Council briefs: masks remain mandatory

CITY HALL – Masks will remain mandatory throughout the rest of 2020 and into early 2021.

City council approved extending the Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw at Wednesday’s (Oct. 28) council meeting.

The bylaw requires masks be worn on transit and in enclosed public spaces to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Enclosed public spaces include the common areas of condominiums and multi-unit residential buildings. The bylaw also requires masks be worn in any designated unenclosed public spaces.

“While no specific end date is proposed, it would remain in effect until at least the first council meeting in January,” city staff released in a statement following yesterday’s (Oct. 28) council meeting.

The city is set to move ahead on its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after council approved $2.6 million for Energy Evolution. The funding – a surplus from last year’s Hydro Ottawa dividend – would be used to carry out 20 Energy Evolution projects over the next five years, in collaboration with the community. The projects will help the corporation of the City of Ottawa meet its goal of reducing emissions by 100 per cent by 2040, and by 2050 Ottawa-wide.  

The funding will also help the city leverage federal and provincial funding for additional climate change initiatives. Meeting the Energy Evolution targets will require collaboration and investments from all sectors and all levels of government. An estimated $57.4 billion will be required on top of planned community-wide investments, but by 2050, those investments are projected to generate a community-wide net return of $87.7 billion. 

Council added 309 Centretown properties to the city’s Heritage Register to help track demolitions of buildings of cultural and historic value. The properties were identified through the Centretown Heritage Study, which looked at more than 3,000 properties between the Rideau Canal and Bronson Avenue and between Gloucester and Catherine streets. Listing a property on the Heritage Register does not prevent owners from making repairs or alterations to the properties, but they need to provide the city with 60 days’ notice if they want to demolish. 

Properties in Centretown were excluded from recent updates to the register pending completion of the heritage study. Council is set to consider adding a second set of Centretown properties to the Heritage Register before the end of the year. 

Council received the Ottawa Paramedic Service’s annual report for 2019, which shows paramedics responded to 146,481 calls last year. The Ottawa Paramedic Service met council-approved and legislated response times for all emergency calls in 2019, and the city has committed to hiring more paramedics to ensure they can continue to address increasing demand. Offload delays at hospital emergency rooms continue to be a challenge, with paramedics spending 53,663 hours waiting to transfer patients to local hospitals in 2019. That equates to a loss of 64 paramedics, or $7.7 million annually.