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All In Hand

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

Good Food Box

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 26, 2007

Somerset West Community Health Centre is starting a new Good Food Box program for Hintonburg.... if there is enough interest and volunteers to make it happen, that is. The Good Food Box is a bulk-buying program for fresh fruits and vegetables. Delivery is monthly to a central location - in this case the Hintonburg Community Centre - and you can get $10, $15 and $20 boxes, depending on the size of your household.

If you want to learn more about this program, there's a meeting at the Hintonburg Community Centre (1064 Wellington West) on Tuesday February 27th at 7:00 pm. You can also contact Catharine Vandelinde or Andrea Robertson at Somerset West CHC if you have questions.


New source of Support in Westboro

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 26, 2007

Miss Vicky has learned that her favourite bra shop, Brachic, will be moving to Westboro in April. It's going in to the new Domicile building. This is a fine addition to the area, as Miss Vicky has found it difficult to make it down to Sussex lately.

Women (and you know who you are) who find it impossible to find comfortable, well-fitting essentials at nasty places like la Senza should definitely check out this source.

Apparently 85% of us are wearing the wrong bra size. If you get yourself properly fitted at a good shop like this one, you might be amazed by the results.

[Miss Vicky is too much of a lady to reveal her size, but suffice it to say that she has found bra shopping incredibly difficult and soul-destroying in the past. The nursing thing is requiring another ...ahem....intervention, so she may have to make an excursion to the Market before the big move to Westboro]

Brachic is also the source of what might possibly be the world's greatest sports bra. Miss Vicky would never run without it.

Neighbourhood Planning Open House

Miss Vicky Thu Feb 22, 2007

The city is hosting an open house/drop in day for the Hintonburg Neighbourhood Planning Initiative and Wellington West Road Reconstruction this Saturday. It's at the Hintonburg Community Centre and will run from 1 to 4.

I've been out of the loop on the process so am not entirely sure what the city is planning. I do know that they are also holding workshops, but they're invite-only. Frankly, I find this a little bit bizarre - closed door workshops taking place the same day as a so-called open house. Not really what I would call "public engagement". The rest of us get to fill in a form and look at some displays, I'm guessing. So much for doing things differently with this process!

Now, it's early days yet. I know Creative Neighbourhoods has offered to help with public engagement and communications but so far the offer hasn't been picked up.

There will be a Creative Neighbourhoods display at the event, however. We'll have the giant map out to get your ideas about how to improve the streetscape, and we'll showcase some of the projects we're working on as part of our celebration of Wellington West's centenary. Ottawa Gatineau WiFi will be there to talk about the effort to establish wireless hotspots in the area. We'll tell you about our story-gathering project and give you a taste of what it will be like. We'll be taking your ideas for stories as well! So do drop in and drop by and say hi. And let us know what the neighbourhood and the mainstreet means to you.

LRT Supporters - write your councillor!

Miss Vicky Tue Feb 20, 2007

I am told by a member of our faithful legion that council will be voting on the latest chapter of our Light Rail saga this Friday. The recent letter sent to councillors by the consortium - perhaps the first salvo in a negotiation to address the contract trashed by the new city council - gave LRT advocates an opportunity for one last attempt to salvage the North-South route and avoid costly and lengthy legal proceedings.

I'm sure it will be no surprise to you all that I'll be writing my councillor to urge her to support the motion. I've written about the ins and outs of the neverending Light Rail controversy, and then some.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my paper this morning to find that the Citizen's Editorial Board agrees with me. And there was not one but TWO editorials. Here's what David Reveely at the Citizen has to say:

The plan Deans and Rick Chiarelli want to resurrect isn't one we'd choose if Ottawa city council had all the money it would like -- the ideal rail system would go east and west, north and south, across the Ottawa River and to the airport, and it'd all be underground to avoid disrupting traffic. It might not even be Phase 1 of an ideal system. But it has seven years' work in it, money publicly committed by the other levels of government on which Ontario cities are hopelessly dependent, and while the Barrhaven-to-downtown plan doesn't do everything everyone would want, it does a lot.

If shameless ward-heeling kills an important citywide project in the face of penalties sure to run into the tens of millions and possibly climbing into the hundreds of millions, we certainly won't find a plan everybody loves next time.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Oh wait, I already (sort of) did.

I hope you'll join me and write a letter to your councillor (not to mention the mayor). If we're going to spend millions on light rail, wouldn't it be nice to have some light rail to show for it?



Miss Vicky Tue Feb 20, 2007


Family life: an update

Miss Vicky Sun Feb 18, 2007

Our favourite microbrewer writes:

Hi Miss Vicky and Webgeek,

Just curious to see how the new family-life is doing for you?

Good question! I guess I have been remiss in updating the faithful legion about our progress here at the Finishing school. We're doing pretty well. Gordie and I are settling into a bit of a routine - Kindermusik at Dovercourt on Tuesdays, Mom and Baby Yoga at Rama Lotus or Babytime at the Rosemount Library on Wednesdays, and other activities here and there. The weather has kept me away from trying out Boomerang Kids' Strollercise, but that is on our agenda, sooner or later. We've even hooked up with a pleasant Friday playgroup.

One cool recent development - a local new Mom has started up a new group, called Momspace, to meet every few weeks at the Urban Element. We had our first get-together the week before last; we're meeting again this Wednesday for a lunch and learn (any new parents who are interested can get in touch with me and I'll pass along the info), and we'll continue on from there. It's a great group of energetic neighbourhood women and I think it will evolve into a fun and fruitful initiative.

Gordie is growing rapidly. He's loving the Jolly Jumper, chewing on anything he can get his hands on, and is starting to roll. He smiles and giggles and squeals and babbles. He's also developing a relatively predictable nap routine - when he decides he wants to nap, that is. He was on strike for a couple of weeks. I just don't know where he gets this stubborn streak from!!!! He's sleeping in his own crib now, having outgrown our moses basket bassinet.

The Webgeek is working at home twice a week, which is nice for everyone. Miss Vicky has gone back to the pool, having joined the new Ottawa Centre Master's swim club at the Champagne Bath. So far I'm averaging only one practice a week, but at least it's exercise! And the weekly Salsa class gives the two of us some time together, sans Gordon or anything baby-related. I think it's helped everyone relax (and it gives the doting grandparents some decent Gordon time).

As for Winston, well... he's adjusting. We recently realized that he has decided we're too distracted by this whole baby thing and he had better take charge. He's been running roughshod over us for a while now. So we had Barkbusters back for a bit of a refresher course and are making progress toward adjusting the pack order here at the house (at least as far as Winston is concerned!).

The transition to cloth diapering has been pretty easy. Thanks to the fine folks at the Extraordinary Baby Shoppe we settled on Fuzzibunz as our primary diaper. A fab friend and sister in the labour movement passed along her stash of Chinese Prefolds, so all we needed to pick up was a couple of covers and we were good to go. And while our garbage output was reduced considerably, the laundry load sure increased! We finally saved up enough to pick up a more efficient front-loading laundry set to replace our 22-year-old clunkers, and that has made a huge difference. I don't find cloth diapering particularly onerous or complicated. Of course, we haven't started feeding weeG solid food yet....

Forward Fire Fund

Miss Vicky Thu Feb 15, 2007

The Hintonburg Economic Development Committee has established a fund for the Forward Fire victims. You can make a donation at any TD Canada Trust branch. Make your cheque payable to The Forward Ave Fire Relief Fund.

You can also make donations of money, clothing and toys to Connaught Public School (make cheques payable to Connaught Public School). And you can donate clothing and household items at any Salvation Army Thrift Store - make sure you mark your items as intended for the fire victims.

Fire on Forward

Miss Vicky Tue Feb 13, 2007

We've heard a lot on the news about the firefighters injured in yesterday's blaze on Forward Ave... not so much about the dozens of people currently without homes. The building is run by Ottawa Community Housing, so these folks are probably living on low incomes. Watch this space for info on how to donate to help out our neighbours. I'll try and get in touch with OCH as soon as possible.

In the meantime, amckay and liss76 have taken action. Here's what amckay sent to me today:

Liss76 and I are currently taking donations of clothing (and more recently household items) to collect up for the families whose home were burned down in that horrible fire yesterday on Forward Ave in the hood. At the moment I guess it will be stored in our shed until we hear back from the Salvation Army as to whether or not they are doing anything.

Connaught Public School is also taking clothing but it will only go to those families who have kids at the school. Some of what we collect will go there, and the rest to any agency we can find that is taking this on. If there is no such agency we'll worry about that when we have to but I'm not opposed to distributing out of my shed if need be.

Yay liss76 and amckay! I'll post info about more initiatives as I hear about them.

Maison Jeanne d'Arc - Next Steps

Miss Vicky Mon Feb 12, 2007

Miss Fish has a synopsis of her meeting with Christine Leadman and Barry Hobin (the architect who's working on the Maison Jeanne d'Arc development) over at her place. Planning and Environment Committee meets tomorrow to discuss the rezoning application; Miss Fish is calling for letters of support to the PEC members. Check out her analysis of the staff report here, and send along your thoughts and ideas. Dagne and Miss Fish have done a great job, but there clearly needs to be more public pressure to find a balanced solution for this property.

Budget time - have your say!

Miss Vicky Sun Feb 11, 2007

Ottawa's draft 2007 budget is now online. there are also a host of supporting documents. It's a lot to take in, and I feel like I've only scratched the surface. But basically, the council has some tough choices ahead: use last year's surplus and other one-time sources to fund a property tax freeze, or find the savings by cutting recently-approved programs, using the gas tax revenue for operating expenses instead of improvements to our transit system, and other unappealing and short-sighted reductions in services.

It's worth reading the fine print in documents like this. And I've only scratched the surface. But here are some of my favourite suggestions:

Move the tax due date up by one week to increase interest revenues. How sneaky can you get? A blatant hidden tax hike, at least for folks who are used to paying by a certain date and may not pay attention to the fine print on the tax bills. At least, that's what they are banking on.

Use Debt financing to fund Strategic Initiative Projects. All this does is defer the increase to next year - and ends up being more costly because we have to fund the interest as well as the cost of the projects.

Defer recommendations from the Auditor General's 2005 Audits that require additional resources. So anything that costs money but improves the city's efficiency (like an audit of the city's internet security, for example), is out.

Reductions in compensation budgets. Since salaries will likely be going up by 3% or so (pretty much a standard public service salary increase), this means vacant positions will go unfilled and there won't be much room for additional positions in departmental budgets. This means less bylaw officers, paramedics, and other city staffers. Hard to improve city service when you're short of staff.

Increase Transit Fares and/or eliminate routes. And they don't just mean the 7.5% increase that's already planned. They mean further increases on a fare that is already the highest in the country. Way to improve transit usage, especially when coupled with the cancellation of light rail and the possible reduction or elimination of routes!

And then there is the long list of service enhancements recently approved by council that could be eliminated. These include fixing up Ottawa's community housing (which has already been deferred and deferred, making City Hall one of the city's worst landlords , badly-needed francophone day care spaces, windrow clearing for seniors, environmental programs like tree reforestation. the land stewardship and wetlands program, looking at the transit impact of bio-diesel fuel.... A week after the transit committee unanimously approved the continuation of the Ontario Disability Transit Pass discount, not only is this program on the chopping block but so is the pilot project to use taxis to help deal with some of the problems with ParaTranspo service. Oh, and for all you folks looking for more transparency in the planning process? The line item that would allow for planning applications to be posted on the city's website is also on the list of cuts.

Is all of this really worth a tax freeze? Where are the so-called efficiencies that our Mayor and right-wing councillors touted during the election? How can they possibly claim that they can achieve their goal of a tax freeze without compromising services? And most of all, what happens next year when we have to deal with this problem all over again?

During the election, our councillor touted the importance of services and getting value for money. Time to find out what she really means by that. Does she support short-term thinking and political expediency that O'Brien's solutions mean for our city? Or is she really interested in making this community better? Kitchissippi's budget consultation meeting is on Thursday, February 15, 7pm at the Churchill Seniors' Centre. Let her know what your priorities are.

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