meets at 10 a.m. (Meeting available on YouTube)

Thursday

Congegration Machzikei Hadas hosts “LIT: a drive-in Hanukkah Experience”

Friday

Ottawa’s Planning Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. (Meeting available on YouTube)

Camp Fortune opens for the season

Saturday

The Parade of Lights at the OC Transpo Park and Ride on Eagleson

The Carp Santa Claus Parade – 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Carp Fairgrounds

Navan Fair Holiday Celebration “Upside Down” parade: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Navan Fairgrounds

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