COVID-19 Orange-Restrict zone and debating the 2021 Ottawa budget: Five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

OTTAWA — The Eastern Ontario Health Unit joins Ottawa in the “orange-restrict” level, City of Ottawa committees continue debate on the 2021 budget and a section of Highway 174 is closed next weekend.

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

“Orange-Restrict” level: Eastern Ontario moves into new restrictions

New restrictions on bars, restaurants, fitness centres and other businesses and events in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region begin Monday, as the region moves into the “Orange-Restrict” level.

The Ontario Government announced the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region would join Ottawa in the “Orange-Restrict” level on Friday as it revised the threshold for restrictions under the coloured-coded system.

Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m., instead of 11 p.m., and only four people may be seated at a table. No spectators will now be allowed at sports and recreation facilities in eastern Ontario.

Meantime, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches warned on Friday that Ottawa is “now on the cusp of the ‘Red-Control’ level.”

Ontario reported last week that Ottawa had 34.7 cases per 100,000 people between Nov. 3 and 9. The threshold to move to the red zone is 40 cases per 100,000 people. The per cent positivity rate for the red zone is 2.5 per cent.

COVID Red to Orange: Ottawa opens up

Canada-U.S. border remaining closed?

The COVID-19 travel restrictions at the Canada-U.S. land border are in place until at least Nov. 21.

On Oct. 19, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced the extension of the closure for one month, saying, “Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe.”

The Canada-U.S. border was first closed to non-essential travel in March and has been renewed every month since. Tourists and cross-border visits remain prohibited.

Canada - U.S. border

City of Ottawa committees debate the 2021 budget

The debate over how to spend your tax dollars continues this week at Ottawa City Hall, as several committees will debate and approve the budget plans for each section.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget proposes a three per cent property tax hike, plus a hike in user fees and water and sewer rates. If approved, the three per cent property tax hike would add $115 to the average property tax bill next year.

On Wednesday, the Transit Commission will vote on the 2021 draft budget, which includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, the cost of a monthly adult bus pass would increase to $122.50 a month, one of the highest rates in Canada.

On Thursday, the Community and Protective Services Committee will vote on its 2021 draft budget, which covers Ottawa Fire, Ottawa Paramedics, Employment and Social Services, long-term care and children’s services.

In a letter to constituents, Councillor Jeff Leiper says he expects the headline items in the Community and Protective Services budget to be “requests by the community for an increase in budget for our social services partners and housing as we see each year.”

“For me, this is an opportune time to take a look at one of the positive effects of the pandemic, which has been the coordinated work of the Human Needs Task Force. We’re seeing that where services are being offered in the context of pandemic response a nimbleness on the part of the city and focus in addressing the housing and health needs of our most vulnerable residents.”

The 2021 Community and Protective Services Budget does freeze licencing fees for businesses in 2021.

Ottawa City Hall

All Aboard a Sparks Street tunnel for Gatineau’s Tram

The Transportation Committee will hold a special meeting on Monday to establish Council’s preferred option to run Gatineau’s STO tramway into Ottawa.

The STO study identified two feasible corridors for the tramway in Ottawa after it crosses the Ottawa River using the Portage Bridge:

  • Wellington Street surface option with three surface stations at Lyon, Bank and Elgin Streets.
  • A 1.2 kilometre Sparks Street tunnel

Gatineau’s STO has determined the Wellington Street surface option would cost $3.032 billion, while the Sparks Street tunnel option would cost between $3.532 and $3.899 billion.

Staff recommend Ottawa approve the Sparks Street tunnel option as the optimal corridor for the STO tramway in Ottawa.

A survey of 1,5093 people living in Ottawa and Gatineau this summer found 60 per cent preferred the Sparks Street tunnel option.

Wellington/Sparks Tram

Highway 174 closed next weekend

A section of Highway 174 will be closed between Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard and Montreal Road next weekend as part of the Light Rail Transit construction.

The City of Ottawa says the westbound lanes of the highway will be closed for roadwork as part of the project extending the Confederation Line into Orleans.

Lane reductions will begin on Highway 174 at 9:30 p.m. Nov. 20 with the closure of all westbound lanes at 10 p.m. The closure will be in place until 5 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 23.

The following detour will be in effect during the closure:

  • Exit Highway 174 at Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard
  • Turn left on Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard
  • Turn right on St. Joseph Boulevard
  • Follow the signed detour onto the transit westbound on-ramp at Montreal Road

The westbound Montreal Road to Highway 174 westbound on-ramp will also be closed.

Events happening in Ottawa this week:

Monday

Transportation Committee meeting at Ottawa City Hall. 9:30 a.m. on YouTube

Tuesday

Ottawa’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management. 9:30 a.m. on YouTube.

Ottawa Police Services Board Human Resource Committee meets at 2 p.m.

Wednesday

Ottawa Transit Commission meets at 9:30 a.m. Meeting will be broadcast on YouTube.

Thursday

Ottawa’s Community and Protective Services Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. Meeting will be broadcast on YouTube.

Friday

Westbound lanes of Highway 174 closed all weekend for LRT construction

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