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All In Hand

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

and speaking of cycling.....

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 30, 2006

June Critical Mass is today! Here's the notice I received:

Come dressed as a SUPERHERO!

You are invited to join your fellow cyclists for a heroic ride through the car-ridden streets of Ottawa.

Enjoy the safety and comfort that we create simply by riding together. All human-powered forms of transportation welcome (especially flying)

SUPERHERO Critical Mass
Friday June 30, 2006
at Confederation Park
meet at 5:30pm
ride starts at 6:00pm


re-Cycles Bike Co-op seeks new home!

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 29, 2006

re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op is a wonderful organization that encourages and supports cycling in Ottawa. In addition to offering recylced bikes for sale, the co-op offers workshops on do-it-yourself bike repair, workplace seminars on cycling, and other services to promote safe cycling in Ottawa. The shop is available for people who want to use their space and tools to work on their bikes, and you can earn free time there by volunteering with the co-op.

I had an email this week from one of their active members. Apparently the co-op has been seeking a new home for a while now. I'm told they'd like to move to Hintonburg, although they'd take a space anywhere between Lowertown and here. While a store front would be ideal (and we certainly have plenty of those), the prices are a bit beyond reach, so they're looking for some kind of behind-the-storefront space. Keep your eyes peeled and contact re-Cycles if you have any leads for them. Or you can post your thoughts here and I'll pass 'em on. They'd be a fine addition to our neighbourhood, don't you think?


Parkdale Pie!

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 27, 2006

I had a great time at Parkdale Pie last night. It was a networking event for women in the west end; took place at the Urban Element, the fine cooking school and event space in the old fire station on Parkdale. It was great to be in a room with so many amazing, smart, talented women!

The event showcased a few local businesses. Nectar Tea Shop had some great samples (I had the iced chai - very yummy) and some really interesting tea/floral centrepiece thingys (they expand when infused - beautiful). Heavens to Betsy (Miss Vicky's favourite gift store) was there with a ton of their wonderful nicnacs. As usual, I couldn't resist taking home a little something. Hush Clothing Consignment even had some maternity items out... Groovy Grapes offered up a range of fine selections (Miss Vicky indulged in water... sigh). Flowers Talk had a fantastic display of arrangements, vases and other nifty items. I'll be visiting their store soon to pick up an orange glass wasp trap. Christina from Carriage House furniture restoration was there. She's expanding her business and will begin to offer workshops on furniture refinishing, interior decorating and fun stuff like that. A highlight was the free neck massage from Bridget at Renaissance Therapy, which is right beside the Urban Element. So relaxing!

I also met a woman who runs a cake decorating business out of her home (she is affiliated with Three Bakers and a Bike, as well). And there was Brandie, a doula who offers a range of services for pregnant women and new moms (her site's not up yet but I'll keep an eye out for it and let you know - she was very nice). And of course there was the fabulous Kathleen Ladelpha, the owner of Sensual Fitness, who was promoting her business by the fire pole (of course!).

Hopefully this will be one of several futuer events - I have a feeling we just scratched the surface of fascinating, innovative and successful west-Ottawa women. Thanks to Carley of the Urban Element and Catherine of Cherry Pie for organizing this great evening!


Miss Vicky Mon Jun 26, 2006

We had a whirlwind Saturday, running back and forth between different community events. My day began bright and early at a workshop organized by the Ottawa and District Labour Council. They brought representatives from their affiliate unions together to talk about the upcoming municipal elections - mostly they discussed how to encourage their members to get involved and engaged in local politics. They brought in two politicians with roots in local and school governance - former Ottawa West-Nepean MP Marlene Catterall, who started off as a councillor and also took a shot at the Mayoral race several years ago, and Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar, a former teacher and labour council delegate himself. Both speakers were very frank about the dichotomy between the importance of what happens in city governments and on school boards and the level of public participation and engagement in those processes. Less than 35% of the population voted in the last municipal election, for example. And as for school boards, races are often uncontested and many people don't even know who their trustee is or what they do. I wasn't able to stay for the part of the workshop that involved brainstorming about what local unions can do to address this situation, but it will be interesting to see where this initiative goes.

Our next stop was the old Orange Lodge on Rosemount - a building I've always been a little curious about. It was quite nice inside, actually. The main hall was bright and fresh, and the light was excellent. It was a great setting for the family event organized to support the community's Hip Hop program. The kids started off with some yoga stretching (to limber up for dancing, I guess), and then Russell Levia, a local children's performer, got them going with some tunes. It was quite fun to watch. The main event was the Herb Girls - by the time we left the dance floor was just getting going.

Then we biked down to Laroche Park for Mechanicsville Days. We were hoping to catch the RCMP canine unit, but were disappointed. We spend some time at a Creative Neighbourhoods table talking to kids about what they'd like to see happen in the park. Aside from water slides, which was a popular request on this steamy saturday, we heard about some of the great programs they have begun to offer at the Laroche Park field house, and how better resources and staffing could improve and expand the range of activities they have there. Apparently there is a real need for child and youth programming. They've got a great homework club, but there could be so much more if there were a neighbourhood-based staffer dedicated to organizing. Makes sense to me.

After that we hopped on our bikes and stopped by the Hampton Ave street party in Wellington West. The neighbours get together once a year, block off the street and celebrate the 'hood. It looked like it was going to evolve into a great time, but we had to head off early to get gussied up for the next event....

....which was, of course, the Black Tie Beach Ball at Westboro Beach. Organized by two dynamic local women, Tamara and Diana, this event raised funds for the Westboro Beach Community Association's efforts to protect their greenspace. They transformed the patio at the new Newport Café into a fabulous, elegant space. Folks were dressed in a variety of ways - personally I thought the Webgeek's rolled-up-tux with sandals was a good approach, although Community Association president David Adams' surf shorts-with-tux-jacket was pretty classy too. I went for the sexy black number, appropriately stretchy to accommodate the growing belly. Newport owner Moe Atallah's staff provided a yummy dinner, and we capped off the evening dancing to Brian Downey's swing band. We had a wonderful time, and it looks like this will become an annual event. So get your tickets early for next year, folks!

put your dancing shoes on....

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 23, 2006

There's a lot going on this weekend!

Mechanicsville Days takes place in Laroche Park, starting this evening with a beer tent and music this evening. This two day family event is to raise money to upgrade the playground for youth and children's programs. Saturday's program starts at 1pm and includes the RCMP canine unit and mascot as well as children's events. And beer and bands, of course. Remember that if it's a hot day, Laroche Park has a fabulous spash pad for the kids!

On Saturday from 1-4 the Herb Girls will be performing at a family fun dance at the old orange lodge on Rosemount (LOL 126 Lodge, 41 Rosemount Ave). The concert will also feature special guest Russell Levia. People are enouraged to bring used walking or running shoes for Sole Responsibility, which collects shoes for refugees in Darfur. This will also be a fundraiser for the Hintonburg Hip Hop program. Tickets are $10-20 per family (sliding scale), or $5 for individuals. This should be a fun family event!

UPDATE: And how could I have forgotten?!?! The Westboro Beach Community Association's Black Tie Beach Ball is Saturday night.... on the beach of course! I got a fabulous (stretchy) dress and am looking forward to kicking up my heels in the sand.


Protecting Greenspace

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 21, 2006

I enjoyed Monday night's flash thunderstorm from the relative comfort of the Churchill Seniors Centre, where our MP had gathered representatives from community associations and other groups to discuss the issue of protecting greenspace in the riding. It was an interesting and useful meeting, for a lot of reasons. It brought together representatives from community associations across Ottawa Centre, the Greenspace Alliance, the city's Advisory Committee on Greenspace and Forests, a new NCC Watchdog group, one city councillor and a rep from another's office, and the NCC. It just may have been the first time in a long time that community representatives were able to be exchange information with folks from the NCC, so that's a real coup. A lot of our greenspace is on NCC land, and some of that is viewed as "surplus" by the NCC, thus at risk of being sold for development.

As you can imagine, the issue of development was first and foremost on the minds of folks in the room. In the McKellar Park, Westboro and Hampton-Iona, concern was raised about the city's Richmond Road/Westboro Community Design Plan and any implications it might have on existing greenspace. Rochester Field was a popular topic, as some communities would like to see it used more effectively (i.e. as a sports field) but find themselves bumping up against NCC bureaucracy (the NCC has to charge market rates for leasing the field, apparently, which makes creative, community-driven usage difficult). Westboro Beach expressed concern about the Altantis/Selby lands and advocated for its concept paper. In West Wellington and Hintonburg (as well as Dalhousie and others), the talk was more about the lack of useable greenspace and how we may be able to leverage more through the upcoming CDP and other processes. Or how to reclaim public spaces that are carved in concrete for greener uses.

I attended on Creative Neighbourhood's behalf, and talked about what we're trying to do with the various organizations involved in Wellington Street Works. I floated an idea we have advocated here and there - the "no net loss" approach to greenspace and development. The idea is where development proposes to replace greenspace, trees, parks or whatnot, that it has to be replaced with equivalent (or better) space elsewhere in the community. The approach has worked well in other communities (the NCC guy even perked up when I referred to it, which seemed promising to me).

Another interesting tool the city doesn't seem to be using effectively is the cash-in-lieu-of-parkland it collects from developers. It's unclear whether it gets spent at all, but of interest to those in the room is the notion that it should be spent in the community where the cash is raised. Seems like such an obvious policy to have, doesn't it?

Hot flashes

Miss Vicky Mon Jun 19, 2006

Despite the heat, we were able to get out and about a bit this weekend. Of course, our excursions were followed by extended periods in the one air-conditioned room in the house, but it wasn't too bad.

Saturday morning we spent cycling between garage and street sales all over the west end. We started at Pinehurst, moved on to Hamilton North, and then down Byron to Westboro, where a cluster of streets around Tweedsmuir were holding street sales. Many were winding down by the time we got there, but it was still fun to chat with folks and check out the offerings. We also hit the Westview Artists' show, a twice-annual event showcasing a number of excellent local artists. We ended our tour with a healthy lunch at Thyme & Again.

And then we collapsed.

We began our Sunday with a long river walk with Winston (with the obligatory water stop at the Scott Street Seven-Eleven), ran a few errands on the bikes and then had an excellent Father's Day ploughman's lunch (note: Harvest Loaf's Olive Sourdough Bread is fantastic). We didn't much feel like braving the heat on Sunday afternoon, so we hid inside and stuffed envelopes for a fundraising mailing. Exciting weekend, no?


Miss Vicky Fri Jun 16, 2006

We're off tonight to check out the opening of the lastest Cube show, Foundling. Found objects.... can't wait!.

Update: The show met and exceeded expectations. As one would expect with art incorporating found objects, there was a lot of metal in the room. Alison Smith-Welsh's sculptures were fabulous (although we still like our piece, "Biscuits", the best). I mean, who wouldn't like a metal bustier or boot made out of of various tins, cans and lunchboxes? Gordon Wallace's creations (for me anyway), unite the strength of the metal he uses with the beauty and wonder of the natural world. fabricawakuwaku's pieces took the theme of "foundling" and ran with it - from the creatures fashioned from fabric remnants to the portrait of a foundling reflecting upon his ancestry. Clare Brennan's stuff is just, well, cool. And Alanna Baird's fishy creations must be seen.

Don't miss this show! And bring the kids to the kids' art talk on July 2 - I'm betting that will be a fascinating discussion.

Light Rail encore

Miss Vicky Thu Jun 15, 2006

As much as I respect the work of some of the groups calling for a delay to the approval of the North-South LRT contract, I've decided that we'd be better off just moving ahead with the project. I watched a bit of Coucil's Q&A session yesterday, and attended the open house at City Hall. I still have a few questions, which I will pursue in the coming weeks, but I am growing a little frustrated with the politicking and spin we're hearing over this issue. In a way, it's unfortunate that we're at this stage in the process mere months before an election, as it's very difficult to cut through the different agendas and get to the real debate.

I think it's important to point out that Ottawa has been examining the issue of Light Rail for several years now - as part of the 20/20 process, the Transportation Master Plan, numerous council and committee discussions, and so on. We've had several environmental assessments, a whack of public consultations and we've devoted a lot of newspaper ink, air time and bandwidth as well. It was decided early on that the North-South route was the place to start, and funding and contract bidding was pursued in this context - the east-west line, although it is desperately needed, is not the issue right now (which is good because there is a lot to debate there), although some folks seem to enjoy throwing this in to confuse matters. The decision to go for electric vs diesel was also made fairly early, and contracts were pursued accordingly. Yet some folks want to revisit that as well.

And then there is the issue of ongoing costs and maintenance, which some people want to add to the total cost of the project, despite the fact that this is not done for other capital projects the city understakes (especially where roads are concerned). I think it's important to get to the bottom of costs, but how are we going to do that if people with varying political agendas decide they have different bottom lines?

People in Ottawa have been looking forward to Light Rail for some time. We rejoiced when the federal and provincial funding came through. I've participated in the community design process for the Bayview-Carling stretch and am convinced that the benefits to adjacent communities in terms of future development, improved use of greenspace, cycling and pedestrian access all hinge upon this project. A $1 million budget for public art carries a lot of potential as well (not exactly 1 percent, but it's a start).

I'm not sure what a delay would accomplish at this point. Except perhaps to provide those who would like to kill the project altogether more time to rally for their cause. A delay at this point would add a year to the construction schedule, and cost between $65 and $80 million (way more than the extension of the line to Barrhaven and the addition of the University of Ottawa station combined). We have a month now to discuss, debate, raise questions and find answers. Let's use it.

Light Rail Anxiety?

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 14, 2006

Here's where you can find out about the LRT plans and provide your feedback. I'll blog more about the content of the plans when I get the info.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
12:30 to 8 p.m.
Ottawa City Hall
Jean Pigott Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West

Thursday, June 15, 2006
4 to 8 p.m.
Jim Durrell Sports Centre
Ellwood Hall
1265 Walkley Road

Monday, June 19, 2006
4 to 8 p.m.
Fallingbrook Elementary School
679 Deancourt Crescent

Tuesday, June 20, 2006
4 to 8 p.m.
Walter Baker Sports Centre
Food Court, 2nd Floor
100 Malvern Drive

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
4 to 8 p.m.
Rideauview Community Centre
4310 Shoreline Drive

Thursday, June 22, 2006
4 to 8 p.m.
Kanata Recreation Complex
Upper Concourse
100 Walter Baker Place

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