While city leaders struggled with the occupation, the community showed strength
February was a difficult month for our city. We suffered an illegal occupation that harassed residents throughout central Ottawa, and there were serious concerns about how the Ottawa Police Service and the City handled the crisis. Amidst all of this, we witnessed a very unfortunate city council meeting, with a lack of leadership from senior officials, which led to the removal and resignation of much of the police board.
It is clear we need to take a serious look at how both the board and the OPS function. It has been noted by many residents how the OPS treated the occupation differently than other protests.
There are now multiple investigations underway. Throughout this time, I was asking tough questions that I hope will finally be answered by the inquiries – why was there minimal enforcement, why did it appear that there was open facilitation of the occupation by authorities, and why wasn’t a proper plan in place before this convoy arrived?
As traditional leadership structures failed, residents really stepped up, supporting each other through food delivery, by offering alternative housing arrangements and with online support. On Sunday, February 12, I was proud to stand with residents on Riverside Drive at Billings Bridge, blocking 25 convoy vehicles, forcing them to remove their signs and flags, sending a message to authorities that they needed to act.
I was proud of Councillor Catherine McKenney who confronted the occupiers directly, imploring them to stop their campaign of harassment and violence against residents and handing out leaflets about the noise injunction that Zexi Li initiated. It felt important to walk with Councillor McKenney, Councillor Jeff Leiper and residents, providing safe walks for our neighbours and businesses in Centretown, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, letting them know they weren’t abandoned.
This all felt a bit surreal. Like being in a dystopian novel. But this was real life for a time in Ottawa. Thank you to all of you who found a way to provide some support and hope to others during the occupation.
Thank You to Our Outdoor Rink Volunteers!
Throughout all the challenges this winter, it has been great to have access to outdoor activity spaces, especially our local rinks. I want to say a big Thank You! to all the volunteers who spend hours maintaining these rinks. You make winter much more fun.
Skateboarding Drop-In at Lansdowne
The Skateboarding Drop-in at Lansdowne Park that happens every Tuesday evening in the Aberdeen Pavilion has been very successful. There are three 60-minute sessions: 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. During March Break, there will be additional sessions at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 15. The program runs until April 12.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with 140 to 150 people attending every Tuesday. Although the focus is on youth, the program is open to everyone – skaters have ranged in age from 10 to 55!
Electric Vehicle Charging Station
The EV charging station in the Glebe parking garage has been broken for some time now. Supply chain issues had prevented staff from getting replacement parts. Instead, the city has moved to install a new charging station, ready for use.
Bank Street Canal Bridge Timeline
After years of planning and consultation, the rehabilitation work on Bank Street Canal Bridge is set to get started this spring. The city intends to select a contractor to do the work in April, with construction beginning in May.
Construction will happen in three stages. The first stage will be construction on the west side. The second stage will be the east side. The final third stage will be repairs to the deck and expansion joints as well as tie-ins to the curb at each end of the bridge.
We hope to see the project finished by November.
New Trees for Glebe Collegiate
Last year, Glebe Collegiate applied to the city’s Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program. The city recently announced that the grant application has been approved, and seven trees will be planted at the school this spring!
Soil Cell Project
The City plans to install three soil cells to support eight trees on the east side of Bank Street between Wilton Crescent and Marché Way and another soil cell on Glebe Avenue west of Bank Street by the Shopper’s Drug Mart to support two trees. Because it is difficult to sustain healthy trees along Bank due to compaction, obstruction, salt use and other issues, the City is trying soil-cell technology which allows larger trees to grow by reducing compaction and providing storm-water management. Work will start with the drilling of boreholes in April, with planting scheduled for 2023.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached directly at Shawn.Menard@ottawa.ca.