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Ottawa’s poorest neighbourhood struggles with growth in light of proposed homeless shelter


Drew Dobson, owner of Finnigan’s Pub in the heart of Vanier, said the new proposed shelter will hurt an already “vulnerable” community.

On June 22, Drew Dobson was struck by the news that the City of Ottawa is proposing a 350-bed Salvation Army homeless shelter to be built in Vanier. That night, much of the neighbourhood gathered at his bar on Montreal Road to express their grievances.

“[This shelter] will hinder and stall the progress we made, and set it back 10 years,” Dobson, owner of Finnigan’s Pub for the last 16 and a half years, said.

Vanier is tucked away in Ottawa’s core, adjacent to the affluent area of Rockliffe Park, where the Prime Minister lives. But Vanier is no 24 Sussex Drive.

One of Ottawa’s oldest neighbourhoods, Vanier boasts the lowest median income in the city, with an average of $38,000 in 2015, according to analyzed data compiled by Statistics Canada. Data also shows that most areas of Vanier has seen a decrease in median income since 2005.

The proposed homeless shelter will hurt an already “vulnerable” neighbourhood, Dobson said. He started an online petition upon hearing of the proposal, and was soon relaying the neighbourhood’s concerns on local and national news outlets.

“I’m opposed to it because of how it is going to affect the residents, and my customers and my friends and my family,” Dobson said. He added he is mainly concerned about how the community will adapt to the introduction of this new shelter.

“I don’t think it can adapt, I think it will enter a downward spiral,” Dobson said. ” … Vanier is one of the poorest areas in Ottawa right now … It’s a have-not area, it needs help, it needs a step-up, not a step-down.”

Dobson said he believes the shelter will cause affluent residents and businesses in the neighbourhood to leave, ultimately “ghettoizing” Vanier.

His grievances are shared by Nathalie Carrier, the executive director of Quartier Vanier BIA, which oversees many of the businesses in the area. Carreir said Vanier has already been struggling due to other decisions made by the city earlier in the year.

“The crime rate in Vanier has risen since June and the direct correlation with that was the, quote-unquote ‘cleaning up’ of the downtown core for Canada Day, and so lots of crime and crime-driven people … were redirected towards Vanier,” Carrier said.

She added there were “some influential companies” that were looking at opening spaces in or around Montreal Road, who have since backed out or halted their progress since the news of the proposed homeless shelter broke.

As a result of the shelter, and other planning decisions like the high concentration of social services in the neighbourhood, Dobson said Vanier is being treated like “a dumping ground” by the City of Ottawa.

“If you want to put it somewhere, put it in Vanier, no one will notice,” he said. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Montreal Road, the area’s main pass and home to Dobson’s pub, has become “social service ghetto,” he said, attracting the poorer populations of Ottawa to Vanier.

But Carrier is quick to say that Vanier is not the crime-ridden, hopeless neighbourhood people around the city make it out to be, and the proposed shelter has put light on a solidarity that exists between residents, and showing “a community that desperately cares about its neighbourhood and the area in which they live.”

The proposed shelter passed in council on Nov. 22. This decision is now being appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Mattieu Fleury, city-councillor for Rideau-Vanier, wrote on his website that “the fight is far from over.”

“Vanier has worked hard to remove the stigma of criminality that’s haunted it since the 1990’s. The community of Vanier is improving, but it is far from being on solid ground,” Fleury wrote.

Entrepreneurship and Canadian women: encouraged to rise

Samantha Armstrong outside her first house flip on Sunnyside Avenue, in Ottawa. Photo provided by Armstrong.

With a wake-up call like 5:10 a.m., Samantha Armstrong doesn’t linger in limbo.

Between coaching personal training clients and meeting potential contractors for her latest house flip, the thirty-one year old has it all planned out: from travel time, to getting her three kids on the bus and even taking the dog for a walk.

“I always knew I probably wouldn’t work for anybody else, just because of my personality,” Armstrong laughed, sipping from her Bridgehead coffee.

“I don’t follow rules very well, so I need to make up my own as I go along.”

It seems to be her motto: defying the odds, and just for kicks.

With only a yoga teacher and personal training certification, Armstrong opened the doors to Iron North in 2015, a fitness studio in Hintonburg, a neighbourhood in Ottawa. Somewhere along the way, she enrolled in a private design school based in New York and created North and Nash, a house flipping business.

To top it off, in September 2017, Armstrong sold her shares in the studio and dove full-time into her real passion for design. Her income for this fiscal year is approximately $107,000 before tax.

“There are days where you think, ‘man, should I really be doing this, or should I go get a nine to five?’” Armstrong said sarcastically. “But every time, entrepreneurship wins.”

With just under three million individuals self-employed in Canada in 2017, one million of those are female, according to an analysis of Statistic Canada’s Labour Force Survey estimates.

In Ontario alone, the survey estimates 393,800 female entrepreneurs— making up almost 40 per cent of the Canadian female total.

“There’s never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur,” said Sonya Shorey, the vice president for marketing and communications at InvestOttawa, a local business consulting and mentorship company. “I truly mean that, especially when you look across all the exciting developments of what’s happening.”


In July 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the backing of women entrepreneurs around the world, dedicating 20 million dollars toward the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

“There’s a lot of political force and will behind the female entrepreneur,” Shorey said, noting the media attention as of late.

Investment opportunities, like the Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) well-exceeded goal to give 700 million dollars-worth of loans in three years until March 2018 provides women with practical financial tools.

“We want to fill a gap in the marketplace,” said Cora-Lee Ratcliffe, the BDC’s Business Centre Manager location in Ottawa.

“Women entrepreneurs make business decisions differently— they take different things into consideration.”

The Ontario city with highest employment income for females was Ottawa, totaling $36,799 before taxes, according to Statistics Canada’s 2015 data. That’s 10 thousand dollars short of meeting the hallway point of the combined household income in Ottawa of $81,450.

Regardless of income numbers, when it comes to security, women are more risk-averse and are less likely to take advantage of investment and financial opportunities, Ratcliffe explained.

“When we look at being a part of changing that, and how we encourage the advancement of women in business, or in any other place,” Ratcliffe said. “Then we’re contributing to the overall course of our GDP and our success of Canada.”

Armstrong believes self-employment isn’t a risk, but an intentional mindset.

“It’s in your own hands, and if you don’t work, you won’t get paid,” Armstrong said matter-of-factly. “It’s not a risk, it’s a fact– you either do it or you don’t.”

This contaminant research lab is on a contaminated site


The land surrounding River Road near the Ottawa airport is sparsely populated with houses, an Asian restaurant and a large government laboratory. These buildings are sitting just metres – for the lab right on top of – an active, high priority contaminated site, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory.

335 River Road is an Environment and Climate Change Canada laboratory, where they study chemical contaminants and oil spills. According to Samantha Bayard, Environment Canada spokesperson, the site once housed a manufacturing facility that could have contaminated the area.

She added, however, that the lab has “a number of storage tanks and there are hazardous materials stored onsite.”

The soil and groundwater around the laboratories are contaminated with chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and halogenated hydrocarbons. Both occur naturally but can be harmful in large amounts.

According to Richard Amos, a Carleton environmental studies professor who specializes in groundwater contaminants, PAHs refer to a larger group of toxins. The harm from these chemicals differs depending on the specific compound, said Amos. The specific compounds on the site are not listed.

“You really don’t want any of them in your drinking water,” said Amos, hand drawn illustrations of chemical compounds sitting on his desk. “Most of these are going to be harmful at some level.”

The full extent of the contamination at this site isn’t yet known. According to the government listing, the site has only had initial testing done, and it was ranked high priority under the National Classification System for Contaminated Sites.

According to the system, high priority means the site typically “shows a propensity for high concern for several factors, and measured or observed impacts have been documented.”

National Classification System for Contaminated Sites (Text)

It isn’t just Environment Canada that has contaminated sites near major city centres. There are a total of 14 active, high priority federal contaminated sites within the Ottawa area alone.


The chemicals at 335 River Road are in the groundwater, according to the listing. Contamination in the groundwater doesn’t necessarily pose a problem on its own, said Amos, given that there isn’t much besides bacteria to be contaminated. The issues arise, however, when the water moves from underground.

The Environment Canada labs are located right beside the Rideau River.

“If contaminants are near a river, it makes it more of a problem because they can be transported more easily,” said Amos, and therefore can affect both the local ecosystem and human health.

Amos said that public knowledge is critical. According to Sabrina Kim, assistant to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, a notice was sent to stakeholders and locals in the community about the site at the end of October this year. She said no one has complained or responded to her office about the notice.

Staff for the ward councillor of Gloucester-Southgate – where the site is – were completely unaware of the site. The staff at Angry Dragonz – the Asian restaurant just down the road from the site – were equally unaware of it, as was the single customer having lunch who works in the area.

“They don’t advertise it, so how would we know?” said the cook at the Angry Dragonz, who did not want to be named. “If we’re not looking for it, how would we know it’s there?”

Bayard declined to answer further questions about the site when asked about the content of the notice and who it was sent to.

The extent – and cost – of fixing the issues of this site are still unknown. According to Bayard, the second round of testing on the site is scheduled to begin this month and will last until March.

Ottawa’s growing Filipino population gets a taste of home with new restaurant

Dhom Rosete welcomes patrons in the entrance of his restaurant Ka Familia, which he opened earlier this year (Photo by Alyssa Del Castillo-Roussy, 2017).

It was a chilly Thursday morning as Dhom Rosete unlocked the doors to his restaurant Ka Familia located in Barrhaven, Ottawa’s west-end neighbourhood. Greeted by a long, fully stocked bar, set tables and a twinkling Christmas tree in the corner, he begins prepping the kitchen for another day at work.

Ka Familia is one of a kind to Ottawa, as there are no other restaurants that specialize in Filipino cuisine, Rosete says. For this very reason, Rosete knew that there was a special place in the city for his business.

The inside of Ka Familia, located at 3570 Strandherd Dr. in Ottawa. 

According to an analysis of Statistics Canada’s immigration census tracts, Ottawa’s Filipino population has seen a 20 per cent increase between 2011 and 2016.

Since 2011, Barrhaven’s Filipino population has tripled and is one of the areas with the highest growth in the city.

The interactive map shows the Ottawa census tracts. The dark colours represent the areas with the highest number of Filipinos in 2016. Clicking inside the census tract boundaries produces a pop-up box with the populations for 2011 and 2016, along with the percent change.


Luisa Veronis a social geographer from the University of Ottawa says Canada’s Filipino population has been thriving since 2006. The data indicates that in Canada, the Filipino population has increased by 25 per cent between 2011 and 2016. Veronis adds that large metropolitan areas are “main gateways of entry-point” for immigrants and often reflect the increased migration.

She attributes the growth mostly to the Live-in Caregiver Program, which was offered by the federal government to foreign workers looking for employment as eldercare, childcare or special needs providers. The program closed in November 2014.

Veronis says since the termination, the Liberal government now encourages more economic migration through work permits as the main means of achieving permanent residency and citizenship in Canada.

Rosete was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Ottawa with his family in 2010 from London, England, where he spent over 20 years developing his passion for cooking. After several visits, Rosete says he quickly fell in love with the city and applied for a work permit so he could start his life in Ottawa.

“I was here for your worst weathers, but I love Ottawa. It is the best place I have ever lived in.” Rosete says.

Before opening Ka Familia, Rosete said he did some research and saw that Ottawa’s west-end overall, areas such as Kanata and Nepean, contained large populations of Filipino immigrants.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder said in an email that her ward has seen some of the fastest growth in recent years. She adds, “Barrhaven has developed SO much in five years…The increase in amenities, housing, schooling, shopping are all reasons why people want to live in Barrhaven!”

Ka Familia hasn’t been open for long, but Rosete says he has seen some customers come from as far as Montreal to try his food (Photo by Alyssa Del Castillo-Roussy, 2017).

Although Rosete says there is a thriving Filipino population in Ottawa, he says what lacks is a physical community like what “Preston St. is to Italians” for Filipinos.

He says he sees customers from a variety of backgrounds but adds, “This is the only Filipino restaurant we have, so we should be proud of what we have… But we need the Filipinos to support us.”

Angelle Rudio a Filipino immigrant who has been living in Ottawa for the past 10 years says, “You miss your culture, you miss your food, you miss your language… I want to connect with people so I go to a community where they can relate with me as a person.”

Even though the demand is there, Rosete says, “Over the past seven years, I have seen [Filipino] restaurants open and close. Hopefully I’m not one of them.”

Ontario emergency departments under pressure


A hospital in Ottawa has recorded the longest emergency department wait times in the province for a third year in a row, according to an analysis of national health data.

In 2016, ten per cent of patients at Montfort Hospital’s emergency department would wait an average of nearly six hours before being assessed by a physician, almost twice as a long as the provincial average of three hours.

“We know we need to do better,” spokesperson Geneviéve Picard wrote in a statement.

Picard said the hospital, located along Montreal Rd. just east of Vanier, has made changes to ensure patients are seen quicker. The changes include hiring more nurses and adding physician hours to the emergency department.

The analysis looked at health data collected by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) up to 2016.

A lack of available hospital beds has been putting “significant” pressure on emergency departments across the province, according to Dr. Paul Pageau, an emergency department physician at the Ottawa Civic Hospital and the President of the Canadian Association for Emergency Physicians.

Patients who are waiting to get transferred to long-term or community care facilities are often placed in emergency departments until those spaces become available, he said.

“To start off a morning where more than half of your available beds to see patients are occupied by non-emergency patients,” he said, “that’s going to delay that initial physician assessment.”

Ontario has cut the number of hospital beds by 18,000 since 1990 and has just 2.3 beds per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the Ontario Health Coalition. That’s one bed less than the national average.

Hundreds of hospital staff from across the province descended on the grounds of Montfort Hospital at the end of October calling on the government to end cuts and create 3,000 permanent hospital beds. Days before the protest, Health Minister Eric Hoskins had announced the province would make 2,000 beds available within the year.

The time it takes to see an emergency department phyisician is only one part of what CIHI Analyst Nicole Loreti calls a “complex issue”.

A report from the institute found the length of stay for emergency department visits is up by 17 per cent across the country compared to 5 years ago. In the past year, one in ten emergency department visits lasted longer than 32 hours.

“If they see a doctor quickly and then still have to wait for 33 hours to get into a bed, from the patient perspective that’s what they’ll remember,” Loreti said.

She also noted that while patients at Montfort might wait longer to see a doctor in the emergency department, their total length of stay is shorter than national and provincial averages. One in ten patients would be in the department for longer than 21 hours, according to the most recent data.

A lack of available beds has contributed to what the Ontario Hospital Association calls a “crisis” of overcrowding. Nearly half the province’s hospitals exceed 100 per cent capacity, with some as high as 140 per cent.

Ontario’s Auditor General report noted that, in some cases, patients were being kept on uncomfortable stretchers or gurneys in hallways never intended for care.

A lack of available hospital beds has been putting “significant” pressure on emergency departments across the province, said Dr. Paul Pageau, physician at Ottawa Civic Hospital. Source: Jordan Omstead.

“I can’t remember the last time we were under 100 per cent capacity,” Pageau said in a cafe at the civic hospital, as nurses and doctors on their morning break filed in and out of line for coffee.

“We all got into emergency medicine to help people,” he said, “but it can beat you down after fighting for things for so long.”

Contaminants remain in popular Ottawa park


The soil and groundwater in Hurdman Park contains numerous contaminants, with nearly 50 total hectares contaminated by four individual sites, a federal database shows.

The organization responsible for the park, the National Capital Commission, lists Hurdman Park as an urban green space and as valued natural habitat. However, the NCC refused to answer any questions about whether the contaminants were a concern or if the contaminants were hazardous. The City of Ottawa refused to make anyone from Ottawa Public Health available for comment.

The interactive map shows the contaminated sites in Hurdman Park. Click on a site to find out more information.

Data from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Mario Tremblay, a strategic communications advisor for the NCC who works on capital planning and land use, said by email that the Hurdman sites have been “subject to environment site assessments…which have characterized the environmental quality of the soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment.” He did not clarify what the quality had been characterized as.

“[D]ue to active construction at these properties… any further action such as development of remedial action plans will not commence until construction at these sites is completed,” he said.

The federal database lists all four sites in Hurdman Park as having “detailed testing completed” and states that remedial action plans are under development.

The active construction at Hurdman Park for the LRT Confederation Line is scheduled to end in Winter 2017.

Tremblay said that all sites have been subject to a “Phase II ESA,” an environmental site assessment. However, the website for AEL environment, an environmental engineering firm based in Mississauga, states that “Phase III ESA is the phase at which remedial work occurs to address contamination,” meaning that it is only with in Phase III that contaminants are actually removed and not just identified as being in the soil.

Two of the sites are listed as needing additional assessment and remedial activities, suggesting that the contaminants in the soil are worthy of attention and need to be removed. All four sites are listed as high priority for action.

The listed contaminants include petroleum hydrocarbons, or PHCs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which come from oil, coal or bitumen. The contaminants also contain metals and metalloids. Though experts contacted for this article were unable to confirm how hazardous the contaminants at Hurdman Park are, the Canadian Council for Ministers of the Environment website states that “PHC contamination can cause a wide variety of problems related to their toxicity, mobility and persistence” and a 2010 report from the same organization lists the “unsubstantiated PAHs that are known or strongly suspected to act as carcinogens in humans.” The federal database does not specify whether substantiated or unsubstantiated PAHs are present in the park.

Formerly a city dump, Hurdman Park is now a popular park for cyclists and runners, who don’t seem to mind the pipes emerging from the ground that funnel methane gas from the remainder of the landfill into the air.

Tubes like this one are common in the park. They allow for the methane from the landfill buried beneath the park to escape.
Nathaniel Dove

Mike Giunta lives nearby. He says that the contamination doesn’t bother him. “Contamination, it’s relative. I mean, the river is probably contaminated too, at some level. I wouldn’t drink the water out of it. It doesn’t concern me”

“I don’t know if anyone wants to have their house on it but I think, as it is, it’s probably fine.”

Mike Giunta lives near Hurdman. He says the contamination doesn’t bother him.
Nathaniel Dove

Roseanne and Greg Hart have lived near the park for decades and frequently walk through it, even on this cold December day. While they both knew the site used to be a dump, they were unaware that they were standing metres from a listed contaminated site.

Roseanne and Greg Hart have been walking through the park for decades. They were unaware of the extent of the contamination.
Nathaniel Dove

“I think it’s good for a green space,” said Greg. “Just don’t go digging it up,” said Roseanne.


The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment report mentioned in this article, as well as a report commissioned by the City of Ottawa in 1988 to investigate sites that may have contaminants, are below.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons 2010 (En) (Text)

Intera Mapping and Assessment of Former Industrial Sites (Text)

Cosmetic operations on the rise

Jasmine Cristancho has received breast enhancements, liposuction and a buttock augmentation in Colombia. (Photo| Marina Wang)

Jasmine Cristancho wore a tight white dress that hugged her Kim Kardashian-like curves while she sat in her luxury apartment in Medellin, Colombia. “I just love plastic surgery,” said the 32-year old from London, England. “I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve have operations over here, and the results have been amazing.” A white cardigan hid the bruises on her back from a recent liposuction. Cristancho is one in an increasing number of patients receiving cosmetic surgeries around the world.

According to an analysis of data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), between 2015 and 2016, the global number of cosmetic procedures rose by 9% to a total of over 23 million operations around the world.

Cristancho was in Colombia for the fourth time for plastic surgery. She’s now had breast enhancements, liposuction, and a buttock augmentation. High prices in North America and Europe have driven a medical tourism industry in places like Medellin—a city that’s been colloquially called the ‘silicone valley’. Medical tourists are offered multi-operation packages and post-operative care at a discounted rate. Breast implants, liposuction, and a buttock augmentation often costs less than $10,000 USD.

(Hover over each point to learn more about common cosmetic procedures. Image| Flickr: dou_ble_you)

According to an analysis of ISAPS data, Greece had the highest number of procedures per capita last year at 26 operations for every thousand people. South Korea also had a high rate at 23 people for every thousand in 2015 (South Korea was excluded from the 2016 report due to insufficient data). In Greece, the majority of operations were non-surgical face-tightening procedures and in South Korea, eyelid surgery was the most common operation.

Map: Per capita rate of cosmetic operations based on data from the ISAPS. Click on each country to see a breakdown of the type of procedures performed.


Dr. Nick Carr, head of plastic surgery at the University of British Columbia, said that figures for the number of operations done in Canada can be estimated using data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS). According to Carr’s method of estimation, around 1.4 million cosmetic procedures were performed in Canada in 2016.

Carr said that a higher demand for cosmetic operations has been noticeable, with the most dramatic increase in non-surgical procedures such as injectables and laser treatments. According to Carr, social media, pop culture and peer group influence were some of the factors driving the demand. “It’s common that I’ll get people showing me pictures of a celebrity that they want to look like for a breast or buttock augmentation. They’ll often have a picture of Kim Kardashian or whoever…Megan Fox’s nose, you name it.”

Carr also said that more recently, many of the operations he performs are related to a high obesity rate. A growing East Asian population in Vancouver, B.C. has also led to a higher demand in double-eyelid surgery. A small proportion of his clients also seek operations to enhance their professional careers.

Chris Green, a 23-year-old also based in Vancouver B.C., is planning on having upper lip enhancements and a liposuction in the chin next year.  “I want bigger lips because I dance for a living,” he said. “You’ll have agents and stuff that try to push that.”

Green also said that in his field, people usually have operations either for professional reasons or out of insecurity.  “As a dancer we can work out the body, but other things can’t be corrected with exercise,” he said. “You can’t always fix genetics.”

Richie Araish, a 25-year-old hairstylist from Markham Ont., had difficulty with breathing, nosebleeds, and infections from breaking his nose. He decided to give his reconstructive rhinoplasty a cosmetic spin. “I’m in an industry where appearance is everything, so I was so self-conscious about my nose,” he said. “It’s like 300 times better. I think if anybody is really willing to do it then they should. It’s for them and not for anybody else.”

Richie Araish’s rhinoplasty, before and after

Complaints about discarded needles on the rise in Ottawa


According to an analysis of data by the City of Ottawa, the number of complaints about discarded needles has increased by nearly 50 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

A total of 144 complaints were filed with Ottawa’s 3-1-1 Contact Centre in 2016 – the centre then makes arrangements for discarded needle pickup. According to the City’s website, workers “make an effort to respond to all needle retrieval requests within one hour.”

Current data shows that the first eight months of 2017 is recording an even higher volume of complaints than 2016 did.


Total Number of Complaints by Year

This graph shows the number of complaints about discarded needles per each year since 2013, according to City of Ottawa 3-1-1 data.

Total Number of Complaints per Month (2016 vs. 2017)

This graph is a comparison between the first eight recorded months of 2017 with the same months in 2016 in terms of the number of complaints about discarded needles filed monthly, according to City of Ottawa 3-1-1 data.


Councillor Mathieu Fleury, whose ward, Rideau-Vanier, has the highest number of complaints, says that the increase of complaints over the years show a “shift” in drug use.

He says the rise of Canada’s opioid crisis has signified a change in the types of drugs being used. Opioids, like heroin, are usually administered intravenously. Fleury says the increased usage of injection as the preferred drug intake method has naturally led to more needles being found in the streets.

Discarded needles present a danger to residents, especially children and pets like dogs, as they are sharp and may be contaminated.

Julia Paulson has worked for the past two summers as a City of Ottawa parks maintenance worker. She says that a portion of her duties were to safely retrieve needles from parks when complaints were called in to 3-1-1.

Julia Paulson, in her home in Ottawa. Paulson was a City of Ottawa parks maintenance worker for the past two summers. (Photo by Jasmine Law)

She says she noticed more needle retrieval requests this past summer than last. “We get in our truck and usually go immediately to the area, as the City takes these complaints seriously and want someone to get the needles as soon as the complaint is filed.”

Even for a trained worker with safety equipment, she says that the pickup process can be uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. As she mimes the proper way to pick a used needle up off the floor, she says she can understand the fear the complainants have when they spot one.

“You can’t help but think, ‘There could be infectious diseases on this,’ she says, with a note of tension in her voice. “I’ve heard horror stories from other city workers.”

During training sessions for the job, Paulson says a story was told where one employee wasn’t holding the end of the needle away from his body and accidentally stabbed himself when he stumbled.

Hannah Walt is a Masters of Social Work student at Carleton University who has worked in several harm reduction programs over the past few years.

Walt says that discarded needles do present a danger to residents – but that’s why supervised injection sites are so important. Drug users need a place to safely administer drugs under supervision, where they can be watched for danger of overdosing but also to make sure these used needles are safely disposed of properly.

She says many people who are critical of the injection sites don’t understand that it actually makes everyone safer – the users and the community residents, by keeping discarded needles off of streets.

Fleury says that he’s filed two inquiries to Ottawa Public Health, one about treatment options and the other about needle hunters, since the opening of the new supervised injection site in his ward at 179 Clarence Street.

He wants to know what kinds of treatment services Public Health is providing at the injection site, and if there are plans to expand needle hunters’ contracts in his ward. Needle hunters are those who specifically patrol areas to find needles and dispose of them – before they are complained about. Currently, he says hunters don’t work weekends but he is interested in seeing if that needs to be changed to meet demand.

Fleury wonders, “Are we flexible enough to respond to these new needs of both the drug users and the community?”

Dog barking worse than their bite according to latest data


By Hayley Kirsh

According to an analysis of data from the City of Ottawa’s monthly service requests, dog barking consistently has the highest number of complaints regarding animals in the city.

The data comes from Ottawa 311, a non-emergency system that allows citizens a fast and easy way to make complaints about issues they’re experiencing in the neighbourhood regarding animals, garbage, noise, and more.

In 2016, dog barking made up one third of the total number of complaints submitted to the system. Between January and October 2017, dog barking still saw the highest number of complaints with a total of 1757 complaints being made.

(The following Ottawa 311 data from 2016 shows the top ten complaints made in regards to animals in the city)


Trina Etmanksie lives in the Gloucester-South Nepean ward just south of Carleton University. This past September, she came home to find a Chihuahua named Chester waiting for her at the front door.

She was so excited that she tried to let him sleep in her bed but after the first night his cries were too much, she says.

The small, brown and white speckled puppy has high and loud levels of energy throughout the day, she says as he jumps around playfully behind her chair. “Now, before bedtime, I try to tire him out by playing with his toys. He loves to chew things,” she says, lifting a pale brown boot in the air. Last week, Etmanskie came home to find her new shoe had tiny teeth marks.

Trina Etmanskie holds up Chester in his new Christmas sweater. Photo by Hayley Kirsh.

“We’re crate training him, so at night if he’s too loud we’ll throw a blanket over the crate to trick him into sleeping,” she says. “His barking has gotten a little better, but Chihuahua’s are known for their ‘sass’.”

Elise Muchmaker lives in the Alta Vista ward. Two weeks ago she made a call into 311 after a barking dog kept her up until two in the morning. “I heard it before I went to bed at around 11 p.m.,” she says. The barking continued for the next few hours but she was too tired to call in.

Muchmaker said the dog slipped from her mind until later the following day when her daughter said she had also heard it in the early morning. “I’ve owned a dog all my life and if they’re barking that much, something’s wrong,” says Muchmaker.

Muchmaker then dialed 311, “Come to think of it, I haven’t heard the dog since,” she says.

She says she is happy with how fast the City responded to the situation, evident by the lack of barking she hears now.

According to the City of Ottawa website, after a complaint is made an officer is sent to examine. A courtesy warning is often issued first but continued violations may result in fines or court proceedings.

All animal-related issues are under the Animal Care and Control By-Law. The by-law specifically states that, “No person shall keep, own, or harbour in the City any animal which makes or causes noises that disturb or are likely to disturb the peace, quiet, rest, enjoyment, or comfort of any person in the vicinity or the neighbourhood.”

Kevin Burns has been a dog trainer for the past 37 years and says the best way to deal with a barking dog is to ignore them.

A big issue he finds with his clients and dog owners in general is that they think all dogs want to be leaders. The barking is them acting out to protect their property, he says, “In truth, the owners need to act as the leaders. Once the dog sees you’re not afraid then they won’t be.”

In his training Burns emphasizes, “It’s about changing the dog’s brain and then their behaviour will follow.”



Garbage issues a cause for concern for Ottawa residents

Kaitlyn Leigh, 27, outside her Ottawa home. (Nov. 19, 2017)

Roadside garbage collection has been a cause for concern in Ottawa according to an analysis of the city’s 2017 monthly 311-request datasets.

From the beginning of the year until October there has been just over 29,000 complaints to Ottawa’s 311 service concerning garbage.

Kaitlyn Leigh, a resident of Barrhaven, has accounted for five of those complaints and argues that the city needs to do a better job when collecting garbage.

Her frustration comes from multiple instances where Leigh returned home from work to find remaining debris and bins sprawled out among her front yard.

“They’re just lazy, they pick it up and toss it in without caring if the bags rip or if they leave anything behind,” said a frustrated Leigh outside her home.

Leigh’s complaints are no stranger to Barrhaven as the ward has accounted for the highest amount of roadside garbage complaints in Ottawa so far this year. Their 1,921 complaints are 140 more than the next closest area in Kitchissippi.

This comes as no surprise to Leigh who moved to Ottawa in early 2016. She says that it has become a trend in the area and that she and her neighbours are growing tired of picking up after the garbage collection workers.

“If we follow the schedule and place the correct items in the correct bins we shouldn’t have to wake up and find it on our lawns,” said Leigh.

When it comes to garbage, 311 requests can be made to the city if there were items left behind or if a street has been uncollected. Which is another type of complaint that Leigh was forced to make.

After Easter weekend, Leigh made another call to Ottawa 311 to report that her street had been uncollected. She was told that there had been a mistake in the schedule after the holiday and that it would be picked up the following week.

“The most annoying part of it was having to stash the garbage and wait a whole week for it to be picked up again,” said Leigh, “I never understood why they couldn’t have sent another truck out the pick up what they had missed.”

Almost 45 per cent of the garbage-related requests this year have involved organics. Kina Leclair, the city of Ottawa’s senior communication officer, says that often times animals can get into green bins overnight causing a mess to be left behind. Her advice for homeowners is to make sure the bins are secured or if possible take them out the morning of collection day.

“It’s the best way to avoid the mess and to avoid having unwanted animals getting into your garbage at night,” said Leclair.

Garbage complaints account for over 11 per cent of the city’s total 246,000 service requests that have been recorded until October of this year.

The city has remained fairly silent on the issue however Leclair has stated that the city tries to attend to as many issues as possible. However, with the overwhelming number of complaints each month it becomes difficult to keep up.

“We encourage those who have an issues to keep reporting to the city and we’ll do our best to resolve it,” said Leclair.

As of October in 2016, the city had exactly 1,000 less complaints concerning garbage than they’ve had this year. But the city feels as tough this trend will not continue in the years ahead.