All posts by Glen Gower

‘Significant feedback’ delays Stittsville Main design plan to 2015

It’s back to the drawing board, but not quite to square one, for the Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP).

In his weekly email newsletter to  residents on November 7, councillor Shad Qadri said that city staff will look at the policy proposal in the “early part of 2015”, instead of this month as originally planned. Continue reading


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ROUND 2: Residents in Fairwinds get set for another round of blasting

UPDATE NOVEMBER 11: Melissa Côté from Tartan Homes tells StittsvilleCentral.ca that the blasting will begin sometime between December 2-8, and last approximately 50 working days, or two-and-a-half months.


Some residents living on the western side of Fairwinds have received letters about upcoming blasting in the Poole Creek Village area.

The blasting is part of housing construction by Tartan and Tamarack for the Poole Creek Village subdivision.  We’ve asked both companies for information about when (and how long) the blasting will occur and will update this post when we hear back.
Continue reading


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Harvey & Vern’s brings a local flavour to soda

Over the weekend I met up with Paul Meek (pictured above, photo by Barry Gray) the owner of Ottawa-based Harvey & Vern’s soda and Kichesippi Beer.  Both companies are manufactured on Campbell Avenue (near Carling and 417), and Meek lives with his family in Granite Ridge. Here are some highlights from our conversation. Continue reading


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Exploring an abandoned 19th century cemetary near Dwyer Hill

(This post originally appeared on OttawaStart.com in July 2014. Along with fellow explorers Andrew King and Alison Fowler, and some rudientary directions, we set out to locate the cemetary. It’s supposedly haunted: “Locals tell tales of hikers meeting strangers in period clothing only to disappear before them… hearing the sound of horses passing but they are never seen, glowing lanterns are seen floating through the trees on their own…” Happy Halloween.)

About 15 minutes south-west of Richmond, there’s an old pioneer cemetery buried in the Marlborough forest, all but forgotten except for a small historic plaque. It’s called the “Dwyer Hill Pioneer Roman Catholic Burial Ground” and was in use up to around 1867. We hiked to it on Saturday afternoon, wading through waist-high weeds and fighting off mosquitos and deer flies.

A 1975 description of the site brought us to O’Neil Road, just off of Dwyer Hill Road where the railroad tracks cross.  The author of the description noted: “Some difficulty was encountered in locating the area due to reforestation and abundant overgrowth.”  Forty years later, that was an understatement.

We followed the directions and crossed under the power lines across a field.  An old farm road was barely visible, hidden under decades of overgrowth.

“You will see a sign with a cross, nailed to a tree indicating the beginning of a trail that goes to the Pioneer Cemetery,” the instructions said.  We didn’t find the cross, so we took our chances on what looked like a path down this old trail.

We walked for a while, wondering if we’d find anything. The bugs were awful. The weeds were thick.  The dog was protesting.  It was hot.

And just as we were about to turn back, we spotted this in a clearing up ahead…

A historic plaque, in the middle of nowhere.

Among crooked cedars and white birch trees, there were several piles of rocks marking the graves. The remnants of shallow graves were covered by large stones, once marked by wooden planks that have since decayed and disappeared. Here is one of the better-preserved cairns. Moss-covered, with trees sprouting all around.

The cemetery lies on the southern boundary of two lots owned in 1863 by the Haggerty and Hanrahan families.  Families buried there include Gorman, Whelan, O’Neil, Hanrahan, McKenna, Haggarty, O’Brien. It was the area’s Irish Catholic cemetery until a formal church and cemetery were built nearby circa 1860s.

None of the original wooden markers remained past 1940, and apparently no records exist for who was actually buried there. The last remaining marker was for a Mrs. Gorman who died in childbirth at age 41, according to one reference I found.At least one of the graves looked like it had been opened at one point.  Some spots on the site were marked with orange or yellow flags like this one.  Perhaps marking less-distinct graves?

“In the fall of 1995, a four-member survey crew working for the then-regional government located the pioneer cemetery, hidden in a thick maple and hardwood bush. The cemetery site, as they found it, consisted of the partial remains of a rock wall and 20 grave sites inside the wall… The survey crew discovered about 16 graves beyond the rock wall boundaries of the cemetery.”  (via Stittsville News)

The plaque on the site was installed in 1998 by the former Township of Rideau.

The cemetery is supposedly haunted: “Locals tell tales of hikers meeting strangers in period clothing only to disappear before them… hearing the sound of horses passing but they are never seen, glowing lanterns are seen floating through the trees on their own…”
We did not see any ghosts.
The site isn’t hard to locate on a map, but it was a challenging hike into the bush.  I would recommend searching for it in the fall or winter when the bugs and weeds aren’t as bad.  Thanks to Andrew King & Alison Fowler for coming along for the adventure.  We would have taken more photos but the bugs were too much to handle.

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Five things to do in Stittsville for Halloween

VISIT A HAUNTED HOUSE
There’s a massive display on Cherry Drive called the Ghoul-Bourn Spook Show. Over 3,000 people are expected to attend from October 29-31.  (That’s not the only scary house in the area: check out some more.)

TAKE PART IN THE PUMPKIN PARADE
The second annual Stittsville Pumpkin Parade is set for 6:00pm-7:30pm at Village Square Park on Saturday, November 1. The day after Halloween, residents are invited to bring their jack-o-lanterns to the park and put them on display.  Last year there were 200 pumpkins. More info here…

GET SOME FREE ICE CREAM
Lois & Frima’s on Stittsville Main are closing out the season with a free ice cream day, from 3:00pm-8:00pm. More info…

VISIT THE HAUNTED HOUSE AT THE GOULBOURN REC CENTRE
The extended pool repair project isn’t the only nightmare at the GRC this week.  A free event organized by Stittsville’s youth featuring face painting, pumpkin painting & cotton candy. More info…

EAT AND DRINK AT A BEER AND FOOD PAIRING (SOLD OUT!)
Stittsville brewery Covered Bridge teams up with Stittsville food truck ‘Wiches Cauldron for a one-night, five-course beer and food pairing.  Includes their new collaboration beer The ‘Wiches Brew, a black IPA with local hops brewed especially for this event. More info…


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Stittsville couple opens pool supply shop on Stittsville Main

Scott and Angie Jessiman, owners of 4 Season Pool & Spa
Scott and Angie Jessiman, owners of 4 Season Pool & Spa

 

Bucket of cholorine with your double-double?

Scott and Angie Jessiman opened a pool supply and services company at the end of swimming season in a retail plaza on Stittsville Main Street.  They’re confident the business will take off, thanks to a large concentration of backyard pools and hot tubs in the area — and a prime location next to some high-traffic stores. Continue reading


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UPDATE: No sidewalks planned for Huntmar Bridge until 2026

It should only take five minutes to walk from Canadian Tire Centre to Tanger Outlets or Minto’s Arcadia neighbourhood,  but City officials are advising pedestrians to take a bus, car or cab because the Huntmar Bridge is too dangerous.

We wrote last week about the lack of sidewalks on the bridge, which crosses the Queensway and connects Kanata North with Stittsville.  When Tanger Outlets opened last Friday, on site parking quickly filled up and cars were directed to park at Canadian Tire Centre.  The mall’s management provided shuttle buses to cross over Huntmar Bridge, and police were advising pedestrians to stay off the overpass.


 

We asked the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), City of Ottawa, and local city councillors to comment on the issue.

Brandy Duhaime, a spokesperson with MTO, says that the province would only add a sidewalk if the City of Ottawa covered the cost. Any safety measures (including signage and enforcement) are the sole responsibility of the City.

Here’s the response we received from Vivi Chi, the City of Ottawa’s manager of transportation planning:

The Huntmar Road-Queensway overpass is not designed for safe or comfortable pedestrian travel. The City did engage with the Ontario government when the rehabilitation of the overpass was being planned to see if pedestrian/cycling facilities could be added to the structure. However, the existing structure cannot support a modified deck of any significant width to be beneficial for pedestrians and cyclists.  It was suggested that a new footbridge be built adjacent to the existing one but this option is not affordable for the City as a stand-alone project. 

The City is reviewing the need for signage in the area to keep pedestrians off the narrow overpass. Police have authority to enforce this prohibition.

The City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) does include enhancements to the area road system in the 2014-2019 period.  One such project is the widening of Campeau Drive (from Huntmar to Didsbury).  This new four-lane roadway running parallel to Highway 417 will serve the Tanger site and nearby new developments. Campeau Drive will have both cycling and pedestrian facilities and the development areas around the Tanger site will have additional parking.

 In the long term, the eventual widening of Huntmar Road will also involve widening the overpass, and at that time, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure will be included. This is planned as a Phase 3 project for implementation in the period between 2026-2031. 

We note that OC Transpo has begun transit service to the new Tanger development. Details are here:

http://ottawa.ca/en/news/new-oc-transpo-service-tanger-outlets

(OC Transpo buses serving Tanger Outlets were detoured away from the shopping centre on Friday due to heavy traffic.  Bus riders could transfer on to one of Tanger’s shuttles at Canadian Tire Centre.)

There currently are no sidewalk connections to Tanger Outlets or Arcadia.  Besides Huntmar Bridge, the other linking roads are Huntmar to the north and the Queensway on-ramp to the west.

Shad Qadri, city councillor for Stittsville, says he’s concerned about pedestrian safety on the bridge, and he’s talked with city staff and councillors to find a solution.

“The discussions with west end councillors and staff have included the need to review bringing the widening of Huntmar Road to an earlier timeline in the TMP and we will continue to look into opportunities to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile to the east, there’s a similar problem on the Eagleson Road overpass.  The bridge connects the Eagleson Park and Ride with Kanata North — but doesn’t have any sidewalks.

“Last year when it became known that the province had not included paved pathways to the Eagleson bridge in their work plans we began the process to ask for reconsideration,” said Allan Hubley, the councillor for Kanata South.

“I have had several meetings with staff for updates and expect an answer from the province after the election period,” he said.

Marianne Wilkinson, councillor for Kanata North, says she’s been working on getting sidewalks built for both bridges.

“I had asked MTO repeatedly to include a sidewalk on the Huntmar bridge but they said it couldn’t be accommodated,” she said.

Both the Eagleson and Huntmar overpasses underwent repair and maintenance work this summer.


 

Here are a few comments from our readers:

Maureen Miller-Lamoureux, via Facebook: “The article mentions that the municipality didn’t ask for sidewalks? Why? Did they not think they were needed? Does the city of Stittsville have a beef with walkers, bikers?”

Amanda Libbey Wittebol, via Facebook: “Wow! I was planning on walking there in the spring for sure (it would only be about half an hour) We always walk to the Canadian tire centre, but I guess a little further is out of the question.”

Mike Philpott, via Facebook: “I just dodged a few people who were walking to tanger outlets. Not safe at all!!”


Do you think the Huntmar Bridge needs sidewalks? Are there other areas in Stittsville that have poor pedestrian facilities?  Tell us about it in the comments below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca


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Parents lose cash and scramble for childcare after Mini Muffins closure

Dozens of parents were scrambling to find alternate daycare arrangements after the sudden closing of Mini Muffins Preschool (MMP) in Kanata over the weekend.

One parent who did not want to be identified told StittsvilleCentral.ca that she’s lost about $1,000 she had already paid for daycare services until the end of October.

As many as 100-120 children could be affected by the closure. Continue reading


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TRASH TALK: Everything you need to know about the Carp Road Landfill Expansion

When we posted an article last month about Waste Management filing a compliance application for expanding the Carp Road landfill, our readers had quite a few questions about the facility.

We did some research and sent questions to both Waste Management and The Don’t Let Ottawa Go To Waste (DLOGTW) coalition to come with answers to many of those questions. Continue reading


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Where to find a pumpkin near Stittsville

(Pumpkins off Upper Dyer Road. Photo by Barry Gray.)

Sure, you can pick up a Halloween pumpkin for a few dollars at your favourite grocery store — but it’s more fun to head out to a farm or one of the big roadside stands that sell pumpkins. Usually you get a better selection, and some of them have special activities for kids too like wagon rides, mazes and full-on haunted houses. Here’s a list of some of the pumpkin places near Stittsville.

  • Abby Hill Farms (Richmond)
    Headquartered in Richmond with smaller satellite locations around the region. We always go to the one at Bankfield and Prince of Whales, just east of the 416. Lots of pumpkins and some fun scarecrows too.
  • Creekside Gardens (Richmond)
    Creekside Gardens is a greenhouse, gift shop, and nursery centre located in Ottawa. With fifteen acres of land, they grow a lot of our own plants, including pumpkins.
  • Fallowfield Farm (just south of Stittsville)
    Lots of pumpkins, gourds, straw & hay bales, corn-stalks and more. You can also book a hay wagon ride for your family or group and head out into the fields to find a pumpkin.
  • Saunders Farm (Munster, south of Fallowfield Road)
    Saunders Farm is known for their annual Halloween attractions, but you can also find some good pumpkins — and there’s no admission to pay if you’re just browsing the pumpkin patch.

For more local pumpkin patches, check out OttawaStart’s Pumpkin Guide.


What are your favourite places to get a pumpkin?  Does your family have any notable Halloween traditions?  Tell us about it in the comments below or email feedback@stittsvillecentral.ca

 

Pumpkins for sale at Abby Hill Farms, Bankfield at Prince of Wales. Photo by Glen Gower.
Pumpkins for sale at Abby Hill Farms, Bankfield at Prince of Wales. Photo by Glen Gower.

Why are there no sidewalks on the Huntmar overpass?

The Huntmar Bridge that crosses the Queensway doesn’t have sidewalks, and probably won’t for at least a decade.

The overpass connects Tanger Outlets, Minto’s new 1,500-home Arcadia development, and Canadian Tire Centre.  There are sidewalks south and north of the bridge, but the bridge itself only has a narrow curb on one side and a narrow paved shoulder on the other.

We asked the City of Ottawa why the bridge doesn’t have sidewalks, and they said to ask the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, who own and manage the bridge.

Continue reading


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Sacred Heart students to help care for 100-year-old forest

(All photos by Coreen Tyers.)

Students from Sacred Heart Catholic High School will play an active role in caring for the Kemp Woodland as part of a partnership with the Ottawa Stewardship Council and the City of Ottawa.

Kemp Woodland is a 8.9-hectare forest immediately west of the school along the Trans Canada Trail.

“The forest has cedar trees that are well over 100 years old, which is unusual in suburban setting,” says Janet Mason, chair of the Ottawa Stewardship Council (OSC). Continue reading


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Audience gets feisty at candidate debate

Thursday night’s Stittsville ward debate was full of interruptions, accusations and arguing. And that was just from the audience.

About 150 people filled the community hall at Johnny Leroux Arena to watch the first live public debate between Dave Lee and Shad Qadri, the two men running to represent Stittsville on city council. The debate was organized by the Stittsville Village Association (SVA). Continue reading


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Grade 10 student by day, rock/punk impresario by night

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a busy guy.  He’s 15 years old,  in Grade 10 at Sacred Heart High School, has a paper route, plays guitar and sings. And in his spare time, he also runs a music promotion company.

Fitzpatrick has been playing guitar for the past five years. He started The Indie Scene to promote local rock and punk bands in Ottawa. Continue reading


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Rogers customers frustrated by poor cell service

(Photo: Peter Hanschke in front of his home west of Stittsville Main Street. Photo by Glen Gower.)

Peter Hanschke has been a Stittsville resident for 31 years and a Rogers customer for over a decade.  He says he’s never been impressed with their cell phone service.

“To get reception, you have to be at the front of the house, near the bay window, angled just properly, so that people can hear you clearly. I started a consulting business out of my home here, and trying to do calls on my cell for business is embarrassing, it just doesn’t work,” he says.

“It’s always been poor quality, but back when it first came out you could understand it, Stittsville was a pretty small community,” he says.
Continue reading


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Lee, Qadri square off over Orgaworld in Rogers 22 tv debate

In a televised debate on Rogers 22, Shad Qadri said he followed the advice of professional engineers and legal experts before he voted in favour of the Orgaworld green bin contract.

The contract is a 20-year, $160-million agreement between the City of Ottawa and Orgaworld for green bin collection service. An auditor’s report released earlier this year said that city staff mis-led councillors during the contract review process.

The contract and the auditor’s report have been a central theme in Dave Lee’s campaign.  Lee, who’s challenging Qadri in this election, said that the contract and lack of due diligence by city staff is “a microcosm of how they’re doing business at City Hall.” Continue reading


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Covered Bridge Brewing plans collaboration with ‘Wiches Cauldron food truck

(Above: Kathy and John vanDyk, owners of Covered Bridge Brewing)

Covered Bridge Brewing is planning a Halloween-themed beer as part of a collaboration with ‘Wiches Cauldron. It’s the latest in a series of partnerships with other Stittsville businesses. Continue reading


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Kanata artist and community activist John Mlacak passes away at age 78

John Mlacak, a long-time community activist and artist in the Kanata area, passed away on Friday at age 78.

He was a former reeve of March township, has a recreation centre named after him in Kanata and continued to be very active in the community as an artist, volunteer and activist.  The Ottawa Citizen printed an obituary on him today, and you can see some of his artwork on his web site at www.johnmlacak.com.

I had the pleasure to talk with Mlacak last December when I was doing some research into the old house and barn at 173 Huntmar Drive in Stittsville.  He was commissioned to do a series of paintings of the house in 2010 and 2011 for the previous owners. He had hoped at one point to turn the property into an artists’ retreat.

Maple Plain, le jardin arrière. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, le jardin arrière. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la cour de ferme. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la cour de ferme. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, l'entrée de la cuisine. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, l’entrée de la cuisine. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la maison de bûches. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la maison de bûches. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la terrasse du salon. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
Maple Plain, la terrasse du salon. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
La cour de ferme Doutriaux. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.
La cour de ferme Doutriaux. By John Mlacak. Published with permission.

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