2022 will be remembered as the year society inched back to a sense of normalcy. I say "inched" because the past year has been far from normal.
Supply chain issues still plague a number of industries including the auto industry, the printing industry and the food industry which has seen prices skyrocket to levels most of us never could have imagined when the year began.
Still, there reason to be optimistic about despite all the dire predictions of an elon-gated recession.
The travel industry, including the cruise industry, has bounced back with a vengeance. So has the hospitality industry. 2022 will be remembered as the year actors returned to the stage and kids returned to the field, rink, pitch and baseball diamond.
That’s not to say there haven’t been a few bumps along the way, especially last spring when things were on again and off again nearly every week. But by year’s end, the arts community and minor sports organizations were back in full swing.
The year began under a dark cloud as the Omnicron variant forced yet another shutdown of schools, restaurants, gyms and other small businesses. It wasn’t until Feb. 3 that the Ford government finally gave the all clear, allowing restaurants and gyms to reopen for good.
That same month, it was announced that the Orléans YMCA-YWCA would be permanently closed.
On Jan. 29, the first elements of the “Freedom Convoy” rolled into Ottawa with the intention of occupying the area in front of the Parliament buildings to protest against COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Within days, the demonstration had completely paralyzed the downtown core and for the better part of the next three weeks it would take on the atmosphere of part protest, part carnival and part civil disobedience. It wasn’t until Feb. 20, some 22 days after the protest began that the police moved in to remove the protesters and reopen Ottawa’s streets, arresting 70 protesters and towing away 21 vehicles in the process.
The demonstration cost the City of Ottawa millions of dollars in administration costs and downtown businesses lost millions more in revenue.
|(L to r) Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weideman receive their gold medals along with Valerie Maltais from Québec after the threesome won the team pursuit event in speedskating at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. FILE PHOTO
On a more positive note, two athletes with local roots captured gold at the Winter Olympics. Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann teamed up with Valérie Maltais from Quebec to win the team pursuit event in speedskating. Weidemann also won a silver medal in the 5000-metre event and a bronze medal in the 3000-metre event, while Blondin captured silver in the mass start event. Both young women returned to Ottawa and received a hero’s welcome in Beacon Hill and Orléans respectively.
On March 1, the city’s recreation facilities opened without the need for proof of vaccination. By March 31, the requirement to wear a face mask was also lifted, but it would be six more months before the federal government lifted the need for mandatory testing for people re-entering the country from abroad.
The provincial election campaign kicked off on April 28 and ended on June 2 with the Ford government winning a second majority. Here in Orléans, Liberal MPP Stephen Blais was easily re-elected.
On Saturday, May 21, a freak windstorm called a “derecho” tore a path of destruction through the former township of Cumberland including the villages of Navan and Sarsfield where thousands of trees were destroyed and millions of dollars in damages was caused to area farms.
|On May 21, a sudden windstorm known as a derecho, swept through parts of Orléans and Cumberland. The villages of Navan and Sarsfield were especially hard hit. Thousands of trees were destroyed, houses were damaged and several surrounding farms lost their barns and silos. FILE PHOTO
At the Wyatt McWillians farm on Perrault Road just south of Navan, the storm turned a 120-year-old barn into a pile of kindling in less than five minutes. It would take nearly two months to clear away the debris and remove the damaged trees.
During the late spring and into the sum-mer local residents were able to return to a number of area events which had been canceled during the pandemic, including the Blackburn Fun Day in June, the Canada Day celebration on Petrie Island and the Navan Fair in August.
Labour Day marked the unofficial start of the municipal election. With Jim Watson announcing his retirement at the beginning of the year, voters were able to choose the first new mayor in 12 years.
The race eventually boiled down to a contest between city councillor Catherine McKenney and Ottawa Business Journal publisher Marc Sutcliffe, with Sutcliffe emerging as the clear favourite among Ottawa voters.
Here in the east end, all four incumbent city councillors easily won re-election.
On Sept. 26, the trial began for former St. Matthew High School teacher and girls basketball coach Rick Despatie began.
Despatie, who changed his name to Watkins after he was arrested on numerous sexual offence charges, faces 14 charges involving four former female students who were all under the age of 16 at the time the alleged incidents occurred.
Because of scheduling issues, the trial had to be spread out over several months and is still ongoing.
As the year comes to an end, City Hall is still reeling from the findings of LRT commissioner Justice William Hourigan who determined that there were “persistent failures in leadership, partnership and communications” in the construction and maintenance and testing of the LRT.
In particular, he singled out former mayor Jim Watson, former city manager Steve Kenallakos, who announced his immediate retirement days before the report was released and former OC Transpo head John Manconi for “misleading” city council and committing “egregious violations of the public trust”.
Mark Sutcliffe, who received more than 50 per cent of the popular vote in November’s municipal election, promised to run a much more transparent and inclusive administration.
In the same election all four members of the Eastern Block were re-elected in their newly redrawn wards. Tim Tierney was re-elected in Beacon Hill-Cyrville ward; Laura Dudas was re-elected in Orléans West-Innes ward; Catherine Kitts was re-elected in Orléans South-Navan; and Matt Luloff was re-elected in Orléans East-Cumberland.