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Steve Collins covers urban affairs and other issues facing the nation's capital.

For all its gloom, there were some bright spots in 2016

Metro's Steve Collins argues there is a lot that went right in 2016, along with the bad and perspective is what we all need.

Revelers celebrate the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 on New Years Eve in Ottawa. Metro's columnist Steve Collins argues there was a lot to like about 2016 and a lot to look forward to in 2017.

Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press

Revelers celebrate the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 on New Years Eve in Ottawa. Metro's columnist Steve Collins argues there was a lot to like about 2016 and a lot to look forward to in 2017.

2016 aquired a nasty reputation over its 366 sometimes-dark days (because of course it just had to be a leap year).

A worrisome spike in local homicides, the worst in over 20 years, might have given the impression that Ottawans were dropping off like well-regarded 80s pop stars.

But as always, perspective is your friend. Yes, 24 lives is a lot to lose to violence in a gentle place like Ottawa, where police chief Charles Bordeleau puts a normal year's toll at 7-10.

But some cities have much larger problems, Chicago, with about three times our population, logged 30 times the murders, at 762.

More quietly, we lose about 40 people each year to drug overdoses, and after much delay this year, a supervised injection site went from perpetual victim of politics to actual prospect.     

Mayor Watson, despite the overwhelming evidence that they prevent overdoses and curb the spread of infectious disease, has never been overly enthusiastic about such facilities. He'd like to see scarce dollars go to treatment instead.   

“Philosophically, I've always said that if we have extra dollars they should be going to getting people off their habits and to help them rehabilitate into society,” he said at the year's final council meeting. “That hasn't changed, but the board of health has taken its position and I respect their expertise.”

After the board of health's decision, and with a more cooperative federal government in office, the mayor's now predicting at least one site will open in the city before this term of council is up, and he's committing not to get in the way.

With dangerously potent fentanyl now cranking up the risks to drug users, the first site can't open soon enough. Nobody's arguing against treatment, but your chances of getting it increase dramatically if you're still alive.

Transit riders, as they board their possibly-renumbered buses for almost certainly higher fares this week, will be reminded that 2017 won't be the year we start riding light rail, but the year we start paying for it, with not one but two fare hikes.

Still, commuters get a break with the elimination of express fares, and in another breach with our tradition of delay, excuses and general inaction, OC Transpo will finally offer a low-income transit pass this year.   

The discount isn't as deep or as widely spread as many would like, but after endless debate about which budget the money should come out of and where we might find the offset, some relief is on the way for people who seriously need it.   

And 2017 will be a year of coming attractions, after long-overdue movement in 2016 on the Civic Hospital, LeBreton Flats, and – finally, finally – a new central library.

After previous opening dates were announced and scrubbed for 2005 and 2014, we might — after a good old-fashioned squabble over the preferred site — at last get this job done by 2020, with some welcome cooperation from Library and Archives Canada.   

So perhaps we can give poor, 2016 a break, allow that the annus wasn't all horribilis , take every victory it offered, no matter how small, and run with them into 2017.

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