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All In Hand
Here you'll find the sum total of Miss Vicky's Remarks thus far.
I'm working this weekend, but took some time yesterday morning to participate in Ottawa Riverkeeper's annual spring cleanup event. It's organized in conjunction with various community association events and the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. The Webgeek and I rode our bikes to Champlain Park to join their community association's leg of the cleanup event, since that's where we take Winston on his river walks. We spent the morning scouring the shoreline for all kinds of things that don't belong there. What an assortment of crap we picked up! I seemed to come across Dorito bags more than anything else. The Webgeek found a lot of McDonald's straws. There were lots of plastic bags, water bottles, plastic cutlery, styrofoam bits (torn apart by the river, I imagine), bread tags (thanks to the folks who come to feed the geese at Remic Rapids. Stop that, willya? It's bad for them). Webgeek found a bit of hubcap that became our mascot for the day (since it kind of resembled Mr. Bill). We found (and left) a couple of small bird skulls. Of course, there were the expected condoms (eww), and the not-so-expected tampon applicators (eeeeeeewwwwww). We were at it for a few hours, then headed to Bate Island for some Newport eats with the other volunteers. Ran into some fine folks from Westboro Beach, who have started a "save our greenspace" campaign - they're selling green wristbands and have a petition going, which they hope will help ensure that existing greenspace is maintained in the Richmond Road/Westboro community design plan currently underway. You can find out more info here.
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Last night's Wellington Street Works launch party was a huge success. I didn't count how many people came,but the CUBE was packed for most of the evening. And the best part: I didn't recognize at least half of the people in the room. Not that I don't enjoy getting together with the ususal suspects, but this was an excellent indication that people in this neighbourhood really want to see good things happen on the street. And they have ideas! We had placed a giant map on a table with markers and asked people to draw or write their ideas for Wellington Street West and the surrounding area. People really got into it. They even came up with their own map legend, with symbols to signify benches, cobblestones, and so on. It was great to see so much positive energy in the room. Things bode well for our project, I think!
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Don't forget - tonight is the long-awaited launch of Wellington Street Works, an initiative to revitalize our mainstreet. Come on down to the CUBE gallery (7 hamilton) between 7 and 10, have a glass of wine, bid on fabulous silent auction items, and draw your ideas about the future of Wellington Street West on our giant map! Want more trees? Benches? Patio cafes? Housing? We want to know! Bring your creative ideas along!
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I spent the evening at the city's Integrated Drug Strategy consultation at Tom Brown Arena. Responding to questions and concerns were four members of the initiative: Deputy police chief Sue O'Sullivan, Chief Medical Officer of Health David Salisbury, a woman from the Children's Aid Society and another fellow whose name and context I didn't quite catch. After a brief update on the process and their work to date, the panel members presented what they feel are the 10 key issues on which we need to focus our efforts and our resources. They were looking for our feedback on these and some sense of our top priorities.
The issues range from the absence of treatment facilities for youth to lack of affordable housing to the need to balance the increase in HIV and Hepatitis rates among drug users while balancing community safety concerns. And let me tell you, all 10 are equally important. Certainly I would have a hard time coming up with 3 priorities from the list.
I others felt the same way. We heard some passionate statements from the 75 or so folks who attended the meeting - stories from parents of addicted teens, who had to go out of province to find help, to expressions of frustration from people who face addicts and related criminal behaviour (prostitution, breaking and entering, fights) on a daily basis in their immediate neighbourhood. We heard positive stories about the success in Hintonburg in dealing with problem properties, one by one, and we heard our neighbours in Dalhousie bemoan the increased presence of open drug use and prostitution in their area. Each story illustrated in its own way the importance of an integrated strategy that gives equal weight to each of the "four pillars". And generally, people at the meeting were very supportive of the goals and objectives of the initiative.
But there was also a lot of cynicism in the room, and perhaps a smidge or two of hopelessness, because everyone (including the panel members) recognized that without political will and a commitment of resources, all the discussion and good intentions will amount to very little. Without some commitment from the province to start funding treatment, providing better primary health care, improve social housing, and develop its own drug strategy (Ontario must might be the only province without one), we can only do so much. And as for the local government, let's hope that the current council - and the next one - recognizes that studying the problem and coming up with strategies are only a quarter of the battle when it comes to complex social problems like this one.
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Jane Jacobs, writer, thinker, activist and planning guru, passed away today at the age of 89.
Jacobs' approach to cities and communities has inspired many (not just Miss Vicky). She'll be missed, but her legacy will be considerable.
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OK, the Tampa/Ottawa blogging collaboration is on. I've received a list from sticks of fire and there is one question I am having trouble answering:
Who is Ottawa's goofiest local politician?
What do you think, faithful legion? Can you help a blogger out?
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Tomorrow evening the City's Ottawa Integrated Drugs and Addictions Strategy is holding a public consultation in our ward. The city set up this tast force to " identify gaps, capacity issues and integration opportunities in the area of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction" and to make recommendations on priority actions to Council.
This is the "four pillar" approach to addiction and drugs that you may have heard the city or police service talking about - the idea is that we can only really deal with the problems associated with drug use and addictions by working in four distinct but related areas: prevention (public education, for example), treatment (and there are various types of treatment to fill different needs), enforcement and harm reduction (which includes initiatives like the needle and crack pipe exchanges). My impression is that Ottawa has relied to much on the enforcement side of things while the treatment pillar is quite starved. But I guess we'll find out more about that tomorrow.
Here are some interesting stats in the meantime:
- The rate of cannabis use in Ontario schools jumps from 4.2% to 11.8% between grade 8 and grade 9
- 1 in 6 Ontario high school students report symptoms of drug use problems.(This would translate to approximately 8,880 high school students reporting symptoms of drug use problems in Ottawa.)
- Over 30,000 individuals in Ottawa reported some form of substance problem requiring treatment.
- There is no residential treatment facility in Ottawa for youth under the age of 16.,br> - Waiting lists of 100-200 people exist for residential treatment programs.
- An average of 200-300 people seek treatment outside of the region each year.
- Ottawa has a 21% rate of HIV and Hepatitis C infection among Intravenous Drug users (9 times grater than Toronto’s infection rate among drug users)
- The estimated incidence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is 1% of births
- 30-40% of major Trauma Patients (Injury Severity Score – ISS > 15) have drugs or alcohol in their system
- In 2003, Ottawa Paramedic Service responded to an average of 4 calls per day that were categorized as overdose/poisoning
- In 2005, Ottawa Police laid 2,025 charges related to drugs (possession or some form of production/cultivation or trafficking)
- In 2005, Ottawa Police laid 630 charges related to impaired driving (impaired or failure/refuse to take breath sample or fail to provide blood)
- In Child Welfare in 2003 it was found that in 22% to 33% of the substantiated maltreatment investigations, caregiver functioning was impacted by alcohol/Drug/Solvent Abuse.
Tomorrow's Public Consultation will take place atTom Brown Arena, 141 Bayview Road, Ottawa from 7 to 9 p.m.
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I had an email this week from this Tampa-based blog, who's looking to do some cross-blogging during the first round of the playoffs. Here's what he wrote:
I'm looking for a blog about the city of Ottawa. I have a blog about the city of Tampa and since our hockey team is playing your hockey team, I thought it would be cool to compare the cities (not the teams) and do a post on the similarities and differences. Would you want to participate? ....
Okey doke, Sticks of fire, you're on.
The puck is dropping in a few minutes.... what better time to let the folks in Tampa know a bit about our city? Let's see....
Well, Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the home of our nation's parliament. It's located on the edge of the province of Ontario, across the Ottawa River from city of Gatineaul in the neighbouring province of Quebec. The proximity of Quebec and the large number of public servants living and working in Ottawa mean that you are just as likely to hear French as you are English when you're walking down the street. We're a diverse population, though - 17.7% of us are visible minorities, many are iimmigrants.
What else can I tell you in the brief moments before the first face-off of the series? As the capital, we've got our share of national institutions and attractions - the National Gallery, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Museum of Nature, Museum of Science and Technology and several others.... The governor general, our head of state and the Queen's representative in Canada, lives here in a lovely home with huge grounds that are open to the public.... We have a funky music scene, some interesting theatre and a vibrant visual arts community.... we have two major universities, an embattled high tech industry and a lot of government employees.... we've got two big rivers and a canal, and just on the other side of one river in Quebec is a wonderful park offering all kinds of recreational activites - hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, biking, swimming, and so on (depending on the season, of course). Speaking of seasons, we've got four,but two of them are pretty short. Winter is long and frequently cold, and summer is hot and humid.
We love our hockey team, but football has a hard time here - long story.
OK, game's about to begin..... go Sens!
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Kelly Egan, a city columnist for the Citizen, has cleared up a little mystery that's been nagging at me for a while. Of course, I probably could have solved it myself had I chatted with the owner of the Island Park Esso, but I usually walk by there with dog in tow about 7:30 in the morning, so I haven't tried to satisfy my curiosity.
The mystery is a panel on the side of the Esso's new car wash - an image of King William III riding a rearing horse, with the words "No Surrender" underneath. Why on earth would that be there? Is the owner a militant Orangeman? Is it some reference to the battles he had trying to build that car wash - a final statement of defiance to his opponents in the community? Turns out, the panel came from the house that was taken down to make room for the car wash, and the owner thought it would be a nice way of integrating some neighbourhood heritage into the design of the building. Perhaps his understanding of British and Irish history is lacking a tad - well, clearly it is, because he never imagined it would offend anyone. Guess he's never spent any time in Belfast. Once the problematics of the image were pointed out to him, he covered it up under a thick layer of stucco. I understand the dynamics completely (hey, I've been questioned by gun-toting British soldiers on Falls Road ), but now that I know the whole story I'm kind of sad King Billy is gone. He gave me a lot of speculative fun on my morning strolls.
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