Covid-19 has shone a bright light on our greatest strengths and our worst vulnerabilities as a city. Our leadership, our City staff, our front line workers and our community as a whole have all risen to this unprecedented challenge with outstanding skill, creativity, generosity and hard work.
I am especially pleased that the most critical and future-oriented initiatives that had been planned to move forward at this time are all proceeding well. Some of these include light rail extension, our work on determining the urban boundary and Ottawa’s intensification goals, and crafting Ottawa’s Community Safety and Well Being Plan, to name just a few.
On the other hand, we have seen once again, that the most vulnerable among us have borne the worst impacts of COVID. They are the poor, the elderly, the homelessness and those living with disabilities. Being acutely aware of our responsibility to these groups, I was heartened by this week’s release of Ottawa’s updated Ten Year Homelessness and Affordable Housing Plan.
The plan affirms three clear goals:
- Everyone will have a place to call home,
- Everyone will have the support they need to maintain their housing, and
- We will accomplish this by working together with government, community groups and people with lived experience of homelessness.
The plan is bold and aspirational because it outlines ambitious targets which describe the actual elements and costs of ending chronic homeless in Ottawa by 2030. I applaud city staff for telling it like it is, because it sets us up as community to face the critical issue of affordable housing head on with eyes wide open.
I hope we rise to this challenge with the same sense of urgency that we have faced COVID-19. I look forward to the conversation about how we might contribute to affordable housing solutions in Bay Ward. This is one of the most powerful ways to set young people up for success, make sure our elders can age with dignity and create vibrant, diverse, welcoming, neighbourhoods for families.