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All In Hand

Council's Garbage flip-flop

Miss Vicky Thu Sep 11, 2008

Argh. I suppose we knew it was coming. But it never ceases to amaze Miss Vicky that Council can be so utterly boneheaded when it comes to waste management issues.

Yesterday they voted to maintain weekly garbage pickup in 2009, when the Green Box organics collection starts. Never mind that we are running short of landfill space. Never mind that it's going to cost an extra million bucks. Never mind that we set targets for waste diversion and are nowhere near meeting them. Never mind that most of the stinky stuff will be picked up weekly in the green box. Never mind that cities across North America have already made this switch without the maggot-and-vermin-infested disasters feared by naysayers like Rick Chiarelli and Jan Harder. Nope, councillors are askeert that people will be pissed off that they have to deal with their own waste for two whole weeks... what little waste is left over after the green bin and recycling, that is.

Any remaining shred of credibility that Ottawa had regarding its commitment to the environment is not going to survive this council's term. What a disappointment.

Good news for gardeners

Miss Vicky Tue Sep 9, 2008

Miss Vicky joined others involved in the Community Garden network this morning at the city's Planning and Environment Committee. The committee was considering a proposal to permanently establish the Green Partnership Program.

The GPP, which has been a pilot for the last couple of years, offers funding for projects designed to beautify public spaces and make them "greener, cleaner and more appealing places to live, work and play". One would think that making the this funding source permanent would be a good thing. It is, but the devil is in the details... and the details of the proposal would end up excluding community garden projects from eligibility for funding (it also proposes to eliminate the appeal process, which is a whole other kettle of compost that Miss Vicky will leave aside for now).

Now, folks here in Hintonburg and Mechanicsville have been hankering for a community garden for years. We've been working with community developers at Somerset West CHC, the Community Garden Network and Just Food to find suitable sites for ages now, but with no real luck so far. Last year the groups submitted a Hallmark Project Proposal to the Green Partnership Program fund that included an application for a garden in Laroche Park. It had broad support from our councilllor, MP, both the Laroche park and Hintonburg community associations, as well as Somerset West CHC. The Mechanicsville community, who previously had a very successful community garden in the early 2000s, (for 2 years before the landowner paved it over), also independently expressed a great need for a community garden in their area, and wanted it either at Laroche Park or Tom Brown Arena, or somewhere in the area that was accessible to them.

Even though GPP conditionally granted $12,000 for the garden in July (and the official letter only arrived in August), there were questions around the impending construction in the area, and more importantly, the issue of contamination. There were also concerns about the proximity of the proposed land to the baseball diamond use that takes place in the park.

So, we're on the hunt again for appropriate space. In the meantime, the list of interested gardeners is up to 50 people (and this was just through word of mouth).

Just Food has been looking at space at Tom Brown, but it is a known contaminated site, which makes gardening a little.... um.... awkward.

The simple fact is, any space we might find in this area - whether on public or private land - is probably going to be contaminated. Currently, community gardens are funded through Community and Protective Services' Cultural Services and Community Funding department, and the annual budget is a whopping $5000. Yep. $5000. For the whole city.

Soil testing alone in Hintonburg/Mechanicsville will be significant, as will designing and constructing a raised bed garden that will allow us to grow vegetables safely. It can be done - Miss Vicky heard a story on the CBC this morning about a community garden in downtown St. John's, which has some serious lead contamination in its downtown soil. But even the $12,0000 we got from the GPP last year might have been pushing it.

So, my role this morning was to talk about some of the problems we've been having in Hintonburg, and describe the considerable demand for a garden here. As a group we were going to talk about some of the problems in the GPP proposal and to argue that some of the GPP funding be allocated to Community and Protective Services to fund community gardens.

We didn't get a chance to talk, though, because in the last few days Kanata Councillor Peggy Feltmate devised an amendment that would do just that - take $75,000 from the Green Partnership Program and move it over to the budget for community gardens. So all we had to do this morning was say "yep, we're cool with the amendment and we don't need to address the committee".

Peter Hume was chairing the meeting asked us each individually if we agreed, and then asked me if I was going to blog it. I told him yes. (Hi Peter!). And then it was passed. Boom. That was that.

Now, we're still quite far from getting a garden here in the 'hood. But at least now there is some decent funding so we can do it properly once we find an appropriate space.

As long as it makes it through the budget process, that is. Sigh.


Election blogging

Miss Vicky Mon Sep 8, 2008

Miss Vicky will be joining several progressive thinkers and writers over at rabble.ca for the next 35 days or so. She's been asked to participate in their federal election blog, so will be posting thoughts and musings over there (I'll link them here, of course). Today's entry, predictably, was about the number of women candidates nominated thus far. What's next? We'll just have to see. In the meantime, folks are posting new stuff all the time over at rabble, so check it out!


The Webgeek Sat Sep 6, 2008

The WebGeek here. As some of you may know, I've decided to go back to school this year. I'm takinng Algonquin College's compressed "Interactive Multimedia" graduate certificate course. The more astute among our readership may be asking themselves "Wait a second, doesn't the WebGeek already *do* Interactive Multimedia?" The answer is "yes". But, there are things I don't really know, such as photography, video editing, design theory, and Flash animation/development. This course will give me that stuff (or at least, a really good overview of it) And, of the stuff I do know, I don't have any pieces of paper from any institution that says I know what I'm talking about. People who hire government contractors really like those pieces of paper. This course will also give me that piece of paper.

I've been in classes for a week now, and I must say it is fun, and I am learning stuff too. Case in point: this little animation I made

Not bad, eh?


Civic Hospital Relocation

Miss Vicky Fri Sep 5, 2008

So the rumours have been flying for some time now about the possible relocation of the Ottawa Hospital's Civic Campus. The facility is dated and cramped and there is very little room for expansion. Reaction to the possibility of opening up some space across the road on Experimental Farm land was mixed. But that was a bit of a red herring anyway - what's really under consideration is a 60-acre site at Woodroffe and Hunt Club. And it looks like things are moving along. The 20-year project has gotten the all-clear from the Champlain LHIN (our health planning authority). Presumably it now needs the co-operation of the NCC, and ,of course, the money.

Now, the site is not listed in the NCC's list of urban lands that may be subject to development or sale. Nope, according to this map, the location is considered part of the "National Interest Land Mass". According to their site, Landholdings are a key element in the achievement of the NCC’s mandate and are essential to the long-term task of ensuring that the Capital region is physically coherent, effective in terms of its functioning and symbolically meaningful to Canadians. These lands are called the “National Interest Land Mass” (NILM). NILM lands that the federal government — mainly through the NCC and its predecessors — has gathered together over the past century include parks, monuments, public places, heritage buildings, shorelines and large areas of green space, such as Gatineau Park and the Greenbelt. They combine, as the NILM, to create a Capital that will inspire Canadians with pride and be passed on as a legacy for future generations..

In other words, the land is currently part of the Greenbelt. According to this map, it's in the Pinhey Forest. But then there is this map, which is part of the Greenbelt Master Plan, which describes it as "cultivated landscape" - otherwise known as farming and forestry - plus what looks like a chunk identified as a buildable site area. Buildable site areas are supposed to "accommodate organizations of Capital importance with specialized land needs, such as seclusion or large areas", not to mention providing the NCC with a source of revenue to support Greenbelt operations. It's not clear from the Master Plan whether a hospital would meet their criteria, but then again the Greenbelt Master Plan is currently under review by the NCC. Presumably the shifting of 60 hectares of Greenbelt space to a new hospital site will be part of their deliberations.

At any rate, the move would leave our community without easy access to a hospital, not to mention the various clinics, labs and doctor's offices that currently surround the Civic that may find it more convenient to relocate closer to the hospital once the move is complete. I'm sure the neighbouring residents will not mourn the loss of the parking and traffic mayhem, not to mention the wandering smokers... but I can imagine some mixed feelings even in the surrounding streets.

Miss Vicky would love to hear what folks think about this potential move. Any thoughts?


Another Saturday event - Dance Party!

Miss Vicky Thu Sep 4, 2008

If you're cruising the street parties on Saturday, don't forget this one:

The Annual Hintonburg Street Dance. It takes place on Armstrong between Parkdale and Hamilton. Proceeds from this event will be going to the Rochester Heights Community House and Somerset West Community Health Centre. The fun takes place between 6pm and 11pm, there will be food and beverages for purchase and live entertainment to get your toes tappin'.

It seems kind of unfortunate that two great events (this one and the street party on Hinchey) are on the same night, but hopefully folks will treat them like one big neighbourhood event and go to both!

Installing Big Brother

Miss Vicky Wed Sep 3, 2008

Miss Vicky hears that trucks have dropped off Hintonburg Park's spanking new surveillance cameras. More on this anon. Late-night dog-walkers beware!

Fall Fun and Festivities ahead

Miss Vicky Tue Sep 2, 2008

Now that we have passed the August doldrums, it's going to be hard to keep up with the flurry of activity that is fall in the 'hood! Here are a few things to look forward to:

Saturday, September 6
Local gallery owner and artist Patrick John Mills, with the help of Nat at the Elmdale and others, has put together a great lineup of entertainment and activities for his Hintonburg Street Party. The fun starts at noon outside his gallery on Hinchey and continues through the day, with the adult version of the party moving to the Elmdale later on. The event is also a fundraiser for a Lanark County community organization that works with youth, the Transitions Action Coalition. Folks are asked to bring household items to donate to the cause.

The following weekend is the annual Hintonburg Harvest Festival. Here are the details:

Something called the Gallery Hop is happening Friday and Saturday Sept 12 & 13 from 6:30pm - 9:30pm - all our fab local galleries will be open and hopping!

The main event is on Sat Sept 13, 2008 from 11am - 5pm at Parkdale Park. Attractions include: horse and trolley rides, Mad Science, Hintonburg Break Dancers and dance contests, music, childrens’ games and activities, fundraising BBQ, and information tables throughout the day.

This year's bake-off is Apple Pie! yum! If your pie kicks butt, bring it over for judging by 12:30.

Live Music starts at 1 and continues through the afternoon, featuring the Herb Girls, Maria Hawkins Trio, Uyen Vo (2006 Vietnamese Idol) Eastborough, and the Wood Runners. Proceeds from the afternoon go to local youth programming

Apparently they are still looking for volunteers and donations of baking. Email hedc @ sympatico.ca or annie @ wellingtonwest.ca to offer your help or for information.

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