A year after pandemic declared, COVID transmission worse than ever

By Gloucester-South Nepean Councillor Carol Anne Meehan

It is hard to believe that more than a year after the pandemic was declared, the transmission rates for COVID are increasing rapidly, when it should be the other way around. 

The information, in the most recent update from Ottawa Public Health, was the bleakest I can remember.

According to the City Deputy Medical Officer of Health, the number of people being hospitalized is the highest since the start of the pandemic and doubling every twelve days. Younger people are now being hit hard, the variants are more aggressive and making people sicker.  

To put it bluntly, our hospitals are at the breaking point, and action must be taken. 

CHEO is now admitting adult patients with COVID-19.  

The message was not meant to demoralize us, but to re-ignite our resolve to help bend the curve. 

We must all Stay at Home to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its aggressive variants.  Ottawa continues to be under a Provincial emergency Stay at Home Order; however, data indicates that not everyone is doing their part by staying home.  

A combination of beautiful weather, news of more people getting vaccinated, and general pandemic fatigue has many of us letting down our guard.  

Please – I appeal to you, I know this pandemic has been challenging for many, but we are getting closer to the end of the pandemic; let us not give up now.  Isolate at home with your family as much as possible, wear a mask when you go out, and physically distance.   That will allow more people to get vaccinated, leading to greater herd immunity, which will eventually permit us to lead more normal lives.   We can’t see the virus, but we can’t ignore how it’s now hitting people of all ages.  Believe our Medical professionals; listen to frontline workers, who are pleading for us to help them fight the virus.  We are in this together.  We can, and we must do our part.   

Curfew in City Parks

Last week Council agreed to let individual councillors decide whether to close city parks early if it is found that users of the parks are violating public health and safety orders.

 I, for one, am not in favour of closing parks early. The majority of residents are using our parks responsibly.  For many families spending time in local parks is the only option to get outside, exercise and break the pandemic boredom.   Closing parks early would affect everyone, when what we really need is to crackdown on a few bad apples.   I spoke with the Chief of By-Law and expressed my concerns, and asked that we focus on enforcement first before we shutter parks earlier in the evening.

I ask – especially young people who continue to gather in parks to wear masks, and physically distance.  

Ottawa Police South Facility Update

The pandemic is also playing a role in the future of the new Ottawa Police South Facility. Plans to put the project out for construction tender were delayed last June because of COVID. Since then, the pandemic impact on global markets has resulted in a ten to fifteen percent increase in construction material cost.  The original budget of 11.23 million dollars has ballooned by 24 million dollars.  Due to several major construction projects already underway in Ottawa, a local labour shortage is also expected to impact the OPS South Campus, planned on 15 acres along Prince of Wales Drive near Carleton Lodge.  

The facility is needed to replace the Greenbank Road Police station and Leitrim Station by 2026.    At the Ottawa Police Board Policy and Governance meeting earlier this month, members expressed concern about the projected cost increase and how it can be funded.   

The South Facility will be a hot topic at The Ottawa Police Board meeting on April 28th.

As always, please reach out to my office if my team and I can help you.

Stay safe.

Carol Anne