January 8 Newsletter 2021

January 8, 2021 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.

Happy New Year! Our office got back to work this week, and we are all doubling down to address all of your concerns, while ensuring everyone is staying healthy and safe. Unfortunately, we are not where we need to be in terms of reducing and limiting the spread of COVID-19. We urge everyone to continue following the provincial and city rules so that we protect those who are vulnerable, and emerge from the pandemic as soon as possible.

City implements 25-person limit at rinks and sledding hills, reservation system for refrigerated rinks

Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, has issued an order under the  Health Protection and Promotion Act to restrict the number of people at skating rinks and sledding hills to 25 at one time – ensuring physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For the City’s four outdoor refrigerated rinks, the City will implement an online reservation system to book free 45-minute skating times at ottawa.ca/skating. Starting this Saturday, January 9, reservations will be required to skate at the following peak times:

  • City Hall Rink of Dreams, 9 am – 11 pm daily
  • Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams, 10 am – 10 pm weekends, 8 am – 10 pm weekdays
  • Lansdowne Park Skating Court, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change
  • Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink, 9 am – 10 pm weekends, 5 pm – 10 pm weekdays *hours subject to change

Those who have made a reservation must show a copy of their confirmation email upon entry, either on a mobile device or on a printed-out paper. Refrigerated rink openings are weather-dependent, so be sure to check ottawa.ca before arriving for your reserved skating time. The 25-person limit remains in effect at all times.

The reservation system will open on Friday, January 8 at 6 pm for residents to book skating times for Saturday and Sunday. Moving forward, reservations can be made up to two days in advance with new spots opening at 6 pm daily. A maximum of four skaters can be booked on each reservation.

For community outdoor rinks and sledding hills, the 25-person capacity also applies. Think about others and limit your time during busy periods so everyone can get a chance to skate or sled. Residents are encouraged to come back at another time if the rink or hill is at capacity. On-site signage will be posted and rink ambassadors will help to make people aware of the 25-person limit. Additionally, a dedicated team from By-law and Regulatory Services will proactively monitor these areas.

The order from Ottawa Public Health addresses reports of large crowds at skating rinks and sledding hills– impeding the ability to maintain proper physical distancing of two metres. In addition, Ottawa is currently under a 28-day provincial shutdown and it has seen a steady increase of cases over the past week – including four straight days where the counts exceeded 100 cases.

In addition to the Order, under Provincial Regulations no team sports are permitted and the City is directing that only skating take place on all rinks with no sticks, pucks, balls or other sports equipment permitted on the ice. People are reminded that masks must be worn in public accessibility areas that are within 15 metres (50 feet) distance of the edge of the ice surface. While masks are not mandatory when skating, OPH recommends wearing one for added protection.

City’s new Virtual Arts and Recreation Centre opens its door to fitness, creative arts, and special interests right into your home

The City’s new Virtual Arts and Recreation Centre opens opportunities to get fit, learn a new language, recipe or instrument, or discover your talents with a brush and palette – virtually, right in the comfort of your home. The winter class offerings will be online at ottawa.ca/recreation on Monday, January 11, with registration starting on Thursday, January 14 at 9 pm.

A mix of short workshops and multi-week courses will begin on Monday, January 25. There will be offerings for every age group. Programs will include:

  • Language classes (French and Spanish) 
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs (STEM)
  • Cooking classes
  • Visual arts: drawing, painting, digital arts
  • Fitness: Zumba©, bootcamp, yoga
  • Dancing: ballet, hip hop and others
  • Martial arts, Tai Chi
  • Leadership programs

The City wants to know what you think about snow!

Okay, that’s not entirely true – but it was catchy. They really want to know what you think about their winter maintenance quality standards.

The Winter Maintenance Quality Standards (WMQS) are approved by Council and they define the “desirable level of maintenance and the executed outcome of each winter service by defining the timing and extent of each winter maintenance activity in the context of achieving the overall objective of safe and passable roads and sidewalks by reducing hazards caused by snow and ice accumulation.” That’s technical speak for “they provide guidance on when and how the City will address winter weather conditions (snow, ice, freezing rain) on roads, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and multi-use pathways to ensure that they are safe for drivers and pedestrians”.

The WMQS were last updated in 2003 and much has changed since then. In updating the standards, the City has accounted for issues related to climate change, accessibility, equity, gender, sustainability, injury prevention, healthy living and livability.

“There will be no reduction in service as part of this Project,” said Chad Findlay, WMQS Review Project Lead. “We are suggesting either maintaining current standards or proposing options for increased service levels. And that’s why we want to hear from residents. We want to understand what their priorities are, if they are happy with current service levels and if they aren’t happy, we want to understand exactly what they’d like to see changed.”

Not all winter maintenance activities are being reviewed as part of this project – it’s very specific to the City’s active transportation network (sidewalks, cycling network, pathways and multi-use pathways), Class 5 roadways and Class 4 roadways without sidewalks. More information on the project can be found on Engage Ottawa

The City has planned a number of engagement opportunities; an online survey will be launched in mid-January and four virtual workshops are planned: January 25 from 7-9pm; January 26 from 7-9pm; January 27 from 7-9pm and January 28 from 1-3pm. You can sign up to receive Project updates, or register for any of the virtual workshops, on the Engage Ottawa site.

Anti-Asian Racism

Since the start of the pandemic, anti-Asian racism has been increasing. I advocated for a campaign to condemn this form, and all forms, of racism. The campaign was launched this week at the City. You can read more about it here.


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