January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
Next edition January 20
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L’édition de cette semaine à l’intérieur...
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(6I3) 746-8500 January 6, 6, 2022 2022 •• Volume Volume 36, 36, No. No. 17 17 22 •• January
2020s, 2021s & 2022
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January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
Next edition January 20
L’édition de cette semaine à l’intérieur...
Province brings in new round of restrictions By Fred Sherwin The Orléans Star
Ontario students won’t be returning to class this week afterall. After announcing last week that students would be returning to class on Wendesday, the Ford government has beat a hasty retreat after coming under fire from the teacher unions and parents. Pointing to the escalating number of Omicron cases in the province, Ford announced earlier today that students won’t returning returning to class until Jan 17 at the earliest and even that date isn’t set in stone. Prior to the holiday break, there had been 2,607 cases reported among students in 1,097 schools across the province, prompting 24 school closures.
According to the provincial coronavirus dashboard, there were 78 student cases in Orléans alone, in 21 different schools. Due to the escalating number of Omicron cases in the past three weeks, many parents had been anticipating that the schools would remained closed until the current wave passes, but data showing the Omicron variant is less severe in terms of symptoms and hospitalizations, especially among young people and the vaccinated, prompted the provincial government initially impose a 48hour delay in the resumption of classes. The government planned to use that time to ensure that classrooms are properly vaccinated and that the schools have a full supply of face CONTINUED ON PAGE 3
January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17 • 3
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4 • January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
School reopening delayed at least two more weeks Continued from page 1 masks, which are mandatory in all classes. Now they have an extra two weeks. Ford also announced a set of sweeping new restrictions that include closing restaurants, bars and gyms; reducing capacity at retail stores, malls and personal care services to 50 per cent; and limiting private indoor gatherings to just five people. According to the most recent figures, the number of hospitalizations in relation to the number of cases are much lower during the current wave than in the past. As an example, the seven-day average number of cases in April 2021 was 320, with 124 hospitalizations. By the end of last week, the seven day average number of cases in Ottawa was 509 and rising, but only 13 people were being treated in hospital, none of whom were under the age of 18. Another key factor in the province’s decision is the vaccination rate among the student population. As of December 29, 93 per cent of youth age 12 to 19 had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 89 per cent had received two doses. Despite the fact that children under the age of 12 have only been able to get vaccinated for the past four weeks, some 60 per cent in that age group have received their first shot and they will soon be able to get their second dose.
The current advice being given by Ottawa Public Health for residents experiencing possible symptoms of COVID is to selfisolate at home unless the symptoms turn more severe, namely shortness of breath or a high fever. Due to a recent run on tests, current testing is being reserved for residents of long-term care homes; front-line workers, including medical staff; and those experiencing moderate to severe symptoms. Members of the general public with mild symptoms are being asked not to seek testing. In addition, most people with a positive result from a rapid PCR test are no longer being encouraged to take a subsequent laboratory PCR test for confirmation. Instead, they are being told to self-isolate at home. The isolation protocol has also changed. Fully vaccinated individuals, as well as children under 12, are now only required to self-isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms. They can end their self-isolation after the five-day period if their symptoms are improved for at least 24 hours. Those who are unvaccinated, or partially vaccinated, or immunocompromised are required to isolate for 10 days. That is a change from the previous protocol requiring a 14-day isolation period
Pandemic dominates the news for second straight year By Fred Sherwin The Orléans Star
2021 will go down as the year of the variant. The year began with so much promise and optimism over the vaccines, but ended under the spectre of yet another COVID-19 variant that has forced yet another round of shutdowns and restrictions. While it is not yet known how bad the Omicron variant will be in terms of future hospitalizations and deaths, it’s impact on our daily lives is already being felt. If ongoing studies in South Africa, Denmark and the UK are any indication, it may not be as bad as predicted early on. The same dire warnings were issued over the Delta variant last spring, but mass vaccinations were able to keep that variant at bay, at least for the most part. The general population began receiving the first dose of either the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines in early March starting with those
2021: The year in review
age 80 and over. Within a week, it was extended to those 75 and over, and on March 17 the Orléans YWCA-YMCA was turned into a vaccination centre. By late May, many residents in Orléans were already receiving their second dose – now those same people are getting their booster shots. But there was other news happening in Orléans besides the pandemic and vaccinations. The biggest story of the year had to do with former Rick Watkins St. Matthew High School teacher Rick Watkins, also known as Rick Despatie, who was charged last spring with multiple counts of sexual assault, voyeurism and sexual exploitation involving former students as young as 14 years old. Watkins is currently released on bail with a number of conditions including not contacting any of his alleged victims or their
families, or attending any public area where kids under 16 would reasonably be expected to be. His trial will likely begin sometime this year. The allegations against Watkins sparked outrage among parents of former students at St. Matt’s who are highly critical of the school’s former administrators who, they claim, ignored their concerns over Watkins, known then as Rick Despatie. Despatie was not only a Grade 7 and 8 teacher at the school, he was also the coach of the junior girls basketball team. After the charges against Watkins were made public, the Facebook page, Crime Spotting Orléans, was inundated with further allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving Watkins and former underage students, as well as claims that their concerns were dismissed by several former principals, sparking claims of a possible cover-up. Those claims forced the Ottawa Catholic School Board to launch it’s own investigation along with the Ontario College of Teachers. Neither of those studies have been made public to date. Another big story that made the headlines
The Orléans Health Hub opened on June 24. FILE PHOTO in 2021 was the opening of the Orléans Health Hub. First promised by then Health Minister George Smitherman in 2009 and later reiterated by former premier Dalton McGuinty during the 2011 Ontario provincial election campaign, the health hub was long overdue.
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January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17 • 5
“While 2020 will forever be known as the year of COVID, 2021 will hopefully be known as the year we finally managed to get rid of it, or at least kept it at bay.” – I wrote that in my first editorial of 2021, exactly one year ago today, along with a prediction that mass vaccinations would begin by the end of June. I was right on the latter and very nearly right on the former until Omicron ruined it all. As I look forward to the year ahead, my feelings fluctuate between optimism and pessimism depending on the last headline I read. I am optimistic that Omicron is just the latest hurdle to overcome on the rocky road to normalcy, but I am pessimistic that there maybe several more hurdles to come. I am optimistic that science will be able to help us further understand the coronavirus and develop more effective ways to both fight it and treat it, but I am pessimistic about our government’s ability to lead us back to a state of normalcy. I am pessimistic about their ability to plan for the next wave, let alone the next pandemic. And I am pessimistic about the future state of our economy if the government continues to screw things up. On a positive note, I am optimistic that things will get better because they can’t possibly get any worse. Of course, I said the same thing last year and things eventually did get a lot better, until a few weeks ago. How long this current period will last remains to be seen, but reports that the Omicron virus is not nearly as severe as the previous variants gives me reason for further optimism that the current wave will be relatively short-lived and by this spring we will get back to where we were just a month ago. Personally, I plan to continue to live my life as normally as possible. I am scheduled to get my booster shot on the same day this editorial is being published. I do not fear catching the virus. In fact, I went through it during those early days. I was sick for two weeks, including eight days when I was completely incapacitated and lost 25 pounds. If the scientists are right, the most I can expect from the Omicron variant are flu-like symptoms, and in most cases it’s like catching the common cold. Catching the Omicron virus also improves your immunity against subsequent variants several times over, especially if you’ve already been vaccinated. The scientists are also optimistic that the Omicron variant will prove to be the dominant variant and that the COVID virus will become less severe over time. By now it is clear that the COVID virus is not going away any time soon, if ever, but the early reports that the variants are becoming less severe should make us all feel optimistic about the future, the government’s lack of preparedness and general mismanagement of the pandemic aside. – Fred Sherwin, editor
Fredrick C. Sherwin, Editor & Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org The Orléans Star is a bi-weekly publication distributed to 44,000 residences in Blackburn Hamlet, Orléans and Navan. The newspaper is locally owned and operated by Sherwin Publishing Inc., 745 Farmbrook Cres., Orléans, ON. Inquiries and delivery issues should be sent to email@example.com.
6 • January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
Catherine Kitts Cumberland Ward 19
New Year brings renewed optimism and sense of hope Happy New Year 2022, Orléans! I hope you’ve all had a great Christmas and Holiday Season, despite the limited gatherings due to the increase in cases. Holidays always have a refreshing and invigorating taste, and I trust you took the time to sit back, rejuvenate and unwind during this special time. Let’s continue to stay safe, prudent and to follow Public Health guidelines. I cannot stress enough how important vaccination is in our fight against COVID-19. Rest assured that the federal government will continue to monitor the situation and provide support to you and the heart of our community, our businesses. I want to remind you that the deadline to nominate an outstanding woman or girl for the Orléans Leading Women and Girls Recognition Awards is coming up very shortly. You have until Jan. 24 to submit your nomination form, which you can request by email at Marie-France.Lalonde@parl.gc.ca. The pandemic has really brought to light the essential role that women and girls play in our community and this year again, I want to celebrate them, their accomplishments, and their volunteerism. Another reminder, this time for the youth in Orléans interested in politics: the Summer Leadership Program 2022 application period closes on Jan. 14. I encourage you to visit www.slp2022ple.infolib.ca to learn more
about this amazing opportunity to get involved and gain invaluable experience. Speaking of great opportunities, the Canada Summer Jobs program call for applications is open until Jan. 25. This program is truly amazing for our local small businesses. This initiative helps create valuable summer job opportunities, that strengthen both our local economy and our community. Visit www.canada. ca/en/employment-socialdevelopment/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs. html to learn more and apply. With a new year comes new beginnings, new adventures, and new hopes. I look forward to resume the parliamentary session on Jan. 31, to continue working for our community and be your voice. Moreover, I was proud to be appointed parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on Dec. 3. I was humbled to accept this new responsibility and I look forward to working with my colleague, the Hon. Sean Fraser, for the betterment of our immigration system. I also have the opportunity to sit on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to study matters related to immigration and citizenship. I am excited to further undertake this important work on this committee. In closing, I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year in 2022.
Omicron variant not as scary as you might believe Here we go again – another variant and another campaign of fear and paranoia with the mainstream media acting as willing accomplices. Just once, I would like to see our public health officials and mainstream media actually attempt to educate people rather than automatically go for the lowest common denominator. So allow me to provide some information that will help you get a better handle on what’s going on. First of all, I fully admit that I am not an expert on the subject, but I do spend hours researching the latest scientific findings and studies, something most people don’t have the time to do. So here’s what we know today. First of all, studies in South Africa, Denmark and Great Britain are indicating that – for the most part – the Omicron variant is not as severe, in terms of it’s symptoms, as previous variants. I say for the most part because people with underlying health conditions are still at risk of ending up in the hospital should they contract the variant, even if they’re fully vaccinated. This latter point is very important. Public health officials and the mainstream media have done an extremely poor job in explain-
Up Front Fred Sherwin ing to people that we’re all different. Immune systems are like snowflakes. No one immune system is the same. As such, each reacts to the coronavirus differently. How your immune system reacts to the virus depends on your viral lode which is measured in both duration and concentration. I go back to the smoking analogy. If you walk past someone who is smoking, the impact on your lungs is minimal because of the lack of both duration and concentration. On the other hand, if you are stuck in a car with a smoker for several hours the duration and concentration are a 10 out of 10. If, at the same time, you have a weak immune system you are in serious trouble. If you have a strong immune system you might still get sick, but the symptoms won’t be as bad.
Getting back to the Omicron variant, preliminary studies indicate that the virus replicates much faster in the bronchus 24 hours after infection – which is why it transmits so fast – but is far slower when spreading in the actual human lung tissue, possibly indicating lower disease severity. The latest report by London’s Imperial College found those infected with Omicron were 40-45 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital for a night or more, compared with the Delta variant. Data from Denmark suggests those testing positive to Omicron were three times less likely to be hospitalized, while a major analysis by the UK Health Security Agency finds they are 50-70 per cent less likely to need hospital care. A study by South Africa’s National Institute For Communicable Diseases, has found suspected Omicron cases were 80 per cent less likely to go to hospital, but the analysis does not account for vaccination status. None of the studies differentiate between individuals with a strong immune system or weak immune system. Common sense would dictate that individuals with a weak immune system, or with underlying health conditions, would
be more likely to require hospitalization even if Omicron is less severe. So knowing that Omicron is less severe, why all the fuss? It comes down to critical mass and simple math. If you have 2,000 cases and a two per cent hospitalization rate, you will end up with 40 people in hospital. If you have 20,000 cases and a one per cent hospitalization rate you will end up with 200 people in hospital. Not a good situation, especially in a province where they haven’t improved our hospital capacity by a single bed since the pandemic began. The best we can do to avoid hospitalization is to get vaccinated. Don’t fall for the argument that if you’re going to get sick anyway, why get vaccinated? You may not be able to avoid catching the virus, but you can avoid ending up in the hospital. You can also help ease the pressure on the testing sites and our hospitals by following the simple rule that if you, or someone in your family, is experiencing symptoms stay home, treat the symptoms and you’ll get better over time. But if the symptoms do worsen, drive yourself to the nearest hospital, or call 9-1-1. And most of all remember that this too shall pass.
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Innes Ward has lots to offer LETTERS TO THE EDITOR during the winter months Kudos to Christmas Keeping active and spending time community’s outdoor rinks, visit: ottawa.ca/ outdoors is truly key to staying healthy, both en/recreation-and-parks/skating/outdoorphysically and mentally. Some may find rinks#outdoor-rink-locations . it more challenging to For those looking keep moving through the for a local spot to go colder months of the year, sledding, you can find Laura and I would like to share a list of smaller hills in Dudas few great options right our parks at: ottawa.ca/ here in the east end. en/recreation-and-parks/ Cross country skiing, sports-fields-and-outdoorInnes Ward 2 fat bike, snowshoeing and recreation#sledding-hills. hiking trails weave through Green’s Creek Many of the parks and natural spaces and along the Ottawa River, beautifully peppering Innes Ward have winter maintained maintained by Ski Heritage East and Orléans and/or walkable paths, offering a peaceful Nordic Ski Club. The pathways along the refuge for any of those looking to get a quick Ottawa River are also home to Orléans dose of fresh air. ParkRun a great way to participate in group As we head through the winter months, runs, walks, and jogs all year long. staying active and getting outdoors is a great Outdoor skating rinks are beginning to way to stay physically and mentally healthy. open in our community, and the volunteers I am always grateful for the abundance of that operate them deserve a huge round of options we have right here in Innes Ward and applause. For a full list of where to find our Orléans.
display creators To the editor: I was born and raised in Toronto and I mark the passing of each year with the approach of Christmas and our fond farewell to it as we look toward a new year. As a small child, I loved the annual tradition of being treated, along with my two sisters, to a trip downtown on the TTC to watch the Santa Claus Parade, a truly spectacular event. We would then go to see the wonderful, animated windows at Eaton’s and Simpsons where we were allowed to linger and take in all of the windows that showcased trains, mice, fireplaces, reindeer, princes and princesses, presents and of course Santa. To end it off we would go to The Arcadian Court for lunch, which was a rare treat indeed. Long gone are those intricate windows which my grandchildren never got to see. But what they will remember, as will I, about Christmas in Orléans, are the spectacular displays that many residents tirelessly labour over each year, contributing to the memory banks of today’s children, not to mention the parents and grandparents, who look forward to the annual tradition of a tour of Christmas lights in Orléans. So to all those creative and generous folks who put up their fabulous Christmas displays, thank you for your part in keeping the magic of Christmas alive. Jane Boardman (Navan)
An optimistic look to the year ahead To the editor: With all the COVID talk, it’s difficult to think about anything but masks and social distancing. Now, we have two choices here. We can keep our focus narrowed and apprehend another lockdown, or we can expand our perspective and remind ourselves that the previous waves haven’t taken us down. Au contraire, they have turned us into experienced sailors who now know how to navigate this new reality. With such a broadened mindset, we enter a state of openness in which our peripheral vision is widened. The clouds disperse and let the sunlight permeate our mind. Eventually, this radiance pours out and sends those around us in upward spirals, who in turn pay this contagious energy forward. Ultimately, we are left with an uplifting, resilient community that is imbued with light. So, what do you say we make 2022 the brightest year yet? Sarah MacAllister (Orléans)
8 • January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
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12 • January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17
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Several local businesses celebrating milestones in 2022 By Fred Sherwin The Orléans Star
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a number of challenges for local businesses during the past two years. Most have been able to weather the storm, with several looking forward to celebrate significant milestones in 2022. Critter Jungle will be celebratung 36 years in business this year including five years in Orléans; Sure Print & Graphics and Robertson Rent-All will both be marking 30 years in business, and Joe’s Barbershop in Place d’Orléans will be celebrating their 35th anniversary. Owner Joe Valenti began cutting hair nearly 50 years ago. His first barbershop was located in Place de Ville where he cut hair for civil servants working in the complex during the 70s and early 80s. In 1987, he decided to move into Place d’Orléans, where he has become somewhat of a local institution. Although the COVID pandemic has prevented him from working full-time in the shop, he makes it a point to drop in several times a week to chat with the regulars, many of whom are second- and third-generation customers.
Monica Alongi moved to Orléans from the west coast with her family in 1996 as a 17-year-old. Her father wanted to open a Sure Copy franchise and he settled on Orléans as the ideal location. Although they started their business at the same location they currently occupy, in those early days they took up just 300 sq. ft. Two other businesses shared the building, including a driving school. The business Monica Alongi has grown over the years with Monica taking on a more prominent roll to the point where she is now the principle owner and the business occupies the entire building. Today, Sure Print & Graphics has clients all over Canada. Robertson Rent-All is another familyowned business with a modest beginning. Don and Neta Robertson started the equipment rental company in 1992, long before there was a Home Depot, or a Lowes
in the area. Around 10 years ago, they handed over the day-to-day operation of the business to their sons Cameron and D.J. who recently opened two additional locations in Kanata and Findlay Creek. In 2012, the Robertsons received the Rooty Award as the Rental Operator of the Year in Canada by the Canadian Rental
Service magazine. Sticking to the theme of family-run businesses celebrating milestones in 2022, Critter Jungle will be celebrating its 36th anniversary this year. The pet supply store was started by brothers Kelvin and Jeff Stanke in 1986 in Hampton Park Plaza. Five years ago, they decided to open a second location in the Orléans Garden Shopping Plaza where they have built up a loyal clientele thanks to their focus on customer service. The business was voted Ottawa’s top pet store in 2016 by Faces Magazine and they recently received a Gems of Innes Ward as Favourite Retail Business. Although Caravela Restaurante has not been around as long as the previously mentioned businesses, the husband and wife team of Fernando and Alzira Diniz are immensely proud of the fact that they recently celebrated the fifth anniversary in business. The restaurant opened on Boxing Day 2016 and has been going strong ever since, even during the pandemic. The establishment specializes in Portuguese cuisine, especially seafood dishes native to the Azores.
January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17 • 13
The Year in Pictures 2021
(Clockwise from upper left.) The city opens a vaccination centre at the Ruddy Family YWCAYMCA on March 17; the Orléans Health Hub is opened to the public on June 24; former Ottawa TFC member Vanessa Gilles visits Millennium Park after winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics; allegations of sexual abuse against Rick Watkins involving students as young as 14 years of age leads to 54 charges being leveled against the former St. Matthew High School teacher; a trio of girls enjoy a ride at the Ray Friel Centre in July after the easing of a number of COVID-related restrictions.
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LRT issues, Mayor Watson make headlines in 2022 Continued from page 3 Even after it was opened to the public on June 24, the health hub didn’t have an official opening until October, due to the pandemic. Ottawa’s LRT system also dominated the news in 2021, for all the wrong reasons. A derailment on Sept. 19 forced the LRT to be shut down for nearly two months. When not enough buses were available to handle the stranded commuters, they were forced to find other means of transportation sparking outrage, even among non-commuters. In response, the provincial government has launched a public inquiry to “get to the bottom” of the issues facing the city’s LRT system. In an effort to try and make up for the shutdown, city council agreed to provide all transit services free of charge during the month of December. Construction of the east end LRT extension along Hwy. 174 also caused a lot of consternation among residents living nearby in Convent Glen, Chatelaine Village and Orléans Wood.
Noise was the biggest complaint with excavation occurring all hours of the day and night for days on end. Orléans Ward Coun. Matt Luloff did his best to try and address their concerns and mitigate the noise in discussions with the contractors which seemed to have a positive effect. With so much news happening around the pandemic and the LRT shutdown, the federal election came and went with little fanfare to speak of or report. Local MP Marie-France Lalonde was reelected and the Trudeau government was able to once again form a minority government with roughly the same number of seats they held before the vote was called. The Liberals’ share of the popular vote was down from the 2019 general election, going 33.12 per cent to 32.62, more than a full percentage point behind the Conservative Party which received 33.74 per cent. The big news story in November was the on-again, off-again state of Santa’s Parade of Lights.
It had been assumed that COVID restrictions would prevent the parade from happening for a second year in a row, but then the province eased up on restrictions allowing for large outdoor gatherings on Oct. 25. That announcement touched off negotiations between organizers of the Parade of Lights and the Help Santa Toy Parade and officials with the city of Ottawa. The hope was that a parade could be held in three phases in Kanata, downtown Ottawa and Orléans on Dec. 4. Those plans were ultimately kiboshed a week before the parade was supposed to happen. The year ended with yet another big story when Mayor Jim Watson announced on Dec. 10 that he would not be seeking a fourth term. Watson served as mayor of the old city of Ottawa from 1997 to 2000. After taking a three-year respite from politics he successfully ran for the provincial legislature in 2003 and served as MPP for Ottawa West Nepean until 2010. In 2010, he returned to Ottawa City Hall after defeating incumbent Larry O’Brien and was
The LRT had to be shut down for 54 days after a derailment occurred on Sept. 19. FILE PHOTO reelected in 2014 and 2018. As the year came to a close, speculation was running rampant over who might decide to run for the city’s top job in next fall’s municipal election. Registration for potential nominees opened on Jan. 3.
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16 • January 6, 2022 • Volume 36, No. 17