Archive for May, 2012

Record Month For Bike Lanes

- May 31st, 2012

May 2012 is poised to be the busiest month for the Laurier Ave. segregated bike lanes since they were constructed last summer. According to the online counter, we’re closing in on 50,000 rides for the month.

You might have read that a group called the Bay Bronson Residents Action Group for Fair Access to the Road — more easily remembered by its acronym, BBRAGFAR — wants changes to the bike lanes.

A friend of mine pointed out a cheeky bike lane supporter managed to snag bbragfar.ca to proclaim, “Everyday thousands of cyclists use the Laurier Bike Lane…”

Companies Competing For Trash

- May 30th, 2012

Businesses are hungry for those bags of trash in bins outside restaurants, hospitals and schools.

Taggart Construction and Miller Waste Systems, under the name Taggart Miller Environmental Services, want to build a new dump and recycling centre in the east end, whether it be inside city boundaries or just outside.

Meanwhile, Waste Management has plans for its own garbage processing operation at the Carp Rd. dump (pictured).

You see a bag of garbage. They see a bag of money.

Apparently there’s a hot market for waste disposal in the industrial, commercial and institutional sector, which has provincial oversight.

The similarities between the Waste Management project and the Taggart Miller proposal struck me while writing the story yesterday. Nigel Guilford, head of Miller Waste Systems, said the Taggart Miller project is a first for Ontario, but I suggested it sounded a lot like Waste Management’s plan in the west end.

Guilford described the Waste Management project like this: “To me it’s a disposal site. It’s a disposal site with some waste diversion on the front end.”

Like the Waste Management folks, the Taggart Miller people are pumping up its recycling plans. More businesses want to go green and find waste processors with recycling programs.

So maybe Guilford’s observation of Waste Management’s proposal is simply that, an observation. But it sounded to me like a bit of a zinger directed at the competition.

Anyway, if you’re looking for more information about the Waste Management and Taggart Miller proposals, here are the links to their websites:

Waste Management’s West Carleton Environmental Centre
Taggart Miller’s Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre

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

Why People Keep Questioning LRT Cost

- May 28th, 2012

I can’t even imagine what the reaction would be at Ottawa City Hall if staff forgot to include the cost of artwork in the LRT plan, like they apparently did in Calgary.

Moreover, blowing the budget by $35 million would surely put Ottawa’s LRT plans off track. An example like Calgary’s keeps people asking Mayor Jim Watson and staff what would happen if Ottawa experiences cost overruns.

The city was faced with the question again last week when we met with officials about the $2.1-billion LRT plan.

Deputy city manager Nancy Schepers answered: “We are structuring (the construction contract) fixed price and through this process we have identified there are risks the city will retain, like property acquisition for instance, but we have made it very clear in the process, these are the risks you are assuming and you, proponent, need to put in your proposal with the full understanding that if that risk manifests itself, you’re on the hook for it. That’s how we’re protecting the city’s interests.”

The City of Ottawa, by the way, has earmarked $10 million for LRT art and here’s what Watson had to say about that.

Picture: The west leg of Calgary’s LRT is currently under construction. Photo by the Calgary Sun’s Jim Wells.

Ottawa Stadium Lease Still Not Inked

- May 23rd, 2012

Beacon Sports Capital Partners was missing a key piece of paper when it was trying to woo the Toronto Blue Jays to affiliate with a double-A baseball team in Ottawa.

They didn’t have a signed lease with the City of Ottawa for the Ottawa Stadium.

A city spokeswoman confirmed those lease negotiations are still going on. Presumably they have been happening since council endorsed Beacon Sports as the tenant on Feb. 22. After three months, it appears both sides still aren’t close to a final agreement.

Safe to say when the Blue Jays announced today it’s keeping its double-A affiliate with New Hampshire through 2014, there was some shock and confusion around City Hall. There was no heads-up to this.

But if you don’t have a stadium lease, chances are you aren’t going to get a Major League Baseball franchise interested in your pitch for a minor league team.

It all leads to some very interesting questions about the future of baseball in Ottawa and how to spend city money.

Mayor Jim Watson said today there needs to be a decision by June if an Eastern League team will relocate to Ottawa in 2013. That’s around the corner.

If Beacon Sports doesn’t have a team to move for 2013, you have to wonder what happens to the renovation plan for the stadium. The city is prepared to borrow $5.7 million for renovations, but if there’s no team coming in 2013, will Watson and council still want to sink money into the facility?

Then there’s Beacon Sports, which has agreed to pay $5.5 million for stadium upgrades. Watson seems to have patience to hold out until 2014, but we wait to see if Beacon Sports is game.

Considering the lease isn’t nailed down, things don’t look great for professional baseball in Ottawa in 2013.

The good news for baseball fans? There’s still the Fat Cats.

Monette Considers Running Again

- May 23rd, 2012

Orleans Coun. Bob Monette dropped a little nugget of news at city council today.

He’s considering running again in the 2014 municipal election. Everybody has assumed this would be his last term because he has said on the record he believes councillors should only serve two terms.

I tracked him down later to get more comment.

“I’ve always believed two terms is the right amount of time for a member of council,” Monette said, adding that he believes that after two terms, councillors become stale.

“I’m far from becoming stale. In fact, I’m feeling rejuvenated by the job,” he said.

I suggested to him that people who voted for him on his two-term principle would feel let down, but Monette said more residents are asking why he would step down.

“Things change in politics, things change in life,” he said.

Monette said he’ll make a decision with his wife on whether or not to run again by the end of 2013.

He said it could depend on the progress of some major city initiatives, like LRT, Lansdowne Park, Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017 and boosting employment lands in Orleans.

“When I leave, I want to make sure these things are in place,” Monette said.