This has been a difficult time for everyone in our city. We understand that the realities of the pandemic and the responses from all three levels of government have an impact not just on residents, but particularly on businesses, and we understand that our local small businesses will disproportionately feel the brunt of the economic impact compared to large national and multi-national corporations.
At the city, we’ve been working on some ways to help local businesses. We have been supporting a buy-local campaign, and in our Capital Ward Bulletin we have been providing residents with lists of businesses they can access online and in the community for services and goods. At city council, we passed a motion providing commercial property tax relief. We’ve also released a simple guide for employees who may have been let go from businesses to help assist average residents with federal, provincial and municipal funding: www.shawnmenard.ca/covid_19_resources
We know that many businesses will not be able to manage these ongoing expenses while they are getting reduced or no revenue. We want to see our businesses make it through the pandemic.
The pandemic also poses a significant public health challenge for our neighbours. Residents are being asked to refrain from going out, but they will still need to go outside at times. They will need to shop at the stores that remain open in order to access necessities, and they need to be able to move around outside for the sake of their physical and mental health. While outside, they need to be able to practice physical distancing in order to reduce transmission.
Last week, the Ottawa Board of Health re-iterated the need for residents to be outside and maintain physical distancing, expressing its formal support for providing extra space for pedestrians and active transportation, including for accessing essential services. This should help reduce the incidences of people walking in the street to distance, posing another safety risk.
Recently in Capital Ward we acted to change the outside curb lanes for active transportation over the Bank Street Bridge. The lanes have been converted to pedestrian and bicycle lanes. With car traffic down by over 60%, this measure will have no impact on traffic flow in the Glebe or Old Ottawa South. Since its implementation, we have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from residents—and we have witnessed the tremendous benefit this has provided, making it easier for people to keep distance while crossing the bridge to shop at our local stores.