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All In Hand

Possible school closure

Miss Vicky Tue Jan 15, 2008

I got the following email this evening - figured I would pass it on with little comment. It kind of speaks for itself. It's funny; the Webgeek and I were just talking about primary schools in the 'hood this afternoon.

Hi Vicky,
Not sure if you’ve heard about this but as a resident in Hintonburg it is something I think needs a bit more attention than it's getting. St. Mary’s school (JK-Gr6) located on Beech St. is now undergoing an accommodation review within the Ottawa Separate School Board. Put succinctly there is a very good chance that Hintonburg will lose its only Catholic primary school.

In the shortest telling possible the board is currently looking at three possible outcomes to the review process-

• St. Mary’s will close and move to St. Anthony’s (Somerset West)
• St. Mary’s will close and move to St. George’s (Champlain Heights)
• St. Anthony’s will close and move to St. Mary’s

The board has proposed an Alternative Review Committee (ARC) to look at all the options available, however in the course of the public consultation meetings that have happened so far, and looking at the options above, it is more than likely that St. Mary’s faces closure.

St. Mary’s is a small community school with just over 70 students. It is underutilized, in terms of student numbers, for certain. But instead of looking at the baby boom that is happening in our neighbourhood the board seems to think that closing an urban school is the answer to the financial constraints it faces. With either option an urban neighbourhood will lose a community school and the downtown core will have one less elementary school available for parents to choose from. There has been some criticism of the review process, many parents are feeling that the “public consultations” are really not all that consultative and that key areas that should be reviewed are being glossed over or ignored.

Whether one is a supporter of the Separate School Board or not this is still an issue that should concern Hintonburg residents. When a neighbourhood faces the closure of a school, the chances of another school being re-established in its place years from now is slim to none. This of course means that when our baby boom becomes felt at the school age level, say five years from now, parents will have to send their children on buses to schools outside of Hintonburg to get the education they want for their little ones. This is also especially concerning considering that the Public Board has deemed Devonshire not fit to renovate. Hmmm, are we to lose 2 of our schools in the span of a couple of years?

Anyway, just wanted to bring this to your attention. Seems like the kind of thing that parents might want to comment on before it’s too late. The next ARC meeting takes place at St. Mary’s School (175 Beech St.) on February 11th at 7pm. Comments can be sent directly to the board through mia.overduin@ottawacatholicschools.ca

Disturbing news, no? I've written the trustee, Betty-Ann Kealey to see if she'd like to share her perspective on the situation. I'd also love to hear from any St Mary's parents if we have any who read the blog!

Upcoming events: theatre and Fun

Miss Vicky Sat Jan 12, 2008

The Ottawa Chamber Theatre will be performing Tennessee William's play, "Confessional" from January 23-26 and January 30-Feb 2. Here's a bit of info about the production from Hintonburg-based actor, teacher and director Donnie Laflamme:

I thought you might be interested to know that my theatre company, the Ottawa Chamber Theatre Co., will be presenting a play at the Carleton Tavern Jan 23rd -Feb 2. The play is entitled Confessional by Tennessee Williams and is an Ottawa premier. This play is an earlier version of the more popular Small Craft Warnings (also not previously produced in Ottawa). I saw Small Craft Warnings in NY,NY a decade ago, and always wanted to put it on in Ottawa, it was on my list of plays I wanted to produce for some time.

My theatre co produced a few shows at Cube Gallery last year, but I wanted to create a work that blurred the line between audience and actors-this play is set in a bar and is both funny and sad. I am a 3rd generation resident of Hintonburg, (my daughters are forth generation) and the characters in this play reminded me of a lot of people I've seen in both Mechanicsville and Hintonburg. I feel that this beloved tavern is an excellent venue for this play as it is also alive with colourful, fun loving characters.

Simon and Sam, owners of the tavern, have been very generous with our theatrical productions in the past, as they have been with sports teams and activities at Parkdale Park. It's a great feeling to be putting on a play in a place owned by these lovely guys - true benefactors of the arts and Hintonburg.

In the play we see some wayward souls in a California bar exorcising demons with alcohol. We also see a flawed script created by a great writer - it is not of the ilk Williams was known for in his huge Streetcar-esque smash hits. But somehow this is the most honest play of his that I have read - and I've read quite a few along with his essays. I see him as having written a part of himself into each character in the piece. My understanding is that a revival of sorts of his career was attempted with this play, and Williams himself acted in the play to help with sales. I did not want to direct this as I was concerned that I would emulate what I saw in Tribeca. I am however acting in it.

The play is directed by Lisa Zanyk, co owner of the company and features Lorne Pardy, the illustrious Mary Ellis, Brian Stewart (Hintonburg resident), Donnie Laflamme, (myself, Hintonburg resident), Mark Muntean, Garrett Quirk (Hintonburg resident), Laine Johnson (Hintonburg resident)....

Mostly though, it's a real joy to create art in a tavern in which I have some real personal connections that hearkens back to an earlier era in this neighbourhood, an era that I hope is not forgotten with the rapid gentrification that is happening. Also, it's pretty cool to live in a city where an old Tennessee Williams play is not a revival , but a premier!

I also hope to one day publish a series of short stories I'm working on called The Occidental Hotel-Mechanicsville! . These stories are set in and around an old tavern that used to be in Lebreton Flats, actually called The Occidental Hotel. I've read that piles of antique syringes were found in the basement when sample digs were being performed prior to construction of the War Museum. It gave me a kind of John Coltrane feel for my part of the city, although the syringes were most likely used for pain killers as the clients were tough loggers and the like. However, Tennessee's play comes very close to the pictures I have in my minds eye of so many guys ,and girls, I've seen along the way in the many fine establishments I've entered. Some of the forgotten ones that were in the 'hood and so fun were The Grads-on Gladstone Ave, The Stirling Tavern- now an apartment building -(my dad, a roofer, went there with his brothers and bloodied a few noses and had their noses bloodied too)!

Anyway, I could go on and on, I feel very fortunate to have discovered theatre and be able to work with such dear friends in a place I love...

Well said, Donnie, and I am looking forward to the play. And to the next Chamber Theatre production, which will take place in the Elmdale!

You can get tickets for "Confessional" at Character Salon and the Carleton Tavern. Here are the show times:

Wednesday January 23: 7:30pm
Thursday January 24: 10:00pm
Friday January 25 7:30pm
Saturday January 26: 7:30pm
Wednesday January 30: 7:30
Thursday January 31: 10:00pm
Friday February 1: 7:30pm
Saturday, February 2: 5:00pm


State of the city

Miss Vicky Wed Jan 9, 2008

The Mayor gave his annual "State of the City" address today. You can read the text here.

our "rock star" mayor

Miss Vicky Tue Jan 8, 2008

So Mayor Larry, faced with a crowd of reporters and cameras as he headed to get himself booked and fingerprinted by the OPP, quipped that he felt "like a rock star". Which one, Miss Vicky wonders. Britney? Kid Rock?Jimi? Sean Combs?

I suppose part of me understands the mayor's desire to downplay the charges. But what he seems to fail to understand is that this is a serious blow to his leadership (which was pretty tenuous to begin with), not to mention a profound embarrassment to the city. The flippant attitude certainly does not help.

Golden closure controversy

Miss Vicky Sun Jan 6, 2008

Miss Vicky has been hearing some rumblings from Westboro regarding the proposed closure of access to Golden Ave from Richmond Road. Andrea from quietfish has posted an interesting description of December's public meeting on the matter. I had heard it was pretty raucous but had no idea of the extent of the divide between the community and the councillor on the matter.... and that they had been told that this proposal came out of a request from the community. They didn't have a site plan at the meeting, but a resident was able to obtain one later . Note the driveway on the left of the diagram, into the new Westboro Exchange development. The closure would permit them to put a ramp to their parking garage on a slice of current greenspace/path that used to be the Byron Tramway And from the sounds of it, the developers want to cram as much parking into the space as possible.

Next week the Committee of Adjustment considers the developers' application for some minor zoning variances, one of which would permit the access to underground parking in the back of the property, from Byron Avenue. This was the original plan for the development. So now, with this so-called "community-initiated" closure of Golden, the ramp at the back has become a driveway jutting through the Byron pathway to Richmond . The people who seem to benefit the most from the closure of Golden are the developers of the Westboro Exchange, who get more square footage and private driveway access to Richmond (do they pay anything for the encroachment onto current public greenspace, I wonder).

There is some interesting debate over on the Westboro Community Association blog. The association's letter to our councillor sums up their concerns - closing Golden is not part of the recently-approved community design plan, it doesn't jive with traffic studies that have been conducted in the area, and the timeline seems more in line with the needs of developers than the interests of a transparent and fair process (to name a few).

Sounds like the Committee of Adjustment meeting on January 16 will be pretty interesting! (Here are the details: 1:00 p.m., Ben Franklin Place, The Chamber, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa) Miss Vicky will be keeping an eye on the issue; let's see what the councillor decides to do....
UPDATE: Citizen Columnist David Reevely blogged the issue today, and was able to ask Christine Leadman directly about it. Apparently the driveway to Richmond is off the table now, so the Byron entrance to the parking garage stands. The proposal to close Golden is still up in the air, but if it were closed the idea is to extend the tramway and make it a pedestrian walkway. So really the debate now is on the implications of the closure on local traffic. You can read the councillor's email to Reevely in the comments over on the quietfish thread.

Idle talk

Miss Vicky Wed Jan 2, 2008

Today, as Miss Vicky returned from dropping WeeG off at Kitchicoo, she noticed a large truck (illegally) parked across the street, where presumably it had dropped off some Bobcats that were engaged in snow removal. It sat empty, idling away. And sat there. And sat there.

Clearly it's going to take a while for folks to cotton on to the city's anti-idling bylaw, it being brand spanking new and all. But it seemed appropriate, before Miss Vicky starts calling bylaw on annoying polluters, to check into the various exceptions to the rule. And there are quite a few of them:

(a) vehicles assisting in an emergency activity;
(b) mobile workshops while they are in the course of being used for their basic function;
(c) vehicles where idling is required to repair the vehicle or prepare it for service;
(d) armoured vehicles where a person remains inside the vehicle while guarding the contents of the vehicle or while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded;
(e) vehicles required to remain motionless because of any emergency, traffic, weather condition or mechanical difficulty over which the person driving the vehicle has no control;
(f) vehicles engaged in a parade or race or any other event authorized by Council;
(g) private transit vehicles while passengers are embarking or disembarking en route or in terminals;
(h) vehicles transporting a person where a medical doctor certifies in writing that for medical reasons a person in the vehicle requires that temperature or humidity be maintained within a certain range;
(i) occupied vehicles when the temperature outside the vehicle is greater than twenty-seven degrees Celsius (27°C) including the humidex calculation or less than five degrees Celsius (5°C) including the windchill value as determined by the Environment Canada temperature readings;
(j) vehicles engaged in providing City services which vehicles shall be subject to the City’s Vehicle and Equipment Idling Policy dated June, 2002, Number FS01;
(k) vehicles engaged in a normal farm practice; or
(l) vehicles, including hybrid vehicles, that eliminate the emission of green house gases and criteria air contaminants during the idling phase of operation.

Now, my truck-driving friend wouldn't fit any of these categories. Of course, I'm not entirely sure what would happen had I called by-law - would they get there in time, do the three minutes start once by-law arrives, do they get a warning first... so many questions. As with any by-law, the devil is in the details... and the enforcement. I am waiting with bated breath (and my ventolin handy) to see if this one actually makes a difference.

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