Positive COVID-19 signs, winter arrives and a councillor caught texting and driving during a meeting: Top stories in Ottawa this week

OTTAWA — Ottawa’s COVID-19 case numbers continue to fall, Council approves Light Rail Transit to Barrhaven and an Ottawa councillor caught texting and driving during a Zoom city committee meeting.

CTV News Ottawa looks at the top stories in Ottawa this week

As Ottawa’s COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate continue to fall, the medical officer of health says most of the credit goes to Ottawa residents.

On Oct. 14, Dr. Vera Etches told Council that Ottawa had the highest rate of COVID-19 in Ottawa, at 70 cases per 100,000 people. On Nov. 28, Ottawa’s rate per 100,000 people was 21.

“It’s really thanks to the people in Ottawa, and thanks to the employers and others who are doing their part to make it possible,” Etches told reporters, adding people have been practicing physical distancing and wearing masks.

“These are the things that actually can bring COVID down in a community.”

While Ontario set records for highest COVID-19 cases in a single day, Ottawa’s case numbers remained low this week.  There were 19 cases on Nov. 24, 23 cases on Nov. 25 and 24 cases on Nov. 26. The high for the week was 55 new cases on Friday.

Ottawa’s COVID-19 rate per 100,000 people, test positivity rate and Rt number are inching closer to the threshold for Ottawa to move into the “yellow-protect” zone, but Dr. Etches said she wants to see solid declines before Ottawa moves.

Two COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared involving social events in Ottawa.

Last weekend, Ottawa Public Health declared an outbreak linked to a social event with four cases of COVID-19.

CTV News Ottawa reached out to Ottawa Public Health (OPH) to ask when the social event was held, how many people attended the social event and if anyone was ordered to self-isolate due to the social event.

“To protect the privacy of the individuals, OPH cannot disclose additional information,” said Ottawa Public Health in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

A second outbreak with three cases was reported during the week.

Party

Ottawa received its first taste of winter weather this past week, with two storms moving through the region.

A storm Sunday evening and Monday delivered approximately 9 centimetres of snow, along with some rain and freezing rain. A storm on Wednesday blanketed Ottawa with approximately 10 centimetres of snow.

Environment Canada’s David Phillips tells CTV Morning Live that this week’s weather was a preview of what’s ahead for Ottawa through the winter months.

“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 Phillips.

“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.”

Ottawa snow

Council gave the green light to plans for a $3 billion light rail train line from Algonquin College to Barrhaven.

Councillors voted 18 to 4 to build the Barrhaven Light Rail Transit Line, including demolishing 120 homes in the Manor Village and Cheryl Gardens neighbourhoods for the route alignment.

On Tuesday, Ottawa ACORN members protested the plans outside Mayor Jim Watson’s home. On Wednesday, dozens of people rallied outside Ottawa City Hall.

On Saturday, Manor Village resident Alison Trowbridge told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “The Goods with Dahlia Kurtz” that council’s decision created a lot of stress for her and her seven-year-old son.

“Unfortunately, he has been watching all of this happen and it’s causing him tremendous stress. That’s not stress a seven-year-old should be having,” she said. “As much as he understands, he doesn’t understand the idea of a housing a homelessness crisis but he understands the words, ‘you’re going to lose your home’ and those aren’t the things he should be worrying about as a child.”

Trowbridge says Ottawa ACORN wants the City of Ottawa to establish a rental replacement bylaw to protect tenants and ensure they have a new place to live if forced from their homes.

The city will set up a working group to find housing solutions for the tenants, including Ottawa Community Housing.

Knoxdale Station

An Ottawa councillor who was recorded on a virtual committee meeting texting and driving says he voluntarily went to Ottawa police to pay a fine.

During Tuesday’s audit committee meeting on Zoom, Osgoode Coun. George Darouze could be seen getting into a car and driving while in the meeting. The video appeared to show Darouze using his phone while driving and wearing headphones.

“(Tuesday) morning I was texting and driving. This was stupid thing to do and I should not have done this. I commit to my family and residents that this won’t happen again,” Darouze said in a statement on Facebook.

On Wednesday, Darouze said he went to the Ottawa Police Service station on Leitrim Road to give a statement, in order for officers to issue a $615 fine under the Highway Traffic Act.

“I promise that this will never happen again. I want to continue to be an advocate for Safer Roads Ottawa and work with OPS on their Leave the Phone Alone initiative, and by requesting and paying this fine, I hope I and others can learn from my experience.”

George Darouze

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