OTTAWA — COVID-19 restrictions continue to be relaxed in Gatineau, non-essential travel restrictions set to expire at Ottawa-Gatineau crossings and OC Transpo eyes new electric buses.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.
COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign continues this week, with first and second dose appointments fully booked at all city mass immunization clinics.
The city has said 200,000 appointments are booked at the community clinics until July 6.
Mayor Jim Watson told Newstalk 580 CFRA this weekend that Ontario is sending 13,000 additional COVID-19 vaccines to Ottawa pharmacies.
Meantime, Ontario is accelerating the timeline for residents who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to get their second shot. The second dose interval for Ontarians is being shortened to eight weeks from 12 weeks, with informed consent.
Beginning Monday at 8 a.m., Ottawa residents who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be eligible to book their second dose appointment at an interval of eight weeks or more.
If you wish to receive an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) for your second dose, you can book an appointment through the provincial booking system or a participating pharmacy. If you wish to receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you can contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where you received your first dose.
GATINEAU GOES YELLOW
The Outaouais region moves to Quebec’s “Level 2 – Early Warning” system on Monday, easing restrictions on bars and indoor gatherings.
The Gatineau-western Quebec region is one of 10 regions moving into the yellow zone as Quebec continues to relax COVID-19 restrictions.
Under the yellow zone, indoor gatherings of up to two households are permitted, while outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are permitted.
Bars, taverns, brasseries and casinos can reopen at 50 per cent capacity. Supervised sports and recreational activities outdoors may be carried out in groups of no more than 24 individuals.
Ottawa took Step 1 in Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan last Friday, allowing bar and restaurant patios to reopen and non-essential businesses to operate at 15 per cent capacity.
OTTAWA-GATINEAU BORDER CROSSINGS
The travel restrictions at Ottawa-Gatineau border crossings are scheduled to end on Wednesday, but it’s unclear if the Ontario government will lift the interprovincial travel restrictions.
Ontario introduced interprovincial travel restrictions at the Ontario-Quebec crossings on April 19 in a bid to limit non-essential travel into the province. The ban on non-essential travel was extended until at least June 16.
While the stay-at-home order has ended and Ontario entered Step 1 of the reopening plan last Friday, Ontario said the restrictions at the border will remain in effect until at least Wednesday.
“The order relating to the closure of Ontario’s land and water borders with Manitoba and Quebec remains in place,” said Stephen Warner, the press secretary for Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “It may continue to be extended in 14-day increments by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. We will communicate with the public prior to its termination.”
The rotating police checkpoints at Ottawa-Gatineau crossings have cost Ottawa Police more than $600,000.
POLICE IN OTTAWA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Ottawa’s largest school board will vote Monday evening on a motion to immediately end the School Resource Officer program with Ottawa police.
Trustee Lyra Evans will introduce a motion at the Special Committee of the Whole meeting for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, calling on the board to “immediately and completely” end it’s engagement with the Ottawa Police School Resource Officer program.
The motion comes after the board’s Office of Human Rights and Equity Advisor recommended the board terminate the School Resource Officer Program.
“During the consultation process we heard from many community members who were deeply impacted by police intervention in OCDSB schools,” said the report from the Office of Human Rights and Equity Advisor.
“Their experiences clearly indicate that people who have been pushed to the margins in society (e.g., Indigenous, Black, 2SLGBTQ+ and people with disabilities) continue to be severely impacted by police presence in educational settings.”
The OCDSB Committee of the Whole meets at 6 p.m. Monday.
ALL ABOARD ELECTRIC BUSES
The Transit Commission will vote Wednesday on a plan to start replacing OC Transpo’s fleet of diesel buses with fully electric models.
The $1 billion plan would see the city purchase 450 electric buses between 2022 and 2027. Each bus costs $1.3 million, plus additional costs for electric infrastructure and upgrades to the garages.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank would invest up to $400 million in loans to fund the purchase of electric buses and charging infrastructure.
“Transitioning to zero-emission buses can have several benefits including improved air quality, lowered corporate GHG emissions, lower noise pollution, and improved working conditions for OC Transpo staff,” says the report for Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting.
“Zero-emission buses can also lead to significant operating and maintenance cost savings, which will offset the higher purchase price and the conversion costs.”
To meet the goals of Ottawa’s Climate Change Master Plan, staff say the full electrification of public transit is necessary, including the transition to a full fleet of battery-electric buses by 2036.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OTTAWA THIS WEEK
Gatineau and western Quebec move to yellow zone
Ottawa Public Library branches reopen for contactless services
Ottawa Information Technology Sub-Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Carleton District School Board Committee of the Whole meeting – 6 p.m.
Ottawa Transit Commission meeting – 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa Community and Protective Services Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.
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