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Riders left out in the cold by OC Transpo delays, cancellations

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CTV Ottawa


Published Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:36PM EST


Last Updated Thursday, January 10, 2019 6:38PM EST

A nightmare Thursday morning commute on OC Transpo left hundreds of riders to fend for themselves.

Riders, such as Jessica Sultan, took to social media to spread the word of delays and cancellations at Carp Park and Ride.

From Stittsvile to Orléans and Kanata, disappointed riders rushed to social media to voice their concerns.

Stittsville councillor Glen Gower, said he hears these concerns all the time and is working with OC Transpo officials, transit chair Allan Hubley and Mayor Jim Watson to resolve these issues.

“It’s extremely frustrating, I take the bus myself, so do members of my team, we’re seeing this all time, we’re seeing cancellations, we’re seeing overcrowded buses and we’re seeing buses that sometimes don’t arrive at all.” said Gower.

Troy Charter, Director of Transit Operations at OC Transpo said customer service was made aware of the delays and cancellations and worked to inform riders as soon as possible of changing route schedules.

“That was one of the areas in which we did see service delays; upwards of 20 minutes there, could’ve been longer” said Charter.

OC Transpo admited today was an example of a challenging morning commute; worsened by crashes and poor weather across the city.

“We’re actively looking at those complaints to see what happened and try to get responses to people to let them know one, what happened and how to improve upon those things.” said Charter.

CTV News has learned there were at least 50 bus cancellations Thursday by noon; a multitude of reasons to blame, inclduing lengthy bus repairs, traffic, and inclement weather.

Long delays weren’t just reserved for the morning commuters, several long-term riders say even during the afternoon ride service, winter delays and cancellations are a weekly occurence and they’re disappointed service hasn’t improved.

“One day I waited one full hour… we were promised that in the new year, service would be better because they had more buses on.” said George Shaw at Lincoln Fields station.

Trevor Haché, has formed a transit riders’ group; their plan is to approach the city with ideas on how to improve service and efficiency.

“People in Ottawa that ride the bus are finding it’s not showing up when it says it’s going to. People are fed up the city’s trying to raise transit fares every year by 2.5%.” Haché said.

Other riders have come to accept winter transit delays and cancellations as the norm.

“My philosophy is, the colder it is, the later the bus.” said Edward Albert.

Albert’s wife, Muriel, said transit schedules have become unreliable and unpredictable. Late morning and afternoon communtes, the couple said, have often left them out in the cold for 30 minutes.

“We’ve got days we’re supposed to have one at 11:14 and he doesn’t show up.” said Muriel Albert.

OC Transpo said it expects many of the issues to be resolved once the Confederation Line construction is completed; the hope is that could happen by the end of March.

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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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