Park life special feature: Residents share what they love and want to improve in the park

Compiled by Christina Leadlay (this article originally appeared in the June 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News)

New Edinburgh Park, Stanley Park…. Whatever you call it, the greenspace along the Rideau River from Sussex Drive to Beechwood Avenue is one of the top reasons we choose to live in this neighbourhood.

The New Edinburgh News presents a special feature on “the park” complete with maps, rules, history and stories about what makes this greenspace unique and worth protecting. 

But first, let’s hear from local park users!

Every day throughout the year, a variety of people use New Edinburgh’s park for many different reasons. Some access the park multiple times a day; others use the park in many capacities – as pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers or with their children. The New Edinburgh News reached out to residents via email and asked them:

1) What is your favourite thing about the park?

2) What would you like to improve about the park?

The following responses have been edited for length and content.

Karen McDonald, Crichton Street. Retired person, pedestrian, dog walker

I love walking my dog from our house, along the river path, past the play area and tennis courts, through the little woods, past the canine swimming hole, though the big off-leash area, and if it’s a nice day, around Rideau Hall and back home again. I love seeing all the people of different ages and family configurations enjoying the park. 

Room for improvement: Somehow getting the litterers (including fellow dog walkers) to pick up after themselves. More garbage cans, perhaps? Also, keeping cyclists off the shoreline pedestrian path, especially now that there is a continuous paved bike path through the park. Would more signs help, or more barriers, such as big rocks, at strategic points to make it more difficult for [cyclists] to access the dirt path?

Kathy Kealey, Dufferin Road. Dog walker
The best thing about the park is its use by all residents, young and old, human and animal.

I’d like to see our park enhanced by the addition of a small, multi-use pavilion for yoga, small concerts, outdoor painting classes, and shelter from inclement weather. A few drinking fountains, cobblestone paths to cut down on muddy walkways, covered benches to shelter from the sun, and more garbage receptacles would make the park much more user friendly.

Frances Middleton, Stanley Avenue. Family with young child, dog walker

Our favourite thing about the park is its natural beauty; how it’s so green and has various types of vegetation. We also love the different views that the park has to offer, whether you’re taking it in from a bench or standing in the off-leash area and looking across Rideau River to Parliament.  

As long as the flora and fauna wouldn’t be negatively impacted, it would be nice if the bank between the tennis courts and workout area and the Rideau River could be restored to something more natural. You can’t tell from the path itself, but from across the river the crumbling retaining wall is a bit of an eyesore. More benches along here could be nice!

Michele Carini Bruinsma, Stanley Avenue

What I love: that it’s an off-leash dog park with lots of green space.

Room for improvement: More rubbish bins, plus replacing the broken ones. How about recycling bins for glass, plastic, and trash and one specifically for dog poop, which are standard in European public parks and now even in Kitchener, Ont.

Saman and Dorothy, Crichton Street. Recreational users and nature lovers

What we love: The proximity to the river, the green landscape, the wildlife (particularly birds), the change of use and landscape over the different seasons.

To improve: More frequent garbage collection from the bins; complete the planting of grass near the water storage tank facility; maybe have more volunteer cleaning drives for the banks of the river.    

The Shepherd Family, MacKay Street

I’d like to see many more wildflowers to attract the monarchs. The old monarch garden seems to have disappeared. I’d also like to see more “NO BIKES ON THIS STRICTLY WALKING PATH” signs. It is most irritating to have bikes roaring past on the walking path.  

Karen Squires and Richard Aubry, River Lane

I love how the park brings our community together, right in the heart of our beautiful city. I think everyone benefits from this amazing green space and I’m so pleased that it’s now back in full use again [after years of infrastructure work]. We must continue to protect our green spaces to ensure they are natural, clean, and safe for everyone.

I think more effort in keeping the entire park area clean is very important. There is still a considerable amount of garbage left behind on Stanley in and around the park. There needs to be more accountability when groups use the park for events to ensure there is zero “garbage footprint” left behind. With more people using this limited space, there should be more support to ensure green space is protected and clean. We continue to lose trees for a variety of reasons (i.e., climate change) so trees and bushes need to be replanted to ensure we maintain our limited green space, moving forward, for all to enjoy.

Eileen Olexiuk, River Lane. Senior, retired person, pedestrian 

I love the river, the trees, the birds, and other small animals that live there: the peacefulness of nature. I also love the activities, especially for young people: cycling, soccer, baseball, skating or just playing on the equipment.  

What I would like to see improved is restricting cyclists to using the bike lanes, and not taking the walking paths along the river. We need better signage strategically placed and visits by bylaw officers until such time as respect for all users is recognized.  

Jill Nowell, Dufferin Road

I think that finally the city has built us a wonderful new park for our neighbourhood. I love all the trees that have been planted and keep finding new paths to wander about while walking my dog.

However, it is taking a very long time for the seeded grass areas to grow and as a result we get very muddy areas when it rains, and this destroys the new grass trying to grow. The areas now need to be covered with sod.

Deepee Khosla, River Lane

My favourite thing(s): I love going for walks along the river. In the winter, the skating rink is a blast.

It would be nice to have a section of the park planted with native [species] to encourage more wildlife. Perhaps something similar to what’s been done at Remic Rapids.

Raewyn Khosla, River Lane. Nature Lover

I love walking through the park watching the trees go through the seasons.

I’d love to see an area of the park dedicated to native plants, a rewilding project with an urban meadow theme using native flowers, trees and grasses that will attract more diverse insects, birds, and wildlife. This is something that is happening internationally in cities as biodiversity is threatened and development and agriculture eat up natural habitats.

Justin Swan, River Lane. Family with young children, cyclist, pedestrian, sports & rec user

[I love] the waterfront. It provides great views of the downtown, Parliament, and Minto Bridges – a unique perspective of our capital.  

[I would make improvements] to evolve Stanley Park into one that is internationally renowned and a top-three destination in the capital. This would include expansion of the park through amalgamating Porter Island, Bordeleau Park, the Rideau Falls, and Stanley Park via a new pedestrian pathway “loop.” The loop would connect new destinations within the park as well – a small outdoor theatre on Maple Island, a seated patio at the new junction framing the view of the Parliament, a canoe dock, and a new and expanded fieldhouse worthy of hosting a variety of events and programming. Let’s be bold! 

Burgh Business Briefs (June 2021)

BURGH BUSINESS BRIEFS

By Andre R. Gagne, Jane Heintzman, Randy Mar and Tamara Miller (this article appeared in the June 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

Farewell to Sundae School

While the pandemic has played havoc with the province’s schools, here in our own neighbourhood, there is one pandemic-related school closure that will affect many of us, regardless of age. In early April, Sundae School owner–operator Lindsay Taub announced on Facebook that her popular summer ice cream emporium is now permanently closed, marking the end of a brief but successful run in our community. 

Sundae School first launched in 2017 at the just-opened Kavanaugh condo building at 220 Beechwood Ave. Lindsay and her team went all out in pursuing the school theme in the new ice cream shop, both in artful décor touches and in the menu, which featured such highlights as Recess Pieces, Pop Quiz, Chalk-olate Board, and Class Clown. 

In its second year of operation, Sundae School moved to 131B Beechwood Ave., next door to Bridgehead Coffee, where it remained until its closure. While the interior space was slightly smaller than its first location at the Kavanaugh, the nearby outdoor patio area and the synergy with Bridgehead proved extremely successful, and it became a destination treat spot for locals of all ages. Lindsay’s original vision for the business was to create a neighbourhood gathering place where clients, young and old, could experience “the joy of being a kid in an ice cream shop” ­– and that she did!

As the COVID pandemic wore on, and the third wave struck this past April, it became clear that public health uncertainties were unlikely to resolve any time soon. Like all other small businesses, Sundae School had endured a very tough year. And as Lindsay noted in her farewell announcement, the shop’s whole raison d’être– to be a relaxed and fun community gathering spot – was undermined by the constraints of physical distancing. Even after the crisis subsides and the rules are relaxed, she faced the possibility of an ongoing “gathering chill” in a community accustomed to distancing and risk avoidance. 

Lindsay regret expresses at the closure of Sundae School: “I will miss seeing all the happy, eager faces.” But she plans to resume her original profession as a youth and family therapist. In the wake of the myriad stresses on children and families faced during the pandemic, there’s no doubt her services in this domain will be much needed and in high demand. Best of luck, Lindsay, and our thanks for the summer highlight you brought to our community in recent years. –JH

Manor Park DQ has closed

New Edinburgh area ice cream-lovers are watching their spots for cool treats melt away like a dipped cone on an August day. First came the closure of Beechwood Avenue’s Sundae School (noted above) and now, after treating people right for more than five decades, the Manor Park DQ has served its final Peanut Buster Parfait. 

With the summer weather settling in, area residents were awaiting the reopening of the popular ice cream shop after the seasonal winter shutdown. Instead of a Dilly Bar, they were met with the words “CLOSED THANK U FOR 54 YEARS OF PATRONAGE” on the restaurant sign. As if to punctuate the message, the familiar DQ logo was removed, only its metal shape remaining of what once guided patrons to cool summer snacks.

Many took to social media to share memories of the restaurant that first opened its doors (and freezers) on 345 St. Laurent Blvd. back in the late 1960s. Some recalled being taken as children by their grandparents. 

“I was very sorry to hear the Dairy Queen in Manor Park is closing,” John Newcombe posted on Twitter. “This was a fixture of my childhood – a treat when I was little and the first taste of freedom when I could bike there with friends.”

“A landmark from growing up nearby, but it was looking increasingly forlorn over the past few years,” added Fergus Maclaren, who could perhaps see the writing on the wall for the restaurant.

While the DQ owners could not be reached as of press time for comment on the true reason behind the closure, online speculation points to the property having been sold to a developer for possible condo construction. 

Not to end with these scoops of sadness, here’s a cheery cherry on top: you can still get all your Dairy Queen favourites at the 401 McArthur Ave. location, just a five minute drive from Manor Park. –AG

Il Vagabondo soldiers on

For more thsn 40 years, Il Vagabondo Restaurant has been a fixture at the corner of Barrette Street and Marier Avenue, a cozy, unpretentious Italian eatery offering home-made pasta dishes at modest prices. Artist Karole Marois’s eye-catching mural of the Eastview Electric Street Car in 1909, emblazoned on the Barrette-facing façade of the restaurant, has helped compensate for its somewhat off-the-beaten-track location. But more importantly, its reputation for providing tasty, affordable favourites in a welcoming, home-like setting has attracted loyal regulars. And never have these regulars been more crucial to the restaurant’s survival than in these last months of the pandemic.

Il Vagabondo’s owner–operator Adriana Roy, a Chilean by birth who acquired her skills in Italian cuisine while working for an Italian diplomatic family, is neither a pessimist nor a complainer. On the contrary, she is as positive, cheerful, and resilient an individual as it’s possible to imagine. But even Adriana concedes that the pandemic has been a very tough go for her restaurant, and this spring’s third wave, the toughest of all. 

Like other restauranteurs, she has been forced to pivot to take-out during lockdown phases of the pandemic, shifting back to indoor dining when constraints were relaxed. While take-out has offered a lifeline, Adriana concedes that business “is not great,” presenting significant challenges. Not the least of these is attempting to safely navigate food suppliers to provision her kitchen with the fresh ingredients she insists on for her Italian fare. “I’m very picky,” she admits. 

While there is (we all hope) light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine rollout and the gradual subsiding of the third wave, Adriana thinks that businesses should remained closed until we exit the tunnel, probably not before the fall.

In the meantime, says Adriana, “it’s better to keep laughing” and to be grateful for all of one’s blessings, however challenging our circumstances. She’s thankful to have her health, spirits, and her resilient little restaurant – a survivor through four decades of change. We wish her the best of luck, and thank her for her many years as a loyal advertiser in the New Edinburgh News. And here’s hoping that some of the new residents of St. Charles Market (up the street from Il Vagabondo) will soon swell the ranks of Adriana’s regulars once the pandemic ordeal is over! For take-out, call 613-749-4877. –JH

SushiMe victim of vandalism

One evening in late May, the front window of SushiMe at 8 Beechwood Ave. was smashed by vandals. Regrettably, the restaurant’s security camera was not functioning at the time, but the incident took place before dark, so numerous passers-by saw the event. According to witness reports, a group of three teenaged boys inflicted the damage, but in the absence of video evidence from the security camera, Ottawa Police Service has been unable to pursue the case. SushiMe owner/operator Sue Jung noted that the week before this incident, another break-in and minor theft had occurred at the restaurant, this time via the rear door, but she doubts that the two cases are related.

Sue anticipates that the cost of replacing the large window at SushiMe will be significant- and an especially cruel blow during the pandemic, which has devastated the bottom lines of restaurants everywhere. This is a moment to show community support: let’s be alert to signs of suspicious activity and give SushiMe a prominent place on our local take-out lists. Call 613-741-4777. Best of luck Sue, and our sincere regrets at this pointless act of vandalism.  –JH

Bibi’s to expand opening hours

Since opening in January 2020 on the corner of Putman and Beechwood Avenues, BiBi’s Middle Eastern Kitchen has established itself as a fast, fresh, takeout option – a team committed to hospitality, sustainability and quality.

We had a chance to speak with Adam Weiss, owner–operator of Bibi’s, to ask what it has been like for his first year and a half in business to have coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Adam has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years. He credits his time as opening general manager at Fairouz Café for expanding his appreciation of fine-dining Middle Eastern cuisine. He hoped to apply this learning to a quick-style restaurant – bringing the elements of hospitality, great flavours, and fresh ingredients to a takeout milieu.

Even as restaurant regulations have changed during the pandemic, Bibi’s has enjoyed continued success. Although they initially had room for 16 guests inside their restaurant, their small team always saw itself as more of a take-away establishment and planned to work with companies like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, etc.

However, Adam credits their ability to remain open on his loyal customers. “We wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the support of the community,” he says. “Of course, when the pandemic first hit, there were ups and downs, but we are still here because of the community. We do miss having our guests inside, and can’t wait to have them return.”  

Bibi’s menu offers something for everyone, and Adam’s team was deliberate about reaching clientele with various dietary requirements. The Baharat-spiced chicken wrap is their number-one seller, and their vegetarian items – including falafel wraps and bowls – are very popular.  

As we move into the summer, Bibi’s is looking to expand their pantry items. Currently available are items like their signature iced tea, hibiscus lemonade, saj chips, hummus, garlic sauce, spice blends and tahini chocolate chunk cookies which are so popular, they have trouble keeping them in stock! Their pantry will continue to grow, and we will see the wraps and bowls evolve.  

More good news! This summer, Bibi’s will be moving back to being open all week. “When COVID hit, we moved to being open six days per week,” Adam tells the New Edinburgh News, “but we realized that sometimes there aren’t that many options for people for takeout on Mondays and we want to be available to our community and online seven days per week.”

Bibi’s Middle Eastern Kitchen is located at 143 Putman Ave. Visit them at eatatbibis.com, find them on your favourite delivery app, or call 613421-0711.–TM

ONEC thrilled tennis can resume 

Seldom in its long existence has the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club membership been so enthused and proud, but at the same time, anxious for activities to begin.

“We are very excited to get back into the Boathouse once the renovations are finished, so we can continue to offer community access to water sports and to help reanimate the Ottawa River” said ONEC President Meghan Hanlon. “We hope our members and the public will share our excitement when they see all the improvements that will result from the completion of the project.”

With an infusion of funding from the National Capital Commission, a careful renovation of the two-and-a-half-storey heritage boathouse on the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway is well on the path to completion as part of the Federal Infrastructure Investment strategy. The ONEC board and members are eager to see the unveiling of the multi-year renovation to completely update the landmark boathouse, club facility, and riverfront. Featuring 16,000 square feet overlooking the Ottawa River, the soon-to-be year-round facility is designed to serve many generations  of the public to come.

On the other hand, the extended provincial stay-at-home order is still in place (with a reopening plan recently announced), challenging the Board and staff to ensure members and guests have adequate time to plan their summer adventures at the Club.

Tennis was among the outdoor activities allowed to resume on May 29; the seven clay and four HarTru courts draw hundreds of avid players of all ages who are itching to swing a racquet outdoors again and resume friendly rivalries.

A start to the ONEC rowing, sailing, and paddling season usually depends on Ottawa River water levels, but with levels ironically at lowest for many years, the club is now waiting to begin installing 7,000 square feet of docks. This requires an army of member volunteers to muscle the docks into place along the riverside before water activities can officially begin.

Both water and tennis day camps programs for youth aged 7–17 have been drawn up, and staff and instructors are ready to go full steam ahead in accordance with public health guidance once given the green light.

To broaden member offerings, ONEC has trialed pickle ball, stand-up paddle boards, and group voyager paddles. Given the interest, the club will be looking to expand its paddling program in the coming years.

Of note, the ONEC will celebrate 100 years calling the Boathouse home in 2023.  Stay tuned for upcoming plans to mark this historic milestone!

Here’s to calm waters and a few aces in the coming weeks.

The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC) is located at 504 Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway. Contact them at 6137468540 or visit onec.ca –RM

Building better eating habits

For a variety of reasons, the COVID pandemic has brought food to the fore in our lives. For some, it’s been a source of relief from stress and boredom; for others with a culinary penchant, it’s provided an occupation and distraction in a home-bound environment; and for the health conscious, it’s been front and centre as a means of supporting our immune systems. 

Of these, stress-related eating habits have perhaps had the most visible impact. An Apr. 29, 2021, Ottawa Citizen story reported on the results of a study by Agri-Food Analytics, which indicated that close to three quarters of those surveyed had changed their eating habits during the pandemic, with close to two-thirds reporting “undesired weight changes” (read: weight gain). 

In this context, local nutritionist Susan Alsembach’s practice has taken on new relevance as a source of professional guidance. While most of us are acquainted with the Don’ts in the dietary realm – overindulgence in fatty, sugary, salty snacks comes to mind – we may have less assurance about the Do’s involved in healthy food choices, combinations, and amounts, which is Susan’s area of expertise. 

In non-COVID times, Susan operates her practice in Santé/Health Beechwood, a complex of therapists on the third floor of 35 Beechwood Ave. in the New Edinburgh Square Building. During the pandemic, however, her consultations have gone online. Appointments begin with a 60-minute in-depth health assessment and review of a client’s concerns and objectives, followed up by 30-minute sessions to review meal plans and track progress. These in turn may be followed by biweekly or monthly coaching calls.

Susan’s cosmopolitan background has acquainted her with a broad range of professional experiences, as well as a host of different foods, cooking styles, and food cultures. Following her early years in Switzerland where she met her Canadian husband, she earned a nursing diploma at the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom, working in surgical, medical, gynecological ,and palliative care wards. Later, while living in Brazil, she completed a Bachelor of Science and Social Studies through the U.K.’s Open University. 

When the family moved to Canada, Susan’s daughter was diagnosed as gluten- and dairy-intolerant. This challenging diagnosis inspired Susan to train as a holistic nutritionist at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where she graduated in 2016. Two years later, she established her practice here in New Edinburgh. 

The two pillars of Susan’s practice are her weight-loss and Type 2 Diabetes programs. In both cases, the overarching objective is to develop a plan to help clients build better eating habits, “bit by bit.” Susan insists on a gradual approach, as opposed to an immediate, dramatic (and likely unsustainable) change. In formulating meal plans and associated recipes, her aim is to educate clients in the range of available options, leaving the final choices to them, depending on their individual tastes, preferences, and lifestyles. 

Among the first topics covered in Susan’s preliminary client assessment is the family profile, a snapshot of the number and ages of children; school routines; parents’ work routines; and the overall household dynamic. With this in mind, Susan tailors her meal plans and recipes to suit the time available for meal preparation, as well as the types of food with which the family is comfortable. She often tweaks familiar recipes to boost their nutritional value and recommends food combinations that increase digestibility. Quantities prescribed in Susan’s meal plan for a family of four are geared to cover two morning meals for the adults only and four evening meals for the whole family.

For details, visit susanalsembach.com or call 613-620-3249, and be sure to check out Susan’s Blog, which contains information about a broad range of food-related topics. –JH

Tavern awaits the green light

Owner–operator André Schad reports that his outdoor eatery, the Tavern on the Falls, is “ready to go, the second we are allowed to.” In fact, the restaurant has been poised to launch since late March, a plan suspended since beginning of the third wave of the COVID epidemic and the ensuing stay-at-home order, which shut down all dining and patio operations.

André remains hopeful that steadily dropping COVID case numbers, combined with the stepped-up vaccine rollout, will allow for a gradual reopening this summer, with outdoor patios leading lists of safe dining spots. Unlike last summer, when pandemic protocols were relatively uncharted territory for stores and restaurants, they’re now routine, and will click into place at the Tavern on the Falls as soon as it opens. 

The Tavern’s COVID protocols will once again entail tables separated by plant barriers and arranged at the required physical distance; plexiglass dividers separating the kitchen and bar from the dining area; hand sanitizing stations; regular disinfection of tables and chairs between sittings; a security team to ensure compliance with the rules, and a check-in procedure at the entrance to permit contact tracing. With this regime in place, the Tavern managed to have a safe and successful summer 2020, and André’s team has every intention of doing so again this year.

The Tavern on the Falls is located at 50 Sussex Dr. behind the Canadian Geographical Society building overlooking the Rideau Falls. The Tavern’s crowning glory is the view from the outdoor patio. It’s among the most spectacular vistas in Ottawa, encompassing the Rideau, Ottawa and Gatineau rivers, the Gatineau Hills, and Jacques Cartier Park. And all summer long, diners at the Tavern have a front-row seat for glorious sunsets over the Gatineau Hills. 

The fare at the Tavern this summer will continue to feature gourmet “dawgs,” ranging from “the classic” (ketchup, mustard, and relish) to more adventurous, spicy options like the Tijuana. Also on the menu are gourmet tacos, including a vegetarian option, and salads ranging from light side-dishes to a meal-size option. And of course, a wide range of drinks will be on offer – it is, after all, a tavern! – including some new cocktails André plans to introduce as soon as doors open. Best of luck André and the team: our fingers are crossed for an early and safe reopening! –JH

Chilaquiles feels your love

“A big thank-you to our community for supporting us through these unprecedented times.” says Kelvin Molina, who, with Soemy Sanchez, is half of the husband-and-wife team that brought Chilaquiles to 49 Beechwood Ave. in late 2019. “We have been welcomed and made to feel part of the community from day one,” Kelvin tells the New Edinburgh News.

Now firmly planted on the Beechwood strip with its traditional Mexican cuisine, Chilaquiles continues to up the neighbourhood’s global cuisine offerings. Soemy oversees all recipes and kitchen preparations reflecting her Yucatán roots and expansive native cuisine, and the restaurant is named for the traditional Mexican dish, chilaquiles, made from pieces of lightly fried corn tortillas cooked in green or red salsa, with either tender chicken or beef, and garnished with variety of cheeses.

After moving into their street-front location in late 2019, the pair were just hitting their stride when the pandemic hit. Even during the bleakest times, the Chilaquiles team proudly managed to stay open seven days a week, with the support and encouragement of the surrounding community.  

Not surprisingly, family-oriented dishes like the homemade chilaquiles described above, along with enchiladas and burrito verde were in demand, while individually-sized tacos, burritos, and quesadillas remained popular for takeaway. They continue to offer many of the most well-known Mexican beers that conjure up images of sandy beaches.

Online ordering is a necessity now, as is curbside pickup, but delivery is also available via UberEats or Skipthe Dishes. Note that all Chilaquiles containers are now made of recyclable or biodegradable materials!

Sadly, a second Cinco de Mayo has passed with Chilaquiles unable to host the traditional Mexican celebration with food and live music. But Kelvin, Soemy, and their team are looking ahead to sunnier times and warmer weather while planning new menu offerings, including weekly and month-long specials featuring new recipes. They are considering launching their own in-house delivery service as well.

Chilaquiles is located at 49 Beechwood Ave. Contact them at 613699-7100 or chilaquiles.ca. –RM

LCBO up and running

After many months of anticipation, the new Beechwood outlet of the LCBO (Store # 686) quietly opened its doors on Mar. 29 – a “soft opening” if there ever was one! 

The shop is reasonably spacious for physical-distancing purposes, offering more than 5,000 square feet of display space for a selection of 1,680 wines, spirits, beers, ready-made cocktails, and coolers. “Buy local” patrons will find more than 200 Ontario wines, including 145 VQA wines, and a wide selection of Ontario craft beers and other domestic brands. There is also a substantial section for chilled beverages, always in high demand in the steamy summer months. Five well-spaced checkout aisles for in-store shoppers should help to keep lineups to a minimum.

The new Beechwood store offers same-day pick-up for online orders (lcbo.com) with a relatively swift turn-around time of only three hours. Customers can pick up orders in the parking lot behind the store: enter via 411 MacKay St.

LCBO Beechwood manager Marc works with eight full- and part-time employees to offer service seven days a week, from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 613-741-5046. 

Whether or not your tastes run to alcoholic beverages, it’s a great relief to see some life on the ground floor at Minto Beechwood.  –JH

SCM boosts local businesses

The majority of the homes in the St. Charles Market (SCM) residential development are now occupied, and over the coming summer, new residents will be acquainting themselves with the neighbourhood. As a welcoming gesture and a boost to local businesses, SCM developers, The Lake Partnership/ModBox, have given each new homeowner a gift certificate to a local restaurant or food shop, encouraging them to discover the many amenities within walking distance of their new homes. Pandemic permitting, there’ll be much to explore! –JH

Burgh Business Briefs (April 2021)

By Andre. R. Gagne, Jane Heintzman, Christina Leadlay and M. Marta Reyes. This article appeared in the April 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

Bye Table 40, hello Bottle Shop

Over the years, Fraser Café’s Table 40, next door to the long-running restaurant at 7 Springfield Rd., has played host to gatherings of all descriptions, including Books on Beechwood’s popular Titles at Table 40 series, when local authors dined with neighbourhood residents to discuss their latest works. 

But since the pandemic began more than a year ago, communal dining and group gatherings in general have disappeared, abruptly quashing the raison d’être of Table 40. So café owner Ross Fraser and his team decided to convert the space to a new use.

In early March, Fraser’s new Take Away and Bottle Shop launched operations in the former Table 40 premises. The shop offers both a range of fresh prepared foods such as house-made pasta, freshly baked breads and pastries, salad bowls, and fried chicken, along with such frozen specialties as tourtière, meatballs, lasagna and a variety of soups. For the sweet-tooth crowd, the shop is featuring coconut butter tarts, pumpkin pie with ginger streusel, and a selection of Fraser’s homemade ice creams. You’ll also find such tasty Fraser condiments as preserves, hot sauces and dressings: the shop’s product list will “be ever growing and evolving,” says general manager Carmen Gunn

As a complement to your gourmet meal, the Bottle Shop offers a full range of libations from cocktails to craft beer and wine. The wine selection is particularly extensive, featuring Italian, Chilean, French, Spanish and California red wines, along with white, sparkling and rosé wines from New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, France and California. And mark-ups have been deliberately kept within a reasonable range. 

Online orders from the shop can be placed any time, for pick-up Wednesday through Sunday from 4–6:30 p.m. In mid-March the shop’s doors also opened for in-person shopping. And there’s more to come: “We’ll be expanding to include a lunch-time service in the coming weeks,” says Carmen, “stay tuned for an update!”

When the pandemic struck, the Fraser Café team pivoted swiftly from indoor dining to an extraordinarily popular family-style dinner service, offered Wednesday through Sunday for take-out or local delivery. Fraser’s cuisine is offered in generous portions for families of two or four, with menus posted online several days in advance. But these meals sell out quickly, so don’t dither before placing your order! 

In recent weeks, the café has added yet another arrow to its quiver, launching a focaccia pan pizza menu, available for pick-up Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There are currently three options, covering a range of tastes from the adventurous meat-lover to the vegetarian. In the former category, the Spicy T-Loaded Pan Pizza, is lives up to its billing with hot paesanella salami, Italian sausage, red peppers, banana peppers, red onion, hot honey, and more. The Fennel Countdown dials down the spice a touch, offering a combination of fennel cream, mushrooms, artisan ham, bacon, arugula, carrot sesame pesto, pear, parmesan, and mozzarella. And last but not least, the Legend Has It Antipasto Veggie-Loaded Focaccia Pan Pizza serves up a combo of artichoke hearts, broccoli rabe, black olives, fior di latte, tomatoes, pickles red onion, oregano, and mozzarella.

On April 8th, Fraser will reopen to indoor diners. But as long as COVID-restrictions remain in force, both restaurant hours and the numbers of diners will be limited, and physical-distancing, mask-wearing and strict hygiene protocols will continue.

Dinner service will be offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 5:30–9:00 p.m., and in keeping with provincial alcohol restrictions, bar service ends promptly at 9 p.m. A maximum of 35 guests may dine at one time, with no more than four guests (including children) at one table. Guests’ reservation and arrival times will also be staggered to minimize crowding at the entrance. 

And one more thing to look forward to at Fraser Café: when spring and warmer weather finally arrive, plans are shaping up to relaunch the outdoor patio operation: “We do plan to rebuild and give it another go!” says Carmen. 

Visit frasercafe.ca for their latest menus and ordering details. ­–JH

Red Door re-opens after fire

New Edinburgh coffee lovers were quickly set at ease only a day after the neighbourhood favourite café Red Door Provisions had a fire scare.

In the wee hours of Feb. 19 a malfunctioning water pump caused an electric flame-up that sent firefighters rushing to the 117 Beechwood Ave. coffee shop to find smoke billowing from a basement room. The blaze wasfully extinguished by 2:40 a.m. with minimal damage.

Chef and owner Lauren Power is happy to report that it took only 24 hours to clean up, as firefighters didn’t have to use much water. The café was able to open again in short order. The team, already stressed in these trying times, worried what the loss of perhaps a week or longer might mean for business, so news from the City that they could re-open so soon was as sweet as their baked goods. From the many online posts, it was welcome news for the taste buds of their clients, as well.


“We had an outpouring of support from our community which was really incredible!” says Lauren, who says that the flood of orders to their online shop kept the kitchen team busy during the clean-up.  “Because of the support, we didn’t lose the sales that we had predicted, and we had a fantastic 12 hours preparing more than200 orders for pick-up the following day. It was amazing, and we are very thankful to our beautiful community.”

While this wasn’t something the team could have predicted, Lauren says the café is going to do a complete re-evaluation of their fire, security, and surveillance system. Though it worked perfectly, the Red Door Provisions team wants to ensure it always will.

Meanwhile, the café is looking ahead to the summer patio season – armed with lessons learned during the first summer of COVID-19 restrictions. 

“We learned how to adapt on a weekly, if not daily, basis! We will continue to make these adaptations as required this patio season,” Lauren says.“We are really looking forward to opening up our back parking lot with picnic tables again, and are going to try to improve our seating as best we can. Our front area will also be open for distanced seating.”

As for what patrons can expect in 2021, Lauren says they’ll focus on expanding their offerings. They’ve addedmore grocery items, as well as prepared meals and frozen pastries, allowing customers to take Red Door Provisions favourites home to enjoy. 

They are also looking to branch out this summer, with a food truck and a second location – certainly no easy task these days. But, as Lauren explains, like many other small businesses, Red Door Provisions has no option but to keep going.

“These businesses are our livelihoods, and the livelihoods of our staff. We have poured years of blood, sweat, and tears into our business, and have a lot left to accomplish and prove! It will take a lot more than a global pandemic to shutter our doors, and we are always ready for the next change or adaptation that we need to make in order to keep growing and thriving.”

Visit Red Door Provisions at 117 Beechwood Ave., online at reddoorprovisions.com or by phone at 613695-6804.-ARG

Sezlik team grows

Ottawa’s hot real estate market has been making headlines for a few months now, so it’s no surprise that realtors are building their teams to keep up with demand for their services. Long-standing NEN advertiser Sezlik Realty (sezlik.com), based on Landry Street, is doing just that.

Charles Sezlik and Dominique Laframboise welcomed Tracy Martineau to their team full-time this past February. Tracy will be a familiar face to many readers. For the past seven years, she managed Jacobsons Gourmet Concepts at 103 Beechwood Ave. (Her mother Terri still works there, Tracy confirms in an email to the New Edinburgh News.)

Attention to detail and kind customer service are skills Tracy honed not only at Jacobsons but also in her 25 years in the restaurant industry in Ottawa and Toronto. In 2016, she launched her own business, Vanilla Staging and Home Organizing, and has been helping the Sezlik team for more than a year.

As a client concierge and staging consultant, Tracy helps clients get their home ready and picture-perfect, working hands-on with each client. With Ottawa’s housing market showing no signs of cooling, Tracy’s staging skills will be working overtime this spring, the traditional season for house purchases. 

“We continue to come up with new, innovative, and personalized marketing strategies to assist [sellers] in achieving their goals,” Tracy tells NEN, hinting that Sezlik has “big changes” in store this season. Intriguing!

NEN thanks the Sezlik team for their continued support, and we wish Tracy and the entire Sezlik team all the best for 2021. –CL

Teaching all dogs good tricks

A new service in our community has arrived just in time to polish up the manners of pandemic pooches for the coming season of social activity (distanced, of course) in local parks and green spaces. 

Happy Fido Dog Training (happyfidocompany.com) offers force-free dog obedience training, puppy socialization classes, and consultation on a wide range of dog behaviour issues. It’s owned and operated by Manor Park resident Fumie Watanabe, a professional dog trainer. She holds certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, and has specialized training in dealing with dog aggression, and in canine first aid. Before launching her business, Fumie worked for several years in a local force-free dog training school. 

Fumie has attended a variety of seminars, conferences, courses and workshops with leading professionals in canine training, and works hard to stay abreast of the latest research. “The art and science of dog training are constantly evolving based on research,” says Fumie. “I want to help dogs and their families using up-to-date,evidence-based dog training methods through my business.”

Fumie has had dogs in her life since childhood. As a child in Tokyo, Japan, her family had a large German Shepherd, which she admits was “a challenge” in that famously populous cosmopolitan centre. Interestingly, she redirected her early training skills to pet birds, which she taught both to “speak” and to come when called! 

In recent years, Fumie has lived and worked with Jaxx, a rescued cocker spaniel. Like many rescue animals with difficult backgrounds, her companion came with a host of behaviour problems, the handling of which first sparked her interest in dog training. Perhaps the most widespread behaviour issue in Fumie’s experience is “reactivity.” 

Reactive dogs overreact to such situations as meeting another dog, a loud noise, or what they perceive as a hostile object. (In my own household, garbage bags and umbrellas were prime offenders!) “It’s like a panic attack,” says Fumie. Typically, the dog’s reaction (lunging, barking, growling, or snarling) is driven by fear, lack of socialization, over-excitement or a combination of all three. And as many struggling owners know, the problem can be incredibly difficult to handle, so professional expertise can be a lifesaver. 

As long as pandemic restrictions continue, in-person/paws training is regrettably not an option. However, Happy Fido offers dog training sessions and behaviour consultations via Zoom (visit the website for details). Once the COVID situation improves and rules are relaxed, Fumie plans to offer indoor, in-person, semi-private classes (three dogs maximum per class), as well as one-on-one, in-person, private sessions. The exact location remains to be determined, but, says Fumie, “it will likely be in the New Edinburgh and Manor Park area.”

Happy Fido’s Good Manners class in basic obedience is an eight-week course that includes a 45-minute webinar on training theory and puppy development stages, followed by seven one-hour classes. The Puppy Socialization class – which Fumie regards as a critical step in the training process – includes a 45-minute webinar, and six one-hour classes. Fumie thinks of her own beloved dog as “a perfect example of what happens when a pup is NOT socialized early,” and is strongly in favour of starting the socialization process at eight to 12 weeks, after the puppy’s first round of shots. 

Among the many skills required to be a capable dog owner is the ability to “read” canine body language. “I often feel that owning dogs without knowing how they actually communicate is like trying to survive in a foreign country without knowing the language,” says Fumie. Through her training and experience, she has acquired considerable fluency in this mysterious language, and helps her clients to develop their own expertise in reading the signals, from the submissive grin of a guilty mischief-maker to the raised hackles of fear or aggression. No training needed to interpret the wildly wagging tail and loopy smile – they’re happy to see us!

Contact Happy Fido Dog Training at info@happyfidocompany.com; on Facebook facebook.com/HappyFidoCo; or on Instagram instagram.com/happyfidoco. Good luck to Fumie: you’ll find no shortage of potential clients in our dog-loving neighbourhood! –JH

New brewery pours liquid gold

For Duncan MackayDuncan Studd and Jeff Moore, part of the team behind the brewery, it was about time! The nugget of the idea emerged years ago, when the three were working as geologists in search of gold.While many of us have tasted a craft beer (or seven) before, this may be the first to have a golden beginning. 

“The name was thought up by my fiancée while we were on a drive through rural Ontario and happened to pass a gem mining location. We wanted to keep the theme close to [our] shared mineral exploration background,” explains Duncan Mackay, referring to the trio as prospectors. “Beyond the mining connotation, Good Prospects also reflects the positive vibe that we have felt from the local community and that we hope to contribute to.”

Mackay was first introduced to the craft beer world on a surfing trip to Tofino, B.C. Having only tasted beers from the major companies, he was blown away by how much more enjoyable a craft brew was. He startedmaking his own beer while still in university, by first trying to emulate his favourite local brews before moving onto his own creations. It was a lucky strike that, while mining for those literal golden riches, he’d discover two other guys that also had a love of craft beer – and the experience to brew up a new business.

Duncan Studd, Mackay says, has a knack for creating novel recipes, while Jeff Moore, in addition to having brewing knowledge, happens to be an excellent carpenter and all-around handyman. Once Good Prospects is in full swing, customers will be able to check out Jeff’s work: the cherrywood bar and tables he has built to kit out the tasting room. 


“We had originally planned to open in Spring 2020. That all changed with the first wave of the pandemic and the uncertainty at that time. Our construction was stalled for a couple months while we sorted out what could be done, but we kept pushing ahead,” explains Mackay. The trio is looking ahead to an opening later this year. 


Good Prospects has been a business three years in the making, so what are a few more months to ensure things roll out right? For now, the team is happy with how the community poured out to collect their initial batches, made available for curbside pick-up.  

“Brewing the first batch for the public and filling our bigger fermenters was exciting! I had brewed the Canary in a Kolsch Mine recipe many times before, but it was a special feeling to be putting labels on the bottles knowing the next person who picked up this beer would be one of our first customers,” says Mackay.

Along with the aforementioned brew, when taking a swig of a Good Prospects beer like Gold Strike Grisette or Rough Gem IPA, you can bet it’s been thoroughly mined beforehand for the perfect taste. Mackay would have it no other way. He still makes beers inspired by favourites he’s dug up over the years. When he finds one he really likes, he researches its style – flipping through texts from as far back as the 1800s or travelling the worldto find the right mix. 

“What sets us apart from other craft breweries is our focus on more traditional European styles of beer. Our two mains right now are a Kolsch-style ale and a grisette: a Belgian ale). We are working on a Dunkel recipe and will have a couple of our saison recipes going into the fermenters soon, too.”

Though still a work in progress, the brewery website goodprospects.ca is the place to secure some bottles of Good Prospects. But get your orders in early: new brews are popular and tend to sell out quickly.

“Selling out of beer in the first two weeks was a welcome surprise,” says Mackay. “We have had to really push to up our production, but knowing the support from the community is there has really motivated us to work as hard as we can. We are very grateful to our new friends and neighbours for cheering us on!”

Good Prospects Brewing is located at 411 St. Laurent Blvd. (near Full Cycle). Visit them online at goodprospects.ca –ARG

‘Burgh BFFs launch PR firm

An idea that sprouted while pounding the pavement on Crichton Street over many years has now blossomed into a reality for two longtime friends and New Edinburgh residents. Meet Liz Gray-Smith and Sally Douglasand their new public relations firm: GSD and Co. The name is both a reference to their last names (Gray-Smith Douglas) and the phrase “Get S@#t Done” – which is essentially what they like to do and how they’ve modelled their business. 

“We do the things our clients don’t have time to do but need doing,” says Liz. GSD specializes in project management and external and internal communications, and also partners with other specialists in graphic design, social media, and web design, among other services. “We are well connected with ‘giggers’,” explains Sally, referring to people who work in the gig economy, characterized by short contracts and freelance jobs. Liz and Sally bring in a combined experience in journalism, project management, and media and government relations. 

It’s still early days, but GSD is already cultivating a roster of small- and medium-sized businesses and associations as their clients, and Liz and Sally have been pleasantly surprised by how many gigs they already have on the go. No small feat during a world pandemic, but according to Sally, there was no better time to start a business like theirs. 

“I can’t think of a single organization that isn’t going through some sort of change right now, from working remotely to how they’re engaging with clients,” she says. “It’s all about change management and they need communications solutions to support that internally and externally.”

Like most business weathering the pandemic, their interactions are virtual, but they’re eager to meet face-to-face with their clients in the near future, which both feel is key to sparking the kind of creativity that gets the job done in their line of business. And when that happens, they intend to hold meetings right here in the neighbourhood and take advantage of the many coffee shops and restaurants here, as a way to support the other entrepreneurs in their own backyard. 

“It’s all about supporting the community who has supported us all these years,” says Liz, adding that GSD looks forward to helping promote some of the businesses in New Edinburgh in the near future as well. 

Learn more about GSD and Co. at gsdandco.ca. –MMR

Your body’s one-stop-shop

Last fall, when Craig Adams closed Studio One personal training following a roller-coaster of pandemic lockdowns, local chiropractor Dr. Pierre Brunet stepped in to take over the lease for the second floor at 1 Springfield Rd. (above the soon-to-open Mr. Luko coffee shop). 

Dr. Brunet had been serving clients at Studio One for several years, and with Craig’s departure, he took the plunge to set up the Rockcliffe Chiropractic Centre (drbrunet.com), a full-service clinic offering chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, active release therapy (a manual technique for releasing painful soft tissue restrictions), customized exercise programs, massage therapy, and personal fitness training. 

In recent months, the former Studio One space has been reconfigured to create two new chiropractic treatment offices, a massage treatment room, and a large open-concept rehabilitation area. Work is also underway to create a physiotherapy office, as plans are in the works to offer physiotherapy services, in keeping with Dr. Brunet’s objective of building a multi-disciplinary clinic, or “one-stop shop” for aches, pains and injuries.

The current roster at Rockcliffe Chiropractic includes two chiropractors, Dr. Brunet and colleague Dr. Greg Stolz, a specialist in shoulder injuries; Registered Massage Therapist Keaton Basso, who offers fascial stretch therapy and kinesiology, in addition to therapeutic massage; and Lidia Szucs, a local personal trainer who previously practiced at the former Studio One. Lidia has been providing in-person services since Feb. 16 when COVID restrictions were slightly relaxed. 

Strict COVID protocols are in place at the clinic to protect all concerned. Precautions include screening questionnaires for clients, mask-wearing for all participants, frequent hand washing, and physical distancing during appointments. Dr. Brunet wears both a mask and gloves, and sanitizes equipment before and after each patient. The clinic’s square footage allows for a maximum of 14 clients and staff within the space. 

Despite continuing concern over community spread of the virus, Dr. Brunet has found that almost all his regular clients have chosen to continue in-person treatments, as opposed to opting for virtual consultations. Massage therapist Keaton has had a similar experience, treating a large influx of patients since the start of the new year. However, once clients have received much-needed pain relief from the initial hands-on treatments, follow-up appointments can often be carried out virtually. Via video calls, Dr. Brunet and his team can check up on prescribed exercises, evaluate range of motion, and offer advice on pain management, ergonomics for home offices, or more effective performance of exercises. 

Like many others in his industry, Dr. Brunet has noticed a marked escalation in cases of low-back and neck pain since the onset of the pandemic last March. He notes: “My patients have become a lot more sedentary as a result of gym closures and changes in their daily habits like walking to work, or using the stairs at work.” Compounding the problem are the makeshift home-office set ups that have taken the place of more ergonomically-correct workplace settings, and taken a toll on posture and overall musculoskeletal health. In these cases, Dr. Brunet and his colleagues prescribe a corrective exercise routine to resolve pandemic pains. 

Rockcliffe Chiropractic Clinic’s hours of operation are Mondays and Fridays, 8 a.m.–5p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12–8 p.m.; and Wednesdays, 8a.m.–6p.m. For details, visit drbrunet.com or call 613-979-7461. –JH

Peace of mind for property rentals
Faithful NEN advertiser Greentree & Co. Rentals celebrates 32 years in business in 2021. This family-run New Edinburgh-based business was created in 1989 by the late Mary Ellen Boomgaardt. She was inspired to start a property management company for foreign service members after hearing a tale of woe from one of her husband Ray’s colleagues. “He had rented his house in Ottawa to a tenant. The tenant’s cheques bounced, and after several months he left the property, having never paid any rent and leaving the property in shambles,” explains Mary Ellen’s daughter Aisling Boomgaardt, who now runs Greentree & Co. along with her brother Bram Boomgaardt.

Mary Ellen and Ray were familiar with what foreign service members and diplomats had to go through managing their properties while overseas, having been on posting themselves. Ray served as legal affairs counsellor at the  Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. “We believe there is a continuing market for the services we provide: Protecting one of the most important assets people own, freeing our clients of worries about their home, and giving good reliable service to their tenants,” Aisling notes in an email to the New Edinburgh News.

Greentree’s day-to-day focus is renting the properties and managing the homes under their care. Over the years they have assembled a team of independent contractors to do care and maintenance. 

“The enjoyment comes from solving problems of import, working with others, and the satisfaction of a job well done,” she says.

Aisling notes that the name Greentree is a combination of her mother’s maiden name, Greene, and the English definition of Boomgaardt, which means “tree garden” in Dutch. The Greentree logo – a tree inside a house – was developed by a New Edinburgh resident whom Mary Ellen met at a community fitness class run at the former Crichton Street Public School. These green-and-cream signs are ubiquitous in the Burgh during the warmer months when “posting season” starts for foreign service members.

The pandemic has affected the property management industry, explains Aisling. Some tenants have requested a temporary forbearance in their rents, which Greentree has been able to accommodate with landlords. “One curious effect of the pandemic was that a number of tenants decided to purchase homes, so that also has created additional work for Greentree,” Aisling says. “However, the rental market in central Ottawa has remained quite strong.”

In the three decades since her mother founded Greentree, Aisling says many things have changed, from the increased ease of communicating with our clients internationally, to the creation of their website which is a business key driver. Yet some things remain the same: “From day one we used a PC and an HP printer. Mary Ellen actually bought the HP printer while on vacation in New Hampshire, because it was not yet available in Canada. That original printer lasted for nearly 20 years!” says Aisling.

Although Mary Ellen passed away in May 2020, her Greentree legacy continues with Aisling and Bram at the helm. NEN thanks the Greentree team for their many years of support and wishes them all the best! –CL

BUSINESS NOTES:

St. Charles Market (SCM)’s André Cloutier reports that residential occupancy of the new building is moving ahead swiftly, and by April, six of the eight stories will be occupied. Levels seven and eight are well underway, and will soon house four spacious, highly customized penthouse units. This spring, work will ramp up on the remaining portion of the exterior terra cotta cladding, temporarily postponed to prioritize interior finishing of the condos. 

Design work is underway for the commercial space adjacent to the SCM forecourt at the corner of Barrette and St. Charles Streets. It’s hoped that the new occupant will very soon be able to announce their arrival! Timelines remain uncertain for the spaces in the former St. Charles church, where progress has been disrupted by the pandemic. –JH

LCBO here at last

By the time you read this, the long-awaited LCBO outlet in Minto Beechwood should be up and running. Minto’s Kevin Harper was exultant to finally reveal a definitive launch date of Mar. 29, when the new, 8,000 square-foot outlet will open its doors to the community after many months (years!) of anticipation. The NEN looks forward to reporting on all the details soon. Kevin is hopeful that a side benefit of the opening will be to attract other prospective occupants to fill the remaining commercial space (about 2,000 square feet). –JH

Minto Beechwood II: While the pandemic has resulted in some delays in the City of Ottawa building approvals process, on the whole, steady progress has continued on plans for Minto II, Minto’s new mixed residential/commercial development with frontages on Beechwood and Barrette Streets. The project application is expected to reach Planning Committee in May. 

According to Minto’s Kevin Harper, design work is ongoing, and the company is currently awaiting the first round of comments on its Site Plan presentation, anticipating that these will focus on the height of the brick elements on the Beechwood front, as well as on the linkage between the Beechwood and Barrette buildings. He remains reasonably confident that once the approvals process wraps up later this year, work on the site will be able to launch by November or December, kicking off what he estimates will be a 30-month build. 

Minto remains committed to using the Beechwood Village Alliance (BVA)’s “wish list” of amenities as its principal guide to the selection of commercial occupants, and Kevin is well aware that the community preference is essentially “small is beautiful.” The full wish list, which includes a hardware store, a vegan restaurant, a bakery and a gift store, was reported in the October 2020 edition of the NEN. This time, Kevin says, Minto has some skin in the game: the residential units will be rental, as opposed to condominium, so choosing businesses which serve as attractive amenities to building occupants will be a high priority. –JH

An idea to help Beechwood Village become a 15-minute neighbourhood

By Chris Penton, Beechwood Market president. This article appeared in the April 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

Much noise has been made of the race to create 15-minute neighbourhoods in Ottawa. Beechwood Village is certainly part of that race. Like many neighbourhoods in the urban core, we have a variety of amenities. But, also like many neighbourhoods in the core, we are missing some too. Beechwood Village is more of a … 21-minute neighbourhood. 

Arguably every corner of Ottawa is a 21-minute neighbourhood. The additional six minutes comes from trips to Costco for 3kg of peanut butter, to the dentist you have been with since you were a child and, ironically, to fill up the tank for the next trip for peanut butter.  

In a city ruled by strip malls and suburban development, the need to leave your neck of the woods has become inevitable. To feel shame about the departure is not only wrong, but futile. Beechwood area businesses don’t need your guilt; they need your help. They need your business and they need you to truly get behind the #SupportLocal movement. It is too common for Ottawans to point out what is missing, quickly groan, and then jump into the car to get it. 

For years you have been told that there is no hardware store, chocolate shop, or vintage diner because commercial rents are too high. This is probably true.

What if there was a way the City could step in and help change our shopping landscape? Consider the following.

Just as there are incentives to build affordable housing (tax breaks for exceeding seven units, rent subsidies for up to 20 years for landlords and so on) there could easily be incentives to open up affordable commercial space to smaller stores and services. Mandate developers and landlords to offer a quarter of their commercial square footage at a reduced rate. Since the concept already applies to residential units, why not commercial? In doing so, local residents get a service for which they have been asking; small businesses get a chance to prove themselves; and landlords fill spots which may very well have stayed empty for years. 

The City of Ottawa talks a mean streak when it comes to supporting local enterprise and bolstering small businesses in order to create 15-minute neighbourhoods. However, extending patio licenses into the coldest months, offering up endless food truck licenses, and promoting an obscure ‘buy local’ passport are band-aid solutions. Bring in solid measures like mandated affordable commercial space and you’ll see ice cream shops, family-owned hardware stores, and bakeries reappear.

In order for these sorts of things to happen, residents must buy in. Firstly, continue to support your existing main-street businesses. Secondly, ask your local politicians why commercial rents are so high. Tell them which amenities you’d like to have within walking distance. Another sensible step is to call the Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Association (QVBIA). Charged with attracting new businesses to your main street, they want to hear from their shopping public. 

 There is no reason why Beechwood Village couldn’t be a 15-minute neighbourhood. But it will take more than talk to allow us the short walk.

Chris Penton is the President of the Beechwood Market, Ottawa’s online farmers market: beechwoodmarket.ca. A community builder, he is a past-president of the Vanier Community Association, current board member of the Vanier BIA, and ran for municipal office in 2019. A version of this column appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on Feb. 12, 2021.

City’s draft Official Plan is worrisome and aggressively anti-urban

By Ray Boomgaardt. This article originally appeared in the April 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

In November 2020, the City of Ottawa published a draft revision of its Official Plan, intended to guide the growth of the city for the next 25 years. It invited public comments on the four volumes (Vol. 1 alone is more than 250 pages long). The Board of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA) submitted its comments on Mar. 12 (find our submission at newedinburgh.ca). Our City Councillor Rawlson King has invited residents to make any further comments to his office.

The City terms its revisions to its Official Plan as a “New Official Plan.” That’s actually a fair description, because the New Plan reverses many of the policies of the existing Plan. The extreme departure from existing policies is very strange – even bizarre – because the existing Plan is well written, has been regularly updated by Council, and seems to have served the City rather well. The New Plan is full of empty jargon, reverses not only well-established policies but also many recent Council decisions, and attacks fundamental rules and procedures protecting Ottawa’s urban neighbourhoods. 

Having been critical of the City in the past, it feels strange to be suddenly noticing all the merits of the existing Plan. But that is perhaps the easiest way to convey to you, dear reader, how worrisome this revision, the draft New Plan, is. 

Fifty years ago, the ideas of urban-renewal activist Jane Jacobs lead the citizens of Toronto in their campaign to stop the Spadina Expressway. In 1979, those same ideas galvanized New Edinburgh to stop the Vanier Arterial. Perhaps the writers of the New Plan were indulging in some black humour when they decided to label the Queensway, Ottawa’s expressway, a scenic route (yes, really!). But we digress. This article is not about that bit of Orwellian nonsense, although we do think it illustrates how poorly thought out and aggressively anti-urban the New Plan is.

One of NECA’s core values is our commitment to Jacobs’ understanding of what makes a city thriving and liveable: the city is made up of neighbourhoods. The existing Plan, was also explicitly based on this idea. The proposed revised Plan talks about developing “15-minute neighbourhoods,” but then repeatedly undermines urban neighbourhoods.

Let’s look at some examples.

An overview of the Plans

The existing Plan states: “This Plan manages this growth in ways that reinforce the qualities of the city most valued by its residents: its distinctly liveable communities, its green and open character, and its unique characteristics.”… “The environmental integrity of the city is reinforced throughout the Plan.”

The New Plan replaces these four commitments – to community, greenspace, unique characteristics and environment – with a far weaker and vaguer sentence: “we will need to find ways of supporting city neighbourhoods … as healthy, inclusive and vibrant places,” offering vague support for “healthy, inclusive and vibrant places.”

For existing urban areas, “healthy” seems to mean adequate parks and recreation facilities, and might even be construed as a back-handed reference to environmental integrity (i.e., a weakening of existing policy, but not a complete reversal); “inclusive” seems to mean more high-density buildings without lawns or trees (what the Plan calls the “missing middle,” i.e., with no accommodation for communities, greenspace, or unique characteristics); and “vibrant” seems to mean rapidly transforming with high-density infill (the existing Plan supports infill, but doesn’t require it to be dense, and does make it subject to the four commitments.)  

NECA has been fighting for the four commitments in the existing Plan to be respected by new development proposals; the New Plan simply deletes the commitments altogether. 

Secondary plans

NECA and other community associations have done a lot of work on our vision for the development of the Beechwood Avenue corridor. The new draft Official Plan proposes to designate Beechwood from the St. Patrick bridge to Hemlock Road as a “Mainstreet Corridor.” The good part of this proposal is that new projects along the Corridor are required to have ground-level commercial units and to provide extra-wide sidewalks. 

On the other hand, there is a series of additional elements that community associations would like to see included to help ensure appropriate development along Beechwood. Under both the existing Plan and the draft New Plan, secondary development plans can be initiated by the City, and, when approved, become part of the Official Plan. 

However, the draft New Plan introduces a new prerequisite for secondary plans: “the City shall require a landowners’ agreement. This Agreement shall be provided to the City prior to the commencement of the Secondary Plan. The … agreement shall include … how development and density are to be distributed, as well as how the costs of studies and plans will be divided.

In short, landowners who do not agree with a proposed planning process can veto it simply by not signing a landowner’s agreement.

Again, the City has simply deleted the prior ability to receive community input. 

Dealing with growth

The New Plan notes that provincial policy requires the City to designate enough land to account for growth over the next 25 years; and that the City expects to grow to 1.4 million people by 2046, an annual growth rate of about 1.2 per cent.

Over the past 30 years, the number of living units in New Edinburgh has probably grown at a rate of more than 1.2 per cent annually. So you might think that the City would use us as a model for the future. You would be wrong.

The New Plan proposes that 47 per cent of the growth will occur within the existing urban boundary (this is targeted to rise to 60 per cent by 2046, sec 2.2.1(1)), 46 per cent in the currently undeveloped land at the periphery of the urban boundary, and seven per cent in rural areas. So far, so good.

The New Plan goes on to state: “The target amount of dwelling growth represents the proportion of new residential dwelling units, excluding institutional and collective units such as seniors’ and student residences, based upon building permit issuance within the built-up portion of the urban area.”

Apparently, seniors’ units do not count. Really: that’s in the New Plan! New Edinburgh has three long-term care facilities built in the last 30 years. But they wouldn’t count under the New Plan’s math. 

Dealing with intensification

Fun fact: the draft New Plan uses the word “transect” as a noun, with a meaning unknown to either the Oxford or Random House dictionaries.

Here we go. In the inner urban “transect” (which includes New Edinburgh), the New Plan provides that “The minimum residential dwelling density …for each lot” is 80 units per hectare. This intensification requirement would apply to any new construction in New Edinburgh outside the Heritage District. The density requirement along Beechwood Avenue is 80 to 160 units per hectare.

A hectare is 10,000m2. So, at 80 units per hectare, each unit occupies 125 m2, or 1,345ft2.  This is the exterior dimension, so the interior living space on each floor would be about 1,200ftassuming 100 per cent lot coverage. Therefore, if one wants to build a two-storey 1,800fthouse (at 900ftper floor) on a 1,200ft2 lot, there is only 300ftof space for lot setbacks, a deck and parking. For lots that have approximately 15m frontage or wider, at least 50 per cent of the units developed on that lot must have three or more bedrooms. 

If you know the size of lots on your street, you can calculate what requirements a new development would need to meet. If a lot is 50×100 = 5000ft2 (464m2), the building would need to have four units to meet the standard, and two of them would need to have three bedrooms, since the lot is more than 15m wide. Assuming 50 per cent lot coverage, 2500ft2, and three floors, this provides 7,500ft2, or approximately 1,900ft2 for each unit (exterior dimensions).

Remember, these are minimum requirements. Presumably the by-laws will be amended to permit this kind of intensification. 

Conclusion

You tell me. What’s up with City Hall?

Ray Boomgaardt is a board member of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance.

Powerful pandemic leaves only modest mark on City’s budget and official plan

By Sarah Anson-Cartwright. This article originally appeared in the Feb 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

The pandemic’s impacts on people and businesses are dramatic and well documented. Beyond the sad loss of lives, in Ottawa the most vulnerable, racialized, and low-income citizens have been disproportionately and adversely affected. And the city’s self-declared housing and homelessness emergency has only worsened with COVID-19-related public health measures.

Almost one year on, it is worth asking if the pandemic’s impacts on our lives and work have shaped city council’s policies or decisions. More specifically, is the city adapting to the pandemic beyond temporary, necessary measures, and is it striving to become a more resilient and inclusive place to live?

Two sources offer a view into how the powers that be at City Hall see Ottawa in a post-pandemic era. These two sources – the 2021 budget and the draft new Official Plan – give some clues as to whether Mayor Jim Watson and senior city staff are taking the lessons of the past year into account. The signals to date are mixed and modest.

Budget priorities, not pivots

The budget for 2021 was passed in early December 2020 and reflects the short-term set of priorities. In line with the mayor’s dictum, property-tax increases were limited to three per cent amid a large, expected deficit.

Pre-pandemic, Ottawa had a housing and homelessness crisis. It has grown worse since the pandemic’s start, with an average of 150 homeless people sleeping outdoors rather than in shelters, up from 90 people typically, according to a report to the Community and Protective Services Committee of Council last October.

While the budget included the city’s highest investment in affordable housing as a result of federal government funding ($32 million of a total $47 million), there was an additional $25 million for roads in an envelope for roads and other infrastructure totaling $171 million.

Roads received a higher budget, yet council refused to freeze OCTranspo fares during a period when the existing riders are facing hardships. 

A previously scheduled $13.2 million increase to the budget of the Ottawa Police Services Board was approved in a year when there were strong calls for changes to policing, including how they answer mental-health calls and deal with people of colour in our city. “The conversation has shifted with the Ottawa Policy Services Board,” a resident said, despite the budget decision.

Planning for growth

In late November, the city shared the draft new Official Plan which will guide Ottawa’s growth over the next 25 years and be voted on by council later this year. 

The plan’s goal is for Ottawa to be the most liveable mid-sized city in North America. The word “liveable” has taken on new significance during the pandemic. Many have spent more time staying close to home and exploring their local neighbourhoods, as well as seeking outdoor exercise and physical distancing opportunities in greenspaces.

In line with this experience, the Official Plan includes a policy intention to “encourage the development of healthy, walkable, 15-minute neighbourhoods,” cited as helping to “create the conditions for future pandemic resiliency.”    

There are dozens of references to 15-minute neighbourhoods which the city describes as “places where, no matter your age or ability, you can meet most of your daily needs within a 15-minute walk and can choose to live car-light or car-free.”

While there are aspirations in the Official Plan, there is also a wealth of complex technical detail. This plan changes some terminology (e.g. mainstreets are renamed corridors) and the policy areas (the plan will comprise six “transect areas” rather than the current two: urban and rural).

As one resident observed: “It feels like an exercise in obfuscation.”

The city posted the draft new Official Plan online, but citizens have expressed frustration with difficulties accessing the large and varied documents, including detailed colour maps and secondary plans. The City did not make printed copies available to the public, except for initially seven copies (now 11 copies in total) on loan via the Ottawa Public Library. 

“It is felt that communities have not been given enough time to review a massive document,” said one resident.

While the Official Plan and the 2021 budget offer modest nods to the challenges arising from the pandemic, city council continues to hew to the mayor’s agenda and decisions. Council’s Planning Committee often overturns the city’s own rules, allowing for exceptions. It is a committee where six of the nine members have received 63–99 per cent of their campaign donations from developers, according to grassroots organization Horizon Ottawa.

Citizens’ input into the new Official Plan is still necessary despite these issues. This current council will face the electorate in 2022, whereas the Official Plan will be the City’s planning bible until 2046.

The new Official Plan is huge; however, the City is offering a simplified form of feedback. For each of 21 topics within the plan, there is a one-pager and a related feedback form. Feedback forms are due Feb. 17. Visit engage.ottawa.ca/the-new-official-plan

Sarah Anson-Cartwright lives in New Edinburgh and works in public affairs.

10 years since the Beechwood fire

By Christina Leadlay. This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2021 edition of New Edinburgh News

This year marks 10 years since fire gutted a section of Beechwood Avenue between MacKay and Crichton Streets. On Mar. 16, 2011, fire started in the basement of the Home Hardware store. All told, six businesses were lost, a number of people were left homeless, and countless others were evacuated or affected by the disaster. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and many of the businesses have since relocated within the community. 

New Edinburgh News reached out to some of those people affected by the fire to ask them all:

What is your lasting memory from the Beechwood fire of 2011, and what did you learn about the community in the aftermath?

Below are their answers, which have been edited for length and content.

Heather Matthews, owner of Sconewitch (35 Beechwood Ave.)

“Around 10 o’clock that morning I noticed a lone police car parked across Beechwood Avenue at MacKay. The officer was standing in the middle of the street facing the hardware store. He was soon joined by a single firetruck. I couldn’t see anything happening from outside my shop until moments later when the smoke poofed out of the second floor [of the hardware store] and emergency vehicles began to arrive from all directions. 

At 10 p.m. I stood in the Metro parking lot with neighbours and watched as the fire fighters poured water on the dying embers of some of my earliest childhood memories. [The fire] had a devastating impact on local business. Sales at the SconeWitch took seven years to recover to pre-fire levels.

Eric Passmore, store manager at Nature’s Buzz (relocated to 55 Beechwood Ave.)

“It was a surreal day losing our shop to the fire. It took us nine months to reopen and there was a ton of risk involved with that effort. However, when we did finally open our doors again, we were met with nothing but support and kindness from this incredible Beechwood community!”

Tracey Black, owner of Epicuria (relocated to 357 St Laurent Blvd.)

“My lasting memory of the Beechwood fire was watching a traffic webcam of the scene until the early morning hours and seeking information the following day as many of us tried to understand the impact of what had happened. I recall the real loss felt by the neighbourhood, and customers continuing to call months later to see how we were doing. The value our community places on its small businesses really hit home when we reopened a year later, and struggled during the first few days to keep the shelves stocked!”

Kellyann Riley, barber at Lester’s Barbershop (now owner of Kelly’s Barber & Beauty and KBB Boutique, 30 Marier Ave.)

“My lasting memory of the Beechwood fire is just being there and watching your life change in front of you and not really realizing that’s what was happening. Lester’s shop was fine for most of the day, and then it wasn’t. I kept thinking ‘We’ll be back in a little bit,’ but of course that wasn’t the case.

I learned two things when it was all said and done: that block really was a hub and represented what Beechwood was known for: community. The support from everyone before, during and after the fire has never ceased to amaze me, even after all this time. People live and breathe Beechwood and I think that is a very special thing you don’t see very much anymore.”

Paul Williams, owner of the New Edinburgh Pub (now owner of Whispers Pub, 249 Richmond Rd. in Westboro)

“My lasting memory of that day was the fear that the wind would change direction and take out the Pub. I’ll never forget the number of emergency vehicles and the acrid smell in the air. 

Now your question regarding what I learned about our community: ‘Generosity’ comes to mind. It was a pleasure for [my wife] Tracy and myself to operate a business in New Edinburgh for 26 years. It always felt like we were in a small village. The village came together for our fundraiser, helping to raise over $20,000 for the victims of the fire. It’s a very close knit community where everyone looks to help out others. We have many examples of the charitable acts from this amazing community.”

Leesa Sereda, tenant at 409 MacKay (now living near the Central Experimental Farm)

“One of my lasting memories is the week-long physical exertion and trauma of working alongside a professional restoration team to remove all my belongings from my soot-contaminated apartment. The community was very generous in donating over $30,000. 

The board of the Crichton Cultural Community Centre [now NECTAR] was very thoughtful in their distribution of these monies amongst the affected tenants, considering individual situations. The annual Lumière Festival on Aug. 20, 2011 offered an opportunity to show appreciation to the community, so I installed solar-powered lanterns in the trees spelling out ‘thank you’ on behalf of myself and the other affected tenants. It was comforting for me to see people stop by and I hoped that they appreciated its significance.”

Joan Mason, then-president of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance (NECA)

“That day, we lost one small block of shops that met most of the community’s needs. It was a fun place and we all cared for each other. Like New Edinburgh, it was a rare survival! The smoke was toxic, but so were the months of broken promises and insincere consultations, until we ended up with just another concrete canyon. We  can only hope that the huge changes that the world is experiencing will right many wrongs. New Edinburgh was a superb template of a walkable, workable community.”

Cindy Parkanyi, editor of the New Edinburgh News (now president of NECA)

“After the initial shock of this devastating event, what struck me most was how quickly the community was able to mobilize to provide help to those directly affected. The Crichton Cultural Community Centre (precursor to NECTAR) quickly sprang into action to be a central point for gathering information from those in need of help and those offering help.  The New Edinburgh Pub, and specifically Paul and Tracy Williams, put together a fundraising event, which was extremely well-attended.  

At the time, we had no idea how long and how deep the effects to our main street would be, particularly in what was once a vibrant and community-centre shopping area – now a veritable retail dead zone, with more like it coming (the Claridge project comes to mind) if we don’t shake some sense into the City’s planning department and committee. It is odd that the lasting effects of a devastating fire would resemble so closely the current pervasive transformation of our 15-minute neighbourhoods.”

****

Due to concerns about the smoke’s toxicity, residents from the nearby New Edinburgh Square (NES) retirement residence had to be evacuated overnight. Some residents shared their memories of that experience:

Archie Bowen and his wife were having her birthday meal at Fraser Café. Archie calls a police cruiser and a fire truck pulling up in front of the restaurant. Officers came in. Was the retirement home threatened, they wondered? “We had seen a lot of smoke on our way to the restaurant,” he remembers. “It was a very exciting dinner. We hadn’t counted on the entertainment.” Shortly afterward, the Bowens moved into NES where their apartment afforded a sad view of the devastation just across the street.

“It happened so quickly,” recalls NES resident Deborah Sparks of Mar. 16, 2011. She remembers feeling a sense of concern when the amount of heavy and thick smoke continued to drift into the NES building. She was so appreciative of all the people who helped with the evacuation including all the NES staff, the fire department and The Good Companions. Miss Sparks still very much misses all the village-like stores, including the hardware, bakery, and ice cream shop. The eyesore of the building’s remains that remained for so long was always a sad reminder of what was lost. 

“We sure miss the convenience of those friendly little shops,” says Bob McLachlan, who in 2011 had been living for just over a year at NES with his wife Marg. Bob was at the dentist when Marg phoned with news of the fire. When the order came for all NES residents to be evacuated due to the fire’s toxic smoke, Bob, Marg and the little retirement community were soon being smoothly evacuated by bus to the safety of a staging facility nearby.

From there, they were quickly despatched to stay a few days with family, friends or at a local hotel. Bob recalls people scurrying in and out of the gallery at the corner of Beechwood and MacKay, carrying paintings to a waiting van. And there was a certain NES staff member, a server whom everyone called Big Sam, who greeted every arriving evacuee at the staging centre with a most enthusiastic hug. “Maybe it’s the sense of collective vulnerability, but people do seem to close ranks when they are threatened like that,” Bob recalls. ­

The day after the evacuation, resident Joyce Lowe returned a bit too early the day only to discover NES had not been cleared by the Fire Chief for the residents to return.  Happily, she found The Clocktower Pub was open! Joyce was deeply saddened by the loss of so many valuable small businesses in our community, but she continues to make a point to buy local and support our community.  –with files from Keith Newton and Catherine Scrivens-Bourque