COMMUNITY NOTES: from the desk of Councillor Gower

It has certainly been tumultuous times over the past month. First the convoy taking over our downtown and this week our hearts are going out to the people of Ukraine. Councillor Gower is encouraging residents to make a humanitarian relief donation to the Red Cross for the people of Ukraine. He also shares the closing of Quitters and the effect this little coffee shop has had on Stittsville since opening the doors in 2014. He asks people to support the businesses downtown, while also visiting Stittsville’s businesses and outlines the initiatives Council has passed to support the businesses affected by the convoy occupation. He shares information on upcoming construction projects; importance of school traffic safety; extends an invitation to multicultural leaders in the community to contact him for an upcoming March workshop. Also, on March 11th, the ward office at CARDELRec will be open again for drop-in discussions and appointments.

Standing with Ukraine
The Ukrainian flag is flying at City Hall in solidarity with the country following the attack by Russia. My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, and to residents in our community who have ties to the country. The Red Cross is accepting donations for humanitarian relief efforts and I encourage Stittsville residents to make a donation at redcross.ca. The federal government is matching resident donations up to a maximum of $10-million.

A fond farewell to Quitters
I was very sad to hear the news that Quitters on Stittsville Main Street will be closing next week. Equator Coffee, an independent coffee company based in Almonte, will start operating as of March 8.

I grew up with Quitters’ owner, Kathleen Edwards. We went to elementary school and high school together in Nepean when we were kids. We’d lost touch when she left town to pursue her music career (with great success, I might add), and I was thrilled when rumours started swirling in 2014 that she’d be taking a break to open a coffee shop in our Stittsville neighbourhood.

The coffee shop would finally open on Thanksgiving weekend 2014, transforming a former antique shop into a neighbourhood hub that became Stittsville biggest tourist attraction, our unofficial town hall, and the friendliest coffee shop in the city.

Radio hosts on CBC would name-drop Quitters and Stittsville every time they spun one of Kathleen’s songs. Her fans and musical friends from across the country made a point of trekking out to visit when they came to the Nation’s Capital. (Bryan Adams even dropped by once.)

Every weekend during spring, summer and fall, there would be a steady stream of cyclists who took a detour off the Trans Canada Trail to grab a drink and a bite to eat. The shop became an unofficial boardroom for many work-from-home entrepreneurs and a spot for people of all ages to meet up with their friends. I almost always would run into somebody I knew at the shop.

The trivia nights, hosted by Rick Tremblay, were legendary for their friendly rambunctiousness and great music. (And they certainly weren’t physically distant. It’s amazing how many people the staff could squeeze into such a small room.)

As noisy as it could be at Saturday night trivia, it could also be a calm environment at times. A quiet spot to meet a friend to solve life’s problems, or just to gaze out the window in the rain.

In 2015, on the occasion of Quitters’ first anniversary, I wrote an editorial on StittsvilleCentral.ca to try to capture what Kathleen had done for our community. “Next time you see Kathleen, ask her about some of her ideas for the shops and services that she’d like to see nearby on Stittsville Main. She’s given me hope that it’s still possible to reclaim the village vibe that’s been missing from the street. I hope we can find more local business owners like Kathleen who can bring the same level of vision, energy and enthusiasm to our community.”

Quitters really did blaze a trail for Stittsville Main Street. Thank you to Kathleen and your team (Rick and Amanda deserve a lot of credit in particular) for creating a landmark. Vibrant, social, and locally focused, you brought Stittsville together. You’ll be forever missed, and never forgotten.

Supporting downtown
Last week, Council approved several initiatives to help support downtown residents and businesses affected by the demonstration. We provided $450,000 to downtown business associations to help market local shops and restaurants. We made the O-Train free for a month, along with free bus service downtown. Parking will be free at City parking lots downtown until March 31. We’ve also asked the provincial government to match the federal government’s business relief program. And we’ve made Monday, March 14 a “second Valentine’s Day” in Ottawa to help downtown restaurants who missed out on business in February.

Normally I ask residents to support local Stittsville businesses, but in this case I’m also encouraging you to take a trip downtown as a way to help businesses and employees who lost income during the occupation.

Wellington Street
Wellington Street will remained temporarily closed between Bank Street and Elgin Street. Longer term, we’re going to study (with the federal government) the possibility of closing that part of Wellington permanently to all vehicles except public transit and active transportation and transferring the street to federal ownership.

Open office hours
I’m hosting open office hours for residents next Friday, March 11 from 10:45am-12:45pm at my ward office at CARDELREC. No appointment necessary. Meetings and phone calls are also available by appointment – see below for contact info.

Multicultural leaders in our community
We’re looking to connect with leaders of Stittsville’s many diverse communities to extend an invite to a workshop later this month. Please contact me at glen.gower@ottawa.ca if you’d like to receive more information.

School traffic safety
A reminder to parents to please drive with caution near schools, and respect all posted “no parking” and “no stopping” signs. Remember that the rules are in place for the safety of kids. Ottawa By-law officers will continue to conduct blitzes in school zones to remind drivers to respect the rules.

Next phase of Robert Grant Avenue
The City’s Planning Committee has approved the next phase of Robert Grant Avenue, from Abbott Street to Hazeldean Road. Construction should start late summer or early fall. It goes to City Council for approval on March 9. I’ll have more information in my next newsletter.

Trunk sewer construction at Fernbank & Edenwylde
Starting in mid-March, residents in the south end of Stittsville will see lane reductions and detours in place at Fernbank and Edenwylde for construction of the Fernbank Trunk Sanitary Sewer Extension. Fernbank will be reduced to one lane between Liard and Shea, and residents will not be able to access Fernbank from Edenwylde. A detour will be established via Cosanti Drive and Shea Road. Details here…

Pre-construction meeting
Construction is beginning soon at 1837 Maple Grove on a new Mattamy townhome development. We’re hosting a Zoom meeting with the builder to share information about expected impacts and timelines for the construction. Join us on March 8 at 6:00pm. More info…

Auditor General’s audit of zero-emission buses
The City’s Auditor General has delivered her first reportfon OC Transpo’s zero-emission buses, which is being conducted over several phases. The report focused on technology and performance, and Management agreed with all five of the Auditor’s recommendations. Read more…

Get in touch!
My team and I are working every day to answer your questions and connect residents with the resources they need. If we can help in any way, please email me at glen.gower@ottawa.ca or leave a voicemail at 613-580-2476. NEW: Message us on WhatsApp at 613-277-0193 – Councillor Glen Gower.


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1 thought on “COMMUNITY NOTES: from the desk of Councillor Gower”

  1. Glen, loved your comments about Kathleen and Quitters. So very true. I and so many other will miss Quitters. Let’s hope Equator sees and learns from Quitters model in Stittsville.

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