Re-sodding: An Annual City Hall Tradition

- July 17th, 2014

A picture of City Hall on July 17, 2014 after workers covered the damaged lawn with more sod.

More sod went down at City Hall this week after the annual Great Grass Slaughter at 110 Laurier Ave.

The Jazzfest tent destroyed the grass.

Actually, the lawn is usually beat up at least twice a year: During the winter from the Rink of Dreams traffic, and during Jazzfest.

One thing they’re going to try and do at Lansdowne Park is keep stages and other pieces of big equipment on the porch outside Aberdeen Pavilion. No one wants to see the new grass on the Great Lawn ruined.

As for City Hall, I don’t know what the long-term solution will be. Maybe re-sodding is it.


Vacation alert: Starting Friday, I’m off for a couple weeks on vacation. I’ll be back in early August, so don’t expect much action on the blog in the meantime. Hope you’re enjoying the summer.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

The Stories Of Two Brendans Seeking Council Seats

- July 15th, 2014

One municipal election candidate has received more attention over the past 24 hours than, possibly, the mayor.

Brendan Mertens, 29, is running in Bay Ward against incumbent Mark Taylor, former councillor Alex Cullen and another candidate, George Guirguis.

Judging by his videos, I wasn’t sure if Mertens’ campaign was serious. Dang, they’re funny, though.

Turns out Mertens is serious. In my short conversation with him today, he listed his concerns about water bills increasing, flooding in Britannia, green bins and transit fares.

Married and looking to plant roots in the community, Mertens — who’s originally from Peterborough — said the videos are a way to turn people’s attention from the same old political candidates.

“You’ve got to go against the grain. If I came out in a suit and tie I would go unnoticed,” Mertens said. “Look, the Ottawa Sun and I are talking right now.”

He works in the health care field and previously worked in TV and film.

“I’m a huge fan of comedy. That’s pretty much my secret weapon in this campaign. Well, not really secret,” he said.

Running gags in his videos so far have been his anti-bear campaign and his pursuit of taking down Poland.

So what’s with the Poland thing?

“I’ll say no comment,” he said.

Will it be a running theme during the campaign?

“No comment.”

Here’s a guy who knows how to drum up interest. Not an easy thing for an unknown candidate to do.

Funny sidebar…

I accidentally called and e-mailed the wrong Brendan when I was trying to get in touch with Mertens this week. The Brendan I originally contacted was Brendan Gorman, another council candidate who’s running in West-Carleton March.

Turns out Gorman, like Mertens, is from Peterborough and I had a good conversation with him about his campaign in the rural west end.

Gorman, 35, is a former competitive cyclist who most recently worked for the Ottawa Sport and Social Club. He also worked for a bank as a financial advisor.

“I had it in my mind at some point I’d run for office,” Gorman said. “I’d like to go through the experience.”

Gorman didn’t say anything negative about incumbent Eli El-Chantiry.

“I’m not anti anybody. I’m pro me,” Gorman said.

And so, dear readers, that’s your news on the Brendans running in the Oct. 27 municipal election.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

Lansdowne Park Could Be Green For Friday

- July 15th, 2014

I have no real concept of how fast it takes to build things, like stadiums and urban parks.

When Lansdowne project manager Marco Manconi took us on a tour of the site last Friday, I remember remarking to Sun photographer Tony Caldwell how much still needs to be done at the park. Bulldozers were pushing out top soil and the art screen was partially installed. Manconi said it was a personal goal to have the sod down in the park by the Ottawa RedBlacks’ first home game this Friday. He wasn’t making any promises.

Seeing the sod go down today is a big deal, both for Watson and Manconi. At the time of writing this, about half of the sod had been laid, so if the weather co-operates, there could actually be a lawn. It probably won’t be ready for people to use yet, but it will make things look so much better for the thousands of people attending the game and watching on TV across the country.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

Watson Gathers Input On Bus/Train Crash Memorial

- July 11th, 2014

From: Watson, Jim (Mayor/Maire)
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2014 10:40 AM
To: =City Councillors
Cc: =City Councillors Assistants; Kirkpatrick, Kent; Manconi, John; Kanellakos, Steve; Schepers, Nancy; Bowles, Cathy
Subject: Information Memo / Mémo d’information


I am writing today with respect to the approaching time when all will remember last year’s tragic bus/train collision. In the last two months I have consulted with the families involved to determine the most appropriate way to commemorate those who lost their lives last September 18th.

My desire was to find ways to remember loved ones lost in a manner that all families could comfortably share. I believe that a complete understanding and concurrence is necessary, as we do not want to do anything that could put any one family into an uncomfortable situation at any point in time.

The input that we have received, both written and in discussions that some families have had with Ward Councillor Jan Harder and the Chief of Protocol, Cathy Bowles, has led me to conclude that our focus for a lasting memorial can and should be twofold. There was not complete agreement amongst the families on other ideas that have been mentioned.

We learned that the retirement of Route #76 is desirable and this will be done. Similarly, everyone has indicated that a commemorative plaque or marker of some type would be a suitable enduring remembrance. This too will be done and a location will be determined in consultation with the families, Councillor Harder and Councillor Deans.

In addition, we will be flying flags at City facilities at half-mast on September 18th and there will be an observation of a minute of silence in a memorial tribute at a Transit Commission meeting scheduled for September 17th.

I trust this information will be of interest to each of you. I am sure that it was not easy for the families to consider these matters and I have told them how much I appreciate their input.

Jim Watson


Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at

Live Blog: Green Bin Audit Drops, Plus Council Meeting

- July 8th, 2014

It was a long meeting full of quips, questions and quagmires. You can read all about it below.

Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at