COVID-19 restrictions, budget debates continue at Ottawa City Hall and celebrating Christmas Cheer: Top five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

OTTAWA — Ottawa flirts with the “yellow” zone thresholds, the budget debate resumes at Ottawa City Hall and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ottawa.

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

Stay in “orange-restrict”, or move to “yellow-protect”

All eyes will be on the COVID-19 numbers in Ottawa this week, as Ottawa inches closer to the thresholds to move into the “yellow-protect” zone.

The Ontario government moved Ottawa to the “orange-restrict” zone on Nov. 7, with restrictions on restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports and movie theatres. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters that the Ontario government wants a region to stay in a zone for 28 days before moving to a new zone in Ontario’s COVID-19 colour-coded restrictions.

Ottawa Public Health reported Sunday that Ottawa’s rate per 100,000 population was 23.9 cases over the past seven days. Ottawa’s positivity rate was 1.3 per cent for the period of Nov. 20 to 26.

The thresholds for the “yellow-protect” zone is a weekly incidence rate of 10 to 24.9 per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 0.5 to 1.2 per cent.

Last Wednesday, Dr. Etches told reporters that while Ottawa was on the edge of the yellow thresholds, she wants to avoid a situation where restrictions could be re-imposed a week or so later.

“We want to have a clear sign that we are in the yellow category where the indictors are all aligned and we also have positive trends downwards. This virus is very hard to control, we see that around the world. We can’t just go back to everything’s open as if COVID isn’t here. We do have to continue with some controls that decrease the opportunity for COVID to be transmitted through the winter or through until we have a vaccine.”

Under Ontario’s “yellow-protect” threshold, bars and restaurants can stay open until midnight and a maximum of six people can sit at a table at one time.

City of Ottawa budget

City of Ottawa committees will finalize their respective budgets this week, before Council has the final say on the 2021 budget Dec. 9.

On Monday, the Board of Health will finalize the 2021 budget for Ottawa Public Health. The $98.1 million Ottawa Public Health budget is 30 per cent funded by the City of Ottawa, with the rest covered by the Ontario Government.

There is $24 million in one-time funding for COVID-19 and to help OPH maintain staffing capacity put in place during the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Finance and Economic Development Committee and Ottawa Public Library Board will finalize the 2021 budgets. The Transportation Committee meets Wednesday to debate and approve its budget envelop.

Ottawa City Hall

24 Councillors in 2022?

The Finance and Economic Development Committee will vote Tuesday on a consultants recommendation to add one ward for the next municipal election.

There are currently 23 wards in the city, along with the mayor.

A report recommends expanding to 24 wards: 12 urban, nine suburban and three rural wards.

Adding a new ward to the City of Ottawa would include an estimated one-time cost of $100,000, as well as ongoing costs estimated to be $492,000 a year. The $492,000 a year includes the salary and benefits for new councillor, along with an office budget.

City of Ottawa wards

Meteorological winter begins in Ottawa

The first day of winter is Monday, Dec. 21, but the meteorological winter begins on December 1.

According to Environment Canada’s forecast, it will be a rainy start to Ottawa’s meteorological winter. Rain is in the forecast for both Monday and Tuesday.

“Kind of a little fickle and fitful, hard to put a label on the winter. I think it’s not going to be memorable from a brutally cold or a balmy kind of winter, I think there will be something for everybody,” said David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist.

“You’ll get a certain amount of snow, and you’ll get rain, you’ll get freezing rain – it will be a real mixed bag. I think it will make winter go faster when it’s very changeable and variable, but it’s hard to plan your activities based on such an up and down kind of weather scene that we see this coming winter.”

Snow in downtown Ottawa

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ottawa

While the COVID-19 pandemic will change the way we celebrate the holidays this year, several popular events in Ottawa are going ahead.

The Christmas Lights Across Canada kicks off Nov. 30. Enjoy the lights along Confederation Boulevard until Jan. 7.

On Friday, it’s the annual Christmas Cheer Breakfast – virtually. CTV News Ottawa’s Graham Richardson, Patricia Boal and Matt Skube will host the virtual breakfast, with visits from Mayor Jim Watson, Ontario cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod and Santa Claus. For information, visit: christmascheerottawa.com

On Saturday, it’s Santa’s Parade of Lights – COVID edition 2020.  Enjoy the parade from the comfort of your vehicle at the OC Transpo Park & Ride at Place d’Orleans.   Volunteers will be collecting toys or cash in support of the Salvation Army’s Toy Mountain campaign.

Santa Parade of Lights

Events in Ottawa

Monday

Cyber Monday 

Ottawa’s Board of Health meets at 5 p.m. (Meeting available on the City of Ottawa’s YouTube page)

Christmas Lights Across Canada begins

Tuesday

It’s Giving Tuesday

The Finance and Economic Development Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. (Meeting available on the City of Ottawa’s YouTube page)

The City of Ottawa opens 11 arenas for public skating

Wednesday

Transportation Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. (Meeting available on the City of Ottawa’s YouTube page)

Friday

Christmas Cheer Breakfast

Symphony Senior Living Orleans is hosting a winter drive-in theatre Dec. 4 to 6.

Saturday

Orleans Santa Parade of Lights at the OC Transpo Park and Ride at Place d’Orleans

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