City to distribute 200,000 free PRESTO smart cards

OC Transpo riders will soon experience the convenience of using smart card technology with the official launch of the PRESTO card this summer. OC Transpo has successfully negotiated an agreement to distribute the first 200,000 smart cards for free to its customers starting June 10, 2012.
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Permanent WEEKLY Green bin collection starts Monday, April 2!

Starting April 2, 2012, residents will have their green bin and leaf and yard waste collected every week, year-round, permanently. Food scraps, soiled paper products and other allowable waste from residential homes can now be placed at the curb for weekly collection.
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Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge Project Update

Today the City of Ottawa declared the general contractor on the Strandherd-Armstrong Bridge to be in default. Work on the bridge is approximately 60% complete and measures remain in place to ensure its completion. The City requires performance bonds on all major construction projects to guarantee project completion and minimize financial exposure to taxpayers. Declaring the general contractor to be in default and activating the $23 million performance bond will assist the City in its ability to ensure the timely completion of the project as well as the quality and safety of the bridge.
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Free “MyTransit-OC Transpo” app is now available for Apple mobile devices

The new MyTransit-OC Transpo mobile app is now available for free from the App Store for the iPhone, iPod and iPad – giving riders instant access to information on bus routes, closest stops and predicted arrival times. Users are reminded that while the app is free, regular 3G or 4G data usage will be required and any incurred costs will be dependent upon the user’s data plan. Real-time bus schedules may also be accessed through text messages by typing 560560 along with the four-digit stop number or first three letters of the Transitway Station name. For more transit information, visit octranspo.com
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Expanded smoke-free regulations coming into effect starting April 2

With the City of Ottawa’s expanded smoke-free regulations coming into effect on April 2, the City is working to ensure residents, businesses and other affected groups are aware of the changes. The expanded smoke-free regulations will prohibit smoking on all municipal properties, such as parks and beaches, and on all bar and restaurant patios. For more information about the expanded regulations, or if you need help quitting smoking, please visit ottawa.ca/smokefree or call 3-1-1. If you are a restaurant or bar owner and would like to arrange for training for your serving staff, please e-mail healthsante@ottawa.ca or call the Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744.
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Council approves lowest tax rate in five years

City Council today approved the budget for 2012 with the lowest tax increase in five years – 2.39 per cent – in keeping with the guidelines set by Council last year.

Budget 2012 will allow the City to proceed with much needed city-building infrastructure projects. Ottawa on the Move will see roadwork and bridge repair, sidewalk upgrades, sewer and culvert improvements and cycling infrastructure investment across the length and breadth of Ottawa. The plan will advance the work by many years and help prepare the City to host Canada’s sesquicentennial.

"City Council set a solid fiscal framework when it assumed office last year and this budget continues on the promise of prudent financial management,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “We have listened to our residents and are delivering a predictable rate that also allows us to provide high quality services and opportunities for Ottawa families."

Ottawa on the Move will see improvements to all transportation networks across the city. Council made the decision to maximize transportation choices for our residents in advance of the light rail construction period and in advance of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. Through the Ottawa on the Move program, $340 million worth of projects will be completed and a record amount of funding will go towards cycling initiatives.
The budget includes a continued freeze on fees for City recreation programs, a transit fare increase limited to 2.5 per cent and an investment of $5.5 million in additional funding for OC Transpo to add some 66,000 service hours to address the almost six per cent growth in transit ridership on our transit system. Also, for the first time since 2004, the City is reducing the size of its workforce.

For the owner of an average home assessed at $304,800, the 2012 budget will mean a property tax increase of $75 for the year. The rate-supported budget for the water and sewer services will be presented in January.

After the draft budget was tabled at City Council in October, the City held four city-wide public meetings. The City also held meetings of its seven Standing Committees, the Library Board, the Board of Health, the Police Services Board and the Transit Commission. In total, there were 15 forums where the public could comment on the budget, in addition to a budget e-mail address set up by the Mayor.

"The 2012 budget plan was carefully planned not only for today but with an eye on the City’s long-term needs," said City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick.
"This budget will build our city infrastructure more quickly than planned, while saving taxpayers money through improved operations and a prudent amount of low-cost borrowing."

The 2012 operating budget for the City of Ottawa is $2.5 billion and the capital budget is $850.8 million.

The City of Ottawa is in strong financial health, with the lowest debt-per-capita among the big Canadian cities. By accelerating our investment in capital projects, at interest rates below three per cent, it is estimated the City will save $12.9 million. The City will undertake approximately 150 infrastructure projects.

Among the many projects the City is proceeding with are:

• Construction of major new recreation facilities in Barrhaven and Kanata North
• Building 17 new parks
• Redevelopment of Arts Court
• Additional sewer system work to improve water quality in the Ottawa River
• 200 kilometres of road construction
• 70 kilometres of bicycle lane and road-shoulder construction
• 20 kilometres of additional sidewalks
• 120 road resurfacings and 27 bridge and overpass projects
• Targeted funds for the bus transit system to meet rising demand and ease crowding
• New systems for easy payment for transit service and to inform riders about bus arrivals
• 75 new double-decker buses to improve transit commuter service
• Six new trains for the highly successful O-Train service
• Improvements to the Kanata storm sewer system
• Changing the development approvals process to expedite approvals for projects that meet high environmental sustainability standards
• Reorganization of City staff, operations and technology to save money and improve service to residents through the new Service Ottawa department

A full package of budget information can be found at ottawa.ca/budget2012.

Mayor Watson presents Coralie Lalonde with City Builder Award

Mayor Jim Watson, with Rideau-Goulbourn Ward Councillor Scott Moffatt, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Coralie Lalonde for her outstanding volunteer work in the community.

Passionate about supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, Ms.Lalonde is co-founder, board member, former chair and volunteer organizer of the Tech Venture Challenge, sparking entrepreneurial spirit among post-secondary students in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario by encouraging them to act on ideas, providing mentorship with successful CEOs and providing networking opportunities with the business community.

Ms. Lalonde has also been a volunteer for various young entrepreneur programs including Junior Achievement of Ottawa-Carleton where she served as board chair, SHAD Valley, the Entrepreneurship Centre, OCRI, the Carleton Biz Camp, the Lemonade Stand Competition, Lead to Win, Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College, TIE, Venture Creations Group, the Ottawa Network and Adventures in High Tech.

Apart from the entrepreneurship sector, Ms. Lalonde was a volunteer with Volunteer Ottawa for 11 years, including as board chair, co-founder of ENGAGE, a program to encourage business leaders to become engaged in their community, a volunteer with the Community Foundation of Ottawa, serving on the board for five years, and a co-founder of the Social Venture Challenge, which encourages students to use their talents to find solutions to community problems.

Passionate about animal welfare, Ms. Lalonde has been a volunteer for the Ottawa Humane Society and a campaigner for the new facility, and a volunteer for The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, Paws for Life, Trinity of Hope, the West Quebec SPCA and Navan Animal Rescue.

Also dedicated to quality health care in the community, Ms. Lalonde has been a volunteer and board member for both the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corporation and a volunteer advisor for FM-CFS Canada.

The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

Ottawa Public Health notifies patients of infection prevention lapse

The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has advised Ottawa Public Health (OPH) that an inspection of a non-hospital clinic in Ottawa by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) found that some infection prevention and cleaning protocols were not always followed.

Following the CPSO inspection and a subsequent OPH investigation into the issue, registered letters are being sent to approximately 6,800 patients who underwent a procedure at the clinic between April 2002 and June 2011.

The clinic, operated by Dr. Christiane Farazli, is located at 1081 Carling Avenue, Suite 606. Dr. Farazli has worked with OPH during the investigation and has co-signed the letter to her patients. Endoscopic procedures are no longer being performed at the facility, which otherwise remains in operation.

As a result of its investigation and consultations with communicable disease experts, OPH believes that there is a very low risk that patients may have been exposed to Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus or HIV during the tests. The risk of associated infection are believed to be less than 1 in 1 million for Hepatitis B, less than 1 in 50 million for Hepatitis C, and less than 1 in 3 billion for HIV.

“Even though the risk of infection for those who had the procedures related to this issue is very low, we wanted to ensure that affected patients were made aware of the situation so that they can consider being tested for these infections,” said Dr. Isra Levy, Medical Officer of Health.

“We are aware of the distress these letters may cause and we have worked to ensure that important information on how to be tested and how to seek medical advice is included,” said Levy. “We have also notified local family physicians of the issue to ensure that they are aware of the context and are able to support any patients who come to them.”

“I remain committed to the safety and well-being of my patients and am co-operating fully with OPH in providing patients with this notification”, said Dr. Farazli “I sincerely regret that the issues that were identified in my facility occurred and I apologize for any inconvenience or anxiety that patients may experience upon receiving this notification. I would also like to reassure patients that the issues that led to this notification have been addressed and that I will be available to support them through this process”.

The letters include information for patients who would like to be tested. These are free blood tests and patients will need to go to a laboratory to have blood taken. If a patient would like to be tested they have several options which are outlined in the letter.

Ottawa Public Health has established a dedicated information line for residents who have questions related to this issue. Any person who underwent endoscopy in the facility during the time period mentioned and who has not received a letter by Tuesday, October 25th should contact Ottawa Public Health.

The OPH dedicated information line’s number is 613-580-288. The phone line will be available between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday). For additional information, please visit www.ottawa.ca/health. The information line will be open until midnight for the first three days starting Monday.

Patients are being advised not to go to a hospital emergency department for blood testing. Hospitals will re-direct patients seeking blood tests for this issue to call OPH.

Additional Information provided to patients:

If you would like to be tested for Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and/or HIV, you have several options:

1. You can see your own doctor or go to a walk-in clinic. Please take this letter, the enclosed fact sheets and the enclosed envelope to the doctor. The envelope labelled “Please give this envelope to your doctor” contains a letter for the doctor and a special Public Health Ontario Laboratories requisition form. You may then go to a community medical laboratory to have the blood drawn. You will need to show your Ontario Health (OHIP) card at the lab. Please bear in mind that it may be busy at a lab early in morning and there may be a wait. When the test results come back, your physician will arrange for any necessary advice and follow-up.

2. If you do not have a personal physician or you do not have an Ontario Health (OHIP) card, you may call Ottawa Public Health’s dedicated information line at 613-580-2888. OPH nurses can tell you how to fill in the Patient Information part of the Laboratory Requisition which you received in the mail. You can then go to a lab to have the blood drawn.

3. You also have the option to see Dr. Farazli and then go to a community medical laboratory to have the blood drawn. When the results come back, Dr. Farazli will arrange for any necessary advice and follow-up.

Additional information:
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
416-967-2611
Toll Free: 1-800-268-7096 Ext. 611

Take steps to protect your family from fire

Mayor Jim Watson officially declared October 9 to 15 Fire Prevention Week in Ottawa, with an emphasis on reminding residents about the steps they can take to prevent fires in their homes. Fire Prevention Week is marked annually across Canada and this year’s theme is “Protect your family from fire.”

“About 90 per cent of residential fires are preventable, that’s why it is important to take precautions,” said Mayor Watson. “Being fire smart starts with having a household conversation about how to be best prepared in case of an emergency.”

During Fire Prevention Week, Ottawa Fire Services will be throughout the community with Sparky the fire dog, information display tables and fire education presentations. This Saturday, representatives will be at all Home Depot locations in Ottawa from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with fire trucks and information tables.

“Our firefighters are always ready to answer the call if you need them, although it is important that safety start at home with you,” said Councillor Mark Taylor, Chair of Community and Protective Services Committee. “This is a great opportunity during Fire Prevention Week to have that conversation at home with your families and make sure you have taken the necessary precautions.”

In recent years, Ottawa Fire Services has worked to reduce the number of homes without a working smoke alarm from 35 per cent to just 10 per cent. Fire Prevention Week is a great way to remind residents not only to get smoke alarms, but also to test and maintain them.

“With a number of fires in the recent months, we are reminded about the devastating effects a fire can have on families and their communities,” said Kim Ayotte, Acting Deputy Chief of Community Standards, Education, Planning and Innovation. “Test your smoke alarms once a month, change your smoke alarm batteries twice a year and practice your family’s escape plan.”

For a more information about Fire Prevention Week activities, as well as how to protect your family from fire, visit ottawa.ca/fire.

Mayor Watson presents Rick Dods with Governor General’s Certificate of Commendation

Mayor Jim Watson, with Rideau-Goulbourn Ward Councillor Scott Moffatt, on behalf of His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, today presented the Governor General’s Certificate of Commendation to Mr. Rick Dods. The commendation is awarded to those who have made a significant contribution by providing assistance to another person in a selfless manner.

At 7:30 p.m. on October 28, 2008, Rick Dods was driving down Dwyer Hill Road in Goulbourn Township. It was dark and the season’s first snowstorm made driving treacherous. The 55-year-old tech worker was following a van but when he turned after the van onto McCaffrey Trail Road; Mr. Dods could no longer see the taillights.

The van had gone off the road and was at the bottom of a snow-covered embankment, lying sideways on the driver’s side in a creek. Mr. Dods slid down the hill and plunged into the icy water, which came up to his chest. He tried to get the passenger door open but it was locked electronically. Instead, he was able to gain access through the rear door. The back of the van was cluttered with furniture and other items, including a wheelchair, which he managed to scramble over to reach the front of the vehicle.

Mr. Dods realized the male driver was gasping for air and the van was starting to fill with water. Mr. Dods helped to turn him around to help him breathe and then turned his attention to the woman in the passenger seat. After considerable effort, he pulled her out of the van.

Removing the driver required more effort and assistance. Mr. Dods plunged into the freezing water to free the man’s legs, which were jammed between the seat and the door, but he could not move the driver, who did not have strength in his legs to aid with the rescue.

Mr. Dods scrambled back up the hill and called 911. He was getting a saw from his pickup truck, planning to cut the driver out of his seat, when he noticed headlights coming in the opposite direction and waved the vehicle down. Patrick Scissons, with two of his then-16-year-old triplet sons, offered to help. The four men braved the frigid creek and were able to extract the man from his van.

Rick Dods was awarded a Certificate of Valour by the Ottawa Police Service in May 2009 for his selfless actions.

The Governor General’s Certificate of Commendation was created in 1993 by the late Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn, former Governor General of Canada. It is signed by the Governor General and is intended for eligible candidates whose actions are deemed notable by the Canadian Decorations Advisory Committee. Eligible candidates are selected through a voting process.

Ottawa drinking water second to none

The City of Ottawa is pleased to announce another excellent water quality report card that shows the municipality continues to produce and deliver to its residents some of the safest drinking water in the world.

“I am pleased that Ottawa not only meets its duties and responsibilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but exceeds them,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Two years in a row of perfect scores confirms that the citizens of Ottawa enjoy drinking water quality that is second to none and that City staff is committed to ensuring that this continues.”

The City of Ottawa’s Environment Committee released a report today that says the Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s 2010 inspection of the city’s drinking water program found all six drinking water systems owned and operated by the City of Ottawa scored 100% in 14 different categories. The report will be tabled at the Environment Committee’s September 20 meeting.

For the second year in a row the City has received a perfect score. Other findings include:

- The City’s water quality testing program meets or is better than industry standards;
- The City’s maintenance procedures are appropriate;
- The operator certification program is working; and
- Staff are following procedures and showing a commitment to continued improvement.

    “Our residents can be confident in the quality and the safety of our drinking water,” said Councillor Maria McRae, Chair of the Environment Committee. “Staff continuously monitor our water-purification processes to guarantee high-quality water is produced and distributed to people’s taps.”

    Ottawa’s drinking water systems consist of the central system (Britannia and Lemieux Island Water Purification Plants and central distribution) and the Carp, Richmond-Kings Park, Munster Hamlet, Greely-Shadow Ridge and Vars well systems.

    The City of Ottawa’s Drinking Water Services branch is responsible for managing, producing and distributing water to close to 800,000 residents and businesses in Ottawa. It is one of the largest water systems in Ontario under a single authority producing 289 million litres of high quality water per day that is distributed through 2800 kilometres of pipes.

    Each year, the City performs approximately 100,000 water-quality tests in municipal, provincial, federal, private and university laboratories using the most up-to-date technologies and equipment. These tests cover a broad spectrum and provide information on the physical, inorganic, organic, microbiological and radiological characteristics of the water. The results are then analysed to confirm that quality is maintained as the water travels through the distribution system on its way to homes and workplaces in Ottawa.

    The 2010 Annual Drinking Water Systems reports can be found at ottawa.ca/water.

    City grants funds to grassroots groups to green Ottawa

    The City of Ottawa today announced the names of the recipients who will receive funds to improve and preserve the environment through the Community Environmental Projects Grants Program (CEPGP).

    This year the City received 23 submissions and awarded grants to 15 recipients, including:

    - Environment Committee of the Rockcliffe Park Residents Association’s “Buckthorn Stump removal in UNA 176 – Caldwell-Carver Conservation Area”
    - Ottawa Riverkeeper-Sentinelle Outaouais’ “Ripple Effect” (developing an interactive online tool encouraging residents to adopt household water efficiency actions)
    - Friends of the Jock River’s “Spring Tree Plant 2011 at Twin Elm on Jock River”
    - Ecole Secondaire Gisèle-Lalonde – PROJECT KARYNE’s “Solar Boat & Car Race”
    - Kanata Canada Day Inc.’s “Aiming for Zero Footprint Canada Day – 2011”
    - Ottawa Region Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council’s “Ottawa EcoLogical Student Design Competition”

    For a complete list of recipients, visit ottawa.ca/cepgp.

    “Creating a cleaner, healthier environment for the entire planet may appear to be a daunting task,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “However, commitment starts in our own backyard, and the ripple effect can span the entire city and beyond. This program turns local environmental commitment into action and contributes to a greener, more sustainable city where everyone can live, work and play.”

    The program provides funding for small-scale, community-based initiatives managed by non-profit organizations, aimed at improving and preserving the environment. A total of $50,000 is available each year, subject to City Council approval.

    “Through CEPGP, the City of Ottawa supports grassroots environmental initiatives and fosters innovation,” said River Ward Councillor Maria McRae, Chair of the Environment Committee. “At the same time, the program is designed to help the City meet its own green goals in areas such as solid waste diversion, water efficiency, wastewater and sustainable development.”

    CEPGP was initiated in 1995 as a pilot project. Since then, staff have received 335 submissions and awarded 171 applicants for a total allocation of nearly $500,000. The program continues to be popular. It is easy to access, uses a straightforward process and generates worthwhile results.

    For more information on CEPGP, visit ottawa.ca/cepgp or contact the City at 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

    City improves its Blue Box recycling program

    It is now much easier for City of Ottawa residents to use their Blue Boxes. Any confusion about what plastic is acceptable was simplified today when the City of Ottawa announced that ALL food and household plastic containers are now permitted in Blue Boxes.

    “The acceptance of these containers is another step to help us reach our diversion target of 60 per cent”, said Mayor Jim Watson. “It is a move that will make recycling simpler and easier for our residents and is part of our overall commitment to a greener Ottawa.”

    The additional food and household containers now accepted include all plastics with recycling numbers 1 through 7, such as plastic take-out containers, bakery and produce plastic containers (clam shells), single serve yogurt containers, clear plastic egg cartons, plastic pails, plastic planting trays and plastic flower pots.

    Councillor Maria McRae, Chair of the City’s Environmental Committee, urged the public to fully participate in the recycling program. “These recyclables add up,” she said. “In 2010, our recyclables were marketed and amounted to over $8 million in revenue!”

    Once collected, Blue Box materials are sorted into plastics, metals, glass and paper products that are sold to different companies in Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. which use the raw materials for manufacturing.

    Residents may visit the City’s Waste Explorer online search tool at ottawa.ca/recycle to find out how to properly recycle or dispose of items. Or residents may also call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

    Algonquin students’ videos remind OC Transpo riders to share a seat

    Today the Transit Commission recognized a unique partnership between OC Transpo and Algonquin College by announcing the student-produced video Shotgun as the winner of the Cooperative Seating Video Contest.

    OC Transpo and Algonquin College challenged students from the television broadcasting and public relations programs to use their technical and creative skills to produce an online commercial to promote the cooperative seating program, which reminds riders to leave seats at the front of the bus free for people who cannot stand in a moving vehicle.

    “OC Transpo strives to enhance its overall accessibility, customer service and rider experience,” said Councillor Diane Deans, chair of the Transit Commission. “Working with the Algonquin College students allowed us to create an innovative way of promoting the message of respect and courtesy at the heart of the cooperative seating program.”

    The public has been able to view all 10 videos on YouTube, and vote for their favourite at octranspo.com. The top three videos were Shotgun, Don't let courtesy become a thing of the past and Stand up for those who can't. To date, the videos have received over 20,000 views.

    A panel of judges made up of CTV community ambassador Max Keeping, Andrew Milne, CEO of the web marketing firm bvO2 Inc. and OC Transpo’s General Manager Alain Mercier assessed the videos based on quality of production, messaging and online success.

    “The cooperative seating program was launched last year to encourage customers to provide seats at the front of the bus for those who need them most,” said Alain Mercier, General Manager of Transit Services. “Partnering with the students at Algonquin College was a great opportunity to engage this community and create videos that benefit our customers.”

    The winning video, Shotgun, depicts an enthusiastic, ‘shotgun’ calling passenger being trumped on an OC Transpo bus by other priority riders. The 10 students on the winning team each received a semester bus pass from OC Transpo.

    “This is a great challenge that allows students from two programs to work together,” said Stephen Heckbert, Algonquin College’s public relations program coordinator. “We are teaching practical skills, and this campaign gives them the opportunity to practice them in a real-world situation.”

    All 10 videos can be viewed at octranspo.com.