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All In Hand

Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.

blogging and freedom of expression

Miss Vicky Tue Feb 28, 2006

Ottawa Bloggers: ever been asked by anyone to remove something from your site? get in touch; a local reporter is working on a story on blogging and freedom of expression and I said I'd ask around.

Family fun for a good cause: Saturday

Miss Vicky Tue Feb 28, 2006

A group of neighbourhood parents and friends of Patrick Hadden, a 7-year-old boy struggling with neuroblastoma for the second time in his young life, is holding a family dance this Saturday to raise money for his treatment. These are amazing people doing an amazing thing for an amazing boy. Miss Vicky has work obligations out of town this weekend, so won't be able to make it, unfortunately. So I'm using my private soapbox to encourage others to attend and have fun for this excellent cause. If you can't go, you can make donations at the Westboro Scotiabank; the account name is "Friends for Patrick".


Development "freeze" thawing?

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 27, 2006

I had an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who lives near Island Park, right behind the proposed Ashcroft development at 93 Richmond (the Presley's auto yard). She was looking for some advice to help her prepare her response to the proposal. I was a little confused - didn't council just pass a moratorium on development proposals on Richmond Road until the Community Design Plan is complete? I called the planner responsible for the CDP and was told that no actual approvals of requests for rezoning would occur until after the CDP, but perhaps public consultations one specific proposals would go ahead in the meantime. No luck yet contacting the staffer responsible for overseeing the Ashcroft request (she's out of town). But it seems awfully strange to me that residents would be required to provide their comments on a proposal without knowing the outcome of the overall planning and design process for the area.

A Community Design Plan is supposed to come up with a 20-year vision for a particular area, setting standards like building height, setbacks, sidewalk width, land use and so on, which are supposed to help guide planning decisions in the years to come. This is especially important in a ward like ours which is likely to see considerable growth during this period - its proximity to downtown, access to transit, the large amount of greenspace nearby, the happening mainstreets, great neighbourhoods and strong community are huge draws. And there is a lot of space for infill, which fits in with Ottawa's long-term growth strategy. The challenge, then, is meeting the needs for growth while retaining the character and integrity of our neighbourhoods. The CDP process is one way to try and achieve the necessary balance.

Smart developers will make an effort to reach out to the community, let them know what they'd like to do, listen to their concerns and work to address them before they finish their design and seek final approval from the city. This is particularly important when they think they'll need to work outside the existing zoning to do what they want to do. Take the development on Wellington and Holland, for example, where the community pushed hard to integrate a cultural facility into the plans for condominiums. Now the GCTC is moving in, and the developers are building a much higher building than would normally be permitted. Smart.

I wasn't sure what to think about 93 Richmond. I had read in the Citizen and Kitchissippi Times that the plan was to build a seniors building. What objection could folks possibly have to that, I wondered after I heard from the residents nearby. When I met them for coffee this weekend, I found out that the actual proposal before the city is a condominium project, with no references to seniors whatsoever. Not only that, but they propose to build a couple of stories higher than the current zoning allows, and use pretty much the entire footprint of the property, so the new building would bump right up to the backyards of the folks behind. The properties behind are actually set lower than the ones facing the mainstreet, so the project would seriously effect their access to sun, not to mention the retaining walls they have constructed and any landscaping around them. And their privacy, too, since the proposal includes a rear-facing terrace which would overlook their neighbours' backyards.

According to the folks I met with this weekend, many neighbours have been repeatedly approached by real estate agents working on behalf of the developer, with offers for their properties. Low offers. Really low offers. Seems rumours are also being spread that so-and-so have decided to sell when so-and-so has no such intention whatsoever. Manipulative, and I dare say intimidating, and begs the question of what the actual intention is for the area.

If this development freeze has any credibility whatsover, the city would put a hold on the processes attached to specific development applications until the community design plan is complete.

Weekend fun: Hampton-Iona Winter Carnival

Miss Vicky Sat Feb 25, 2006

If you're looking for something fun to do with the kids today, head on over to Iona Park (on Iona between Island Park Drive and Kirkwood Ave) between 12 and 3pm, for the Hampton-Iona Winter Carnival. There will be marshmallows to roast over the open fire, great music, games and prizes for children of all ages, a BBQ, a raffle with prizes from local merchants and more.... all organised and run by volunteers of the local Hampton-Iona Community Group. Miss Vicky will be serving BBQ from 12:30 to 1. They have a great rink, so don't forget your skates!

Caring Conservatives?

Miss Vicky Fri Feb 24, 2006

They're acting fast - the province has been informed that the funding for child care will be cancelled next year. Here's the story. The premiers are all in town for a summit on education and skills training. Will this be supper-table conversation at 24 Sussex this evening?

If you want to help make sure it's on the minds and lips of the diners at the PM's residence, you might want to join child care advocates, parents and families at a vigil this evening. Here is the notice I received:

Child Care Vigil

Friday February 24th 6:00 p.m.
24 Sussex Drive Ottawa

Prime Minister Harper will be hosting a dinner for
visiting Provincial Premiers this Friday evening February 24th at his official residence and we need you to let him and the Premiers know that the child care agreements must be protected and with them our national child care program.

We are counting on you to get parents, children and others out to this Vigil. We also need people to donate and bring sandwiches and juice for the children and parents attending the Vigil.


Gift of life

Miss Vicky Fri Feb 24, 2006

I've always taken organ donation for granted - of course I want any usable organs to go to needy recipients should my life be cut short. Maybe it's my medical family background (when my parents were in med school, dinner table conversation frequently turned to the kind of shop talk most folks would find unappetizing), but I kind of always assumed that most folks would be fine with the idea. But apparently not many people sign their organ donor cards, so politicians in Ontario are exploring ways to bump up our low organ donation numbers.

I'm not sure which option I prefer - Peter Kormos' "presumed consent" approach, or Frank Klees' drivers' license tie-in - but I'm glad they're talking about it.

I'm especially glad today because a good friend and fellow police accountability activist had a heart transplant yesterday. I'm sending her all the positive energy I can in this crucial post-transplant period, and am so grateful that someone had the presence of mind and the generosity of spirit to sign their card.

On Rodents

The Webgeek Fri Feb 24, 2006

So there's been a lot of talk about rodents recently. Mostly beavers. Especially spokes-beavers; though a certain helmet has made a splash as well. This has also brought about renewed interest in creating National Beaver Day(best link I could find - ed) which would fall on the final Friday of February.

Of course, one other rodent has been talked about recently on CBC Radio One as well. The skunk. Namely, the seven or so skunks that have been alternately taking residency under one poor soul's front step -- a poor soul whose name I can no longer remember. Yesterday he was speaking with Lucy van Oldenbarneveld about his attempts to remove these varmints, and his inability to do so. He can't kill them, since he's not allowed to fire a gun within city limits and taking a shovel to the critters is considered inhumane. He can only hire someone to trap them and move them one kilometre away, and must pay for that himself. Every time he moves a skunk, a new one (or the same stripey stinker -- he's not sure) moves right back in. Now this morning a former worker at the now defunct Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre came on to try and offer advice. One of the pieces of advice she gave was to spread dog fur around the den. It's scent will will cause the skunks to think that a pooch has pooched their den, and will move on.

This is where Miss Vicky and I can help. Winston, our German Shepherd Dog, sheds. A lot. I mean, we brush out enough fur from Winston to make a replica miniature schnauzer on a weekly basis. So if anyone knows this poor guy with the skunk problem, or anyone else with a skunk infested stoop, let us know. We'd be happy to sell our excess fur for relatively little money. In fact, if they want to come over and actually do the brushing for us, we'd let them keep proceeds. I figure it'd be a Win-Win situation.

New Health Centre: In Theory

Miss Vicky Wed Feb 22, 2006

I had a great "Dear Miss Vicky" request last week - here it is:

Dear Miss Vicky,
We are two masters/nurse practitioner students studying at the University of Ottawa and are writing a proposal for a family health team in the Hintonburg community. We find your website extremely helpful and interesting.

We are wondering if you would be able to write us a letter of support. We are able to send more details on our regular e-mail as I wasn't able to attach any information in this letter.

While this is only a school project at this point, we are interested in possibly persuing this in the future.

Of course, I jumped at the chance. We really do need some primary care services in this community, and their proposal is really excellent. So while the idea is purely theoretical at this point, I decided to share my endorsement. Perhaps someone will get inspired and will work with these students to make it happen.

Here's my letter:

I am pleased to endorse the proposal for the Hintonburg Family Health Centre. We are a growing community with diverse needs and multiple challenges. A new health centre, particularly one offering additional community services as described in the proposal, would not only help us address our current challenges but perhaps meet those we will encounter as our community grows.

There are no primary health care services located in this neighbourhood. While Hintonburg resides in the catchment area for the Somerset West Community Health Centre, the centre is overloaded and not able to accommodate the demand of the high-density urban area it serves. They are not accepting new patients and the waiting list is considerable. Our only neighbourhood family medicine and walk-in clinic on Rosemount Avenue closed five years ago. The only alternative for many is the emergency room at the Civic Campus - a costly and unsatisfactory solution from the perspective of both the patient and the health care system.

Hintonburg has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in recent years. Young families are taking advantage of affordable house prices and the central location. Condominiums are being built, and the city has identified Hintonburg as a prime location for urban infill development. The need for services to accompany this growth will only increase - in fact, we face a considerable crisis if development continues to outpace community and health services.

The Hintonburg Family Health Centre is well matched to our community’s needs. The use of Nurse Practitioners and the family-centred approach is extremely attractive, as are the range of services proposed. Access to pre- and post-natal services and care for children is particularly important, as young families are moving to the area at a rapid pace. The addition of a dietician is an asset, as over half of our population is obese or overweight (according to the city’s public health department). As the Centre grows, I believe it would benefit from the addition of addiction treatment or counselling services, a resource that is desperately needed and would complement any harm reduction programs offered by the Centre.

The Centre’s governance model proposes extensive community representation on the board, as well as partnerships with existing service organizations like Causeway and the Midwifery group. I believe this complements the active and engaged community we have in Hintonburg - we have one of the largest and most active community associations in the city and I am convinced the proposal will be met with considerable enthusiasm from residents.

I urge you to accept the proposal and pave the way for this much-needed service to the Hintonburg community.


A virtual walk around my 'hood

Miss Vicky Tue Feb 21, 2006

The Hintonburg Community Association has added an on-line version of its popular Heritage Walking Tour to its website. It's a fascinating look and some of the more interesting properties in the area. The Association offers guided tours during ArtsPark and other events (led by Hintonburg heritage maven Linda Hoad), or you can print off the map and take a stroll!

True Grit

The Webgeek Sat Feb 18, 2006

While reading the Saturday Citizen with Miss Vicky this morning, we happened across a pretty cool little story about a local company that sells a "green" winter walkway deicer/grit. Now, it doesn't actually melt ice, like salt, but creates traction on the ice surface, like sand, but requires less product per area and (because it's lighter, has bigger grains and is more porous that sand) embeds itself into the surface of the ice and stays around longer. This stuff is not only green in spirit — it's an all natural, pet friendly, honeycomb structured rock that also works as a fertilizer, and soil/water/air deodorizer and detoxifier — but it is apparently bright green in colour too. A quick perusal of the Company's Product Sheet reveals a multitude of uses; oil absorbent, cat litter additive, aquarium filter, among others.

It's available for sale at Macewan's Gas, Arbour Environmental Shoppe, and select Home Hardware (we'll be checking Morris' on Wellington later today) & Pro Hardware shops in town — but the article mentioned that they were targeting "select urban neighbourhoods" with free samples yesterday. Hopefully Hintonburg was one of those neighbourhoods. If anyone of our faithful readers happens to see these guys handing out samples, please send them to the Finishing School, Miss Vicky, Winston and I would appreciate it.

Ok, how cool is this: I sent an email to EcoTraction, via their feedback form, asking about what neighbouhoods they're trying to target, and I got the following reply.

Thanks for the feedback and for your efforts in passing our story along.

As for your question...our office is in the Glebe and so are most of the retailers who are currently selling EcoTraction - so we decided to focus on that neighbourhood for this first promotional campaign. Hintonburg could be next.

I would be happy to give you a free 10kg bag of EcoTraction to show you our appreciation for filling out the feedback form.

And sure enough, he just dropped it off. I love the internet. Aloso, I'd like to report back in regards to availablity in the 'hood; it isn't currently available at the Morris Home Hardware, but there were two of us asking about it, so the manager will look into bringing it in.

Wow. It appears that the eco-product review site Treehugger has picked up on this, and thrown in a link to this article to boot. Welcome treehuggers.

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