• Candice Vetter

Special news item on COVID-19 for March 15

Candice Vetter

A lot has changed since my last broadcast. Our producer and I discussed if we should announce March break events, or if we should wait to see what was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Good thing we waited!

Reporting has gone from making a long list of cancellations for the news, to simply announcing that pretty much everything is cancelled or closed.

School is out for three weeks, museums and libraries are closed, community and rec centres are closed, pools and arenas are closed, universities and colleges are switching to online classes, some houses of worship are cancelling services, there’s nohockey, no basketball, no concerts or festivals, and no March break camps.

Of course March break is extended, just when the usual kids’ activities are curtailed, and travel is not recommended.

Covid-19 has messed up more than plans. For people who are worried they might be coming down with the virus, the Brewer Arena in Old Ottawa South has been set up as Ottawa’s site for screening and testing patients. It is at 151 Brewer Way, across from Carleton University, near Bronson and Sunnyside.

The government advised that no one should go to the centre unless they are showing symptoms of Covid-19. Those symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, headache, stuffy nose, diarrhea (in children), or shortness of breath. No one should accompany anyone to the centre unless necessary.

Also, the Queensway Carleton Hospital has opened a drive-through in front of Emergency. This will minimize wait times for patients who have been directed by @ottawahealth to come to hospital for screening — and help keep Emergency for emergencies.

People over the age of 70 or who have underlying health problems are advised to stay home, self-isolate, and maintain a distance of at least a metre between persons. However, if people have serious symptoms – such as shortness of breath and high fever — they should still go to the emergency room. Call first so staff there can be prepared to accept you.

While much of the economy is taking a hit due to the reduced activity, grocery and liquor stores are bringing on extra staff. I went shopping on Friday and the store was as busy as Christmas Eve used to be before online shopping. But everyone was cheerful and polite. Most people were making jokes and being helpful.

And outside the weather is improving. Maybe this spring is the time, especially when many parents are off work too, to dig out those old field guides and go for walks in the wild.

Another bonus—it is much quieter outside. Fewer planes, and fewer cars and trains, make the songs of returning birds easier to identify.

And there is still some other news.

Hydro Ottawa has applied to change electricity rates, and you can still participate in the Ontario Energy Board’s hearing. Go to and follow the directions there. If the application is approved as filed, the amount per household per month would rise by about a dollar thirty in 2021, about two eighteen in 2022, a dollar eighty in 2023, a dollar in 2024 and sixty-one cents in 2025.

So if you’re stuck at home here is an opportunity to have your say on hydro rates. You can review the application on the OEB’s website at The file number is EB-2019-0261. You must apply by March 27. You can also phone Ottawa Hydro’s consumer relations centre at 1-877-632-2727.

Keep in mind that community centres are closed, meaning most events announced in last week’s news are cancelled. That includes the public meeting regarding the Ottawa Ward Boundary Review. The review will be used to establish new boundaries for municipal elections. This may have an important effect on our listening area.

However, you can still participate online. Go to or join the online discussion at

Another upcoming meeting that would have affected listeners was the City of Ottawa Council’s vote on the new official plan. This plan will include whether or not to allow more development on greenfield sites and farmland in Ottawa’s rural wards.

The vote and a rally outside City Hall, were to be Monday, March 30th. When that is rescheduled we will let you know.

The City is also inviting comments on its new Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. It requests public input on crime and safety, including root causes.

Until Friday, April 3, residents can do an online survey at

Also online, the Registration deadline for Navan Minor Fastball ends April 10. To register go to

Again, regarding events we announced earlier in March, assume they are cancelled unless you are informed otherwise.

As community centres in Ottawa are being closed Monday, March 16, and out studio is in a community centre, we are uncertain if we’ll be able to continue broadcasting new news stories. If we cannot, we will provide written news updates on

If you have news or an interesting story please contact me at Once we’re back to normal Local First may want to interview you. If you have a local business, volunteer in the community, have an unusual career, are involved in the arts or sciences, or have an issue or event to promote, contact us.

CJRO – Last on the dial, first for local news


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