Dear Mayor Watson,
We note your proposal to set a curfew closing City parks after 8pm. We understand this responds in part to recent events where large groups gathered in parks and other public spaces and where illegal drinking, vandalism and a stabbing took place.
We are concerned that the proposal to impose an 8pm curfew will not impact COVID-19 infection numbers but will cause undue harm to many residents.
At the same time, the proposal will take away the only public space available to the thousands of multi-residential rental and condo buildings which offer no private outdoor space, and takes away space from those who are currently unhoused. Mental health is a critical part of this pandemic and taking away the only green and public space available to residents in the evening will add even more stress to their lives. Residents who work evenings will have nowhere in the City to go for respite.
We would also point out that the curfew would simply overlayer activities that are already prohibited, such as holding outdoor gatherings, drinking alcohol in public, and of course assault. If Ottawa By-law officers and police are unable to enforce these laws currently, adding another law won't improve enforcement. It could however, compel some to hold their gatherings in private homes or to go into other outdoor spaces like parking lots or places like Lebreton Flats or along the Rideau River.
None of this will help reduce COVID-19 infections. There are actions that we can take that will have a real impact:
- vaccinate all essential workers
- vaccinate people living in true infection hotspots
- call on the provincial government to immediately provide paid sick leave to workers so they don't go to work sick.
Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, we consider that an urgent discussion needs to be had of measures that will help slow the spread such as mask-wearing in parks when residents not from the same household are in close proximity to each other.
We ask that this important issue be brought to the Council meeting tomorrow April 14, 2021 for discussion.
Thank you for your consideration, Mayor Watson.
Councillor Mathieu Fleury,
Rideau-Vanier Ward 12
Councillor Rawlson King,
Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward 13
Councillor Jeff Leiper,
Kitchissippi Ward 15
Councillor Catherine McKenney,
Somerset Ward 14
Councillor Shawn Menard
Capital Ward 17