WEST EDITION: Serving Britannia, Carlingwood, Westboro, Island Park and surrounding communities Year 1, Issue 30
May 19, 2011 | 24 Pages
WAITING GAME A plan to shift Ottawa’s light rail project to top gear has been approved by council, but the wait now begins for the release of updated cost for the project, which is set for July.
JUST A TRIM PLEASE Anyone venturing to the Canada Agriculture Museum this weekend will be treated to an up-close look at an annual spring tradition: the shearing of the sheep.
Photos by Kristy Wallace
A TOAST TO NEW BEGINNINGS
Lily Chau served up some pear cider at the opening of the new Savour Ottawa Field House at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market May 13. The outdoor market kicked off its new season last week with the new $1.2 million structure as the centrepiece. For the full story, see page 3.
Residents divided over convent appeal KRISTY WALLACE firstname.lastname@example.org
GOING FOR GOLD A Carleton University student is one of several Paralympic athletes from the Ottawa area preparing to secure their tickets to London in 2012.
After a long and already bitter campaign against some elements of a development on the former Soeurs de la Visitation convent in Westboro, some residents are not willing to support continued action through an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. “We’re about to get screwed, and how do we find a way not to get screwed?” said resident Charles Ficner. “Whatever the OMB decides, goes.” In December, the Westboro Community Association, Hampton Iona Community
Group and resident Sylvano Carrasco filed an appeal to the OMB over the controversial development, which would see about 600 residential units constructed on the site and would be built higher than the original zoning bylaw indicated. Ficner and a few of the other 40 residents who showed up at Hilson Public School on May 12 said they would only contribute to an upcoming OMB appeal against the convent if it means the community didn’t negotiate density with Ashcroft Homes. The meeting was originally supposed to be about fundraising for the OMB appeal, including funds to hire experts and lawyers
to testify, but the focus quickly turned into a discussion about the best approach for opposing the development at the appeal. While some residents, like Ficner, said they wouldn’t contribute if there will be compromises with Ashcroft on density, others said the appellants should ensure the six-storey limit in the original bylaw stands. One of the larger issues that came up was creating an entranceway to the new development through the Byron Linear Park, which is located on the south side of the development. See COMMUNITY on page 10
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Ottawa police are looking for a suspect after an 11-year-old girl was inappropriately touched while playing at Bellvue Manor Park. At about 5 p.m. on April 25, police said the girl was lured into a wooded area of the park by an unknown male, who then assaulted her. The girl sustained minor injuries during the incident. The suspect is described as an Asian male, about 15-years-old, with short black hair. He was wearing blue pants and a white sweatshirt with a black design on the front. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222 ext. 5944 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.
THREE TEENS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT Three males in their mid-teens were robbed at gunpoint on May 15 on a pathway near Huron and Byron avenues. Shortly before 2 p.m., they were approached by the suspect pointed a handgun at them, demanding their belongings. The victims gave him a knapsack, two cell phones and a wallet. The victims were not harmed. The suspect is described as a white male in his early 20s, six feet tall, medium to stocky build, short dark hair, wearing aviator type sunglasses, a red bandana covering his face, a black hooded jacket, blue jeans and white running shoes.
Photos by Kristy Wallace
Kim Hall of Hall’s Apple Market let visitors taste some apple pie at the opening of the new Savour Ottawa Field House at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market May 13.
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The corner of Parkdale Avenue and Armstrong Street saw a gathering of vendors, customers and community leaders on May 13 as the Parkdale Market celebrated the opening of its new fieldhouse. “It’s 87 years old, but it’s improving and we can see in our environment today that it’s a great place to be,” said Kitchissippi Coun. Katherine Hobbs, referring to the market and surrounding park. The facility in the park was recently renovated for $1.2 million and the makeover will allow for refrigerated items to
now be sold at the Farmers’ Market, including eggs, cheeses and meats. “It’s based on a collaborative and cooperative model,” said Philip Powell, the city’s markets manager. “It’s a model that’s a best practice for North America.” The new and improved facility is also important in terms of food safety since it has electricity and running water so meat and dairy products can always be kept at the right temperature. “This is really a first in Ottawa, and I’m really proud that Kitchissippi is welcoming all the farmers here today,” said Hobbs.
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Accelerated LRT plan accepted as council awaits cost update LAURA MUELLER email@example.com
Now that efforts have been made to speed up the process of getting light-rail transit in Ottawa, the big test for the project will be in July, when city councillors will hear an updated estimate on the costs. City staff said the LRT system could be completed by the spring of 2018, a full year earlier than expected. But the heavy lifting will come in July, when council will be faced with making a decision about whether the project is still affordable, the city’s finance and economic development committee heard on May 12. Along with speeding up the process, staff said the city could save money on the project by changing the way it works with the contractor to build the system. Instead of city staff designing the system and then asking contractors to bid on how much it would cost to construct it, the new idea would be to have qualified contractors bid to do the design work as well as the construction and maintenance of
the system. That method would cut down on costs, but it wouldn’t necessarily bring the project in under the original estimate of $2.1 billion. The cost could rise higher than that figure, especially because that estimate was made in 2009 and doesn’t account for inflation. But the estimated cost would be even higher if the city stuck with its original procurement plan, said John Jensen, the rail implementation program manager for the City of Ottawa. While city staff asked for councillors’ approval to begin the process of acquiring property needed to build the line – and potentially pursuing expropriation – Jensen assured councillors that no expropriations would be finalized until council makes a decision on the budget and procurement for the project in July. “This is essential to help property owners move forward and for risk and cost control,” Jensen said. Jensen said no residential properties will be affected, although a city report contains more careful wording: “…the
A conceptual drawing shows a portion of the proposed Bayview light rail station. The city is moving ahead with a plan to accelerate the light rail project, but much hinges on a cost update due in July. city does not anticipate that any residential properties need to be acquired.” Several councillors were very concerned about the process of acquiring and expropriating land, including River Ward Coun. Maria McRae. She urged caution with finalizing land swaps or purchases because the city now owns many small parcels of land that have little value or usefulness after the cancellation of the city’s previous northsouth light rail line plan. “We were in a big hurry to acquire land,” McRae said about the former light-rail project. “Now we own all these little sliv-
ers we can’t do anything with.” The land the city is now looking at is “marketable for resale,” Mayor Jim Watson told councillors. “We don’t want to be saddled with a bunch of pieces of land if the project ends up being unaffordable,” he said. “If … it stretches the city to a limit that is not acceptable and not financially prudent, then obviously we’re going to have to go back and come up with a new plan,” Watson told reporters after the meeting. Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, who is the chair of the city’s transit commis-
Mayor under fire for anti-abortion day proclamation LAURA MUELLER firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor’s proclamations are a regular feature at the start of city council meetings, and for the most part, events such as Laughter Day, Global Love Day and Data Privacy Day pass largely unnoticed. But one proclamation that has become an annual tradition since 2002 is getting some serious – and critical – attention from the community, especially on the social networking site, Twitter. Mayor Jim Watson declared May 12, 2011 to be Respect for Life Day in the City of Ottawa, coinciding with a large anti-abortion march on Parliament Hill that usually draws approximately 10,000 people to the capital. The proclamation reads: “The rights of the people of Canada including the unborn, the elderly and those with handicaps are gradually being eroded.” The mayor came under fire on May 9, when word of the proclamation spread like wildfire online. But Watson stood by the proclamation, saying that the
city has a responsibility to abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Watson noted that he served on city council under former mayor Jacquelin Holzman, who famously refused to declare gay and lesbian “pride” week, which landed the city in court. “I’m not prepared to bring the city through another human rights trial,” Watson said. “I happen to be pro-choice,” he added. “I don’t happen to agree with those people who take away a woman’s right to choose, but at the same time it isn’t the mayor’s personal beliefs and hunches that should rule the day. If a prochoice group wants to have a day named after them, that fits the policy, they should have a day named after them.” That’s not something prochoice groups like Planned Parenthood Ottawa are interested in, said the organization’s executive director, Heather Holland. PPO’s efforts are better spent on educating people about pregnancy options and improving access to abortions than seeking a token proclamation.
Holland said Respect for Life Day doesn’t jive with the city’s own proclamation policy. According to its policy, the city issues proclamations for any group or individual who requests one, as long as it doesn’t violate human rights. That means the proclamation can’t be discriminatory, illegal or espouse hatred, violence or
racism. The policy also states that proclamations shouldn’t be politically or religiously motivated. Holland argued that the organization that requested the proclamation, Campaign Life Coalition, is arguably both political and religious. “I think it clearly crosses that line,” she said. Wanda Hartlin is the secretary for the national March for Life, the anti-abortion demonstration that took place on Parliament Hill on May 12. The event isn’t religiously affiliated, Hartlin said. “We’re Canada’s national lobbying group for pro-life,” Hartlin said. “I have never really sorted it out whether (the March for Life) is (political) or not,” she added. When asked if he thought a anti-abortion proclamation fell under the definition of “political” or “religious” events, Watson said the “political” aspect of proclamations refers to “big P” politics at the federal and provincial level. “Every decision we make,
sion, said she has “growing concerns” about the affordability of the project and that addressing property acquisition before council receives an updated cost estimate is “putting the cart before the horse.” While the system still won’t be ready for use in 2017 for Canada’s 150th birthday, Jensen said the construction will mostly be cleaned up and trains will be available for public viewing during the celebrations. “By advancing the schedule we can ensure our downtown will be in good condition for our birthday celebration,” Jensen said.
or every proclamation you can claim is political in one way or another,” he said. “But the intent of the policy is to ensure that we are not getting into partisan politics by denouncing a prime minister or denouncing a premier or attacking a political party, because that’s not our role.” According to the city’s policy, proclamations are intended to “encourage public awareness or provide recognition for events, achievements, and activities that are significant to Ottawa” and to “acknowledge individuals who have achieved national or international distinction, or whose contribution to the community demands significant recognition.” In 2010, the city issued 121 proclamations. So far this year, the mayor has already signed off on 45 proclamations, including another Respect for Life Day on April 30. That proclamation has been requested by education anti-abortion group Action Life and granted each year since 1993, according to the executive director, Louise Harbour. “I think to bring every single proclamation to council would not only expend a great amount of time, but would also be very divisive,” the mayor said.
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The city is looking to make improvements to three pedestrian crossings at Ottawa west intersections, installing new measures that will provide improved crosswalks, lights and shorter walking distances. “We’re not causing a problem, we’re alleviating a problem,” said Mark McMillan, the project manager with the city’s construction services division west. “When we’re digging up a street downtown, it causes problems. But in this case, people will find it’s more aesthetically pleasing and safer. I don’t think many people will complain about that.” The three intersections that will be modified are Island Park at Carling Avenue, Holland Avenue at Carling, and the pedestrian crossing at Iona Street at Island Park. The budget for the projects is $350,000 in total and it is expected to start when the Carling and Merivale Road construction is finished around fall 2011. “In the last year, we’ve had complaints from pedestrians crossing essentially three large lanes,” McMillan said, referring to the Island Park and Carling intersection. Calum MacDonald, an engineer for McIntosh Perry Consulting which is involved in the project, said pedestrians are currently crossing a long intersection broken up by medians.
Photo by Kristy Wallace
Mark McMillan, left, project manager of construction services division west with the city, Calum MacDonald, engineer with McIntosh Perry Consulting and Phil Whelan, project manager for McIntosh Perry, recently held an open house for residents living in several neighbourhoods west of downtown to show them new initiatives that will help make pedestrian crossings safer. “We’re going to be tightening up the intersection,” MacDonald said. “It will shorten the distance pedestrians have to cross.” The project will involve removing two right turn lanes on Carling Avenue that turn onto Island Park Drive.
This will also benefit the residents who live in a house on the corner of Island Park and Carling, and whose driveway backs onto the two right turn lanes onto Island Park. Dennis Herod, who has lived in the house since 1995, said he’s had near miss-
Ottawa-area hospitals to receive new short-stay beds KRISTY WALLACE firstname.lastname@example.org
Those visiting emergency rooms at Ottawa area hospitals can expect to see shorter wait times thanks to provincial funding that will buy new short-stay beds helping these busy departments better manages the constant influx of patients. “This new investment will give us additional bed capacity at the Ottawa Hospital,” said Mike Tierney, the hospital’s vice-president of clinical programs. “Our biggest challenge is patients waiting for a bed.” The Ottawa Hospital will be receiving $3.9 million and 19 new beds, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Queensway Carleton Hospital are receiving $1 million each to help lower their wait times, and the Montfort hospital will receive about $320,000. Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre, said the provincial government’s hope is to make sure patients in Ottawa get good quality health care when they need it. “We know there are serious situations that need to be dealt with,” Naqvi said,
es with cars while backing out. “In the winter when the snow banks are up, it’s even harder (to see oncoming traffic),” Herod said. “It’s been very challenging.” At Carling and Holland, there will be improvements made including new curbs and ramps, an additional sidewalk near the transit stop, enhanced crosswalk pavement markings, re-aligned crosswalks, pedestrian countdown and audible signals. McMillan said this intersection was selected by councillors and residents as one with “significant safety risks and concerns for pedestrians.” He said the crossing will be the first to be reviewed and improved as part of the new Pedestrians Safety Evaluation Program pilot project from the city. Finally the pedestrian crossing at Iona and Island Park will have a pedestrian signal crossing installed. “The intersection at Iona and Island Park has strings of traffic,” McMillan said. “There’s no way for pedestrians to get across. Now we’ll have a stop light for pedestrians.” Herod said as a resident, he’s happy the National Capital Commission, which oversees Island Park Drive, and the city are making pedestrian crossings safer. “We’ve been trying to lobby the NCC and the city for a number of years now,” he said. “We’re quite pleased this is finally being addressed.”
“As she worked, she hummed the ﬁrst few notes of Hockey Night in Canada.”
adding there’s no one solution to deal with wait times. “There has to be a system-wide approach.” He said it’s a step in the right direction and the provincial government is working to measure emergency room wait times. “The reality is, it takes a while,” Naqvi said, adding that both he and the government were anxious to address the problem as soon as possible. Tierney said the additional beds and money at the Ottawa Hospital is one piece of the puzzle, but the other piece is sending some patients who are in hospital beds to the appropriate venues, like long-term care or supportive housing. “Additional beds are a start,” Tierney said. Naqvi said while some regions of Ontario need more doctors and nurses still, 94 per cent of Ontarians have a family doctor and internationally trained doctors are able to practice more than ever before. “We realize we definitely made some improvements,” said Naqvi. “But there’s more work to be done, and we want to see continued improvement year after year.”
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May 19, 2011 - OTTAWA THIS WEEK - WEST
Series of projects aim to improve pedestrian safety
OTTAWA THIS WEEK - WEST - May 19, 2011
Community raises $4,000 for storm victim KRISTY WALLACE email@example.com
A young woman injured in a wind storm a few weeks ago has financial support until she gets better – and it’s all thanks to the generosity of the Hintonburg community. The Fundraiser for Lauren, held at the Elmdale Tavern on May 14, raised $4,000 for Lauren Gerro. The 26-year-old was walking to work with her fiancé, Matthew, on April 28 when a gust of nearly 100-kilometreper-hour wind knocked down a tree which hit Gerro, breaking both of her legs. “They have an enormous heart,” said Karla Briones, who is Gerro’s boss at Global Pet Foods in Hintonburg. “I’m so humbled by the generosity of people.” At its peak, Briones said the tavern was filled with almost 150 people – but an estimated 300 came in and out throughout the day to lend their support. “It was an awesome event,” Briones said. “It was so busy.” She said the original goal to raise for Lauren was $5,000 – but before the event the store raised $7,000 just from Hintonburgers
Columnist makes bid for PC nomination JENNIFER MCINTOSH firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Sandy Sharkey
Musician Amanda Rheaume played at a fundraiser held at the Elmdale Tavern May 14 for Lauren Gerro – a 26 year-old woman who broke her legs during a high wind storm a few weeks ago. coming in off the street and donating at the store. “It felt kind of weird – people were coming in and introducing themselves and thanking me – but really I’m thanking them,” said Briones. “The community has really helped.” She added that Gerro’s family and fiancé were at the event to
say a few words Her fiancé got on stage and read a letter that Gerro had written since she couldn’t be there – thanking the community for all it has done for her. “At the end, she assured everyone she’ll be moving to Hintonburg,” Briones laughed. Briones said it was touching
Former Liberal Party candidate for Ottawa Centre Scott Bradley also played at the fundraiser, showing off his musical talents to help raise money for Gerro. to see everyone come together – from the musical acts to Hintonburg residents “I am very proud to be living in this community. It’s the type of community that rallies together and sticks up for each other,” she said. “I’m very proud of this community and the fact that my daughter’s a part of it too. She’s seeing how decent human beings should be to each other.”
Newspaper columnist Randall Denley has been named as a possible Progressive Conservative candidate in the October for Ottawa West-Nepean. A date for the nomination meeting had not been set, but before Denley’s announcement several other candidates – including Beth Graham and Brent Colbert – had already announced they were seeking the nomination. Denley, who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, said in a press release that having encouraged so many others to take run for office, he felt it was his turn. “If we are going to deliver positive change for Ontario’s families, people need to take action,” he said. PC leader Tim Hudak flew to Ottawa to make the announcement on Tuesday, May 17. “I am proud to be leading a party that is attracting remarkable people like Randall, who are willing to put their names on the line, on the ballot and to stand up for hardworking families,” he said.
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Spring is here, sheep are ready to get their hair cut, something Ottawa residents will have a chance to see first hand this weekend at the Canada Agriculture Museum. “We want to make sure our sheep are comfortable outside in the summer,” said Marie-Sophie Desaulniers, manager, visitor experience at the museum. The museum will be holding its annual Sheep Shearing Festival on Victoria Day Weekend, when visitors will be able to watch sheep getting their hair cut and learn more about wool and fabrics. “What you’ll see here at the Sheep Shearing Festival is an expert shearer at work who will be shearing all sheep. If he goes really fast, it can take two minutes,” said Desaulniers, adding that the shearer will go more slowly for onlookers so they can see what happens during the process. Even though sheep are usually sheared once a year, De-
May 19, 2011 - OTTAWA THIS WEEK - WEST
Devonshire playground issue solved, board says
Sheep shearing festival wool knock your socks off
saulniers said the process happens twice at the museum since staff bring them inside for the winter. Visitors will also get a chance to see what happens with the wool after it’s cut from the sheep, she said. “From washing to dying to spinning, weaving and knitting – we’ll be explaining it,” she said, adding visitors will get a chance to participate as well. She said the museum wanted to share what sheep shearing is with the public because people don’t often have a chance to see it otherwise. “It’s really rare to have a farm in the middle of a city, and we’re able to show you what that part of the industry is like,” Desaulniers said. She added that sheep shearing is a very seasonal thing that happens on a farm, and the museum’s goal is to show people that farming and agriculture is a seasonal business where there are different chores to be done on the farm at different times of the year. Visitors are also surprised
Photo by Kristy Wallace
Marie-Sophie Desaulniers, manager of visitor experience at the Canada Agriculture Museum, said the annual sheep shearing festival attracts both the young and old. by the amount of work sheep shearing is when they go to the event, she said. There many steps after shearing to make fabric, she said, and it takes a lot of time and work to create that wool sweater you see on store shelves. In addition, Desaulniers said visitors are often surprised by the different types of animal fur that are used to make fabrics including angora goats and even rabbits. She said the event is one of
the earliest festivals held at the museum, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. “It’s something we have to do to care for the sheep and it’s a great opportunity to show visitors,” she said. “(The point) is to show what a process it is while having fun.” The Sheep Shearing Festival will take place at the Canada Agriculture Museum located on Prince of Wales Drive. The festival runs from May 21 to 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
The addition of more parking for staff at Devonshire Public School could have meant a loss in playground space for children – until a city survey found that the school could recover the lost playground by moving a fence closer to the Breezehill Avenue side of the property. “We have eight and a half more feet of property than we believed we had at the Devonshire location,” said Sharlene Hunter, spokesperson for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. “Students will have more play space than they previously had – even with new parking spaces put in.” Concerned parents contacted the board and halted construction at the site on May 13, as a portion of the children’s playground for more parking was being removed. In a press release sent on May 17, Kitchissippi Coun. Katherine Hobbs commended the city for solving the problem. “Just look at what this community can do when we work together as a team.”
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From fire trucks to a zamboni, children will have a chance to come up close to all sorts of different vehicles on May 29 as part Mothercraft Ottawa’s annual fundraising event. At the end of the month, the Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre parking lot will become a site of large trucks – and even some small smart cars – for children to have an up-close glimpse at the vehicles as part of Mothercraft’s Touch-a-Truck event. “It’s so unique. There’s nothing like it,” said Sarah Ginther, Touch-a-Truck fundraiser event co-ordinator for the Westboro-based organization. “It will be full-on access for kids. If they can’t climb on it, then it’s not the right fit.” The day costs $5 per person to a maximum of $20 per family and all proceeds will go to Mothercraft Ottawa’s programs, Ginther said. One of the programs that will benefit from the fundraiser is the Birth and Parent Companion Program, which matches volunteers with women in low-income situations who need support while they’re pregnant or parenting preschool children. “We’ve matched volunteers with people who came from different coun-
The Touch-a-Truck event has been a fundraiser for Mothercraft Ottawa’s programs for the last four years. Children enjoyed the event last year – which raised $18,000. tries and didn’t have family support, or were in an unfamiliar environment,” Ginther said. “It’s given a lot of support, and it’s a unique program.” She said Touch-a-Truck is now in its fourth year and raised $18,000 for Mothercraft Ottawa at last year’s event. While they don’t have a target set yet, Ginther hopes the amount will be more than that this year. For those who might want to get out of the heat, the Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre will also become a place
where children can drive small electric cars on a course set up inside the mall. “It will have a festival atmosphere,” Ginther said. There will also be a “strong man demonstration” at the event, she said, with a professional wrestler coming in to do strength demonstrations and offer children the opportunity to participate in a number of feats of strength activities. Ginther said the demonstration is part of their “power of dads” showcase at the event. “The underlying message is we want dads to be involved in kids’ lives,” she said. “It’s a bonding opportunity for dads and their children.” Ginther said even though she’s the event co-ordinator, it’s been a great team effort with everyone involved, including the Ottawa Safety Council with Mothercraft Ottawa will be partnering with this year. Because of this partnership, there will be paramedics, fireman and Red Cross volunteers there to tell children stories about the various vehicles they use in emergencies. For more information on the event, visit the Mothercraft Ottawa website at www.mothercraft.com or call the main Touch-a-Truck information line at 613-728-1839 ext. 500.
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OTTAWA THIS WEEK - WEST - May 19, 2011
Holiday ushers in summer
ictoria Day is our gateway to the summer season after a brutally long winter. We head to the cottage, the beach, go on a road trip or host a back yard barbecue. Whatever your reason to celebrate this weekend, we often forget why we have this holiday. What we are really celebrating on this May long weekend – now some 110 years after the death of Queen Victoria – is the birthday of whichever monarch happens to be on the throne at the time. Lumping all the monarchs’ birthdays together seemed to be the way to go. Victoria Day has also been known as the Queen’s Birthday, Empire Day, and Commonwealth Day. The holiday name was changed to Empire Day in the 1890s when enthusiasm for the British Empire was at a peak. By the mid-20th century, however, the Empire had given way to the Commonwealth, so the holiday became known as Commonwealth Day. In 1977, Commonwealth Day was moved to the second Monday in March and Canadians continued to celebrate Victoria Day in May. Victoria was born Princess Victoria of Saxe-
Coburg at Kensington Palace in London, the daughter of Prince Edward and granddaughter of King George III. Towards the end of George III’s life it became a matter of some concern that none of his 15 children had heirs. George’s eldest son George IV took the throne after his father’s death. However, due to the death of George IV’s daughter Charlotte in 1817 and the fact that he was estranged from his wife, the succession was still in question. Under pressure from Parliament and the public George III’s fourth oldest child Edward married the German princess, Victoire of SaxeCoburg. She was 31 years old. On May 24, 1819 Victoire gave birth to a daughter. She was christened Alexandrina Victoria, and it is this monumental birth that we have to thank for one of our favourite holidays. But the question remains, why do we celebrate Victoria’s birthday when there have been five monarchs since her reign? Well, aside from how obviously amazing it is to have a long weekend just when we need to kickstart the summer season, there is historical precedence at work.
The Canadian quest: anything for 40 per cent off
usings about our national character go on all the time and are intensified during a federal election. What sort of people are Canadians? After the federal election, experts draw conclusions that might be correct, at least for a while. For example, we now learn that Quebecers are left-leaning federalists. Who knew? And what will they be four years from now? Meanwhile, somebody writes in the daily newspaper about being sick of the Group of Seven. Many Canadians thought the painters of the Group of Seven saw Canada in a typically Canadian way. Now others think not. We are not about jackpines and sloping rocks on Georgian Bay. At least, not any more. What are we about? It is difficult to keep track. Are we Starbucks or Tim Hortons, hockey or soccer, North American or British or multicultural? Are we still orderly and polite as opposed to raucous and freedom-loving? People used to think that, but they should have a look at some of the road rage around here. Particularly during the construction season. So, where to look for the national character? Well, it just so happens that the season for a splendid display of the
CHARLES GORDON Funny Town Canadian identity is upon us. That would be the season of the garage sale. Signs sprout on Saturday morning corners like maple bushes. Packs of vehicles creep around the early morning streets like contestants in the world’s slowest scavenger hunt. The reader of these signs, the inhabitants of these vehicles are Canadians, demonstrating one of their national characteristics – the love of a bargain. The bargain is found at the end of someone’s driveway. It is a totally unnecessary thing in many instances, perhaps a relative’s amateurish attempt at a Group of Seven scene, but much cheaper than you could buy it for anywhere else. So Canadians pay $3 for this thing, put it in the trunk and drive slowly off in search of another driveway with totally unnecessary things on display. Another
vehicle immediately occupies the space they vacated. This is a game we play every spring. For every Canadian who decides to donate his excess stuff to charity or school bazaars or church rummage sales, there is another who decides to sell it. In many cases the seller doesn’t need the money. And in many cases, the buyer either doesn’t need what is on sale or could afford to buy something new (thereby helping to keep the economy moving), but can’t resist a bargain. Let’s face it, getting stuff cheap is a hobby for many Canadians. You’ve met them. When you admire their new table, they tell you how they got it for 40-percent off. When they describe the trip they just took all they talk about is what a deal they got on the room and the souvenirs they bought at half-price. Here is a big part of our national identity: Canadians are frugal. Let’s say “frugal” rather than “cheap.” Our frugality means that we drive across town, burning up expensive gas, in search of the gas station where it is a fraction of a cent less expensive. Our frugality also means, unfortunately, that locally owned businesses perish in great numbers because multinationally-owned businesses sell stuff cheaper and we can’t resist a bargain.
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If you wanted to draw a public policy conclusion from this, you might conclude that Canadians, a frugal people, wouldn’t like to pay higher taxes even if the revenue from those taxes would finance high-quality programs. Except in Quebec. You might also conclude that Canadians would favour the creation of a government agency, Garage Sale Canada, to facilitate the spread of garage sales and create uniform standards for the pricing of slightly used light bulbs, exercise videotapes and three-legged lawn chairs. Granted, creating such an agency might marginally increase the size of government, but hey, our national character has to be worth something.
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f you’ve ever had to give your kid a Tic-tac to keep him from going berserk during Holy Communion, or promised a bit of “Dora when we get home, if he can just keep it together for five more minutes at the mall,” you’ll understand how bribery in parenting can work. Its counterpart, threat, similarly, is often used, such as the promise that “I will toss all the Lego in the garbage if I step on one more piece that has been covertly ground into the living room rug,” or “one more word like that, young man, and you’ll be spending the day in your room.” But there’s another type of bribe-andthreat that is far less destructive, and as I’ve discovered recently, an essential tool in the parenting toolbox. It’s more a reminder, really, of the “natural consequences” of good behaviour, or the negative consequences of not towing the line. For weeks – months for whomever has been following my column and knows my children drove me to therapy – morn-
ings at our house have been a nightmare. We begin, like most, with the best of intentions: The lunchboxes are made and in the fridge the night before; the alarm goes off at six; I make the coffee, while my husband makes breakfast; everything is smooth as chocolate mousse until the first child emerges from his room, tousle-haired, yet surprisingly talkative and bright. Morning is his time and he wants to create great works of art, tell us stories of his life, and play songs on the piano, which would all be wonderful except that he’s still in his pyjamas, my husband’s burnt the first round of breakfast, and child-the-younger can’t stand loud noise in the morning. That, and we only have 90 minutes to get everyone fed, watered, dressed, and brushed before walking to the school bus for precisely 7:31 a.m. So what begins as a morning with potential, ends with parents repeatedly screaming the same commands – “brush your teeth, get your uniform on, find your shoes” – like drill sergeants, children in tears, and a mad dash to the bus stop. You’ve all been there, right? One morning, I decided it was all going to change. And gosh darn it, my methods would include bribery. One Sunday night, I told my boys that if they got up with the alarm at 5:50am, got dressed into their uniforms, helped us get the breakfast on the table, brushed their teeth and hair, washed their faces
and practiced the piano without fighting, the “natural consequence” would be an extra 15-minutes, which meant they could run around the park with the soccer ball before the school bus. I actually forgot about my promise, mainly because I really had no faith in my method. But the older child did not forgot. Monday morning, he heard my alarm go off for my 6 a.m. walk, jumped out of bed, got dressed, told his younger brother to do the same, and before I knew it they’d completed the entire morning routine in 30 minutes flat. Some call it incentives, some call it bribes, but these kids have been a dream for weeks now. If they’re having trouble getting settled into bed, I remind them that it will be “very difficult to get up and do everything in time to play at the park if they don’t go to sleep immediately.” And then, silence! In the morning, a gentle whisper to tell them that the sun is shining and the ball is waiting for them on the front porch is incentive enough for child-the-younger to curb his grumpy tendencies and hustle. So go ahead and use bribery, I say. But be very careful what you promise! Kids are always smarter than we think. My eldest discovered recently that one of his friend’s parents use bribes at their house too, but instead of park time, they earn screen time for the weekend. No matter. He’s been twice as cooperative ever since.
Web Poll THIS WEEK’S POLL QUESTION Should the mayor have declared ‘Respect for Life Day’ for an anti-abortion rally?
A) Yes, governments should respect all viewpoints.
B) No, the mayor shouldn’t be lending credence to divisive viewpoints. C) No, it doesn’t conform to the city’s policy of being non-political and non-religious. D) No, the city and mayor shouldn’t make proclamations at all.
LAST WEEK’S POLL SUMMARY Is the NCC right to ban specific types of electric bicycles from its pathways?
A) It makes sense to ensure acces-
sibility while keeping the paths safe for all.
B) People need to learn how to share the paths – there’s room for everyone.
C) With exceptions for the disabled, all power-assisted vehicles should be banned.
D) It doesn’t matter to me – I don’t 0% use the NCC pathways. To participate in our web polls visit: www.yourottawaregion.com
May 19, 2011 - OTTAWA THIS WEEK - WEST
Bribery is the best form of parenting
‘Recovering Love’ to make premiere at MayFair EDDIE RWEMA firstname.lastname@example.org
Recovering Love, a documentary directed by Laura Sky, makes its Ottawa premiere at MayFair Theatre in the Glebe today. Based on a true story, the film highlights women and addictions, challenges these women face daily, their courage in trying to meet these challenges and the factors underlying their addictions. “It is a story of a journey of mothers who have been struggling with addictions but still committed to their relationship with their children,” said Sky, film producer and director. According to Sky, her film counters the stereotypical view that addicted women abandon or damage their children. “It looks at ways we can support children and their mothers to stay together rather than having the kids apprehended,” she said. Executive director Diane Massicotte, who recently settled in Greely in Ottawa South to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, came up with the idea
while volunteering at the Iris Addiction Recovery Centre in Sudbury, where she saw the need for an educational tool to help children speak out about their experiences. “Children affected by alcohol or addiction, they never talk about it. It’s a shame-based secret, and it’s in the family as a secret,” said Massicotte, who grew up with an alcoholic father and can relate to today’s children. “I want to show it to children and perhaps they can open up, because there is a stigma.” Massicotte explained that the film is meant to be an educational tool for shelters, agencies, schools, unions and other workplaces either to train employees on how to deal with the issue, or to reach out to people struggling with it themselves. She said most of the funding for the film, which took five years and about $270,000 to make, came from unions who want to use the film in their employee assistance programs. The film, which focuses on personal stories about mothers and children, was shot in the countryside out of Sudbury and also in an urban support centre in Toronto.
CAN’T WAIT UNTIL SUMMER?
There is light at the end of the tunnel for east-end commuters as Ontario’s legislature gave the thumbs up to the 2011 provincial budget, including the widening of the Queensway. Highway 417 from Nicholas Street to the Regional Road 174 split is set to be widened in the next few years, a project that is finally on the books in this year’s budget. The widening will initially allow for a busonly lane on the highway to alleviate congestion during construction of the city’s light-rail line, which is set to begin in 2013. After the rail system is up and running, the extra lane would be turned into a highoccupancy vehicle lane.
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The budget passed its third and final reading at Queen’s Park on May 10. The budget also includes $64 million in 2011-12 growing to $309 million in 2013-14 to create an additional 60,000 post-secondary spaces for students, and with four colleges and Universities, Ottawa could see a good portion of that funding. The budget also includes a risk-management program for cattle, hog, sheep and veal farmers; an additional 90,000 breastcancer exams targeting high-risk women aged 30 to 46 (and adding tests for women aged 50 to 59); and continuing the roll-out of the full-day kindergarten program. A commission on reform in the provincial public service will also be established with a view to reducing the deficit.
Community needs up to $20,000
“It does not teach or preach people. It is women who tell their stories. They are realistic about the hard part of their lives but they also want to encourage other
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Executive director Diane Massicotte, a new Greely resident, came up with the film’s focus while volunteering at a women’s addictions centre in Sudbury.
mothers and kids who may be struggling with similar issues,” Sky said. She noted that though these mothers might be vulnerable they also have great strength. Sky indicated she thinks addiction is an ever-growing problem that requires everyone’s attention. Recovering Love peels away the layers of prejudice and punishment that confront women. The 72-minute documentary shows the impact of that condemnation, and also looks deeper into the systemic issues that lead to addiction in the first place, including trauma and abuse, racism and discrimination. “They deserve our support, not our punishment or condemnation,” Sky said. The film also includes the wise voices of their kids, who have experienced their mothers’ substance abuse and who are so much a part of reclaiming hope. “We have worked hard to make the film beautiful and meaningful. Hopefully people will find it interesting,” said Sky. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door.
Queensway widening in budget