Submitted by Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward Councillor
Welcome to April, Kitchissippi! I know that many of us have been feeling the effects of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic for a full year. The uncertainties of this year have been challenging, and I want to say “thank you” once again to everyone for following public health guidelines and pulling together to support our neighbours. Kitchissippi is a strong community, and I am proud to serve you.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is underway in Ottawa. As I write this, adults aged 75 and over are now able to book their vaccine appointments, and by the time this is published, I anticipate even more people will have their vaccine appointments booked, with additional age cohorts becoming eligible. To stay abreast of the latest vaccine news and get daily updates about the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa, visit the Ottawa Public Health website and sign up for their vaccine e-newsletter. I know everyone is eager to get vaccinated, and I appreciate your patience as OPH works with the province to protect our population.
About a month ago I opened a public consultation to see what the community thought about the prospect of reconfiguring Byron Avenue between Golden and Redwood to create a pedestrian-centric space. Between Feb. 19 and March 15, community members provided their feedback about this concept via email, resulting in roughly 275 emails total. We received two and a half times more emails that raised objections to a permanent closure of Byron to through traffic than emails in favour of the proposed reconfiguration. Residents on both sides of the issue raised legitimate points, but based on what I’ve heard, I don’t think it would be fair for me to pursue a permanent reconfiguration of Byron at this time. My small staff are buried with a level of work that has at least doubled since the pandemic began, and we don’t have the capacity to lead the community through this discussion as a priority. I will bring forward what we heard from the community to traffic staff and ask them to consider possible solutions for the area that would address everyone’s concerns, and I will be seeking a temporary reconfiguration of Byron again this season that will mitigate traffic impacts for Fraser and Golden. I will provide updates on that discussion as it evolves.
Virtual pop-up office hours are ongoing, and I’ve asked my staff to include some weekend times so everyone can have the chance to participate. You can stay up to date on those through my weekly newsletter and our ward social media accounts. My office will be holding a virtual ward forum on May 12, where we’ll hear updates from our community associations and a presentation from a special guest speaker — more details on that will be available soon. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get subscribed to the newsletter, register for the ward forum, and to get in touch with us about all things Kitchissippi.