Today was a particularly busy day at Council that covered many important issues that impact not just our community but the city. Many of the items I’ve been working on directly as your City Councillor, and in my responsibilities as Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee occupied much of the agenda.
Motion – Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Today, my council colleagues unanimously passed a motion I put forward to invest funds in community organizations that are doing work to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The funds for this investment are going to come from the suspension of pay from Councillor Chiarelli for 2020 and 2021. The Integrity Commissioner found Councillor Chiarelli in contravention of Section 4 and Section 7 of the code of conduct and Council accepted the Integrity Commissioner’s recommendation for the suspension of pay for 9 months.
This is an opportunity to do some good from a terrible situation. Thank you to all the brave women who came forward to share their stories of the terrible conduct and behaviour that they have faced. By moving this motion it is my hope that in a small way, we can honour these brave women and help others in our city facing similar disparaging situations.
COVID-19 Update & Budget
COVID-19 continues to be in our community. Dr. Etches shared with Council that the latest infection numbers are primarily due to individuals not following the existing guidance, and not due to re–openings. Additionally, the following information was shared:
- Higher infections rates are being seen in people under 40.
- Testing volumes are staying stable and there is a slight increase in the percent of testing positive, but it is still under 1% on average.
- OPH has helpful information for parents on schools on this website.
Dr. Etches also shared these two graphs that show the challenges we are facing in slowing and reducing COVID-19 infections in our communities:
COVID-19 has had significant impacts on the financial picture of our city. The recent financial supports from the Province and Federal Government will make a difference but we still face substantial budget pressures. Here’s a snapshot of the current information we have:
- Under the municipal operating stream, the city will receive funding of $49 million to support COVID-19 operating costs and pressures for 2020, which represents approximately 75% of the city’s non-transit financial pressures.
- Under the transit stream, the city will receive funding of $74 million to support COVID-19 municipal transit pressures covering the period of April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020, which represents 92% of the transit pressures during this period.
- The combined funding allocated to the City of Ottawa to date under the Municipal Operating Pressures stream and the Transit stream represent 64.9% of Ottawa’s projected fiscal shortfall of $192 million for the fiscal year 2020.
The City Manager and his team continue to explore further mitigation efforts to ensure that we do everything we can to tackle the financial issues we are facing. You can view the City Manager’s presentation here and Ottawa Public Health’s here.
Temporary Masks By-law
We know that masks make a real difference in reducing the spread of COVID-19. At the previous Council meeting the city enacted the temporary mask by-law that made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. Today, Council unanimously approved the continuation of the mask by-law and expanded it to include common areas in apartments and condominiums. Additionally, the by-law also allows for the creation of zones where masks would be required outdoors. This is an additional tool that is now available to target areas that have been problematic. Currently, no zones have been identified; however, this enables us to move quickly if hot zones become apparent. This by-law will be in effect until at least October 31st unless extended by Council.
I know many in our community welcome this change. I’ve heard from many of you who live in apartments about your desire to be better protected and for better signage in apartment buildings, especially in elevators. I know there’s more work to be done on this front and I have provided this feedback directly to Dr. Etches, who assured me at Council that Ottawa Public Health continues to be committed to finding better ways of supporting our community. I will work with Ottawa Public Health to review what resources are available and how we can implement further improvements.
Rental Housing Property Management By-law & Pest Regulations
Council has now passed the new property management by-law and pest regulations. As chair of the committee that oversees this work, I have seen first-hand the importance of getting this right.
Last year, Committee and Council approved the regulatory framework for rental accommodations. This was in response to concerns Council heard around the increase in short-term rentals in our communities and concerns about the quality of rental housing, low vacancy rates, and growing need for more affordable housing.
The approval of this regulatory framework set the path for staff to develop the regulatory regimes for both long-term rental housing and short-term rental accommodations. There are many improvements that are being made including the need for landlords to create service records of requests made by tenants, helpful information provided to tenants by their landlords, and fines if property maintenance is not dealt by certain timelines. Overall, I believe that these changes will lead to proper expectations for both landlords and tenants and lead to improved quality of rental housing. I recognize there is more work to be done here but we continue to make important progress. I expect that staff will have short-term regulations later in the year.
If there any questions or feedback, please feel free to reach out anytime.