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Richmond Hill councillor loses 90 days’ pay over bullying complaint

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Richmond Hill councillor Karen Cilevitz has been docked 90 days pay after an investigation by the town’s integrity commissioner found she had violated the part of the council’s code of conduct that forbids bullying and intimidation.

In her report, Richmond Hill integrity commissioner Deborah Anschell detailed lengthy back-and-forth between Cilevitz and the complainant, Steffi Goodfield, in part over the use of the term “Ward 5” in an open mic event co-run by Goodfield called the Ward 5 jam.

The CBC first reported on the issue in May, when it came to light that Cilevitz had left Goodfield an angry voicemail and several messages warning that only she was entitled to use the term “Ward 5.”

Ultimately, Anschell found Cilevitz’s communications were “bullying in tone and intended to intimidate.”

“Not only was Councillor Cilevitz incorrect on the facts when she claimed exclusive domain over the use of the term “Ward 5″, she also communicated her inaccurate stance inappropriately with a member of the public,” wrote Anschell.

90 days without pay

On Monday, Richmond Hill council voted to suspend Cilevitz’s pay for 90 days, the maximum amount of time permitted under the Municipal Act.  

“It’s clear in the report that Goodfield said, ‘it’s not my fight, I don’t want anything to do with it’… and yet [Coun. Cilevitz] was relentless,” Richmond Hill Coun. Carmine Perrelli told CBC Toronto.

Perelli, who introduced the motion to dock Cilevitz’s pay for the maximum length of time, said he “couldn’t imagine a scenario that could be worse” than a councillor intimidating a member of the public.

Anschell’s report lays out a complex series of exchanges over the last year between Cilevitz, Goodfield, Goodfield’s friend and open mic co-organizer Matt Bergman, and other unnamed third parties.

Richmond Hill Coun. Karen Cilevitz left this message on a constituent’s voicemail. 1:51

Both Cilevitz and Goodfield say they began as friends, though the length of time they remained friends is disputed.

Beginning in Dec. 2017, Cilevitz messaged Goodfield repeatedly over an interpersonal conflict playing out between her romantic partner, various other friends, and Matt Bergman.  

By January, she began raising the issue of the name of an open mic night co-organized by Goodfield, the Ward 5 jam, and threatening legal action.

The complaint was filed in May. 

Cilevitz ‘respects’ integrity commissioner’s findings

Cilevitz responded to the council’s decision in a statement on her Facebook page attributed to her lawyer.

It says she “respects the decision of the Integrity Commissioner” but finds council’s Dec. 17 decision to dock her pay to be “driven by political forces.”

Cilevitz had also argued the Goodfield’s complaint was also part of a political plot against her during the course of the integrity investigation, according to Anschell.

“Councillor Cilevitz looks forward to 4 more years of successful work on behalf of her residents as the duly elected Ward 5 Councillor for Richmond Hill,” reads the statement.  

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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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