Great to see that the long-awaited The Jack Ketch restaurant on Stittsville Main Street (next to the municipal parking lot) is finally set to open on Saturday, October 21.
Co-owners Allison Pearce and Kevin Conway made the announcement on their Facebook page on Friday evening, and says they’ll be taking reservations for opening night via email. It’s a cozy spot with 26 seats available for dinner. (They’re also planning some private dinners for family and friends later this week to get ready.)
Allison and Kevin gave me a tour inside back in September. They’ve completely transformed the space (it was previously a daycare) and have lots of plans for future expansion, including a patio out back. (The opening is a bit later than originally planned thanks to some construction-related surprises, but I’ll save those stories for later.)
I talked to Conway last February about what they have planned:
“A contemporary rustic cosy nook kind of place where people can come and relax,” he said. “Something different for Stittsville – a little bit higher-end.”
The menu will include some French Canadian-inspired dishes and a lot of locally-sourced ingredients. Conway grew up in Stittsville and has worked at a number of restaurants in Toronto and Ottawa.
“I’ve been working for a lot of great chefs, and this opportunity came up to come back home. I’ve been trying to open something in Stittsville for years and years now. ”
(An invention from Stittsville’s SmartCone Technologies is being deployed as part of a pilot project on O’Connor street in downtown Ottawa. Here’s a press release from Ottawa Police Services about the project.)
Safer Roads Ottawa and the Ottawa Police Service have launched a new cyclist detection system on the O’Connor bike lanes at the corner of Waverley.
In his weekly newsletter published on Thursday, Qadri shared the most recent collision data available from 2015. The Carp-Hazeldean intersection had 10 reported collisions, ranking it 167th on the list of intersections with the most reported incidents. (By comparison, the intersection of Hunt Club and Riverside was the worst in the city with 60 collisions.) Continue reading →
(PHOTO: Greg Banning with some of his sketches, in the dining room at his home in Stittsville. Photo by G. Gower.)
You can see Stittsville artist Greg Banning‘s courtroom sketches in the first few seconds of this trailer for Alias Grace, the tv adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel on CBC and Netflix.
Besides his artwork, Banning will also appear on screen in the series as a courtroom sketch artist. As he explains below, the television gig came as a result of his work as a courtroom artist for the Mike Duffy trial.
On how his work came to featured in the miniseries…
The book is about Grace Marks. She’s convicted of murder with an accomplice, and what the book and movie is trying to do is decide whether she did it or not. I did the court sketches that were involved in the trial itself. Because of my background with the Duffy trial, they heard of me… I got a call out of the blue one day and they asked if I’d like to do some court sketches for the film.
They said they just wanted a copy of the sketches that were originally done for the trial. But I thought, “that’s probably a very different style than the way I draw”. They sent me a copy, and I took a look and thought, “I can’t emulate this…” They said, “just give it a try, see if you can match it, and the director will have a look to see if he can use it”.
So I did the best I could with charcoal and did a copy of it, scanned it into the computer and did a couple of changes in Photoshop and I sent it in. They were really happy with it, and then it evolved to, “can you try to put the actor’s faces in that style in that clothing, so we can use it as a prop?”
So I did that, and I thought that was going to be it. But they really wanted me to come in and film me doing the drawing. Up to the point that I actually left to go to the shoot, I didn’t know how they were going to do this. I’ve got these finished drawings – but how am I going to make it look like I’m doing the finished drawing?
The day of getting to the set, I went to a window with the original drawing I made and traced onto a piece of paper. So then when they filmed me I could make it look like I was sketching it out. They brought the camera right in on me, and another camera in the back of me. I’m looking at nothing — the actress was long gone, and everybody in the courtroom. I was literally the last shot of that day in the courthouse.
It was a fantastic experience – right around my birthday – and they paid for most of my trip to glamorous Brampton. That was a year ago.
I haven’t seen my part yet. I’m kind of nervous. I need glasses to draw and to see — I have progressive lenses. I mentioned that I needed glasses, and they ended up giving me these little Benjamin Franklin glasses, and David Cronenberg supposedly used them in one of the scenes too. So the set director said, “be very careful, David Cronenberg used these glasses”. I felt kind of awkward, looking up and looking down as if I was drawing…
I don’t know if I’m going to make the movie or not, but they’ve used my sketches in the opening scenes. It was a fun thing to do, I never thought I would be in a production — I’m usually on the other side, working with directors. Normally I do storyboards, mostly commercial work — car commercials and things like that.
On how he became a courtroom sketch artist… It was not my ambition to set out to be a court artist, and I don’t think you can make a living being a court artist. It was just really lucky. One thing can lead to something else. The Duffy thing led to this, and I’m really grateful.
I lived in Toronto for 20 years, and then I moved here… a local illustrator recommended me to the Citizen, and they called up and asked if I would want to do sketch art at the court. I’d never thought of doing it, but I figured I’d get paid to work on my drawing and it was fascinating. That’s how it started, doing work for the Citizen.
Patrick Brazeau’s trial was happening, and CTV called and asked if I would want to do that for them. I did a job for CTV, and they were really happy. The Duffy trail was on the heels of Brazeau, and CTV called, and the Citizen called, then Global called and asked if I could do this… I had no idea how big this was going to be, or how long it was going to be, but it almost became a full time job for me. I was there every day for the trial except to see my son’s Christmas pageant show… I find it very interesting to be in the court and having the opportunity to witness all this stuff.
The first job I ever did, I brought in my laptop and Wacom tablet and sat down on the back bench in the gallery and drew the guy on the computer. The judge didn’t even bat an eyelash. My first one was completely digital.
I thought, if I get into another trial where there’s a lot more people I won’t be able to do this. I thought I’d bring my sketchbook, and scan it, and colour it in the computer. That’s how the process is now. I’ll do a quick little sketch, make remarks about what they’re wearing, the colour of their shirt, their jacket. I’m in and out pretty quick. I get the idea down, and I do the majority of the drawing in the media room at the courthouse, which is like a closet. I scan the sketch into the computer, and then I colourize it in Corel Painter – an Ottawa-based company – and then all I have to do is email a high-res jpeg to the Citizen or whatever other media outlet I might be doing it for.
On why he became an artist… I’ve always liked drawing, since I was my son’s age, and I just got better and better, and nothing else was panning out for me. I wasn’t going to be the baseball player I always wanted to be – so I ended up sticking with art…. I wasn’t sure if I could make a living out of it. When I was 19 I went to the High School of Commerce just to see if I liked it, and fell in love with it. I found different avenues of art you can make a living in. I went to Sheridan College, did the illustration program there, and found that I was more suited for advertising. So I got my start, unfortunately during the recession in the 90s. All the agencies at that time were downsizing and getting rid of their art departments. I stuck to it, and started getting a job with one agency, next thing you know I got another job. I worked at the last art house in Toronto, TDF, as a junior artist, and when that closed up I went out on my own and I’ve done everything. I’ve worked in advertising, illustrated children’s books, covers, magazines. I did a Maclean’s cover, I’ve worked in video games, I’ve designed coins for the Mint.
It’s wide-ranging. This fits in with my background. I go from the Duffy trail to drawing in a televised movie! I’ve been lucky enough to experience a lot of different facets of the art world and things like this — working on Alias Grace — was exciting. No regrets!
It’s great to read that city staff will be installing a sidewalk along West Ridge Drive between Adamson and Birchland. It’s a one-block stretch of road adjacent to a park that happens to be the only segment of that part of West Ridge without a sidewalk. Not sure planners missed that one, but good see it’s being fixed.
(PHOTO: Students, staff, volunteers and elected officials took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony — complete with kid-sized scissors — at Stittsville Public School on Friday, September 29. It marked the official opening of a new outdoor classroom. Photo by Lorrie Hayes.)
“Parent Council saw this as an opportunity to get the kids out and moving while still considering the curriculum and academics. This is an opportunity to bring the learning outside. To be a place and a space for movement and fresh air. I think we’re starting to understand that with kids having difficulties concentrating at school, there’s a feeling that more movement and more fresh air might contribute to helping some of those situations.”
–Sabrina Kemp, former co-chair of the Stittsville Public School Parent Council
Sabrina Kemp is ecstatic for the opening of a new outdoor classroom at Stittsville Public School. An official ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday in front of students and staff.
“It’s fantastic, I’ve dropped by a few times and it’s great to see the kids playing. And I love seeing that the school can accept some risk, and the benefit that comes from that,” she says. Continue reading →
City staff think they’ve identified the source of some mystery blasting that’s been felt by residents in communities like Jackson Trails, Bryanston Gate and Fairwinds in the north part of Stittsville.
Here’s what one resident posted on August 31: “Was that blasting in the Potter’s Key development that just shook everyone up like mad? There was no warning to the people in the area, none of the ‘warning whistles’ leading up to the blast… and holy cow I am touring my house for damage. That was nuts!”Continue reading →
(I met up recently with Marie Boivin, a long-time Stittsville resident who recently opened Barres and Wheels, a fitness studio on Stittsville Main Street, in the strip mall next to Brown’s and Tim Hortons. The business brings together her love of ballet, a strong business background, and her personal focus on fitness and nutrition as a way to overcome life’ challenges. -GG.)
GLEN GOWER: When I walked in, I was amazed at how bright and open this space was. How would you describe the space to someone who hasn’t been here before?
MARIE BOIVIN: First of all you don’t feel like you’re in a strip mall in Stittsville. It’s an impression of open space, lots of natural light, the barn wood, the cork floors, the wooden table. So all the elements are brought back together and I have a feeling of grounding. I believe it’s a grounding space and this is what I tried to emulate.
GG: I know there was a fitness studio here before also doing barre fitness. What’s changed from the previous business that was here?
MB: From a structural point of view, not much has changed. I re-configured the space, I separated the large studio space into a spinning studio. I kept the beautiful skylight and the rest of the space as a barre studio. I built an office. All the furniture is brand new. We painted and added some art on the wall, and we put our touch into the space.
GG: Describe some of the different things that you offer here.
MB: My passion has always been in dance and ballet, so as a little girl this was my dream to become a ballerina. Obviously it did not materialize! But I always danced as an adult as a hobby in classical ballet. After I had my last child, my little guy who’s now five, I could never really go back to ballet. My body changed, and I turned to barre fitness which I believe is an unbelievable workout.
The concept of bar is really small isometric movements, and holding the positions for a really long time so it really fatigues the muscles, and then we stretch it out with nice, deep stretches. So you really combine ballet, yoga and pilates. All of that combined together brings an unbelievable workout. It’s very low impact — not prone to injuries — and it builds the nice long lean muscles that ballerinas have. It really improves posture… it really tones everything.
GG: And you’ve combined that with the bikes.
MB: Exactly, I believe that barre fitness is absolutely wonderful, but I thought that there was a component missing, which was the cardio. So by bringing on the cycling, which is also low-impact, the two of them combined together brings an amazing offering for overall fitness.
On the barre side, we try to incorporate yoga, which I think is very important for the mind. So we have very calming classes, like Wednesday night candle-lit yoga. Sunday morning we have the sun salutations. When I see the space and I see the skylights above the barre studio, there’s nothing like it. So you set your week right, set your intentions, and it really energizes you afterwards.
We also do combined classes, so 45 minutes of spinning, followed immediately by yin yoga. It’s a lot of nice, deep long stretches so it opens up the hips, and all the places where you are typically tight, like we hold a lot of stress into our shoulders, or for runners who typically have very tight hips, it really releases.
GG: I want to talk a bit about the business environment. We’ve seen Movati open out here in the west end, and Goodlife. A lot of people say, “how are some of the smaller businesses going to survive”? Where’s the niche for a smaller studio like this? How do you fit in and run a business with so much competition?
MB: I believe there’s a place for everything. This would be considered a boutique fitness studio, where we offer something very specific. We don’t have personal trainers or other things that larger studios would offer. With all the competition maybe we’ll have the fittest people in Ottawa in Stittsville! What we offer is unique in the sense that every exercise is low-impact. It’s for literally everybody at any fitness level. We can have a high-performing athlete on a bike, and a beginner on the next bike. Every single class can be catered and modelled and adapted to any fitness level.
GG: And do you live in Stittsville? What’s your background?
MB: I do, I’ve lived here for over 15 years. I have 20 years in corporate business, mostly in finance. I’ve transitioned in the past year over a very stressful phase of my life, and once I had resigned from my previous position, I found myself wondering what was next.
Throughout my life, and throughout some very stressful times what kept me going was fitness and nutrition. I had to focus on this, and I set myself small objectives on a daily basis, and that’s what kept me going in every other aspect of my life to help me manage stress. So that’s why I wanted to create a space that was calm, non-threatening, appeals to all the senses, and people come here and they set their own objectives and we help them carry it through.
GG: What’s your vision for where this goes in the future?
MB: We want to fill in the classes! We want to have people come in and sign up, and eventually we might grow and thing of studio number two. We want to make sure the concept is strong and developed here and we can evaluate what the next phase is going to be.
GG: Anything else you want to share with Stittsville?
MB: I love Stittsville. This is my town, this is where my kids are still growing. I have two kids in university and my little guy goes to Jean Paul II. So we love to feature local artists, we love to help out. This is a community space and I let people come in and do their workshops. So we have nutrition workshops, Kate Rickman features her art here, and we try to feature local businesses as well.
The studio runs two classes a week for new moms (it’s called Baby Barre) where they can bring their babies either in a carrier or place on a mat in front of them. These classes are free on a donation to CHEO. We suggest $10 per class and a donation receipt will be issued by CHEO at the end of the year. My son Leo had an open heart surgery at birth so we have always donated back since he was born. I wish to continue this tradition with the new business!
(Barres and Wheels is located at 1261 Stittsville Main Street. For more info visit barresandwheels.com)
(PHOTO: The Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Limited building in Carleton Place. Constructed in 1890 of local limestone, this building contained the roundhouse and engine repair shops for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) until 1939. In 1940, the building was purchased by the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers. Wool arrives here from across the country and is graded before being shipped out in compact bales.)
Get ready to wander and explore on the weekend of September 16 and 17!
Doors Open Carleton Place 2017 features eleven local properties that will be open to the public, free of charge. This is a great opportunity for residents to play tourist in their own community, and one more reason for visitors to come and discover the town of Carleton Place. Continue reading →
Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper wants to establish a watchdog to rein in what he calls “needlessly thoughtless and disrespectful behaviour” on the part of the construction industry, particularly on problematic infill developments.
One of the greatest frustrations I have as the one looked to most often to sort out disagreements between builders and neighbours is how few tools Councillors and even the City have to deal with the litany of complaints that we hear. Parking, noise, and property standards by-laws can be enforced by the City, but the process is slow, there’s too few resources on the ground, and enforcement is ultimately up to the courts which means the City takes a graduated enforcement approach.
The courts are also the only recourse for neighbours whose property has been damaged by builders. This is an immense frustration. Telling residents to lawyer up when disputes arise over property lines or damage is not why anyone runs for office.
There needs to be a better mechanism to deal with infill issues. Too many problems are dealt with by too many levels of government and agencies.
Infill development in Stittsville may not be as intense as in Kitchissippi but it’s still happening out here. Just about every month at the Committee of Adjustment there’s an application to subdivide a big residential lot in order to squeeze in another house. That’s only going to accelerate in the coming years.
It’s not just infill that’s a problem either. New housing development generates lots of complaints too: traffic, noise, dirt, blasting, etc.
I’m not sure an ombudsperson is the most effective way to deal with this issue. He or she might play a useful role in mediation with GOHBA members, but I bet most of the problematic contractors and developers aren’t members of the group.
Their original campus is in Seattle, where 40,000 people walk to work every day. They’ve launched an RFP process, inviting cities across North America to make a pitch to become a new home for Amazon. Continue reading →
The article is about how a sidewalk project for Chimo Drive in Kanata South has been cancelled because some homeowners complained to their councillor Allan Hubley about it.
I am absolutely appalled that politics is getting in the way of pedestrian safety. There are residents on several streets in Stittsville that are clamouring for sidewalks, and I really can’t understand the mindset of these Kanata residents who complained. The councillor’s justifications for cancelling the project just don’t make sense.
Let’s break down the article and arguments: (Text in italics is from the original Kanata Kourier-Standard article.)
Of the 28 affected homes that would see a sidewalk take up a portion of the city’s right-of-way at the foot of their front yards, 18 homeowners contacted Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley’s office to oppose it. Only three said they were in favour.
“I’m not going to build something to satisfy three people,” said the councillor in a phone interview. “I was not pro or against the sidewalk. I was going to do what the majority of them wanted.”
I appreciate a councillor wanting to appear like he’s listening and reacting to residents. A better response might have been: “Politicians need to do the right thing, which may not always be the most popular thing. Let’s talk about why we need this sidewalk on your street.”
(Also: Opposition from 18 of 28 homes is a slim majority of just 64%. Not exactly a strong consensus.)
Moore’s eldest child Annaka, 12, walks to Katimavik Elementary School and delivers the Kourier-Standard to her neighbours. “
In summer it’s not really that bad because you can go onto the grass a few neighbours down. But in winter, the snow piles up and you can either walk in the snow … (or) walk beside it,” on the road, she said.
Moore said she’s seen plenty of fender-benders and near misses on Chimo, which has a bend on a hill and a stop sign that some drivers ignore. Flex stakes in the middle of the road, used to reduce speeds, cause drivers to crowd the side of the road.
“I think, at some point, a child is going to get hit and killed,” she said.
Pedestrian safety, she said, should trump losing a portion of driveway.
Jen Moore is absolutely right. I wonder how many of the dissenting homeowners have kids, or are seniors, or have mobility issues? The City should be prioritizing equitable options for everyone, whether they have a car or not.
Another thing: The portion of driveway that homeowners are losing is part of a municipal right-of-way. The City has every right to build a sidewalk, even if a few homeowners object.
Chimo Drive is classified by the city as a collector road, yet has no sidewalk on either side.
According to the city’s website, “Collector roads require a sidewalk on both sides of the roadway. The requirement becomes increasingly important when the corridor is a public transit route, leads directly to public transit, fronts onto schools, parks, community facilities and/or leads directly to these amenities.”
The Katimavik transit corridor, Katimavik elementary school, as well as at least five parks, are all accessed from Chimo. The road also leads directly to a number of other parks and the Kanata Leisure Centre.
Not every street needs a sidewalk, but clearly sidewalks on Chimo would benefit residents who live on the road and the surrounding streets. It should have had sidewalks when it was built in the 80’s. This project is a chance to fix that blunder.
Hubley acknowledged in his letter that pedestrian safety is an issue and people should instead be using the pathway system that runs near Cattail Creek Park.
“Safety concerns are still very real for pedestrians along Chimo Drive,” he wrote. “Please continue to encourage others to use the pathway network and we will work with you to try to address the speeding along Chimo with you.”
The pathway is a big reason many residents opposed the sidewalk.
“The feedback from the majority of residents was that they did not want that sidewalk there because they have a pathway,” said Hubley. “They saw this as a waste of tax dollars, duplicating the pathway. You can actually see the pathway from the street. It’s very close.”
The councillor’s argument really falls apart when he suggests that the recreation pathways are a good alternative to sidewalks. The walking distance is longer, the lighting is poor, and people still have to walk on the road to reach the paths!
The paths also offer safer walking conditions, particularly in inclement weather, said the councillor.
“When the roads are slippery, for example, cars can slide up on the sidewalks,” he said. “It’s not the safest place to have people walk, certainly not like the pathway. The pathway is as safe as it gets.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Sidewalks are not safe for pedestrians. I guess it’s best if we all stay inside, unless we’re safely enclosed by a car.
Nice to see this new bike repair station added to Village Square Park this week, along the Trans Canada Trail near Stittsville Main. It’s a good spot for it, with hundreds of cyclists passing by each week.
(This would have come in handy a few weeks ago when my wife blew a bike tire on Abbott street just past the park!)
Safer Roads Ottawa (SRO) is setting these up at parks, libraries and other public areas around the city, but there aren’t too many yet in the suburbs. According to SRO: “Each self service bike repair station includes a work stand, an air pump and the following tools:
Philips screwdriver and stand
2 steel core tire levers
2 cone wrenches (8/10 mm 9/11 mm)
Hex key set
The air pump includes heads to fill both Presta and Schrader valves.
(FILE PHOTO: Speed sign on Hobin Street, near A. Lorne Cassidy school. Photo by Barry Gray.)
Eric Darwin writes a must-read local blog called West Side Action. It’s focused on urban issues near his home in central Ottawa, but a lot of what he writes about can be applied to neighbourhoods all over the city.
Case in point: A recent post about some creative ideas for traffic calming. A lot of Stittsville streets have a problem with vehicles drivers travelling too fast, especially West Ridge, Fringewood, Kittiwake, Alon, Maple Grove, Rosehill, Hobin, Liard, Stittsville Main, Iber, Amberwood… I could go on and on.
We’ve seen some limited attempts at traffic calming in Stittsville, mostly those flex posts in the centre of the street, or “SLOW DOWN” painted in white on the roadway. There’s a $40,000 yearly budget in each ward for this kind of thing, but that doesn’t go very far at all.
Darwin says we need to get creative: “If our city traffic committee had any guts, instead of just ‘considering’ stuff that filters up from the bureaucrats, they’d pre-approve a menu of simple paint and portable measures to be supplied and installed anywhere the community can convince the councillor to authorize them. If they don’t calm the traffic, nothing ventured nothing gained. Try something else.”
A few of his ideas:
Paint the road narrower. City policy requires a 10-foot minimum lane width, but a lot of our neighbourhood roads are much wider than that. A simple line of paint creates the impression of a narrower road, and does slow traffic.
Temporary “bulb-outs”. That’s where the road gets narrower at the intersection, giving pedestrians a shorter width to cross, and forcing cars to slow down. Permanent bulb-outs can be expensive, but Darwin suggests temporary cones or planters in the meantime.
Add a median. Those ubiquitous flex posts are ok, but you could do even better with something less flexible! Maybe a row of planters with trees down the middle, or again, just some simple paint. “Nothing like the fear of denting some sheet metal to encourage compliance,” he writes.
For decades, cities and developers built neighbourhood roads with the goal of moving cars as fast as possible in and out of the subdivision. We need to shift the balance to focus on pedestrian safety first. Implementing a few simple ideas like these ones will start accellerate that shift.
In some Stittsville neighbourhoods (especially the newer subdivisions), parking is a massive bone of contention. There were 268 parking bylaw complaints in Stittsville during the first half of the year, the most of any bylaw category.
City of Ottawa traffic services staff are in the process of updating the parking bylaw, and are looking for feedback on a specific part of the rulebook on parking time limits. Continue reading →