Saturday, November 28, 2020

Community and protective services committee hears budget requests

OTTAWA- Meghan White, co-founder of Period Packs, called on the community and protective services committee on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 to support a one-year pilot project to assess the needs for menstrual products in communities where some residents might have barriers to access. Supplied photo.

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Kaite Burkholder Harris, executive director of Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, called on the city to spend an extra $5 million on housing initiatives in 2021, above the $15 million currently earmarked by the municipal government.

A controversial arrangement for emergency housing in Vanier was the subject of another deputation.

Councillors Mathieu Fleury and Catherine McKenney dug into the city’s $109-per-night payments to house families at a privately owned complex, which has received scrutiny from Fleury and other residents in his ward when it comes to property standards and safety.

McKenney and Fleury put councillors on notice that they would ask the committee during a meeting in February to support an end to leasing the units.

Kyle Gordon and Michelle Hurtubise of the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre joined other agencies in asking the city to spend another $5 million on citywide “social infrastructure.” Their organization has seen its calls double and Hurtubise highlighted the rise in requests related to mental health services.

One community agency hoped for city money to simply stay in existence.

Volunteer Ottawa asked for $75,000 in financial assistance to, as vice-chair Dennis Jackson told councillors, “ensure our survival” in connecting residents with volunteer opportunities. Fee-paying members of Volunteer Ottawa aren’t renewing memberships because of their own pandemic-related challenges and funding from the United Way has declined in recent years, Jackson said.

Staff committed to examine funding opportunities for Volunteer Ottawa.

Coun. Diane Deans raised concerns about some outdoor rinks this winter not receiving heated trailers, but parks general manager Dan Chenier explained that rental companies had a shortage of trailers because construction projects were using more to strengthen COVID-19 precautions. There are 261 outdoor rinks and 23 get heated trailers. The department was still seven trailers short as of Thursday.

The recreation programs are preparing for a tough year, with management already projecting a $19-million shortfall because of reduced registrations.

The city hopes the upper governments cover all pandemic-related deficits in 2021. The projected shortfall for departments in the community and protective services portfolio is $56.5 million.

The committee also approved a variety of user fees in recreation and business licensing. Many recreation fees, like arena and field rentals, are poised to increase by higher amounts compared to previous years to account for COVID-19 measures.

The committee made no changes to the departmental budgets and sent them to council for a final vote on Dec. 9.

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