February may be the shortest month of the year, but it is packed full of many important dates and work to be done!
February is Black History Month. A time for us to embrace and celebrate Black culture and to applaud the achievements and significant contributions Black Canadians have made to help build our country. Black Canadians and their communities have been a significant part of shaping Canada’s heritage and identity since the arrival of Mathieu Da Costa, a navigator, and interpreter, whose presence in Canada dates back to the early 1600s.
In June 2022 Council approved the City’s first Anti-Racism Strategy, a five-year plan to proactively identify and remove systemic barriers from City policies, programs and services to help realize racial equity. The strategy provides 28 recommendations and 132 actions to address racial inequity in governance, housing, economic development, health, child and youth development, the workplace, and institutional practices. It aims to create programs and services that meet the diverse needs of Ottawa, and to grow an equitable and inclusive workforce.
Phase one will start this year and run until 2025, with a focus on building internal capacity and awareness, collecting race-disaggregated data, continuing engagement and relationship building and implementing recommendations and actions from the strategy. Following a mid-term review, phase two will run from 2025 to 2028, incorporating feedback, data and lessons learned from phase one while continuing to implement actions outlined in the plan.
As a city we need to commit to celebrating Black History and Black Canadians beyond February and into our everyday efforts. To continue to support and seek diversity and equity in all that we do while treating one another with respect and compassion.
Here are some events happening in and around Ottawa to celebrate Black History Month in addition I encourage residents to check out the Ottawa Public Library for activities and information Celebrating Black History Month at the Library!
February is also the month that City Council committees will be examining the Draft City Budget for 2023.
The budget increase has been preset at an increase of 2.5% which leaves little room for major changes, but it is important to continue to ensure that our city’s priorities are maintained such as reducing greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change and working with our federal and provincial partners to build more affordable housing. We also want to see improved infrastructure for our communities that will see more intensification and as well making sure our transit system is reliable. A reminder that I will be holding a pre-budget consultation meeting with my city council colleagues, Councillors Laine Johnson and Sean Devine on February 16th. This meeting is being held in a hybrid format. If you would like to participate, please sign up here. The final date for Budget at City Council will be March 1st.