Like many of you, my family and I experienced days without power after the storm last month. In fact, as I write this, it’s the Thursday after the storm, and power still isn’t restored to my street. Many areas in our ward were severely affected by the storm, and I spent the following days on the impacted streets, seeing who was still without power and providing information and assistance as I could.
Hydro Ottawa crews, assisted by workers from other cities and regions, have been working 24/7 to restore power as quickly as possible. I am incredibly grateful for the dedication and professionalism of these crews. Their tireless efforts cannot be ignored.
It was a difficult time for many residents, and the effects were not felt equally. On Tuesday, my team and I headed to 507 Riverdale, an Ottawa Community Housing building. It was without power, and many residents have mobility issues that make it difficult to leave their apartment, especially when power is out and there’s no lighting in the hallways and the elevator isn’t working.
In recent years, we’ve had many extreme weather events, including tornadoes, record flooding, massive snowstorms, extreme heat waves and significant dry spells. Right now, the primary job is to get help to people who need it, but there are also some lessons we can take from this.
As climate change continues and worsens, we will be more and more susceptible to these types of events, and we need to make sure that our city is resilient, that we are prepared. We will need to ensure that we have the money and resources to help people, providing food, shelter and power. And we will need to enact and enforce city policies to mitigate the effects of climate change to the best of our abilities.
That is one lesson to take from this disaster, but there is another lesson, and it’s one I have learned and relearned multiple time during my time as councillor: we have a strong and caring community.
At the beginning of the week, when things were at their worst for many people, other residents stepped up and shared food and power sources. People contacted our office asking to help, and we were able to connect them with those in need.
When we went to 507 Riverdale, we brought some food and supplies, but our office could only do so much, so we put a call out for help. Other residents showed up with more food, coffee and power supplies. It was good to see, and I was so glad that I am part of a community like this.
We’ve seen this before. During the worst of the pandemic, residents checked up on each other and took food and groceries to those in need. During the occupation, we provided safe walks downtown to help people feel comfortable when they left their homes, and we came together at Billings Bridge to stop members of the convoy and send them back.
When we come together, we don’t just provide food and support, we also provide community and camaraderie, and that can be just as important.
It has been a difficult two years for everyone, and we all get tired, but when I see the heart of this community, when I see us come together to help each other, it reinvigorates me. It makes me proud to be your councillor, and it inspires me to be the councillor you deserve.
Good news about the Bank Street Bridge
The city has confirmed that crews will begin work on the Bank Street Canal Bridge this spring. It’s been a long process. Our office began working on this issue shortly after coming into office. Two years ago, after public consultation, we were able to get approval for an improved design for the bridge, including separated bike lanes and improved sidewalks.
It has taken a bit of time to finalize the design, secure funding and select a contractor to do the work, but now that’s all taken care of, we expect the work will be completed in the fall or early winter.
We thank the community for its patience and for all the work many of you did by consulting and advocating for this improvement.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward and can be reached at Shawn.Menard@ottawa.ca.