July 3, 2020 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
COVID-19 Feedback for Ottawa Public Health
The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health are continuing to explore how best to support residents and businesses as COVID-19 restrictions are gradually eased, while keeping with the Province of Ontario’s framework for reopening the province.
What We Heard report
At the beginning of May, we launched phase 1 of our Engagement Strategy to gather feedback from the public on their experiences during the pandemic. The full report “COVID-19 What We Heard” is available here: https://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19/news_feed/what-we-heard-phase-1
NEW survey for members of our community
As we look forward, we want to hear more from members of our community. Phase 2 of our Public Engagement Strategy launches today and includes a new survey and forum questions available on Engage Ottawa in English or Participons Ottawa in French: https://engage.ottawa.ca/covid19.
Reopening of pools
The City is now planning for a phased-approach to opening wading pools and a gradual opening of indoor and outdoor swimming pool facilities – with COVID-19 prevention measures.
Wading pools across the city will open in a phased approach, with the first group of pools opening on July 6 and a second group on July 13, as indicated on ottawa.ca. Wading pool attendants will be present at the pool to provide safety supervision. Admission numbers will be reduced to allow for physical distancing.
Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
The indoor and outdoor swimming pool facilities will open in a phased approach beginning the week of July 6, with additional pools opening the following week and the remaining pools opening at later dates.
The number of swimmers will be significantly reduced for both public and lane swims to ensure physical distancing can be maintained. In order to accommodate as many swimmers as possible, swims will be scheduled in one-hour sessions with fifteen-minute blocks between sessions to allow staff to manage numbers entering and exiting the facility, and to perform additional cleaning. In the initial phase of the pool reopenings, the City recommends that people over the age of 65 and those who are immunocompromised or have underlying health issues do not participate in any swimming program.
COVID-modified swimming lessons
The City has reformatted its Learn to Swim Program to incorporate COVID-19 prevention measures. Swimming instructors will maintain physical distancing from participants and a parent or guardian must accompany their child in the pool for the following levels:
- Private lessons – pre-school to Swim Kids 4
- Pre-school to Swim Kids 1 to 4 – low-ratio classes
- Inclusive Swim Kids 1 and 2
Lessons for all levels will be 30 minutes long to allow for physical distancing between participants entering and leaving the facility. This also provides sufficient time for cleaning and disinfecting common areas.
The swimming lesson guide will be posted online at ottawa.ca, and registration will be held on Monday, July 13 at 9 pm. Swimming lesson spots will be limited to reduce the number of participants in each session and allow for proper physical distancing.
The City will not be offering aquafitness, regular-ratio classes, Power Swim, and lifesaving and leadership classes during this phase of reopening.
To help reduce the risk, some of the COVID-19 measures and protocols that will be in place at the pool facilities include:
- One entry and exit point, with a staff member ensuring physical distancing is followed.
- Swimmers at outdoor pools will enter and exit through the gate and not through the facility.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of common areas, high-touch surfaces, change room and washroom facilities, and lifejackets.
- Saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, diving boards, rope swings, and water slides will be closed.
- Viewing areas will either be closed or their capacity reduced, to allow for proper physical distancing.
- Parents or guardians who are not accompanying their child in the pool for swimming lessons are encouraged to wait outside the facility.
- Directional flow of swimmers around the outside of the pool for entering and exiting the swimming area.
- Washrooms will have every second sink and urinal closed.
- Hand sanitizers will be located in central areas for both clients and staff.
Swimmers are asked to do their part to protect themselves and others from COVID-19:
- Shower at home before going to the pool.
- Wear their bathing suit to the pool.
- Practice personal COVID-19 hygiene – washing or sanitizing hands, staying home when exhibiting any symptoms.
- Keep a distance of two metres from other swimmers and staff.
- Wear a mask while walking in the facility. Some people who are infected with COVID-19 may have the virus and not know it. Masks can help decrease the risk of spreading the virus.
Council receives plan to eliminate 2020 deficit due to COVID-19
The City remains in a state of emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. City services are fully engaged in responding to the emergency, resuming services safely and preparing for a potential second wave of the virus. City Council today received an update about the impact on the City’s finances, including a plan to eliminate this year’s COVID-related deficit.
The City has a proven record of sound financial management, but the revenue losses and unplanned costs due to the pandemic have added significant budget pressures. As a result of COVID-19, projections show that the City will run a $192-million deficit this year. To close this year’s deficit gap, the City will reduce operating expenses, leverage reserve funds and adjust capital spending to maintain services and respond to evolving community needs. While these one-time solutions address our deficit this year, they put pressure on City finances in future years.
Given the limited financial options available to municipalities, the City will require funding from the federal and provincial governments to support needed infrastructure investments, transit and operating pressures. Mayor Jim Watson, on behalf of the City, has requested funding through the Big City Mayors’ Caucus, the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. The City is also actively working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on their requests for emergency operating funding.