Housing for seniors vs. housing for students

July 2015

Is it time to address student housing issues the same way we address seniors' housing? Can we improve the lives of students — and their neighbours — by ensuring an adequate supply of appropriately designed, affordable, safe and conveniently located units?"

What if we took steps to ensure that our students are part of a community that shares many of their interests and is invested in their wellbeing, and where their needs can be catered to in a thoughtful way by trained professionals?: Nutrition, hygiene, preventing isolation, access to transit and to active travel modes like walking and cycling, which can help prevent the diseases of a modern, sedentary lifestyle.

Main Street renewal: Two years of pain for long-term gain

June 2015

The full-scale reconstruction of Main Street from end to end is beginning in earnest, and the appearance of big shovels means major traffic detours along with other disruptions for the next two years.

Most local residents and regular users of Main Street, including residents in Old Ottawa South, knew this was coming — there have been three years of public meetings, a City Council debate, detailed design work, preparatory utility work and 20-plus meetings of a Public Working Group of residents as well as affected businesses and institutions.

Still, as with any project that will significantly affect so many people in Capital Ward, it's my job to ensure that good communication is established and maintained between the City and residents, businesses, educational institutions, churches and all other affected parties.

O'Connor Bike Lane promises much better conditions, but it's not perfect

June 2015

A recommendation to proceed with a North-South bike lane on O'Connor St., from Parliament Hill to Lansdowne, will come to Council for approval in late June. The proposed design would see dedicated/segregated lanes for the entire Centretown section and some of the Glebe section, but not all — the report recommends shared lanes between Strathcona and Fifth Aves.

As is typical of a major project affecting many people and organizations, the recommended outcome will not satisfy everyone. To the many people who advocated for a dedicated cycling lane along the entire recommended route, with no exceptions, I hope you will understand that the City made a concerted effort to achieve that result.

Women’s World Cup an opportunity to look beyond gender in sports

May 2015

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is coming to Canada, to Ottawa and to Capital Ward this June! I am excited. Very excited. I’ve purchased two passports to all the Ottawa games and I’ll be watching as many as I can get away with (maybe checking a few scores during the slow moments of some meetings) because I love soccer. I love women’s soccer.

In my final year at Queen’s University, when it became painfully obvious that my own competitive days were numbered, a friend recruited me as co-coach of the women’s soccer team. They — we — went on to win the Ontario championship in 1984.

It’s instructive to take that little nostalgic trip back in time because, back in the 1980s, there was no national tournament for women’s soccer. This was as far as you could go, so who knows what our Queen’s squad was capable of that year.

Access to greenspace is not optional

April 2015

With all the attention paid to road maintenance, waste management and other municipal priorities, it's easy to overlook the importance of urban parks and greenspace. And yet they are crucial to maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing, and to strengthening the social fabric of a thriving city.
Studies have shown that encounters with the natural world are beneficial, whether it's a walk in the woods, a few moments sitting in the shade of a large tree, or taking your children to watch ducks dabble in the river.

Time spent enjoying the outdoors leads to measurable decreases in depression and stress among people of all ages. Educators believe it promotes children's intellectual and emotional development, fosters imagination and creativity, and helps them build social relationships. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

In dementia patients, spending time in a garden improves cognitive function and reduces agitation and aggressive behaviour. Speaking of gardens, community plots provide not only nutritious produce, but also opportunities for social interaction — two health benefits in one!
In short, parks and other open public spaces offer opportunities to rest, relax, play, get some exercise and make friends, all of which deliver physical and psychological benefits. That's good for everyone, regardless of your economic or social status, level of education, or stage of life.

Considering the many positive effects, it's unfortunate that parks and natural areas are thought of by many as good, but not essential; nice, but perhaps less important than filling potholes — especially if that pothole is on your street and you already have a spacious backyard in which to putter around.