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Westboro crash brings back painful memories

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CTV Ottawa


Published Saturday, January 12, 2019 7:21PM EST


Last Updated Saturday, January 12, 2019 7:26PM EST

Amanda Brooks is reliving the horror of that day, September 18, 2013; when the double-decker bus she was on crashed into a Via Rail train near Fallowfield station.

“What gets me through each day is telling myself that’s never going to happen again.” Brooks said.

Six people died that day in 2013, three more yesterday with dozens more injured.

The 25-year-old’s worst fears were realized yesterday upon hearing of news of the OC Transpo double-decker bus crash at Westboro station.

When I heard it was the 269, I thought it was a joke, I thought to my sister, I thought no that can’t be true, that can’t be the 269. That’s the bus we take now, and it was.” said Brooks.

Still dealing with anxiety and flashbacks from 5 years ago, Brooks has sought counselling to deal with post-traumatic stress and the reminder of the horrific images from that fateful day when the bus she was aboard was hit at a railway crossing near her home.

“It was such a flashback to that day, because I am like, oh my god that’s the bus I take, obviously in 2013 I was on that bus, but at least this time I was fortunate enough not to be on that bus.” said Brooks.

Following recommendations made by the transportation safety board grade separators have been installed at some railway crossings near Fallowfield station; designed to prevent such a crash from happening again.

OC Transpo officials tried to make it clear last night the double-decker buses in service are safe.

“Everything we needed to do in that TSB investigation has been acted upon and a reminder there was nothing that pointed to double-deckers

New double decker buses, Manconi said, are designed to be safer with added measures to protect passengers.

“The new double decker buses do have bumpers on them. I don’t know if that was one of the more current buses. That was the designer who did that on their own.” said Manconi, unsure of whether the bus involved in Friday’s crash was a newer model vehicle. OC Transpo said officials are investigating the cause with members of Ottawa Police Service.

Gage Geneau is Amanda Brooks’ fiancé; he and Brooks moved to Kanata two years ago; to avoid travel along that railway crossing in Fallowfield. Geneau said he rides the route 269 bus and often boards the early rush-hour ride home.

“I do take that bus daily going to and from work.” said Geneau.

Geneau took a later bus home Friday night; lucky not to have been involved in that fateful crash.

“Having two major ones in 5 years is not really that long of a time-span. I’ll be fine taking the bus but I’m sure there’s plenty of others who won’t be. But, I likely won’t be sitting at the front anymore.” said Geneau.

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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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