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Aaaannnnd… they’re off!

Municipal election season opened in Ontario today and there will certainly be some interesting races in O Dot.

Jeff Leiper will be a strong challenger to Katherine Hobbs in Kitchissippi Ward.  The Centretown CA prez says he’s challenging Diane Holmes.

No challengers for the Mayor’s seat yet and no one challenging Peter Hume in my Ward of Alta Vista.

Ah. For political junkies like me, there are the best of times…


Banning scooters from streets…

It’s about time that someone pushed this issue up a flagpole!

I don’t always agree with Councillor Clark, but the issue of scooters on city streets should at the very least be studied by city staff and recommendations put forward. There is going to be a tragedy one of these days and it would be a shame if the City simply sat on their collective hands until one happens.

Yes, I get that scooters are a great thing for residents with mobility problems. Without these mortised devices, many would be shut in their homes and completely reliant on family and social services to get around.

And I also understand that some City sidewalks are in pretty dire need of repairs and the scooter-ability of said slabs of concrete is somewhat difficult.


These devices are not suited to street use from a safety perspective. Pure and simple. I am a frequent user of St. Laurent Blvd. around the Elmvale Mall area. The sidewalks are wide and in good repair. Yet, it is not at all unusual to see a scooter or three pumping right down the street. And, for those of you who are not familiar with the area, St. Laurent is a very busy 4 lane divided main north/south artery.

One older gentleman has an annoying habit of powering his scooter right down the middle of one lane and giving the finger to anyone who honks at him!

Look, these things don’t have lights, move at a very slow speed and are difficult to spot at times.

Should the City be looking at those sidewalks in need of repairs and upgrades? Of course. But they also have to do the responsible thing and look at either regulating or banning scooters – at least in high traffic areas. Someone is going to get killed and a vehicle driver is going to have to live with that for the rest of their lives.


E Day in Ottawa South!


Come on everyone! Woot with me!

I just don’t “get” people who don’t get excited about elections. It is the one tangible time when we, as citizens, can choose what a part of our democracy will look like.

As we are CITIZENS, dammit! Not “taxpayers” as conservatives like to call us! CITIZENS!!

And as citizens, we have a responsibility to VOTE. It’s not simply a right.

Anyhoo… Congrats to all of the candidates in Ottawa South. It takes some guts to put your name in the ring.

I will be taking my daughter to the polling booth with me after I pick her up from camp this afternoon. We all need to turn our kids onto this whole democracy thing at a young age, right?

As for Ottawa South, the three front runners all ran strong campaigns. I didn’t like how Matt Young and the PC’s kept trying to draw a non-existent link between what John’s boss did and what John knew… but w.e. Conservatives are famous for spreading misinformation. In spite of this, Mr. Young shows promise; he’s just with the wrong party.

Bronwyn also ran a strong campaign in a riding that will never vote NDP. Good on her. She clearly has bigger goals in mind after her School Board Trustee gig ends.

Finally, John Fraser showed his mettle in the campaign trail. He was energetic, forthright and rose above the accusations made against him. He deserves the opportunity to show we citizens of Ottawa South what he can do at Queen’s Park.

And he will. But it will be very, very close.



Residential snow removal and safety…

Or, how those quick moving snowplows and snow blowers are a hazard to pedestrians and other vehicles.

Winter is winding down once again, and city crews are out clearing back snow banks to ensure that the storm drains are clear in order to mitigate against flooding. These crews take care. They have signs, flag guys, and they ensure that pedestrians and cars are top of mind.

And then there are the residential driveway clearing cowboys.

Shortly after each storm, the streets are filled with snow clearing equipment of every shape and size. But in urban residential areas, these are usually backhoes with snowblowers hooked up to their power take-off, or mini-kubotas with plows and blowers or just about any small sized vehicle. Their size allows them to fit between cars and navigate snow filled streets and lanes.

And they are quick. Real quick. The owners want them to be quick because the faster they can clear the lanes of their customers (who usually pay a contract price for the full winter before the first flake had fallen), the happier the customers will be and they’ll sign up again for the next year.

The problem lies in this need for speed. Most (not all) have little awareness of what is around them in the street. They are focused on clearing one driveway and moving on to the next as fast as possible. And this could have tragic consequences.

Two winters ago, I witnessed one of these cowboys smack right into the rear end of my neighbour’s car which was parked in the street. The operator simply wasn’t watching behind him. Luckily, no one was hurt – and the cowboy likely lost his job.

This winter I was pulling out of my driveway, took a good look both ways at the end, and pulled onto the street (a crescent that usually doesn’t see speeders), I look ahead and there is an orange speeding death bullet coming right at me, and not slowing down. He was doing about 50 klicks. I laid on the horn and the guy looks up from his phone just in time to hit the brakes. And he gives ME the finger.

So here’s a question. Aside from Highway Traffic Act provisions, does and municipality monitor or have bylaws that address the issue of snow clearing equipment safety? I doubt it because it would be very difficult to enforce, but I am curious.


Whew, I’m glad our OCDSB Trustee is safe and sound…

… because the schools around Alta Vista and its neighbourhoods haven’t seen her since the 2010 election.

But here she is, shilling for the OCDSB Chair running for the NDP nomination in Ottawa Centre.

Whew. Folks have been worried.



New street food…

… is coming to Ottawa!

Ottawa – Beginning in May, Ottawa will welcome 18 new and exciting food choices to the city’s streets. Following on the City’s commitment to promote small business opportunities in the local community, these new trucks and carts will increase street food vendor options for residents and tourists alike.

“Ottawa will have a full range of street food options from appetizers to desserts,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Regardless of your culinary preference, there will be new options for you to discover from Ottawa’s enhanced street food scene!”

Last fall, City Council approved the New Street Food Vending Program that provided for the opening of up to 20 spaces for new and diversified menus. A total of 61 applications were received and reviewed by a selection panel. These new options are in addition to the existing 44 licensed truck and cart food vendors.

Some examples:



My low sodium diet will prevent me from partaking of these pavement treats very often, but it is nice to see Ottawa’s street food scene change with the times and offer more than just fries, hot dogs and sausages.

I guess this guy didn’t apply.


h/t to seealsoregret for the Simpsons montage.




A casino in Ottawa?

I’m not a gambler… never been very good at it so gambling, for me, is akin to throwing my money into the fireplace. And I don’t even really like establishments like casinos or slot machine facilities. The atmosphere is plain weird and the damn places are as noisy as hell!

But I don’t have anything morally against them. Some folks find them enjoyable and gaming facilities can provide a solid revenue source for the province and the local municipality. Plus, they employ lots of peeps, there are economic spinoffs, etc., etc. All good stuff.

Now Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, has signalled that he is in favour of considering an application to the province to site a casino in Bytown.

Mayor Jim Watson says he’s tired of seeing gamblers in the city head across the border to place their bets at the casino in nearby Gatineau and is beginning a process that will see the public weigh in on the idea.

The Casino du Lac-Leamy complex is one of the region’s key attractions and a money-maker for Quebec’s gambling corporation and its sole shareholder, the provincial government.

The resort is home to a casino — Quebec’s second largest after Casino de Montréal — along with a Hilton hotel, restaurants and bars, a spa and a convention centre.

In the first three months of its fiscal year 2013, gross revenues from the gambling operations at Casino du Lac-Leamy topped $61.1 million, according to Loto-Québec’s financial statement.

The Montreal casino generated $116.4 million in gross revenues for the quarter while Casino de Charlevoix rang in $12.7 million and Casino de Mont-Tremblant saw $4.7 million.

Watson says after initial public comment, the city will vote on a casino report and then possibly approach the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., followed by more public meetings next year.

Watson argued Ottawa is losing millions of dollars from gambling money streaming across the Ottawa River to Gatineau.

And I agree. Keep some of that money on this side of the river! And I am especially keen now that the Péquistes are again in power in la belle province.

But be careful, Mr. Watson. You and the rest of Council must seriously look at the impacts – social, economic, and environmental – that a casino would have before you commit to anything. As I understand it, the decision to go ahead with the preliminary application is going to be taken at next week’s Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting. And there has been no public consultation, no staff reports, no research, nothing up to this point.

And, ya know, I’m sort of OK with this too as long as it happens before a committment is made and contracts signed.

One thing I will yell from the rooftops though:

Don’t put the damn thing in the boonies like you did with the arena!

THAT was a boneheaded decision if I ever saw one!


The end of the road for Ottawa’s Advisory Committees…

… or at least the way they were constituted before yesterday, is, in effect, using a chainsaw where a scalpel would have been appropriate.

Last year, I applied to sit on the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) and lo and behold, the selection committee accepted my application! So, pending Council approval, I was a member of a group whose work I had admired from the outside. A group whose members were (and are) a diverse collection of individuals with enormous expertise to offer up to our elected officials.

And, except for the small cost of a staffer taking Minutes and organizing the monthly meetings, it was FREE ADVICE!

But this Council didn’t see it this way. They had planned on doing a review of the City’s Advisory Committee (AC)  structure for sometime, and my nomination was never formally approved by Council. I’m not arguing against the review. There were some AC’s that had clearly passed their best-before dates. So my appointment was held up pending the completion of the review.

Yet, despite not being a formal member,  I still attended some, if not the majority, of the EAC meetings as an observer… not because I didn’t have anything better to do (I did), but because I felt their work to be valuable, interesting and I wanted to be a part of it.

Will I apply to the newly constituted, “better than ever” Environmental Stewardship AC? I’m not sure. I do have a lot on my plate already, and if the Council’s approach is to render AC’s into simply PR tools (We are consulting with the public! Look at us!), then I’m not really interested. We’ll see.

Finally, I’d like to give a tip of the hat to the members of the EAC. From my seat in the gallery, they were all talented, intelligent and informed individuals with no interest other than to provide the City with what guidance where they could.

You know, some criticise the motives behind volunteers involving themselves in groups like these; claiming that they are wanna-be politicians who are just trying to get exposure for themselves and make contacts at City Hall. You see this a lot in the mainstream media. Maybe they are just too jaded to see the real reasons why folks like the AC members (and I’ll include myself, as well) “get involved”.

So, Patrick Quealey, Jason Pearman, Martin Canning, Bill Toms, Bill Pugsley – and all the rest of you;  a fellow Ottawan recognises the value of your past work and would like to say “thanks”! You did done good!


If this happens again….

… I’ll do my best to forward the awesomeness from Tunney’s to Sparks… Seriously.

I will.

This be Trashy-cool.


The Rideau River…


… truly one of the great perqs of living in this City.