City hopes new technology will reduce the amount of salt on roads

November 24, 2009

By Mark Brownlee

Rock salt. Photo: Chris Ferguson

The City of Ottawa is hoping new technology will help reduce the adverse effects of salt spreading on roads during the winter months.

The new technology, consisting of a black box with antennas that attaches to each snowplow, will tell city officials how much salt has been set down and which roads have been covered by transmitting data from each plow to a central system.

“Salting is our first defence against winter storms,” said Councillor Maria McRae, chair of the transportation committee in a statement issued Tuesday. “With this technology, we can better manage what we spread while maintaining safe roadways for motorists.”

City officials say the global positioning system (GPS) technology could reduce the amount of salt used on city roads by as much as 13,300 tonnes. That could save the city as much as $1 million each year.
Read the rest of this entry »


New Canadians hope to save local school from closure

November 24, 2009

By Meghan Potkins

Grade 9 Rideau High School student Alec Crete hopes he won’t have to change schools next September.

“I don’t want to have to start all over again. You know when you come to a new school and everything… I don’t want to do that at another school,” he said.

Parents and students whose schools are being considered for closure in the Ottawa-Carleton school district will have a second chance to express their concerns Wednesday night following a public meeting on Monday.

The school closure recommendations were raised in a school board review last month as a cost-cutting measure, and target schools with lower enrolment levels.

Rideau High School is on the list for possible closures along with two Merivale-area elementary schools.
Read the rest of this entry »

Pilot project highlights homelessness, more needed

November 24, 2009

By Chris Ferguson

A couple supported by the Ottawa mission in the ByWard Market. Photo provided courtesy of the Ottawa Mission.

Advocates for Ottawa’s homeless hope a new nationwide research project will help people get off the city’s streets.

The $110 million pilot project, led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, will study the relationship between mental illness and homelessness.

“We’re hopeful that their research will demonstrate what those of us who work in the field already know,” said Marion Wright, chair of Ottawa’s local Alliance to End Homelessness.

The project will provide 1,325 homeless Canadians with supportive housing to determine how best to help people who are homeless and suffering from mental illness. The participants will live on their own but receive regular visits from counsellors and maintain contact with support services.

The cities of Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver will take part, and the project will run until 2013.

Wright said although the study doesn’t include Ottawa, the need for supportive housing is dire in the city. She says Ottawa’s waiting list for this type of housing has 2,600 names on it, but there are currently only 915 spaces. The pilot project is a great thing, she said, but it just scratches the surface of the need. Read the rest of this entry »

“Bill C-311 means nothing” Conservative MP says

November 24, 2009

Chantaie Allick

"Polar Ice Rim, Norway." Photo Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten. Used under creative commons license (limited rights reserved).

Opposition MPs, expert witnesses and even a member of the Conservative government all agree that Canada has no plan to combat climate change.

The standing committee on environment and sustainable development met Tuesday to discuss Bill C-311, a private members bill introduced by the NDP to combat climate change.

The bill is currently the only legislation moving through the House that addresses climate change and, according to an expert witness who spoke at the committee meeting, it falls far short compared to efforts in both the US and China, two important Canadian economic partners.

Dennis Tirpak of the Word Resources Institute told the committee that, “While far from comprehensive, I believe the bill sets in motion a process that would allow Canada to resume its place amongst countries that are leading the fight against global warming.”

The Government MPs focused their discussion on a continental solution as the best option for Canada, despite evidence from experts that it wouldn’t be possible given the complicated US legislation and legislative process.

Jeff Watson, the Conservative member for Essex, Ontario, bluntly stated that C-311 “ultimately means nothing,” because it does not propose legislation but simply sets targets.
Read the rest of this entry »

H1N1 forces record number of surgery cancellations at Ottawa Hospital

November 24, 2009

By Mark Brownlee

Photo Credit: Kim Mackrael

The Ottawa Hospital has been forced to postpone more elective surgeries already this November than any other one-month period on record. The increase in H1N1-related hospital admissions has contributed to the postponement of 143 elective surgeries this month.

According to Ottawa Public Health, 164 residents of the Ottawa area were admitted to hospital since September with H1N1. As of Monday, the Ottawa Hospital had 11 confirmed cases of H1N1.

Allison Neill, director of public affairs at the Ottawa Hospital, said the surgeries were cancelled because of a shortage in the number of beds available at the hospital. H1N1 admissions added to the strain the hospital was already experiencing because of a lack of long-term care facility space.

“That patient who comes to emergency and needs to be admitted to hospital has to take priority for obvious reasons,” said Neill. Read the rest of this entry »

Flu vaccinations: How many do you need?

November 24, 2009

By Britt Harvey

Juliana Pari administers the H1N1 vaccine to a patient. Photo: Kim Mackrael

As he waited outside Tom Brown arena for his H1N1 vaccine, Lloyd Greene smoked a cigarette and stomped his feet impatiently.

“I just hate waiting,” he said. “I’m an impatient man.”

The 68-year-old thought that his H1N1 vaccine would be enough to keep him in good health all winter long. But Greene may need to wait in line for a second flu shot this year.

Dr. Earl Brown, a University of Ottawa virologist, stressed that since the H1N1 vaccination does not guard against the seasonal flu, Ottawans should be prepared to get both shots.

“The H1N1 vaccine does not give you much protection against the seasonal flu. It is not something that you should count on,” he said. “The H1N1 high risk groups are the young, with the seasonal flu it is the 65 and over that are in more danger of dying.” Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Hartwells Body Smart on Winter Running

November 24, 2009

Chris Ferguson and Britt Harvey ask Running Room’s Jeff Dodds about
running in the winter