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Ottawa’s inflation rate accelerates to 1.7%

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The country’s headline inflation meter jumped last month by 0.7 per cent compared to one year ago, the fastest the consumer price index has risen in months, largely on the back of higher food prices.

October’s increase compared with a year-over-year rise of 0.5 per cent in September.

In Ottawa, the inflation rate jumped to 1.7 per cent in October, up from 1.2 per cent the previous month.

Nationally, the increase was almost entirely driven by rising food prices, particularly lettuce and fresh or frozen chicken, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The 25.6 per cent annualized increase in the former was largely a result of supply issues. The 2.4 per cent growth in the latter had more to do with uncertainty in the food services industry, which continues to feel the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Natural gas prices rose by 11.6 per cent in October compared with the same month in 2019, driven mostly by a 12.5 per cent bump in Ontario.

The overall jump in October was the sharpest increase since June amid an eight-month spell where monthly readings have been under one per cent, held down by the change in shopping habits due to COVID-19.

Things aren’t expected to get much better, even as retailers hope to entice shoppers into an earlier start to the Christmas shopping season.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said there will be a tug of war on prices as businesses balance increasing costs from public health measures while battling depressed demand.

Some sectors may see big price increases for hot items such as equipment for a home gym or outdoor furniture, but Porter said it won’t be enough to drive up overall inflation.

“We’ve got a real push-and-pull on the inflation front,” he said.

“We tend to believe that what is dominating and what will dominate overall is the underlying weakness in the economy and that will tend to keep a lid on overall inflation.”

Statistics Canada noted gas prices were down 12.4 per cent in October compared to one year earlier. Excluding the drop from calculations, the headline inflation reading would have increased on a year-over-year basis of one per cent.

Statistics Canada said new home prices increased in October at their fastest pace in 14 years, as lower mortgage rates coincided with increased demand for single-family homes.

“While lower interest rates are reducing mortgage service costs, this is being overwhelmed by higher costs for new housing,” James Marple, a senior economist with TD Economics, wrote in a note.

Mortgage rates have been driven down by the Bank of Canada’s key policy rate – currently at 0.25 per cent – which is as low as the central bank says it can go. It says the rate will stay there until inflation is back at two per cent.

In October, the average of Canada’s three measures for core inflation, which are considered better gauges of underlying price pressures and closely tracked by the Bank of Canada, was about 1.8 per cent.

https://obj.ca/article/canada-world/ottawas-inflation-rate-accelerates-17

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Ecology

Today’s letters: ‘Visionary’ plans don’t always work in Ottawa

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The opinion piece written by Tobi Nussbaum, CEO of the NCC, declares that a “bold, visionary transit plan” would showcase the capital.

As a long-term resident of Ottawa, I’ve had it with visionary plans. In the 1950s, the streetcars serving Ottawa so well were sent to the scrapyards. In the early ’60s, Queensway construction bulldozed established neighbourhoods and ripped the city apart. Later in the decade, the downtown railway station, which could have formed the hub of a commuter network, was relocated to the suburbs. These actions, in the name of “progress,” were undertaken with the “vision” to make Ottawa a car-reliant city.

Now we have an LRT, built just in time for most people to realize that they do not have to go downtown as they can work from home.

Current thinking is pushing a new “link” between Ottawa and Gatineau, with yet more expensive and disruptive infrastructure projects being touted, including a tramway or another tunnel under the downtown core.

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Ecology

That was then: Biggest earthquake since 1653 rocked Ottawa in 1925

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A regular weekly look-back at some offbeat or interesting stories that have appeared in the Ottawa Citizen over its 175-year history. Today: The big one hits.

The Ottawa Senators were playing a Saturday night game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Auditorium, the score tied 0-0 halfway through the second period. Sens’ rookie Ed Gorman and the Habs’ Billy Boucher had just served penalties for a dustup when the building began to make “ominous creaking sounds.” A window crashed to the ground.

Nearby, at Lisgar Collegiate, all eyes were on teenager Roxie Carrier, in the role of Donna Cyrilla in the musical comedy El Bandido. She had the stage to herself and was singing “Sometime” when the building rocked, the spotlight went out, and someone in the audience yelled “Fire!”

At a home on Carey Avenue, one woman’s normally relaxed cat suddenly arched its back, rushed around the room two or three times, spitting angrily, and climbed up the front-window curtains.

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Ecology

Ottawa delays small nuclear reactor plan as critics decry push for new reactors

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TORONTO — Canadians will have to wait a little while longer to see the federal government’s plan for the development of small nuclear reactors, seen by proponents as critical to the country’s fight against global warming.

Speaking at the opening of a two-day virtual international conference on Wednesday, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources said the plan will lay out key actions regarding the reactors. Its launch, Paul Lefebvre said, would come in the next few weeks.

“We’re still putting the finishing touches on it,” Lefebvre said. “The action plan is too important to be rushed.”

Small modular reactors — SMRs — are smaller in size and energy output than traditional nuclear power units, and more flexible in their deployment. While conventional reactors produce around 800 megawatts of power, SMRs can deliver up to 300 megawatts.

Proponents consider them ideal as both part of the regular electricity grid as well as for use in remote locations, including industrial sites and isolated northern communities. They could also play a role in the production of hydrogen and local heating.

“SMRs will allow us to take a bold step of meeting our goal of net-zero (emissions) by 2050 while creating good, middle class jobs and strengthening our competitive advantage,” said Lefebvre.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan had been scheduled to speak at the conference but did not due to a family emergency.

Industry critics were quick to pounce on the government’s expected SMR announcement. They called on Ottawa to halt its plans to fund the experimental technology.

While nuclear power generation produces no greenhouse gas emissions, a major problem facing the industry is its growing mound of radioactive waste. This week, the government embarked on a round of consultations about what do with the dangerous material.

Dozens of groups, including the NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green Party and some Indigenous organizations, oppose the plan for developing small modular reactors. They want the government to fight climate change by investing more in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“We have options that are cheaper and safer and will be available quicker,” Richard Cannings, the NDP natural resources critic, said in a statement.

Lefebvre, however, said the global market for SMRs is expected to be worth between $150 billion and $300 billion a year by 2040. As one of the world’s largest producers of uranium, Canada has to be part of the wave both for economic and environmental reasons, he said.

“There’s a growing demand for smaller, simpler and affordable nuclear technology energy,” Lefebvre said.

Joe McBrearty, head of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, told the conference the company had signed a host agreement this week with Ottawa-based Global First Power for a demonstration SMR at its Chalk River campus in eastern Ontario. A demonstration reactor will allow for the assessment of the technology’s overall viability, he said.

“When talking about deploying a new technology like an SMR, building a demonstration unit is vital to the success of that process,” McBrearty said. “Most importantly, it allows the public to see the reactor, to kick the tires so to speak, and to have confidence in the safety of its operation.”

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