Saturday, January 15, 2011

Stinky Business !
How's that bi-weekly garbage collection proposal workin' for ya ? Are ya lovin' it ?
Probably not -- unless you're one of those who cram their freezers with used meat trays, fish heads, rinds from strong cheese and other items guaranteed to stink up the kitchen until it's time to download into the green bin for collection by the city.
Would you believe there are people who actually are doing this now -- storing kitchen waste in their freezers -- and writing letters to daily newspapers smugly advising the rest of us that the green bin is the way to go, they never have any problems with stench, fruit flies, maggots or vermin, and the sooner we slackers get with the program, the better.
Citizen Ellie prefers to use her freezer to store meat, poultry, fish and bread bargains from Costco along with a supply of home-made MREs. (For the uninitiated, MREs are meals ready to eat -- mac and cheese, beef, chicken or lamb stew, shepherd's pie, baked beans -- all lovingly prepared by Citizen Ellie's own hand. Processed food rarely crosses Citizen Ellie's threshold.)
Citizen Ellie is not totally without conscience when it comes to recycling. The blue and black boxes are heavily used. Empty beer (including cans), wine and liquor bottles are returned to the store. Garden refuse is also put out for collection. But as she lives in the neighborhood where the kitchen refuse recycling scheme was tried out as a pilot project, Citizen Ellie is only too aware of what can result. Maggots and flies are bad enough, but rats, skunks and raccoons are something else. Disease-carriers, that's what they are and Citizen Ellie is surprised at the strange silence of public health officials on this issue.
As the green bin program was not an overwhelming success in its first year, obviously many Ottawans remain unconvinced that this is the route to go in order to reduce the requirement for landfill sites. Many Ottawans are now just waking up to the fact that the previous council followed extremely poor advice provided by city staff charged with the project (who thankfully have all left the city's employ) and signed a 20-year contract with a company (Orgaworld) to compost food waste from green bins. (Some councillors are just waking up to this fact too !)
This contract committed the city (meaning you and me, taxpayers) to providing 80,000 tonnes of organic waste in the first and last years -- regardless of the amount of waste collected. Cost per tonne -- $100.
In the first year (2010) the city collected 53,000 tonnes -- this included lawn and yard waste. In an average year, the city collects 30,000 tonnes of lawn and yard waste. If only 23,000 tonnes of kitchen waste came from the green bins it's no wonder that those geniuses at city hall now want to bludgeon green bin refuseniks into joining the program by threatening bi-weekly garbage collection, replacing the weekly service we currently enjoy and pay for through a garbage surcharge on our tax bills. Green bins, naturally, would be collected once a week. And there's more -- instead of using black box for newspaper, cardboard etc. and blue box for glass, plastics and aluminum products, all this stuff would go into one box. Won't this mean an increase in time spent sorting -- and added costs ?
In order to bring refuseniks on board, the city has already spent $100,000.00 on a TV commercial featuring a bunch of politically-correct elementary schoolchildren thanking viewers (in a multitude of languages) for saving the planet -- presumably by using green bins. Citizen Ellie had a hard time figuring out the message and it sure wasn't initially apparent that this bumf was sponsored by the city.
Now the Environmental Services Committee chaired by Councillor Maria McRae (a thankless job if there ever was one) aided by city staff, are holding a series of waste management public consultations throughout the city to get citizens' views on this latest proposal. Too bad they didn't hold public consultations before they signed the Orgaworld contract ! There's also a spot on the city's web site purporting to answer questions about the green bin program in order to help you understand it, but the content is sorely lacking in the facts and figures required in order to make an informed choice. If the TV commercial and the information on www. are products of the city's public relations/information staff, then this is a department which should be seriously looked at should staff cuts be required at city hall in order to meet Mayor Jim's 2.5% tax increase ceiling.
What we're seeing with this bi-weekly garbage collection proposal is typical of how city hall approaches a problem. New thinking ? New ideas ? Not on your life ! It's so much easier just to stick it to the homeowner as has been done with the green bin program. It doesn't apply to apartment dwellers or to commercial enterprises who probably generate as much or more of the stuff going into landfills than homeowners.
What we need at city hall is the approach taken by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford -- i.e. come up with a new plan/approach or be fired !
When Ottawans voted last October, they didn't vote for "more of the same". The council housecleaning should be an indication to the newly- elected and city staff that change was wanted and is expected. We're tired of the stupidity which has resulted in Ottawa ratepayers paying the highest property taxes in the country ! And for sure we're tired of paying more for less service !

More News from the Food World.....
Citizen Ellie fervently hopes Chef Michael Smith isn't planning to serve lobster at the upcoming Winterlude gala dinner. Or seal flipper pie......
Now that animal rights activists, irate over the inclusion of foie gras on the dinner menu have forced renowned Montreal Chef Martin Picard to back out of this prestigious culinary gig, extreme care must be taken when the chef chooses appetizers, entrees etc. so as not to offend the PETA crowd.
It's unfortunate that the organizers of the gala dinner demonstrated themselves to be gutless wonders, caving in to the complaints of a few to the disadvantage of the many. Wonder how many of the complainants had even purchased tickets to the event ?
Brass balls are in short supply in this city.
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Heads Out Of The Sand, People !

Ottawa Police currently have a spate of house-breakings on their hands, in the Glebe and the Civic Hospital area. Local media is reporting that as many as 25 homes in these neighborhoods have been hit in recent days. Thieves have taken money, jewellery and small electronic devices -- things readily tradeable for crystal meth, crack cocaine or whatever the perp's drug of choice might be.
Thanks to some nitwits who blithely told CTV Ottawa's John Hua that New Edinburgh was such a safe neighborhood that doors were not locked, residents in this area can expect a good dose of the same.
These comments were made to John Hua when he interviewed Stanley Avenue residents following the New Year's Day homicide which occurred on that street.
Obviously the numbskulls Mr. Hua spoke to were new to the 'Burgh when they issued their open invitation to every crack and meth-head in the city. Unlike other 'Burgh residents, the folk on Stanley Avenue appear to live pretty sheltered lives. Unlike their counterparts in other sections of the 'Burgh, they haven't experienced the joy of waking up in the morning to find their car has been broken into or the pleasure of coming home from work to find that someone has been in their house and some of their stuff is gone.
'Burghers who live closer to Beechwood Avenue are quite familiar with this type of criminal activity. Their streets have been invaded by crackheads who wander around trying car door handles. You can see them pursuing this activity in the parking lots at the local Second Cup, Metro and Loblaws.
They've been known to defecate in shrubs and hedges on private property. They spend time thieving in the Metro and Loblaws. They panhandle on Beechwood in front of the hardware store and they put the touch on motorists stopped at red lights at the corner of the Vanier Parkway and Beechwood. They've become so bold that they now try people's front doors in the hope that an unlocked door will give them easy access to a purse, a Blackberry, I-Pod or I-Pad.
The local drugstore now has big signs in its windows stating that oxycontin and other narcotics are only available through special order -- meaning there are none in the store. There's a reason for this. Drug stores are favorite targets of the addicted.
Drug abuse is endemic in Ottawa. No neighborhood is spared. The cops know it. Our elected representatives know it. The schools know it. The health care system knows it. Feeding the habit is behind the car break-ins, house break-ins and a lot of other criminal activity which goes unreported because the victims know there will be no justice for them.
Citizens have to protect themselves and it's a sad state of affairs when one must turn one's home into a fortress -- but that's today's reality. Maybe more cops walking the beat might make a difference. Perhaps Chief Vern White could show the flag by touring afflicted neighborhoods in that LAV purchased for the force by the taxpayers, or send in cops on those fancy computer-equipped motorcycles, also purchased by the taxpayers. Clearly something has to be done before ordinary folk turn into vigilantes.
Heads out of the sand, people ! No neighborhood is so safe that doors can remain unlocked or accessible basement and other windows can remain unbarred. Remember that Russell Williams gained access to his victim's homes through basement windows. And for those 'Burghers who believe they're living in one of the safest parts of town -- Citizen Ellie can recall several homicides occurring in that part of town in recent memory.

Free Rides For All ?
A group of University of Ottawa students is taking their student union to court for increasing fees by 5% in order to fund the mandatory U-Pass program.
For those of you who don't know, U-Pass provides cheap rides on OC Transpo for university students. The complainants say the pass isn't useful for those who live close to the university or who, for other reasons, don't ride the buses.
Wonder if property owners who don't use OC Transpo could have a tax reduction using the same argument. In Citizen Ellie's case, she'd have close to $1000 in her jeans if she wasn't subsidizing cheap bus fares for students and well-paid public sector employees. Maybe Citizen Ellie should start a campaign for free OC Transpo passes for senior citizens. Everyone else wants a free ride. Why shouldn't she ?
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