April 9, 2020 – City of Ottawa
In response to the COVID-19 situation in our community and the spring freshet, changes to the City’s Public Works and Environmental Services (PWES) are being implemented to keep residents and employees safe. The purpose of this memo is to share details of those service changes.
As the City of Ottawa is now in a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19 Public Works and Environmental Services operations have shifted to adapt to this evolving situation. All employees who are operationally able to work from home have been asked to do so. To protect employees who cannot work from home, shift start and end times are being staggered, the numbers of employees on certain crews are reduced and plans are being continuously developed to rotate employees. These measures are being implemented to allow for greater physical distancing and promote the health and safety of our people. Also, public facing customer service counters are closed, non-emergency home visits are cancelled, and COVID-19 information boards are being installed in plants and yards to keep employees informed. Keeping in mind these measures have modified and reduced our workforce in the field, our focus right now is on essential services and below is an overview of the impact the COVID-19 virus is having on service delivery to residents.
Modified Programs and Services
Tree Planting and Maintenance
Due to uncertainty over the timely availability of underground utility locates, a legislated requirement, spring caliper tree planting will not occur and the start up of tree stumping operations will be postponed until June at the earliest. Spring community tree planting projects have also been postponed due to restrictions on public gatherings. The Green Acres Rural Reforestation Program is currently under review. Tree maintenance activities have been reduced to facilitate physical distancing among employees. Forestry inspections staff continue to respond to priority requests for service to City trees, assess storm damage, monitor tree and forest health, and enforce tree protection and permitting related to applicable tree by-laws.
Trail Road Landfill
The Trail Road Landfill Site is closed to the public and residents are asked to contact other local landfills at this time. The landfill remains accessible to process routine residential and multi-residential waste collection.
GLAD Cleaning the Capital
GLAD Cleaning the Capital Spring Campaign activities will be delayed until further notice. When communicating to residents, we will note that moving forward with activities is contingent on the lifting of related public health advisories e.g., physical distancing. We continue to accept registrations until May 15, 2020 and will adjust according to public health recommendations.
Household Hazardous Waste Depots
The first Household Hazardous Waste Depot scheduled for April 26 has been cancelled and subsequent scheduled events are subject to change or cancellation. As outlined in a previous memo to Council, nine (9) household hazardous waste depots were scheduled to take place in 2020 from April 26 to October 24. Due to the current circumstances, the first household hazardous waste depot is cancelled. Public Works and Environmental Services is working with the relevant contractor to find an alternative date and has communicated the cancellation to the public. There are 2 planned events between the beginning of May and the end of June, specifically May 31 and June 21. Staff will advise closer to those dates about the viability of continuing as planned. Specific notice will be provided to members of Council in advance of any planned cancellations. In the meantime, residents have been asked to hold onto their waste as we work to reschedule events.
Street Sweeping and Multi-Use Pathways (MUPs)
Street sweeping operations have started. Additional efforts are being made to clear and sweep multi-use pathways (MUPs) and the segregated cycling network to allow for increased active transportation. As Council is aware, on-street overnight parking, signed or unsigned, will no longer be enforced on residential streets until further notice. Street sweeping operations are being reviewed to account for parking enforcement changes and the scheduled timelines to complete the street sweeping operations will be extended. Staff will provide updates on our progress.
Roads and Parking Services operational crews continue the majority of usual work to improve spring road conditions. As part of Roads and Parking’s continuity of operations plan reduced crew sizes have been implemented to ensure physical distancing. To ensure we can continue providing the services residents require, we have leveraged our staff to complete priority tasks and are complementing their work with increased use of alternate equipment (2 Durapatchers and 4 Python 5000 units are currently deployed) and contractors. We believe this balance will allow us to stay on top of the maintenance work that needs to be completed. Potholes may be reported online.
Park maintenance operations continue at a reduced capacity. While parks are closed, they remain open for residents to walk through to reach a destination. Park maintenance activities are currently taking place with smaller crews to facilitate physical distancing. We are working closely with Recreation, Cultural and Facilities Services on priority setting for maintenance activities so that our park facilities are ready when physical distancing restrictions are lifted.
951 Clyde Customer Service Counter
Modifications have been made to services offered at 951 Clyde and the customer service counter is closed. Individuals may drop off payments for water, demolition or flusher permits at a drop box located onsite to be processed within 24 hours. The drop box contents are being reviewed by staff regularly and permits will be processed within one business day. This process may change so it is always best to contact them directly at 613-580-2424 x22300 before attempting to access the building.
Paint It Up!
Paint It Up! graffiti program is currently being reviewed and the deadline for applications has been extended to April 14, 2020. When communicating with applicants we will note that finalizing and granting of contracts will be contingent on the lifting of related public health advisories e.g., physical distancing.
Preventative Maintenance Program for Sewer Back Up and Flooding
Response to emergency backups remains in place should an urgent situation arise. Annual sewer maintenance service offered through the Preventative Maintenance Program is currently suspended until further notice. The annual Preventative Maintenance Program service can take place later in the season without posing immediate risk to residents. More information on the program is available at www.ottawa.ca/RPPP.
Water Services Routine Preventative Maintenance and Non-Critical Repairs
Most preventative maintenance and non-critical repairs for water services will be temporarily deferred. This deferral is being implemented on a temporary basis to allow for a rotational staffing approach that will ensure future service continuity, while continuing to deliver key operational services to residents and businesses – including emergency repairs. Water Services will continue to perform all critical preventive maintenance, emergency repairs and corrective maintenance.
Lead Pipe Replacement Program
The Lead Pipe Replacement program is currently suspended until further notice and all scheduled appointments have been cancelled. Public Works and Environmental Services will be making filter kits available for residents until such time as we can proceed with services. More information on the program is available at www.ottawa.ca/leadpipes.
Residential Protective Plumbing Program
In-home inspections related to the Residential Protective Plumbing program are currently suspended. Relevant documentation as well as an in-home inspection are requirements for the program’s rebate; however, staff are looking into options that would allow us to proceed with the program using other evidence (I.e. submitting photos or videos).
Laila Gibbons, Director of Roads and Parking Services, has been seconded to the Emergency Operations Centre to lead the Spring Freshet Emergency Command and Quentin Levesque has accepted the role of Acting Director of Roads and Parking Services until such time as Laila is able to return to the position.
While the delivery of other core services and programs by the department remains largely unchanged by the ongoing pandemic, I want to assure Members of Council that the departmental leadership team and operations managers have implemented measures and guidelines to protect the health and safety of our front-line workers in exercising their duties. The leadership team continues to monitor and evaluate conditions affecting our operational environments as new information becomes available, and the department will act accordingly by making any future adjustments to service delivery or programs, as may be required. The department will ensure that any such required changes are communicated clearly to Council and the general public through the appropriate channels.