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


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. 


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

Let’s keep the conversation going about policing

By Samantha McAleese and Marc d’Orgeville. This article originally appeared in the Feb 2021 edition of New Edinburgh News.

Like most community newspapers, the New Edinburgh News provides space to share thoughts, concerns, ideas, and resources that might spark meaningful conversations and connections with neighbours. This article is the result of that particular power of the press. 

In the NEN October edition, Samantha McAleese wrote an article about people experiencing homelessness and living in encampments along the Rideau River. She asked neighbours to connect with community-based services and to advocate for affordable housing instead of relying on the police to respond to poverty and homelessness.

In the December edition, Marc d’Orgeville (chair of the New Edinburgh Community Alliance’s traffic and safety committee) summarized a conversation he had with a community police officer to remind New Edinburgh residents of the process for filing police reports. Advice received from the officer on dealing with issues like break-ins or speeding drivers was to call the police and call them more often, as police rely on community members to be “the eyes on the ground.”  

Samantha received comments about the December article from local advocates, which included: “It sounds like your neighbours are setting up a snitch line,” and “They won’t be happy until there is a cop car on every corner.” These comments were not meant to dismiss the consequences of any violence, conflict, loss, or harm experienced by individuals, but rather to temper the impulse to call the police for every little thing. 

These two articles highlight the need for ongoing conversations about policing and community safety in New Edinburgh and Ottawa. In a neighbourhood as privileged and resourced as New Edinburgh, we should be actively engaged in discussions about the cycle of ever-increasing police funding that does not address root causes of harm, such as poverty.

One conversation started at the December meeting of NECA’s Traffic and Safety Committee, chaired by Marc. Samantha attended the meeting to address concerns and to ask questions about the purpose and intent of Marc’s article. Marc had not imagined that a reminder for residents to report local incidents to the police would elicit such a strong reaction, but he welcomed the opportunity for this more critical discussion around policing. 

As a reactive service, the police rely on calls and reporting to respond to incidents and decide how to allocate resources. Unfortunately, calling the police does not always resolve the problem or make us feel safer. Furthermore, over-reporting maintains the impression that increasing police resources in our community is a viable solution to preventing harm. The need for alternatives to the police is clear and requires strong advocacy. 

Marc and Samantha’s conversation illuminated not conflict but rather commonalities in how we think about police and community safety. For example, we both support City Councillor Rawlson King’s decision to vote against a budget increase for the Ottawa Police Service. Like Rawlson, we both agree with de-tasking the Ottawa Police Service. Armed police officers are not a suitable response to mental health crises, nor do police play a role in preventing or ending homelessness. Additionally, we (along with others in New Edinburgh) appreciate the councillor’s ongoing advocacy for additional funding for social services, supports, and resources that prioritize community care. Finally, we look forward to supporting Rawlson’s work on the poverty reduction strategy for Rideau-Rockcliffe. 

The initial meeting ended with an agreement to keep the conversation going between NECA and all neighbours in the Burgh. Together, we can continue to advocate for programs, resources, supports, and responses that keep care at the forefront. This advocacy is vital for Black, Indigenous, racialized, and unhoused neighbours who are at an increased risk of experiencing police violence and being criminalized. 

One way to advocate is to participate in public consultations. The City of Ottawa has begun Phase 2 of their consultation process for the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan, and we encourage Burgh residents to participate online: engage.ottawa.ca/Community-Safety-Well-Being-Plan.

For a lot of people (especially white people), 2020 was a year of listening and learning more intently about the desperate need for alternatives to policing from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) communities. Affordable housing, mental health supports, safe consumption sites, additional public health resources, youth leadership programs, and community-led conflict resolution and restorative justice options are just a few examples. Let 2021 be the year of acting on these calls for transformation.

NECA’s Traffic and Safety committee meetings take place at 7 p.m. every fourth Monday of the month – the next meeting is Feb. 22. Anyone interested in attending should contact marc.dorgeville@utoronto.ca.

Samantha McAleese is a researcher and advocate who lives in New EdinburghMarc d’Orgeville is the chair of NECA’s Traffic and Safety committee.

Burgh Business Briefs (Feb 2021)

By Andre R. Gagne, Jane Heintzman and Christina Leadlay This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News.

Farewell to Epic Fitness

On Dec. 4, 2020, Epic Fitness closed its doors at 230 Beechwood Ave. for the last time, lamenting on its Facebook page: “We have surrendered.” Epic Fitness was the brainchild of Stephanie Karlovits, an energetic young entrepreneur who launched the business eight years ago, offering a “full service” fitness and wellness operation focused on personal training, holistic nutrition, and outdoor community events.

In her farewell message to clients, Stephanie concedes that as a small boutique business in a highly competitive industry, “we stood no chance against the pandemic.” Despite efforts to pivot during the lockdowns by offering live-streamed classes and virtual personal-training sessions, the costs of maintaining Epic’s extensive space were burdensome. When the business failed to qualify for government rent support, it was all over. “Epic was a dream come true,” says Stephanie, “but like all dreams, this one had to come to an end.” 

Since the closure, many of Epic’s personal trainers have remained independently active on the virtual training circuit, including Justin Thiboutot, Kathleen Holt, Brett Patterson, Krysta Andovic and Rami Gallego: find them on Instagram or LinkedIn. Our thanks to Stephanie and her team for the lively business they brought to Beechwood for the past three years. We wish them well in their future endeavours, and a safe passage through the pandemic. 

Building owner Domicile reports that the former Epic Fitness space at 230 Beechwood Ave. has now been leased to another business but declined to offer any details about the new business or its anticipated time of arrival. Stay tuned! –JH

South America comes close to home

Do you have a craving for a scrumptious, authentic arepas, but just can’t get to Venezuela to snag one? Are you now wondering: what is an arepas, anyway? Both craving and question can be answered at the new home of South American cuisine: Toasty Arepas.

Sharing space with Goodies Fine Catering at 51 Marier Ave. (goodiescatering.com), the new restaurant was born when the owners – proud Colombian Luisa García, and Goodies’ owner Pierre Mineault – realized Ottawa had nowhere for Latinos to go for something quick to eat, that little taste of tradition that reminded them of home. 

“To come up with the name, we brainstormed a bunch of words and sayings, and we also asked my family members what would be a good name,” explains Luisa. “Eventually, by elimination, we decided on ‘Toasty Arepas,’ which is half English and half Spanish.”

“Arepas are corn pancakes – a staple food of South American cuisine,” she says. 

With the arepas mystery solved, we asked what else was on the menu:

“Our menu is 100 per cent gluten-free, and we have vegan and vegetarian options for most items, so of course we would recommend everything on our menu. But our most popular items are the empanadas, the arepas sandwich, chicharron, the envueltos, and definitely the yucca fries and paisa bowl. They have been hits since day one!”

Toasty Arepas’s Instagram account shows mouth-watering images of arepas stuffed with all manner of ingredients, from ham and olives to sausage, black beans and cheese.

Luisa knew that restaurants are a very high-risk business with one out of five closing in the first five years (and that’s not during a global pandemic). Dipping a foot in the water instead of diving headlong into the pool seemed best. Luisa and Pierre decided to open Toasty Arepas for take-out only, with plans to eventually become a full, eat-in restaurant in the future. 

“Having a take-out restaurant also allowed us to test the [concept], to see if there really was a market for our business idea,” said Luisa. 

Opening as they have, in unprecedented times, their top priority was safety. To comply with provincialrestrictions, they allow only two clients at a time inside the store, and they have joined Uber Eats to provide delivery.

With social media as their main marketing outlet, Luisa and Pierre were elated when customers beganstopping by to discover what so many have always known: South American cuisine is amazing!

“We are honoured and grateful to say that the community has been very welcoming and supportive to us since we opened,” said Luisa. “It is thanks to them that the word about our restaurant spread to a lot of people.”

Toasty Arepas is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 12–8 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 12–9 p.m. Contact them at toastyarepas.com or 613262-5238. –AG

An essential service for pet owners

Since last March, countless housebound families have reached out to acquire companion animals for comfort, distraction and a built-in incentive to exercise while the pandemic runs it course. In our own neighbourhood, numerous new furry faces have joined the (already robust) local canine population in recent months.

For first-time dog owners, the stay-at-home environment has afforded an ideal opportunity to bond with their new family member and master the basics of care, feeding and (for the brave and wise!) training. When working from home is the norm, social activities are restricted, and travel is out of the question, it’s easy to overlook one crucial resource. A dependable caregiver will be a must when holiday and business travel start up again ­– as they will with a vengeance, post-pandemic!  

Pet boarding facilities have been an unnoticed casualty of the stay-at-home existence imposed during the pandemic. These small operators have suffered an almost total loss of business in recent months, and many have not survived.

In our community, Place for Paws Boarding Camp for Cats and Dogs has been a go-to pet sitter for many families, my own included. Throughout its two decades in business in Clarence Creek, Ont., Place for Paws has been a safe and reliable second home for furry family members. Despite the punishing blow to her business, owner Angela Zorn has soldiered on, but with only a trickle of canine and feline clients to occupy her spacious, climate-controlled kennel facility. 

Angela hopes to weather the storm until life returns to normal, and she greatly appreciates interim support from regular, or prospective, clients. It’s worth considering the purchase of a Place for Paws gift certificate as a prepayment for future visits when normalcy is restored. To learn more about Place for Paws or to lend a hand with a gift certificate purchase, call Angela at 613-446-2280 or visit placeforpaws.com or Facebook.com/PlaceforPawsBoardingCamp. –JH

Bring a bit of the Caribbean home

This time of year, some of us like to escape (or dream of escaping) Ottawa’s cold and snow for warmer locales. But with international travel another victim of the pandemic, we need to find other ways to broaden our horizons. Let your tastebuds do the travelling with nearby Baccanalle restaurant (595 Montreal Rd.) as your passport to new, Caribbean-inspired flavours.

Baccanalle chef and owner Resa Solomon-St. Lewis was born in Winnipeg, Man. but has called Ottawa home since 1980. Resa has a background in chemical engineering and trained as a chef at Algonquin College. According to her website, Chef Resa has twice represented the High Commission for Trinidad and Tobago in Ottawa’s Embassy Chef Challenge, and has numerous awards to her credit. 

“Baccanalle” is a play on the word “bacchanal,” meaning scandal or wild celebration in the Caribbean, where Resa’s family has roots. “I first experimented with Baccanalle in 2012,” Resa tells the New Edinburgh News in an email interview. Many readers will be familiar with Resa’s Baccanalle products from her many years at the Beechwood Market – she has been a supplier since its first days. “We love the sense of community they create [at the market],” she says.

Resa explains that when the pandemic meant her office catering business Capital Fare Café “virtually disappeared,” she turned her attention to Baccanalle. “We pivoted and brought Baccanalle from the side to the forefront, essentially building a Caribbean-inspired menu for people to enjoy and experiment with at home,” she says.

Baccanalle specializes in contemporary and traditional Caribbean and Soul food with vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic-sensitive, and low-sodium options, according to the website. All items are available on a pre-order pick-up basis.

“Our most popular items are our Ocho Jerk Chicken Feast,” Resa says. “Our patties are made from scratch and our NOLA Jazz dinner comes complete with our cornbread, Cajun beans and a spicy maple butter.” We asked the chef what item people should try. “Our Chef’s Pick Fam Packs,” says Resa, noting the family packs come with stock-the-freezer staples like pulled jerk chicken, vegan curry, and coconut rice and peas. “Perfect to pull together a great nutritious meal, quickly!” she says.

Baccanalle even has special menus available for Valentine’s Day (look for V-Day on their website), featuring special “Lockdown Love” meals kits for couples looking for a COVID-friendly way to spice things up. Order by Feb. 8 for pick-up on Feb. 12 and 13.

Resa and her Baccanalle team have also kept busy supporting the community during COVID times. “This year more than ever we have worked to support some amazing community groups like Carefor Health and Community Services, Meals for Hope and JakuKonbit,” she tells NEN. “These groups provided meals to vulnerable communities and frontline workers and we, along with other restaurants, were proud to provide meals at or near cost,” Resa says.

Resa has big plans for 2021: “The pandemic has ignited a fight-not-flight spark for me,” she says. “Inspired by my ethnic community as well as my years with farmers’ markets and artisan shows, my sister and I have created a new venture: Afrotechture. It’s a unique and exciting space to shop and discover Black Canadian artisans.” Afrotechture’s first pop-up shop will take place Feb. 7 in the ByWard Market Mall heritage building, as well as some online events. Learn more at afrotechture.com.

Baccanalle is open for pre-ordered pick-up on Thursdays and Fridays from 4–8 p.m. and Saturdays from 3–8 p.m. at 595 Montreal Rd. Find Baccanalle’s full take-out and delivery menu at baccanalle.com or call 613-859-6297 to place your order. Gift cards are also available. –CL

It’s full-on busy at Full Cycle

Amid the small businesses struggling to stay afloat as the pandemic unfolds, Full Cycle at 401 St. Laurent Blvd. stands out as an unexpected beneficiary of the restrictive, stay-at-home existence. Cycling has proven an ideal outlet for those needing distraction, exercise and relief from claustrophobic COVID-related restrictions, not to mention an environmentally-friendly transportation option year-round.

For many years, Full Cycle has been our community’s full-service resource for all things cycling-related, from the sale of bikes and equipment to repairs and regular tune-ups. During the winter months, it also offers a cross-country ski waxing service, primarily for local families as opposed to competitive skiers. 

Full Cycle staffer Matti Pihlainen reports that despite the economic meltdown of 2020, the bicycle business has been booming. “Our phone didn’t stop ringing from April through August,” says Matti, adding that when staff couldn’t keep up with calls, clients had to be redirected online. The store has now beefed up its online resources, adding a LiveChat function to handle questions and requests from clients. 

To Matti’s surprise, new bike purchases are already on an upswing as cyclists move swiftly to “to get ahead of the curve” and secure their wheels before spring. At the same time, the popularity of “fat bikes” has soared this winter, to the point that they’ve become virtually unattainable across Canada. With super-sized tires designed to conquer packed snow, fat bikes are the go-to option for winter conditions, and now a ubiquitous presence on trails and roads throughout the region. 

And speaking of trails, Matti and his team are delighted by the recent east-end extension of the multi-use ski-, walking-, snowshoeing and fat-biking trail along the Ottawa River. Ski Heritage East now extends from the Aviation Museum all the way to Trim Road. Visit skiheritageeast.ca/wpshe for details and up to date trail conditions. 

Full Cycle has been diligent about COVID-19 protocols in all its operations, including curbside drop-off and pick-up. While the lockdown lasts, only the service door will be open for bike repair clients: you’ll need to call in advance (613-741-2443) to arrange a drop-off or pick-up. And of course, you’ll need to be masked for any interaction with staff. Visit fullcycle.ca for details.

When NEN asked whether Full Cycle would welcome any form of community support during the pandemic, Matti generously declined, suggesting that residents instead reach out to their favourite coffee shops and eateries who have not fared so well! –JH 

Relief for pandemic pains

Throughout the pandemic, Bellefleur Physiotherapy has remained open for in-person service at 2 Beechwood Ave. (corner of Beechwood and the Vanier Parkway). 

“Since we’re regulated healthcare professionals, we’re considered an essential service,” explains Jason Bellefleur, president of the operation he co-owns with his brother Dave Bellefleur. However, Jason adds: “we realized that some people may be uncomfortable going out in the current environment, so we’ve been offering virtual services since last April, and continue to do so.” Visit bellefleurphysio.com to learn more about or to schedule virtual consultations. 

Bellefleur physiotherapists treat a broad spectrum of painful and disabling conditions: arthritis, repetitive strain injuries, sports injuries, concussion, tendonitis, neck-, shoulder- and lower-back pain, vertigo, chronic pain syndrome, and more. 

Few would dispute that the pandemic has been a pain in the neck; in fact, that is literally true. “The biggest problems we’ve encountered during the pandemic are posture-related symptoms that people are suffering as a result of working from home,” says Jason. Cases of neck, shoulder and low-back pain have surged as a consequence of the sedentary routine.  

Apart from the stresses of long hours of screen-time, “the work space, if there is a specific work space at all, may not be properly set up to minimize prolonged strains on muscles and joints,” says Jason, “and since people aren’t commuting to work, they aren’t moving around as often, which compounds the effects.” 

Jason has simple advice for staying healthy and pain-free through the pandemic: “Keep moving!” And if you do develop aches and pains, don’t let symptoms linger before reaching out for professional assistance. “We can help, whether it’s in-person or virtually, and the quicker we get started, the quicker we can get over the problem at hand.”

There are currently two physiotherapists working at Bellefleur’s Beechwood location, with a third expected to come on board very soon. Natasha Eddie has specialized training in techniques to handle the issues most prevalent in the pandemic. She is experienced in the use of the McKenzie method for treating neck- and lower-back conditions and offers acupuncture for pain control. 

Jason’s brother Dave Bellefleur, company co-owner and clinical director for Beechwood, is a specialist in dry needling, a highly effective (if not always comfortable!) technique for releasing tight muscles. Dave also has extensive experience working with seniors, and in the treatment of golf and running injuries. Sophie Drouin, a recent University of Ottawa graduate, is expected to join the team in the next few weeks. 

The Bellefleur Physiotherapy clinic is open from 12–8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and from 8 a.m.– 4 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Visit bellefleurphysio.com or call 613-695-7852 for more information or to schedule an appointment. –JH

New year, new businesses

Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, 2021 promises the anticipated arrival of Mr. Luko: The Gourmandise and Coffee Place. Mr. Luko will occupy the former quarters of long-running Second Cup, which closed its doors at 1 Springfield Rd. late last fall. We understand that the new café is a spinoff from a Montreal-based operation, and will feature a variety of specialty foods, including gelato. Stay tuned for more details once Mr. Luko is up and running!

Beer lovers will be happy to hear that Good Prospects Brewing Company has officially opened at 411 St Laurent Blvd. (goodprospects.ca 613-315-3757). Curb-side pick-up launched on Jan. 29. NEN hopes to bring more details about this new business in our April edition!

Meanwhile, Minto’s Kevin Harper confirms that the LCBO is on track to complete its new outlet in Minto Beechwood by the end of March 2021 and expects to open its doors in early April.

And of note, ModBox’s André Cloutier reports that owing to the continuing uncertainties associated with the pandemic, “timelines for the commercial spaces [at St. Charles Market] have been shelved for the time being.” –JH

Patio heaters pilfered 

According to a recent Ottawa Citizen article, three outdoor patio heaters were stolen from Ola Cocina on Barrette Street in the course of just a few weeks, inflicting yet another cruel blow to Donna Chevrier’s local business. Nearby Jasper Restaurant at Beechwood and Charlevoix reportedly met the same fate, losing a trio of heaters from its outdoor patio.

As both Donna’s taqueria is dependent on take-out orders to stay afloat during the lockdown, the heaters had been installed for the benefit of clients lining up to collect their orders. But not only did the thefts foil her attempt to go the extra mile for customers, the chances of securing a replacement may be slim, as patio heaters have been such a “hot commodity” during the pandemic. 

As a community, let’s do what we can to compensate for these mean-spirited acts by making a special effort to support Ola Cocina, Jasper and all our other struggling local businesses, and to help them through this long ordeal to the return of brighter days. -JH