By Scott Moffatt, Ward 21 Councillor
We are, unfortunately, back into some discouraging numbers when it comes to COVID-19. As such, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some comments from our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches. The following comments are her words taken from a Special Statement from July 21:
“Thank you, Ottawa, for your ongoing support and efforts as we tackle yet another wave of COVID-19 in our community. Recently, the province announced that children aged six months to under five years will be able to book appointments for the paediatric COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday next week and immunocompromised youth aged 12 to 17 are now eligible for a second booster. We welcome this news, another great step forward in protecting our community and minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 on families, particularly during this latest resurgence.
“I am concerned about this current wave. We are noting very high levels of COVID-19 in our wastewater and week after week this has been increasing. Our test percent positivity is also very high and increasing and our COVID-19 hospitalizations and confirmed outbreaks are both increasing as well. This is indicative that the level of COVID-19 is very high in Ottawa right now, higher than the January Omicron wave.
“We know that Omicron and its sub-variants are much more transmissible. We also need to remember that we cannot rely on immunity alone to protect us. The newer Omicron sub-variants are different, and even people who previously had COVID-19 earlier this year could be susceptible to reinfection.
“Individually and collectively, now is the time to reassess and adapt our behaviours to the levels of COVID-19 in the community. This is an important skill we will all need as we head into the fall. Wearing masks indoors and outdoors in crowded spaces, staying home when sick, getting booster doses, and minimizing contacts during periods of high transmission in the community are all behaviours that will help us, our families, and our loved ones. Individual actions help influence community impact. For Ottawa residents who continue to use layers of protection, thank you for leading by example. We all need to continue to assess our risk and the risk of those around us, particularly during this resurgence.
“The pandemic is far from over. The warm weather has brought some much-needed respite from those hectic winter months, but now is not the time to let our guard down. Despite not seeing rates of severe illness and hospitalizations climbing as quickly as with previous waves, we need to remain mindful of the effects of COVID-19 on older adults, those with chronic health conditions, those who remain unvaccinated, and those who are immunocompromised. Among older adults, those aged 60 and over remain at high risk for severe illness and complications from COVID-19, yet over 25,000 Ottawa residents over the age of 60 have yet to access their third dose (first booster), and over 88,000 still require their fourth dose (second booster).
“Nearly 900,000 Ottawa residents have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 600,000 have received their booster dose. I thank you for doing your part to help protect the community and in the face of Omicron and its sub-variants, we know two doses are not enough. Now is the time to get your booster dose if you have yet to do so.
“Together we can make a difference on the impact of COVID-19 in our community. The decisions we make today will help us all tomorrow.”
Vacant Unit Tax
The City has a new online questionnaire on ottawa.ca/VUT where residents can find out whether their residential property could be subject to the new Vacant Unit Tax on the 2023 final property tax bill. The questionnaire is easy to use and will only take a couple of minutes to complete. The number of questions on your current property occupancy status will vary between two and five questions, depending on what answer you select.
Between January and March 2023, all property owners will be required to complete a mandatory declaration online on ottawa.ca/VUT or through MyServiceOttawa. The declaration will take less than five minutes to complete and will be based on your property occupancy status during the 2022 calendar year. It will be an annual requirement.
The Vacant Unit Tax could be subjected to secondary residential properties that have not been occupied for more than 184 days and do not meet any of the exemptions, which include:
- Death of a registered owner
- Property owner in a hospital or long-term care facility
- Arm’s length sale of the property
- Specific court orders prohibiting occupancy, sale, or rental of the property
- The property was undergoing extended renovations or construction
- Was used as a cottage rental with a valid permit for at least 100 days
This new tax serves as an incentive to ensure secondary or other residential investment properties – which are not the owner’s principal residence – remain occupied either through renting or placing it on the real estate market.
Vacant Unit Tax revenues will help fund affordable housing initiatives, in accordance with the City’s Ten-Year Affordable Housing and Homeless Plan, which commits capital funding for the construction of up to 500 new affordable units annually.
If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please email me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or contact me by phone at 613-580-2491. For information on Ward 21 issues, please visit TeamTwentyOne.ca.