Meet the helpers, party safer and update on bylaw tickets

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

That quote is from the irreplaceable Fred Rogers, and I think of it often when I meet new people and organizations in Centretown. The very best part of my job is meeting the volunteers and staff who do the hard work to support the most vulnerable in our community, beautify our neighbourhoods and make downtown Ottawa a great place to live.

A few examples:

  • At Highjinx at 290 Kent Street, Leigh and Karen serve meals to neighbours and help them find housing. All of the vintage goods in their thrift store are sold, with the proceeds going to helping people in the neighbourhood.
  • Volunteers from Ottawa Inner City Ministries distribute sandwiches, winter clothing and hygiene supplies to people experiencing homelessness in downtown Ottawa.
  • The Centretown Community Food Centre, the Dalhousie Food Cupboard and the Parkdale Food Centre fight food insecurity and provide groceries and community meals, so our neighbours don’t go hungry.
  • Belong Ottawa runs programs in three downtown locations for people in need, including shower facilities, hot meals, laundry, and referrals to community supports.
  • At the Catherine Street Community Service Hub, staff from the city and the provincial government can help residents and newcomers access key government benefits and community services. The Centretown Community Food Centre is also on site, as well as outreach workers from community organizations.
  • Centre 507 on Bank Street is a drop-in respite centre that is open overnight and also offers meals and social supports during the day (check their website as they are in the process of expanding their hours).
  • The Centretown and Somerset West Community Health Centres run a wide variety of community and outreach programs, ranging from breastfeeding support, to drop-in play groups, to seniors’ activities, to homeless outreach and harm reduction.

There are so many organizations in Centretown that are here to help. You can check out the Who To Call List that our team put together. And I hope you will join us at our Meet the Helpers virtual community forum on Wednesday, March 27th at 6:30 pm. It takes a village to tackle the issues we are facing in Centretown, but fortunately, we have a great one.

Warmly,  

Ariel

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P.S. – Check out my op/ed in the Ottawa Citizen, discussing why I choose to refer to people who use drugs as neighbours and what we are doing as a city to help tackle the overdose crisis.

Councillor Troster, with a group of drag performers who were at City Hall last week to film a PSA about the need for accessible, gender neutral bathrooms

Update on bylaw tickets during protests

A number of residents wrote to our office with concerns about what seemed to them as uneven enforcement of noise bylaws, particularly with the demonstrations associated with the two-year anniversary of the convoy. Many pointed out that it seemed hypocritical that participants in recent anti-war and pro-LGBTQ rallies were given tickets, while it appeared that convoy folks were allowed to act with impunity.

The issue of who is getting ticketed and why is a hot issue amongst council members and something that we are actively investigating. We are looking for a solution – whether it is some sort of agreement around guidelines for enforcement, or a potential amendment to the bylaw to allow for some lower-volume amplified sound during political demonstrations.

Setting off illegal fireworks and leaning on air horns is disruptive to downtown residents and also triggering for people who lived through the convoy occupation. While there were no bylaw tickets issued this weekend, Ottawa police did lay several charges for offences including driving while suspended, operating a vehicle with no insurance, excessive noise and driving the wrong way in one-way traffic.

We appreciate everyone who contacted our office about this issue and will keep you updated as discussions continue.

Synapcity Civics Boot Camp Pitch Day & Graduation Event

Join Synapcity for the graduation of their 2024 Civics Boot Camp program on Wednesday March 6th in the main hall of the Dominion-Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa. Hear from several keynote speakers including current City Councillors and the CEO of the Ottawa Public Library. Check out pitches and presentations from our Case Study groups and help us welcome Ottawa’s next class of CityMakers!

Learn more and RSVP here.

Party Safer course now live on Stop Overdose Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health has launched a new online course to help neighbours stay safe and prevent and respond to overdoses.

Learn more and take the course online here.

Winter travels with OC Transpo

When winter weather is forecast, some changes to bus types, trips, and schedules may occur. This is to ensure a safe and reliable service when road conditions are bad and ridership is lower.

During these times, we monitor our bus, O-Train Line 1 and Para Transpo service for any necessary adjustments. During extreme weather, customers should give themselves more time and expect delays.

There may also be several bus stops located on slopes across the city that will be temporarily closed. This is due to road conditions in the area that make it difficult to serve.

Learn more about preparing for winter service online here.

Engage Ottawa: have your say on the new recreation pass proposal

The City of Ottawa offers many recreational services to encourage residents to keep active and healthy. Currently, residents can participate in activities like swimming, skating, weights and cardio, aquafitness and group fitness classes in more than 20 recreation facilities.

To ensure residents are paying fair costs for the services they are accessing, the City is reviewing its model for memberships and admissions. Recreation services can be accessed by paying a drop-in admission fee, by purchasing a membership or by buying a multi-visit pass.

The goal of the new membership and admissions model is to fairly redistribute the costs of recreation services and is not intended to boost revenues. The majority of members would pay a similar rate to what they’re paying now, and some may even see a slight decrease in their fees. There are some membership categories that will see an increase to their fees.

Fill out the Engage Ottawa survey to have your say.

Free dental screenings at the Catherine Street Hub

Clients can go to the Hub at 370 Catherine Street for the free Dental Screening Service provided by Ottawa Public Health. Twice monthly they have a registered dental hygienist at The Hub to provide free dental screenings as well as support in accessing dental care and dental health promotion. Please note they do not do any actual dental work at the Hub. This Dental Screening Service is to help clients navigate the system in order to access free dental services in Ottawa and to get information on Dental Health. The Hub office is located at 370 Catherine St. on the first floor.

The current schedule for OPH Dental screening is:

  • Wednesday February 28, 1-4:00 pm
  • Wednesday March 13 and 27 1-4:00 pm

Safety in your neighbourhood or building

The Centretown Community Association’s safety and emergency preparedness group has practical advice on how to improve safety, both in the neighbourhood and within buildings.

The group is looking for volunteers to help build Neighbourhood Watch and those living in apartments or condos can explore a program that focuses on how building doorways, foyers and hallways can be enhanced for safety.

For more information, contact: [email protected]

As well, folks can find out what sorts of crimes are happening at what spots in their community, via the police service’s data portal.

ACORN Eco-Tenant Survey 

ACORN Canada is working on a project focused on helping tenants mitigate the impacts of climate change in their units, but facilitating their access to, and understanding of retrofits. The first step is to understand the specific climate issues tenants are facing.

ACORN has created an Eco-Tenant Survey, to collect data related to tenants, energy efficiency, climate resilience and mitigation capacities. The survey can be answered anonymously, in French or English and is integral to informing our work on tenant rights, retrofits, climate change and healthy homes.

The survey can be completed here: 

https://acorncanada.org/ottawa-acorn-eco-tenant-survey/

New time slot at the Centretown Community Kitchen

The Centretown Community Kitchen is now offering a new time slot, from 4:00 to 6:30 pm every Wednesday to accommodate folks who work or attend classes during the day. The kitchen provides cooking equipment and some basics (ride, cooking oil, seasoning), and you bring the food you want to cook and containers for taking your meals home. To book a spot in the kitchen, please give the location you wish to attend a call.

Board member positions at the Dalhousie Food Cupboard

The Dalhousie Food Cupboard is recruiting new board members. The DFC are a community food bank in Ottawa, serving the West Centretown, Somerset and Preston Street neighborhoods. They offer food service to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week.

The Dalhousie Food Cupboard is seeking people to join their Board of Directors. Ideal candidates will have volunteer experience, an understanding of the charitable sector and awareness of the multitude of factors that impact food insecurity. Applicants should demonstrate an affinity for cultivating relationships and collaborating within a diverse team environment. At present, they are searching for someone to lead their Communications and Social Media activities, but they also have space for a candidate with strong business acumen.

Applications can be sent to [email protected] on or before March 8th at 5:00 pm. More information about these positions can be found here.

 

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