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PLAY BALL! Sam Katz confident baseball will be a hit in Ottawa when it returns next year




Sam Katz admits bringing professional baseball back to Ottawa in 2021 will be challenging, but he’s confident it will work.

It was announced Tuesday the city of Ottawa had finalized negotiations on a lease for the use of the Ottawa Baseball Stadium – with Katz, the long-time owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes, expected to announce soon that the new Ottawa ball club will join the Frontier League. Katz is partnering with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Redblacks and 67’s.

The timing is far from ideal – the COVID-10 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world of professional sports – but it’s full steam ahead from here for Katz.

“I have to be brutally honest in saying these are challenging times with COVID-19,” said Katz. “The hard work begins now. If you’re in the sports entertainment business and you’re not a bit worried about what’s going on in the world today, you’d better go see a doctor quick. The type of measures that have been put in place to keep us healthy and safe have an impact on what goes on as far as sports and entertainment goes. You’re seeing basketball and hockey playing to empty arenas and baseball being played in empty ballparks.

“You need to accept the fact you may have to play with less than what your capacity is. And you’re going to have to take into consideration all the proper protocols – make sure anybody who comes to your facility is always going to feel safe.”

The lease between Katz, who is hoping to have a manager for the new Ottawa team in place “within 30-60 days” and the city begins Jan. 1. The annual lease payment to the city is $125,000 (plus H.S.T.) per year for base rent, payable in six monthly instalments beginning next May 1 and continuing until Oct 1 and each subsequent year of the ease. The city has also placed a Municipal Capital Facility Agreement designation on the stadium which exempts it from municipal taxes. Katz has accepted the Ottawa Baseball Stadium on an “as is” basis, with no additional maintenance or investment from the city. He has also agreed to pay the $473,000 arrears owed by the previous baseball tenant, the Champions.

The Frontier League looks to be the clear frontrunner to take on an Ottawa team. Several of the Frontier League’s 14 teams were part of the Can-Am League, which folded a year ago. The Champions played in the league for five seasons before being left out of the Frontier League expansion.

“From a geographical point of view, (the Frontier League is) absolutely (the best option),” sad Katz. “This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been looking at opportunities. I communicate with people in all the leagues on a regular basis. That will be a first priority and I hope to have that solidified real soon.”

So why Ottawa?

“It’s a thriving community,” said Katz. “You have a ballpark that can accommodate approximately 10,000 people – which in today’s circumstances is a major plus. You have a mayor and city council that want to see professional baseball back in Ottawa and not have an empty stadium. You have light rail transit. Ottawa is a no brainer, it fits all the criteria for having a successful sports franchise. Saying all that, it doesn’t mean it happens automatically just because, ‘Hey, we’re here, hello, come on down.’ You have to motivate and inspire people to come, you have to keep them coming back and you have to work hard to do that.

“I wouldn’t have spent the money if I didn’t think it would work. Take a normal environment minus COVID – this is an example I’ve used – you have one restaurant on the corner selling hamburgers and friends and one kitty-corner selling hamburgers and fries. One is doing extremely well and the other closes up. My philosophy is the business did not fail, it’s the people that failed. You have to understand you have to work really hard to make people come and spend their hard-earned entertainment dollars to see your product. It’s not just, ‘Here I am, line up and buy tickets.’ You have work at it and we’re certainly prepared to do that. I have no doubt once people come, they’ll want to come back – the experience will be terrific.”

When the Ottawa Lynx joined the International League (Triple A) in 1993, the franchise was hugely successful, with many sellouts. But by the time they departed in 2007, though, fan interest had dropped off sharply.

“The Lynx were extremely successful, they were selling out the ballpark,” said Katz. “Would that be a goal for us? Of course. Your goal in any sport is to sell out, whether it’s realistic or not. I believe we can get good crowds there and give them quality and affordable entertainment. Keep one thing in mind: When we play a game, we play every game to win. We’re not being told, ‘Hey, play (a certain player) because we paid him a lot of money.’ We’re putting out the best players.

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Ottawa sets monthly record for total COVID-19 cases with 99 new cases on Friday





Sixteen days into October, Ottawa has already set the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single month.

Ottawa Public Health reported 99 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa today, and three more deaths linked to novel coronavirus.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health had reported 108 new cases of COVID-19, but there is sometimes a lag in COVID-19 case reporting between Ontario and Ottawa Public Health. On Wednesday, Ontario reported 39 new cases in Ottawa, while Ottawa Public Health reported 45 new cases.

There have been 1,511 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa in October, surpassing the September record of 1,413 new cases.

Since the first case of COVID-19 on March 11, there have been 5,908 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, including 301 deaths.

Across Ontario, there are 712 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported 213 new cases in Toronto, 135 in Peel Region and 62 in York Region.


One more person was admitted to an Ottawa hospital with COVID-19 related illnesses on Friday.

Ottawa Public Health reports 47 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including eight in the intensive care unit.


The number of active cases of COVID-19 increased on Friday.

There are 792 active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, up from 777 active cases on Thursday.

A total of 4,806 people have recovered after testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of active cases is the number of total laboratory-confirmed cases minus the numbers of resolved cases and deaths. A case is considered resolved 14 days after known symptom onset or positive test result.

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Ottawa mayor rejects possible return of Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoints, ‘I really don’t think they work’





Mayor Jim Watson does not want to see police checkpoints return to the five interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau, saying “I really don’t think they work.”

Earlier this week, Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin told the Ottawa Citizen that police checkpoints could return to the Ottawa-Gatineau border at “any time,” with the final decision in the hands of the Quebec Government. Earlier this month, Dr. Brigitte Pinard of the Centre Integre de sante et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais said border checkpoints were “possible,” adding “right now, our message is to limit large gatherings.”

When asked by CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts about the possibility of police checkpoints returning to the Ontario-Quebec border, Watson said he did not think they worked back in the spring.

“There were so many gaps when the police were not there, and people just figured out I’ll go at an earlier time or a later time. We saw police officers sticking their heads in the car with no masks, so that was not healthy for those individuals,” said Watson Friday morning.

“It’s a costly expense when our police are stretched already to the limit trying to do the work, to have them set up at five different bridge points potentially 24 hours a day would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars every month and I think the money is better spent.”

On April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec set up checkpoints along the Ottawa-Gatineau border to limit non-essential trips into Gatineau. Gatineau Police estimated the random police checkpoints between April 1 and May 17 cost the service more than $400,000.

Mayor Watson tells CTV Morning Live that the Quebec Government’s decision to move Gatineau into the “red zone” two days after Ontario moved Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 should help.

“We are a close relationship and when things happen in Gatineau there’s often a trickle effect over here and I think the fact that we’re both in the red zone, and Quebec of course is the worst hit province, at least levels the playing field for our restaurants and bars,” said Watson.

“I think in the past what had happened was our restaurants and bars would close and then the ones in Gatineau would stay open, and then people from Ottawa would go over there irresponsibly, in my opinion, and then come back potentially with the virus and spread it here.”

While border checkpoints would limit the non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border, Watson says that’s not the way to beat COVID-19.

“The message is very clear, stick to your household. This is not the time to have an AirBNB party or a keg party in your backyard, or have 20 people or 30 people in for an engagement party. I know a lot of these get-togethers are important socially for people and emotionally, but we have to ask people to be reasonable and responsible, and this is not the year to do those kinds of things.”

Roberts asked the mayor if he would have a conversation about border checkpoints with Gatineau’s mayor.

“I had it the first go-around, but at the end of the day I also respect their jurisdiction and their autonomy. It is the province that would have to impose that, not the municipality,” said Watson.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s an effective use of resources. We want to continue to get the message across that we can win this battle against COVID-19 if we socially distance, we wear a mask, we actually follow the simple rules that are put forward.”

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Ottawa woman breaks 14-day quarantine rule to work at long-term care home: police





OTTAWA — A 53-year-old Ottawa woman is facing charges under the federal Quarantine Act after Ottawa police say she failed to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling abroad and returned to work at a long-term care home.

Ottawa Police say information was received indicating that an Ottawa woman had travelled abroad. She returned to Canada on Sept. 26, so she was required under federal law to quarantine for 14 days, until Oct. 9

“The woman decided not to respect this order and went to work on Sept. 30 at a long-term health facility in Ottawa,” police said in a news release. “When management was apprised of the situation, she was immediately sent home. The facility immediately activated mitigating self-isolation and cleaning protocols and informed all persons that had been in contact with the subject.”

Police say none of the residents of the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as a result of the woman attending work.

Ottawa police say this is the first person they have charged under the Quarantine Act during the pandemic.

The woman is charged with failing to comply with entry condition under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and cause risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm under section 67 of the Quarantine Act.

The maximum penalty for causing risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm is a $1 million fine and three years in prison. For failing to self-isolate for 14 days, she faces a $750,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

Police did not release the name of the woman, nor where she worked. The woman is due in court on Nov. 24.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office issued a statement following the announcement of the charges.

“Mayor Watson was disturbed to learn about the alleged carelessness of the individual in question. This type of reckless behaviour could have harmed their colleagues, and more importantly, the residents of the long term care home. We must all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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