Ottawa's east end is getting a COVID-19 testing clinic

East Ottawa residents soon won’t have to travel far to get a COVID-19 test.

Mayor Jim Watson announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that a COVID-19 care clinic will open next month at the Ray Friel Community Centre in Orléans.

The clinic will be run by the Montfort Hospital.

“This is something that we’ve been working really hard at for a long time,” Coun. Matthew Luloff, who represents Orléans, said Monday afternoon. “We need to ensure that my east end residents aren’t travelling 10 to 20 kilometres to get a test.”

East end politicians had been clamouring for a testing site in their area. Right now, the testing centre farthest east is the drive-through site on Coventry Road, which is by appointment only.

The next farthest east is the Care Clinic at St. Patrick's Catholic Intermediate School on Heron Road.

The centre is scheduled to open mid-October, although Luloff told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Kristy Cameron that officials are doing “absolutely everything we can” to have it open as soon as possible.

“I’d like it open three months ago, to be honest with you,” he added. “But the work that we need to do is quite ambitious.”

The Montfort Hospital said in a news release the clinic should open "by mid-October at the latest."

Renovations to the centre must be done, including new HVAC and installing a separate  entrance for the testing centre to allow other programming to continue, Luloff said.

“We’re pushing to get it open by mid-October, I wouldn’t be surprised if we get the work done a little bit quicker,” he said.

The ice on the skating rink also must melt before work inside the complex can begin.

With children back in school and COVID-19 case numbers rising, demand for tests has soared. The west end care clinic on Moodie Drive reached capacity by 10:30 a.m. Monday morning.

The assessment centre at Brewer Park Arena has seen hours-long lines, with some people turned away despite waiting.

And over the weekend, more than 2,700 people were tested at a pop-up clinic at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Coun. Jenna Sudds, who represents Kanata North, told the city’s Board of Health on Monday that the centre demonstrated the demand for that service.

“I have concerns moving forward whether we have the capacity to meet that demand,” Sudds said. “Obviously I’m speaking for the west end, but I think the same can be said across the city.”

Luloff said the new capacity in the east end should help relieve some pressure on the other sites.