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City confirms it has documents at storm-damaged Iron Mountain building

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Hundreds of file boxes are exposed after a section of metal wall on the Iron Mountain secure storage warehouse Kenaston Street in Ottawa was torn off by high winds on Monday.


Kieran Delamount / Postmedia

The city confirmed that it has documents stored at the Iron Mountain records management centre that was heavily damaged in Monday’s thunderstorm, but says it’s still waiting to find out whether any documents have been damaged.

Strong winds ripped a huge section of metal siding off Iron Mountain’s Kenaston Street building during the late afternoon storm, exposing hundreds of file boxes to the elements.

“The City of Ottawa sent a senior employee from the Information Management Branch to visit Iron Mountain’s facility on-site,” Tyler Cox, manager of legislative services with the city, said in an email. “Once it is safe to send staff into that area of the building, Iron Mountain will conduct an audit of the boxes to determine if there is any damage. No rain damage is visible from the outside.”

Cox said that they have been advised that the wire racks that hold the boxes were not damaged in the storm, and that “there is no possibility that boxes fell or were blown off the racking.”

It’s still not clear which boxes were being stored in the location where the metal siding fell off, including whether any of the exposed boxes belong to the city. Iron Mountain is still trying to determine who owned the boxes, and whether it needs to inform anyone about damage.

Cox said that the city is monitoring the security of the documents, which were exposed along a side of the building that was not fenced in and can be accessed by walking through a small section of brush, but that they were confident that Iron Mountain had things under control. “Iron Mountain demonstrated to the City official that a security guard has been posted outside of the damaged area since the incident,” said Cox. “The City’s offsite storage provider is obligated to ensure City records are secure and not damaged and protected from unauthorized access.”

In a statement, an Iron Mountain spokesperson said: “Iron Mountain has sealed the exposed portion of the building’s exterior, and we have restricted access while reparations are under way to add an additional layer of security to the facility and materials inside. In addition, we have added extra security to ensure the continued safety of the customer materials. We are actively working to repair the damage and will provide updates to customers as that work progresses.”

This is not the first time the city has had problems with documents stored with Iron Mountain. In 2006, a fire at the company’s Comstock Road building damaged some city files.

“When the fire occurred at the Comstock Road location in 2006, Information Management created a response team,” said Cox. “Once the City’s team received lists of affected boxes from Iron Mountain, the team created spreadsheets containing descriptions of the material, who the business owner was, (and) whether or not the records were designated as having archival value.”

There is little concern that, as in 2006, any documents have been destroyed. “In the current situation, it is unlikely that records have been completely destroyed,” said Cox. “Records that are water-damaged and/or contaminated with mold can be remediated. This usually involves freeze-drying the records for 30 days to destroy mold, thawing the records, and cleaning them.”

The city said that all costs associated with repairs would fall to Iron Mountain.

Had the damage been more extensive, and had any documents actually been destroyed, the city said that they would have to take stock of what was lost and what they could replace. Many documents now also exist electronically, for instance. In 2006, some of the documents were close to or past their retention date as it was. Some city records need to be retained by law for as little as one year, while others are required to be retained indefinitely.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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