All posts by Glen Gower

Elliott and Qadri in the running for Carleton Liberal nomination

(PHOTO: Kim Elliott (left) and Theresa Qadri are contestants for the Liberal nomination in the provincial riding of Carleton.)

This week we learned that there are at least two contestants seeking the Liberal party nomination in Carleton, ahead of the provincial election in June: Kim Elliott and Theresa Qadri.

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NOTEBOOK: Buyer for Butler House; council approves Kavanagh Green

Abbott @ Main #mystittsville

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After nearly 18 months on the market, the historic Butler House / Green’s Hotel on Stittsville Main Street has been sold. The new owners are from the Kanata area and they plan to keep the building as an office for at least the next couple of years. Built in 1894, the three-story brick building is the only officially designated heritage building on Stittsville Main Street.  The real estate agent tells me the building is in excellent condition — he said the foundation looks like it was poured yesterday. Read more about the history of the building here…

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KAVANAGH GREEN

City Council approved commemorative naming proposals for a future park at the corner of Hazeldean Road and Stittsville Main Street, to be known as Kavanagh Green. From the official report on the proposal:

“In recognition of the Kavanagh family’s historical significance to the community of Stittsville, a proposal to name a future park at the southwest corner intersection of Hazeldean road and Stittsville Main Street has been submitted to the Commemorative Naming Committee. For nearly a century, Kavanagh family members have made important contributions to the community of Stittsville and surrounding areas which include owning and operating the popular Stittsville Flea Market for 25 years and volunteering with the Food Bank, Holy Spirit Church and the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice.”

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NEW PLANNING ADVISORY COMMITTEE AT CITY HALL

Kitchissippi Ward councillor Jeff Leiper shared this nugget of information in his weekly newsletter: “At Council, we’ll also consider a new Planning Advisory Committee that will consist of Council, resident, Federation of Citizen Association, builder, building owner, planning, architect and landscape architect communities. That committee is proposed to meet twice a year to comment on and then review the planning department’s workplan. It would work like other advisory committees at the City, with public notice of its meetings, agendas, and following the advisory committees’ rules of procedure.”


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NOTEBOOK: A SkyTrain to Stittsville

About 100 residents were at last night’s LRT open house to hear about the latest plans for the light rail extension from Moodie Drive to Hazeldean Road in Stittsville.

Paul Croft, a project planner from the engineering firm Parsons walked us through various options that they’ve considered for the light rail route, station locations, and storage and maintenance facilities.  Here’s a map of the new preferred route. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Turning the page on the Stittsville News

“That daily experience of seeing your local places, names and events creates a kind of resonance and connection and investment with where you live. Canadians pay a lot of lip service to the importance of telling Canadian stories. We are so used to seeing American references that just watching a movie, for example, set in a Canadian place will “charge us up” with local feeling. A sense of seeing “ourselves” portrayed.

That’s the daily charge of a local paper. Investing you with news and culture of YOUR PLACE. Take that away and you genuinely diminish that feeling in a community. That is a real loss. Especially in a world where people are increasingly living in a central abstract space. A ‘no place.'”

–Seth, on the role of local newspapers. From the Globe & Mail, January 2016.


After decades being one of the only constants in our community, the Stittsville News wound up being just another line item on a big corporation’s balance sheet.

The Stittsville News is one of dozens of community papers being closed by corporate conglomerates Postmedia and Torstar. About 250 people will lose their jobs in January when the last papers roll off the presses.

Stittsville will lose an institution that has been publishing for 60 years. The first edition was published on December 12, 1957 by founder Howard Maguire, who was also Goulbourn’s first full-time fire chief.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve run into current reporters John Curry and Brian Dryden and the now-retired John Brummell at local events. They are everywhere in our community. They are the reporters who sit through hours of community association meetings and cover local hockey games. They are the photographers who chronicle school graduations and neighbourhood picnics and music recitals.

I feel for Curry the most.  He bought the paper as a young newspaperman in 1975 for $6,000, and stuck with it as a reporter and editor for more than four decades, some of it under various corporate overlords after he sold the paper in 2001.

“It was a tough gig,” reported Devyn Barrie in a profile of Curry published in the Algonquin Times. “The hours were long and the pay was low. The newspaper served a small community and barely broke even. But Curry wasn’t in it for the money. He wanted to do good journalism, report for the community and have fun doing it.”

I feel for the dozens of community groups like the Legion, the Lions, the Rotary Club who rely on the Stittsville News to get their info out into the community.  And I feel for the army of kids (and few adults) who earn a bit of pocket money delivering the paper to our doorstep each week.

New companies will step up to try to provide some semblance of the coverage that the Stittsville News and others like it provided.  And to be sure, there are still a few independent papers left in the Ottawa area.

But in Stittsville we’ve lost an institution that has reflected us, has connected us, has shaped us for six decades.

 

"The Two Johns". Longtime Stittsville News reporters John Curry (left) and John Brummell at City Hall in January 2017. Brummell received a Mayor's City Builder Award after his retirement from the newspaper.
“The Two Johns”. Longtime Stittsville News reporters John Curry (left) and John Brummell at City Hall in January 2017. Brummell received a Mayor’s City Builder Award after his retirement from the newspaper. Photo via Deborah Brummell / Stittsville Neighbours.


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COMMENT: A tale of two traffic lights

#1 Carp at Hazeldean. Residents have been calling for safety fixes at this intersection for years.  City staff says that traffic isn’t heavy enough to justify any configuration changes. Of course, the city’s data doesn’t capture the frustration and near misses that happen all the time at the intersection. A real fix probably won’t come until sometime between 2020-2025, when Carp Road is tentatively scheduled to be widened to four lanes – if there’s money available. Continue reading


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NOTEBOOK: The Legion’s new building, connecting Eagleson to the 416, more

LEGION REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT
I gotta admit, I would have never predicted that the first significant development to fall under the auspices of the Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan would come from the Stittsville Legion.

The Stittsville News reports this week on an ambitious $1.5-million redevelopment plan for the Stittsville Legion’s headquarters.  They want to demolish the existing 1932 building and replace it with a two-storey building that will include a pub and meeting hall.

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NOTEBOOK: Preferred route for light rail extends to Hazeldean

The City of Ottawa is holding an open house on Thursday, December 7 as part of the Environmental Assessment for the light rail extension to Kanata-Stittsville.

There’s a significant change in plans from the last open house held in June: An updated map of the potential LRT extension to Stittsville shows the end of the line at Hazeldean Road, instead of Canadian Tire Centre. Continue reading


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COMMENT: The “creative activism” behind the Rosehill Expressway launch

(PHOTO: Unveiling the Rosehill Expressway sign. Photo by C.W.)

A huge thank you to my neighbours in Bryanston Gate, Fairwinds and Poole Creek Village for helping to open the Rosehill Expressway on Sunday afternoon.

The event was a tongue-in-cheek “celebration” to bring attention to traffic safety issues in our community.  You could call it a piece of “creative activism”.   Continue reading


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NOTEBOOK: Shea Woods, Fairwinds parking, and a few odds and ends

AT CITY HALL
City Council gave full approval today for the acquisition of 5 hectares of Shea Woods. The City will pay CRT (Claridge-Richcraft-Tamarack) Developments just over $1.5-million for about one-third of the land … Council also approved a zoning bylaw amendment for 1620 And 1636 Maple Grove Road, paving the way for a 945-unit residential development. Continue reading


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LINKED: Plan now for vacant Canadian Tire Centre, city urges Sens

From Laura Osman / CBC News:

Mayor Jim Watson says he doesn’t want to repeat the mistake other cities have made by leaving Ottawa’s NHL arena vacant when the team moves into a new downtown rink.

Watson, who’s preparing to take a seat at the negotiating table to hash out details of the LeBreton Flats redevelopment, said Tuesday the future of the Canadian Tire Centre (CTC) in Kanata must be considered before the Senators move to a new arena.

The worst case scenario, according to Watson?

“That it remains vacant and empty and no activity happens there for years and years.”

In September Senators president Tom Anselmi said the organization hadn’t settled on a plan for the CTC after the team moves out. Watson said Tuesday as far as he knows, there still isn’t one.

“My concern is that [the Senators] would move ahead with LeBreton and tie up that land, that very important piece of property for the west end, tie it up for years by doing nothing with it.” – Kanata North Councillor Allan Hubley

Read the full article…


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PHOTOS & UPDATE: The Bradley-Craig Farm, October 2017

Thank you to Mandy Hambly for sharing these beautiful photos of the Bradley-Craig Farm on Hazeldean Road. The sunset photos were taken on October 26, and the photo of the barn reflected in water is from earlier in the month.

Sunset over the Bradley Craig Farm, October 26. Photo by Mandy Hambly.
Sunset over the Bradley Craig Farm, October 26. Photo by Mandy Hambly.

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COMMENT: Johnwoods closure comes too soon

Closing Johnwoods might make sense years from now when more of Stittsville’s planned road and transit infrastructure is in place, but it doesn’t make sense now.

I made this video in May 2016 ahead of a public information meeting hosted by the City to explain what’s going on.  Watch this: Continue reading


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NOTEBOOK: Clearing begins on CRT lands & Shea Woods

We knew it was inevitable but it was still a shock this weekend to see the trees already coming down along the edge of the Shea Woods.

A strip of cedar trees and brush along the east side of the forest has been cut down, and the field to the east is being cleared and is surrounded by construction fencing.

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North section of Johnwoods permanently closes on November 15

Councillor Shad Qadri shared an update about the closure of the north end of Johnwoods on his web site earlier today.   The plan is to turn that section of road into a linear park with a recreation path running north-south, and re-route traffic via Rosehill and Santolina to-and-from Maple Grove.

Here’s how the City explains it: “This work must be completed to satisfy a condition in Mattamy Homes’ Fairwinds West subdivision agreement. The idea to downgrade Johnwoods Street from a major road to a local street has long been supported in several Council-approved documents like the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Kanata West Concept Plan, Cycling Plan, and Pedestrian Plan.
Historically, Johnwoods Street has experienced issues with cut-through traffic as population growth has outpaced the development of the arterial road network in the community. The construction of the Huntmar Drive extension and the Hazeldean Road widening have helped to alleviate some of these concerns. The partial closure of Johnwoods Street will further improve the situation.”

Despite all those council-approved documents, news of the closure will likely surprise many residents in the area, particularly in the Bryanston Gate and Fairwinds neighbourhoods.  It was a surprise to many of the 100 people who showed up at a raucous meeting in May 2016, after which the City of Ottawa’s planning department apologized for poor communication about the project.

Here’s what’s happening in the next few weeks:

  • Starting around November 8, concrete barriers at Rosehill near Warmstone will be removed, and temporary traffic calming measures will be installed. (Just what those measures are hasn’t been revealed.) Then on November 15, Johnwoods will be closed for construction. Removable bollards and barriers will be in place to stop vehicle traffic.
  • The park will be landscaped with a 3-metre asphalt path, four new benches, post and rail wood fences at the Maple Grove and Rosehill entrances, and small trees and shrubs.  The existing street lights along Johnwoods will be retained for park lighting. A letter to residents says that a future pathway could be built by the City to connect to Bryanston Gate via the pumping station property on Mika.
  • The closure will also result in a change for the 162 bus route.  They’ll travel along Santonlina beween Maple Grove Street and Rosehill Avenue, with two new bus stops on Santolina Street, one close to 151 Santolina Street and the other behind 346 Astelia Crescent.

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Here’s the update from the councillor’s web site:

Starting on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Johnwoods Street will be permanently closed to vehicular traffic from Maple Grove Road to Rosehill Avenue and will be rebuilt as a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

This work will add a safe and accessible recreational amenity, more greenspace and direct connections for pedestrians and cyclists in your community. The pathway will also enhance privacy and livability for nearby residents by reducing vehicle traffic noise and headlight glare.

I encourage residents to please review the following documents which have also been mailed to residents in the immediate area.

Johnwoods Closure Notice 2017

Johnwoods Closure Frequently Asked Questions 2017 

Johnwoods Linear Park Design


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COMMENT: Committee should have deferred Maple Grove decision

A shout out to CBC for continuing to focus on Stittsville development issues this week. Here’s an excerpt (in red) from an article by Laura Osman published today, along with my comments.  I’ve added some additional context based on my work with the Fairwinds Community Association.

Bottom line: If councillors and city staff really believe in the importance of public engagement, this case illustrates how far they still have to go to ensure transparency and trust in the development process.

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Residents not allowed to weigh in on big subdivision, councillor says
Councillors approve application to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road after decade of holdups
by Laura Osman, CBC Ottawa

A large new subdivision in Stittsville has been approved, despite the fact the last public consultation meeting happened more than a decade ago.

As far as I can tell, the last public consultation for this zoning bylaw amendment was in December 2004, when most of the area was still farmland.

The planning committee approved the rezoning for Richcraft to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road.

The last update we heard about the project was in December 2013, when a plan of subdivision was submitted for around 800 residential units.

The development has been in the works since early 2004 but was held up by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Richcraft then filed an appeal against the city because it’s taken so long for the city to make a decision.

Coun. Shad Qadri asked the committee to hold off on the decision on behalf of the neighbouring Fairwinds community, which didn’t exist when the initial public consultations were done.

“The area now didn’t really have the opportunity to put their comments in,” Qadri said, adding that planning documents were also not posted online.

Qadri lost the vote seven to one.

Usually when there’s a zoning bylaw amendment in front of Planning Committee, it’s easy to search the city’s web site to find background documents like planning rationale, transportation plans, environmental studies, etc.  We couldn’t find anything on the city’s DevApp web site, or on the councillor’s web site, or even on alternate sources like ottwatch.ca.

The Fairwinds Community Association asked Councillor Qadri to put forward a motion to defer a decision on the file until next month’s planning committee, to at least give residents time to access and review the documents.

Planning committee chair Jan Harder said the public had the opportunity to be heard at Tuesday’s meeting.

The committee received two written statements responding to the report that was tabled last week.

They would have received more than two written statements if there was a more proactive effort to alert residents about it. I stumbled upon it last week when I was reading the agenda. I doubt that many of my neighbours make a routine of reading the weekly agenda updates!  Besides that, how can we provide proper comments without the full information to work from?

(I would have loved to attend today’s meeting, but work commitments kept me from taking the morning off work to trek downtown.)

If the committee held off on making a decision, the developer would simply withdraw the zoning application and go through the OMB instead, Harder said.

“And then we’ll have a made-in-Toronto decision that may not be that great,” said Coun. Rick Chiarreli.

Chiarelli didn’t want the decision to be made by the OMB because there’s no way to appeal it, he said.

The developer has been working toward this subdivision for 13 years, and the city should not be holding up the process any longer, he added, comparing the application to a criminal trial. Serious charges would be dismissed after such a long period without a decision, he said.

I don’t know how accurate this is.  If the threat of an OMB decision is so significant, why did the report from planning staff attached to the agenda not call this out as a potential legal risk?  The document refers to previous OMB hearings but it doesn’t explain the relevant background or approval timelines for this application.  After 13+ years, what’s the rush to get this zoning approval through?  Shovels can’t hit the ground until next year at the earliest.

The proposal includes townhomes, detached houses and low-rise apartment buildings. It also includes some commercial development along the south side of Maple Grove Road, which is currently entirely residential.

During the initial public meeting in 2004 the city received six responses, including concerns about the Carp River restoration project and the timing of the development.

Back in 2004, the Stittsville Village Association did submit comments about transportation impacts. Current president Tanya Hein says that they did receive advance notice of the meeting, but just barely: “By chance, I found out late yesterday that a paper notice dated October 13th was mailed to David Jenkins (a former SVA member). I think he was on record from the original application, before email was the standard means of circulation. That, in itself, might suggest a more modern public consultation is warranted.”

Part of the development is expected to be built on the former floodplain of the Carp River, which is currently under construction to alleviate flood concerns.

The development must still be approved by city council.

The Carp River restoration … commercial development on Hazeldean Road … residential development in Fairwinds and Fernbank … an evolving mass transit plan … pending departure of the Senators… These are just a few examples of major changes in our area since 2004, and reason enough in my view to treat this zoning application with more scrutiny.

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Another person who sent comments to councillors about the zoning bylaw amendment was Faith Blacquiere, a retired research librarian who reviews planning documents as a hobby.

She submitted nine pages of detailed technical notes to the committee, which are included below. She really gets down in the weeds of the planning process. I haven’t fact-checked the document, nor are all of her concerns necessarily within the scope of this zoning amendment. Still, I believe she’s identified enough inconsistencies and concerns with the published staff report to justify a deferral. Or at the very least, more scrutiny from on the Planning Committee today.


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NOTEBOOK: Major Maple Grove development coming to planning committee

This Tuesday, October 24, Ottawa’s Planning Committee will vote on a zoning bylaw amendment that would give the green light for Richcraft to proceed with a massive residential development on Maple Grove Road, just east of the Fairwinds neighbourhood.

You would be forgiven for thinking this latest zoning proposal came out of nowhere, even though this development has been going through the approval process since 2004. Continue reading


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Jack Ketch chef returns to his Stittsville roots

(PHOTO: Kevin Conway and Alli Pearce, co-owners of The Jack Ketch on Stitttsville Main. Photo by Barry Gray.)

It’s been a long time coming, but Kevin Conway and Alli Pearce are finally set to open The Jack Ketch restaurant on Stittsville Main Street.

They’ll work out the kinks with two friends-and-family nights on Thursday and Friday, and then open to the general public on Saturday night, October 21.

The restaurant is in an old building formerly occupied by Brown Bear Daycare.  Conway and Pearce have turned it into a 30-seat restaurant that they describe as a “contemporary rustic cosy nook kind of place”.  The menu is contemporary, including some French Canadian-inspired dishes and a lot of locally-sourced ingredients.  Continue reading


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FOOD: The Jack Ketch set to open Saturday, October 21

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. ”

Put some art up!!

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Date a #chef #restaurantlife #openingsoon, trout, lentils, mussels. #yummy

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Final logo. Credit goes to @greatblue73. Can't thank you enough

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