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All In Hand

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

Wellington Reconstruction Open House

Miss Vicky Wed Jan 30, 2008

So I slapped on my Yaktrax this evening and trekked down to the community centre for the open house on the Wellington Street Reconstruction. The room was packed - which is a good thing, and a not-so-good thing. Good because people are obviously interested in what's going to happen. Not-so-good because it's hard to take in the information when there is a crush of people trying to do the same thing.

But fret not, neighbours! Miss Vicky asked the folks there whether the panels and diagrams would be on the city website so we could examine them in greater detail at our leisure. And she received good news and bad news... the good news is, they have every intention of putting the documents up on the city's site. The bad news: they're not entirely sure when that's going to happen. [insert predictable rant about the silos of municipal bureaucracy here]. So Miss Vicky is trying her darndest to make sure y'all have access. Watch this space for further reports....

As for the content of the panels... well, let me try and reconstruct some key points:

One of the overall goals is to encourage walking, cycling and transit use and calm traffic. Much of this is going to be achieved by widening sidewalks and shortening crosswalks. Think bulbouts and lots of adjustments to intersections. Lots of trees. More benches and bike racks. But no parking structure to relieve the pressure from our side steets. No dedicated bike lanes - instead a cycle route along Armstrong and Spencer (believe me, Miss Vicky heard a lot about that tonight).

Looks like they are making an effort to distinguish between the distinct areas along the mainstreet by using different kinds of sidewalk materials - although there will be a unified look for the street furniture. Lots of trees going in. And some greening and landscaping where we currently see a lot of illegal (and unsightly) parking - like the area beside Nicastro's or Parma Ravioli or the House of Staples.

Some of the more interesting proposals - extending Somerset Square and cutting off the access from Bayswater (you can still get from Bayswater to the OCISO building, just not to the rest of Wellington. It should take some of the confusion out of the intersection where Somerset and Wellington meet). And reducing the number of lanes on the bridge over the O-Train, widening the sidewalks there and making it more pedestrian-friendly and inviting.

But on the whole, it seemed a lot like tinkering with the status quo to me.

Were you there? What did you think?

Harassing Harkat

Miss Vicky Wed Jan 30, 2008

Does anyone else find the treatment of Mohammed Harkat as disgusting and shameful as I do? Here is a man who has not been formally accused of anything, has not been able to see the so-called evidence against him , who was jailed for five years without due process, who was finally released on conditions that are far more stringent than those imposed on people who actually commit crimes.... and then days before his bail conditions are to be raised before a Federal Court, his home is raided by Canadian Border Services and he's arrested.... not because he has actually done anything, but because his mother-in-law has been spending some nights out of the house. He has to be in the company of his wife or mother-in-law at all times, and according to his wife and lawyer he has not violated this condition at all. His mother-in-law is in the process of ending a relationship, apparently.... not surprisingly, the strain of Harkat's situation has been a stressor for Ms. Brunet and her partner. But apparently this is enough of an excuse for CBS to invade their home, haul Harkat out of the shower and down to jail.

How can this not be seen as harassment and a violation of the rights of everyone in that household? The court has already thrown out the legislation that had Harkat detained in the first place... I'd like to say that I hope CBS will get its collective wrist firmly slapped over this horrible act. But whether they were on a fishing expedition or just plain flexing their muscles and reminding the Harkats that they are being watched (or whatever other motivation they could possibly have), I suspect that this will blow over with very little change in government policy or security practice.

And that, quite frankly, is terrifying.

Open House - Wellington St West Reconstruction

Miss Vicky Tue Jan 29, 2008

Late notice, I know, but this just arrived in Miss Vicky's mailbox. Although it sounds like this is going to be one of the usual walk-into-a-room-and-wander-around- looking-at-posters open houses, this is our one chance to get a sense of what the city is thinking our mainstreet might look like. Hintonburg and West Wellington residents, and anyone else interested this process should definitely head down to the HCC tomorrow night. And do ask questions and provide comments. Here's the notice:

Open House - January 30, 2008
Wellington Street West Reconstruction
Preliminary and Detail Designs

Draft designs have been completed for the Wellington Street West Reconstruction Project. You are invited to a Public Open House to review these draft designs and construction plans including:

Streetscaping, greening and public art.
Transit, cycling, and pedestrian improvements.
Street lighting and street furnishings.
Municipal services and utility modifications.
Parking, traffic detours and mitigation plans during construction.

Detail designs in draft form are completed for Phase 1 of the project. This includes Wellington Street West between Parkdale Avenue and Western Avenue. This section is scheduled to be reconstructed commencing in spring 2008.

A preliminary design concept is also available for Phase 2, which is scheduled for construction in 2009. Phase 2 includes Wellington Street West between Parkdale Avenue and Bayswater Avenue.

Preliminary design concepts for this project were presented to the public for review at an Open House on June 19, 2007. Since then, the City has been working closely with community and business representatives. Various changes have been made to the plan in response to stakeholder input.

Public Open House

The draft designs will be presented at a Public Open House on Wednesday, January 30, 2008. This meeting will provide an opportunity for participants to view information exhibits and to provide comments in a casual environment with community volunteers, City staff, and consultants.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
6 to 9 p.m.
Hintonburg Community Centre
1064 Wellington Street West

Comment/questionnaire forms will be provided for written comments. Following the meeting, the City will review all comments and suggestions, and proceed to finalize the designs for tendering in winter 2008.

Comments or questions should be submitted to the City by February 6, 2008 by contacting: Max Ross, Senior Engineer, Infrastructure Project
Public Works and Services department
City of Ottawa
100 Constellation Avenue
Ottawa, ON K2G 6J8
Tel.: 613-580-2424, ext. 16011
Fax: 613- 580-2587


Thanks, Dr. Morgentaler

Miss Vicky Mon Jan 28, 2008

Today is the 20th anniversary of the day the Supreme Court struck down Canada's abortion law, on the grounds that it interfered with women's right to security of the person. Many, many women and men fought hard to make that happen, and continue to challenge the barriers to access.

Miss Vicky has always been an activist for reproductive choice, but never has the issue felt so deeply personal as it does after the recent loss of Bug. Saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. It was unexpected and it was heartbreaking and I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. But the doctors and nurses and other folks who helped us through it were amazing and I am so thankful to have had that support, both medical and emotional. And that is what this struggle is all about to me....Support.

At noon today supporters of reproductive choice are heading down to the Morgentaler Clinic at 65 Bank Street to say thanks and mark the occasion. And there will be plenty of great pieces out there in the feminist blogosphere today, thanks to Antonia Zerbisias at Broadsides, who's issued a Canadian Bloggers for Choice challenge. You can read Judy Rebick's piece over at rabble.ca.... Berlynn at Politics'n' Poetry, the cheeky gals at Birth Pangs, and plenty more.

Edited to add: here's a great roundup over at Hope and Onions

High School Do-Over

Miss Vicky Sun Jan 27, 2008

Miss Vicky would like to thank all her fab friends who worked hard to put together last night's High School Do-over bash. It was a blast! Although she is not entirely sure she will be able to remove all the blue eyeliner had on....

High School do-over Party


if it's no Scottish....

Miss Vicky Fri Jan 25, 2008

I can't possibly write a better Burns night post than skdadl. There's no haggis at the Finishing School tonight (didn't make it to the butcher's in time), but we do have the Balvenie. MMmmmmm.... single malt..... Slainte mhath!

Dreaming the Future of Lebreton Flats

Miss Vicky Tue Jan 22, 2008

Miss Vicky spent the better part of Saturday at the Bronson Centre, participating in her MP's consultation on the future of Lebreton Flats. It was a very good event - a much better model for community dialogue on planning than oh.... say.... one of those goofy city-run open houses where you wander around looking at hard-to-decipher posters prepared by engineers and put your comments on a form for the planning department to ignore. And way better than the town-hall-style Q&A sessions that many politicians and organizations host, where a few people can monopolize the discussion while everyone else sits there bored to tears.

There were about 60 or 70 people there. Participants were divided into small groups upon arrival, and each group had a specific topic to discuss. Topics ranged from Social issues to affordable housing to culture to architecture and design, heritage and history, transportation and so on. I was in the commercial/small business group, along with a school activist from the Civic Hospital, two current Lebreton Flats residents and a Centretown community activist. No small business owners, unfortunately - that would have been a useful addition to our group.

We started off with some brief remarks by MP Paul Dewar, who explained that he wanted to hold the event to kick-start discussions about Phase 2 of the Lebreton Flats development, as the Phase 1 process (and outcome) was less than satisfactory. Now that the NCC is under new management, it's a good time to put some pressure on them to ensure that the problems are not repeated in the next phase. So Saturday's event was meant to show them how public consultation could be done - and possibly to set the tone for the NCC's discussions.

Paul then introduced Phil Jenkins, local historian, wordsmith and troubadour, who gave a very brief overview of the history of the Flats (which is, we learned, unceded Algonquin Land, something that many folks in the room hoped could be acknowledged in the future development of the area).

Then we got down to business. We were given a few questions to kick-start our small-group discussions, although we were free to set our own agenda depending on the will of the group. We had a working lunch, then each group made a short report, followed by questions and comments from the participants. The reports will be collated into a written document, posted on Paul's site and submitted to the NCC for their consideration.

In general, there was a very positive vibe in the room. People seemed engaged in the process and ready to bring creative ideas to the table. This is quite a contrast to the usual paranoid, resistant-to-change attitude Miss Vicky has encountered at other planning meetings. Everyone there is just fine with the notion that dense development is going to happen on the Flats - they just want to make sure it happens in a smart, sustainable way.

And some interesting ideas came forward - I will link the report when it becomes available so you can get a complete sense of the day's work. But essentially, folks are looking for a diverse community, with different kinds of housing options and a commitment to affordability (that's real affordability for low income people and families, not the Claridge version with its +$180,000 price tag), where people can walk to shop, where the carpets don't roll up at 6pm and with access to key social services, recreation and entertainment options. They want usable greenspace, and multi-functional facilities that could be used for community, recreational or cultural purposes. They want a commitment to environmental sustainability, creative landscaping, cycling and pedestrian access. They'd like to find ways to mitigate the impact of the high-traffic commuter routes on Scott and the River Parkway and make sure the development is not an isolated enclave of condos that you have to drive in and out of. They'd like to see small, local businesses, a grocery store in the area to replace the former Loeb on Booth, and a balanced approach to commercial activity that can integrate the opportunities created by Festival Plaza and the War Museum with the needs of diverse residents and local business owners. They want to honour the heritage of the Flats in a creative way, including its aboriginal heritage. Most of all, they want the process leading to a new plan for future development to be open, transparent and responsive to the needs of the community. They'd like to see more than one developer involved - so that smaller developers, non-profits, co-ops and others can mount potentially successful bids as well as the Usual Suspects. And they want some accountability for meeting the objectives and vision for the Flats set out by the plan... this would, of course, mean that different levels of government (not to mention developers) will need to work together in good faith to achieve a common vision.

Are we dreaming in technicolour? Possibly. But nothing good ever came from shoving dreams and creativity aside because it may or may not be achievable... that way mediocrity lies. Just take a look at the rest of Ottawa.


Miss Vicky Mon Jan 21, 2008

There are a lot of interesting dialogues and consultations underway right now, and a couple of meetings this week that should stimulate some good discussion. Miss Vicky participated in Saturday's dialogue on the future of Lebreton Flats, and will post more on that later... but in the meantime you may want to mark these events in your calendar:

Tonight (January 21), former Greenpeace executive director and current member of provincial parliament Peter Tabuns will be speaking at the Montgomery Legion. Hosted by the Ontario NDP, the Dialogue for a New Energy Economy will focus on how we can "transform Ontario from a province dependent on diminishing reserves of imported non-renewable energy to a thriving economy with good jobs built on energy efficiency and renewable energy resources". The event starts at 7pm and the Montgomery Legion is located at 330 Kent Street.

On Wednesday January 23, Ecology Ottawa, in partnership with Citizens for Safe Cycling, is holding a public forum on the future of sustainable transportation in Ottawa. The event starts at 7 and takes place at the GCTC building at 1233 Wellington West. Join transportation experts, councillors and other engaged citizens in a discussion of our city's transportation strategy. The event will be moderated by CBC Radio's Adrian Harewood.

Seating is limited so you need to register by emailing transportation@ecologyottawa.ca.

Awards season

Miss Vicky Thu Jan 17, 2008

Well, round one voting for the Canadian Blog Awards has begun and yours truly has been nominated in the "Best Local Blog" and "Best Personal Blog" categories. Lots of other Ottawa bloggers and friends of Miss Vicky have been nominated as well, so you can check out the lists and cast your vote here.

Unfortunately, this year's awards are not without controversy - most accurately, the lack of a Best Feminist Blog category and the ensuing discussion on the awards site (since deleted) and various blogs and discussion fora have led to some pretty mixed feelings about the awards here at the Finishing School. I don't want to dwell on the discussion that occurred (it wasn't pretty and Miss Vicky wasn't in the mood to follow and participate as there was plenty of nastiness happening in her own life in December...), and I certainly don't want to revisit it. Let's just say that I won't be participating with the vigour I have in previous years. Readers can decide for themselves whether they'd like to participate or not. Hopefully next year the folks who stepped up to the plate to run the show will address the flaws in this year's categories and process.

The positive outcome to it all are some cheeky new awards that will begin accepting nominations next week. Let's all welcome......the F-Word Awards!

Nominations open January 25 and continue to February 8. There are all kinds of intriguing categories, from the predictable "Best Canadian Feminist Blog" to "Best comment thread", "Best Snark Comment", "Most Regressive 'Progressive'" and "The Support Bro - Best Post by a male in support of feminists/feminism". Nominate away, everyone!


Family Fun at the Carleton

Miss Vicky Wed Jan 16, 2008

Hintonburg's own Herb Girls are celebrating their 10th anniversary with a family concert event at the Carleton Tavern on February 10th and a more adult-oriented bash at Old Ottawa South's New Bayou. Here are the details:

It's The Herb Girl February Family Funtime Concert
Join us as we celebrate the “Love is in the air” tour
(ok one afternoon but we do leave the house so it’s just like a tour)
Sunday, February 10, 2008, Noon - 3:00 p.m.
Once again in true Hintonburg style we are performing at The Carleton Tavern
223 Armstrong St. (by the Parkdale Market)
Cost is $5.00 per person, $10.00 - $20.00 family (sliding scale)
Please be sure to have your kids or yourself dress up as someone or something you love!!!!

and/or for something completely different
(not that different really maybe more adult themed jokes and less knock knock or poop oriented jokes then again who knows!)

Join The Herb Girls for our 10th Anniversary Show
When: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Where: The New Bayou (613-523-5299)
1077 Bank St. at Sunnyside, across from the Mayfair
$8.00 per person at the door

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