March 15, 2018: Look Up. Look Wa-a-ay Up!; A week to watch the sky.

March 15, 2018: Look Up. Look Wa-a-ay Up!;
A week to watch the sky.

By Mark Narwa.

The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest single structure that humans have ever put into space. Sixteen countries including Canada were involved with the construction of the International Space Station. The first phase of the construction of the ISS was launched November 20,1998. Additional phases were launched during ensuing years until June 2011.

The Space Station is 109 metres in length which is about the size of a football field. This length consists mostly of its solar panels. It orbits the Earth at an altitude from 330 km to 435 km, and circles the globe every 90 minutes (16 times a day) at a speed of 28,000 km per hour. In one day, it travels the equivalent of the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back.

The ISS is the second brightest object in the night sky after the Moon. What makes it so bright is that it reflects sunlight off its solar panels. Knowing where to look for the Space Station, one can see it with the naked eye as a bright light moving at great speed across the night sky until it passes out of sight. The last week of March is a good time to spot the International Space Station over Ottawa when it will be passing by in the early evenings.

The first artificial satellite to be launched into space was Sputnik 1, launched on October 4, 1957 by the USSR. Today, there are over 2,000 functioning satellites launched by different countries, orbiting Earth. These consist of surveillance satellites, weather satellites, remote sensing satellites, communication satellites and navigational satellites.

Artificial satellites in low orbit (300km to 500km) above the Earth, can be seen with the naked eye when they reflect sunlight from their metallic bodies and solar panels. The brightness depends on the size and altitude of the satellite. The ideal time to look for satellites is 1 hour after sunset, especially in the spring and summer when the Earth’s shadow is low in the sky. Dozens of satellites can be seen with the naked eye, on a clear night.

To the naked eye, the artificial satellites look like a white bright star gliding steadily against the background of stars. You will know that you are looking at a satellite and not an airplane because there will be no sound or flashing lights. The satellites travel at a speed of 28,000 km/h crossing the sky in about 2 to 3 minutes and then disappearing out of sight once they enter the Earth’s shadow. Most satellites move in a west to east direction, but others have orbits passing over the polar regions, and can be seen moving from north to south or south to north.

There is a group of satellites known as Iridium communication satellites, which consist of 66 active telecommunication satellites in low Earth orbit. They have a peculiar shape with three shiny door-sized antennas. When one of these antennas is lined up to reflect sunlight towards Earth, the satellite appears as a moving streak of light that gets remarkably bright, producing a bright flash in the sky, fading away after several seconds and disappearing out of sight.

Here is a list of websites to help find exactly when and where the International Space Station and other satellites pass over Ottawa.

http://www.n2yo.com/

http://www.satview.org/

<a title="link opens in a new window or tab" href="https://in-the-sky/org/satpasses.phphttps://in-the-sky/org/satpasses.php

http://www.heavens-above.com
mar15-2018-pg-11
Photo Caption: The International Space Station will be passing over Ottawa on seven consecutive evenings from March 24 to 31. Each appearance will last only a few minutes and relies on clear skies and precise timing for best viewing. See page 18 of this issue for a chart of ISS fly overs and other celestial events this month by day and time. Photo courtesy of NASA.

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March 15, 2018: An Introduction to Birds and Birding; (including Cooper’s Hawks).

March 15, 2018: An Introduction to Birds and Birding;
(including Cooper’s Hawks).

By Robert Alvo, Conservation Biologist.

So you’ve seen a neat bird in your yard or around town, and are wondering what it is. In fact a number of people in Hintonburg noticed a hawk prowling the neighbourhood a few weeks ago, and someone got in touch with me to identify it. It turned out to be a Cooper’s Hawk.

“Was it supposed to be there?” Sure, it’s probably taking advantage of residents’ bird feeders to pick off smaller birds.

“Is it perhaps one of the Tunneys Pasture birds?” No, the Tunneys birds I know of are Peregrine Falcons that sometimes still perch near the top of the Coats Building, which was used as a “hacking” site some years ago to release young falcons into the wild after being hatched in incubators.

“Ok, but how can I identify birds myself?” Well, you’ll need eyes and ears, and the ears can often be more useful than the eyes. Binoculars can help greatly, and a field guide app or book is essential for species identification, which is what birding is mostly about.

After that, the rest of the “stuff” (e.g., spotting scope, eBird, recordings of bird song) are optional but can also be very useful. Watch out for birding, because it can easily become very addictive and destroy healthy relationships!

“What the heck are birds of prey doing in the city?” Well, what the heck are you and I doing in the city? Eating, sleeping, reproducing, working, learning, and having fun.

Cooper’s Hawks nest in trees, and, like other “accipiters”, are particularly adept at dodging obstacles to catch small birds.

Peregrine Falcons nest on cliffs (tall buildings with ledges will do) and are really fast, chasing down small birds in flight and punching them out of the air.

“Is birding like birdwatching?” Same thing. The word “birding” is often used instead of “birdwatching” because it is shorter and allows for the use of identifying birds by sound. Competitive birders (remember the 2011 movie The Big Year?) may identify as many as 75% of their birds for the year, or for the day during a “big day”, only by sound.

Each species has its own song, as do most frogs (perhaps more on them in a future article). This means that considerable species identification can be done at night without seeing anything.

“Okay, so I’ve identified that noisy red bird that seems to hang around all winter as a Northern Cardinal. Now what?.

Enjoy the sound, for it was a rare sound in Ottawa 30 years ago. Or, identify more bird sounds, like that annoying drumming of a Downy Woodpecker on a nearby metal chimney.

Before you know it, you have a species list, to which you might want to add more species. Now you see a bird in another part of the city, so you decide to keep a yard list and an Ottawa list. Then you’re on a work trip in Tucson Arizona and see a bird that doesn’t seem to occur in Ottawa. You’ve now got 3 birds on your “life list”.

Next time we’ll talk about how birds connect us to nature and what we can do if we want to know more about birds than just how to identify them.

Conservation Biologist Robert Alvo is the author of “Being a Bird in North America” (babina.ca) He has an extensive list of scientific accomplishments and the generosity to share his learning with all those interested in birds and birding. Newswest is pleased to welcome, as a regular column, Robert’s observations on nature, conservation, and the environment.

March 15, 2018: The End of Door to Door Sales?; New legislation fights high pressure sales tactics.

March 15, 2018: The End of Door to Door Sales?;
New legislation fights high pressure sales tactics.

By Security Committee, Hintonburg Community Association.

The salespeople were very aggressive and the number of complaints we heard skyrocketed. Police were also being called because the salespeople would not take “No” for an answer and would not leave.

Have you ever had a salesperson come to the door that you could not get rid of? Did you make the mistake of opening the screen door and then could not get it closed, or allowed the person just inside the door on a cold day and then could not get the person out.

Have you ever had to call police because the salesperson would not leave or was aggressive and demeaning if you would not agree to sign a contract? These are all experiences people in Kitchissippi and within Ottawa have experienced over at least the last 7 years with aggressive door to door sales.

As of March 1 this year, the province banned door-to-door sales of certain items: air cleaners, air conditioners, air purifiers, duct cleaning services, furnaces, water filters, water heaters, water purifiers, water softeners, water treatment devices, and bundles of these goods and services.

Another key part of the legislation is that businesses will only be able to sign a contract in the person’s home if the person contacted the business ahead of time and invited them to their home to purchase the service. Businesses must document how the contact was made and any contracts that do not follow these rules will be considered void, and resident will be able to keep the goods and services with no obligations.

For more information see: tinyurl.com/ya3fakr .
( http://www.ontario.ca/page/door-door-sales-and-home-service-contracts )

How did this legislation come about? The summer and fall of 2011 saw a growing increase, both in this area and across the City, in door-to-door salespeople with contracts for rental water heaters and furnaces.

The salespeople were very aggressive and the number of complaints we heard skyrocketed. Police were also being called because the salespeople would not take “No” for an answer and would not leave.

The Hintonburg Community Association (HCA) was alerting residents about the issue and recommendations from police on how to deal with concerns. We collected impact statements and heard devastating stories of some seniors who signed contracts, had their furnace or water heater removed within a day and ended up with a very expensive rental contract. We heard of abusive and offensive comments made to resident by these salespeople.We forwarded the impact statements to the police, MPP Yasir Naqvi and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

In 2012 Cst. Andrew Milton, Community Police Officer at the time, contacted the head office of the company that was causing the concerns here. He asked them for a meeting and when they heard that a representative from MPP Naqvi’s office would also be attending they sent a senior executive from the U.S.

The representative disavowed that the high pressure tactics we were experiencing were company policy. They said they would speak to the local sales reps and they invited Cst Milton to speak to their trainees to explain the law to them. As a result of the meeting the complaints in this area stopped for a few years, however it was clear from other media reports that the problems had just moved to other areas.

This recent legislation is very welcome. Loopholes will certainly be found but hopefully the province will move quickly to plug those as well.

March 15, 2018: Rosemount Library Renovation; Faulty Assessment Leads to Wrong Decision.

March 15, 2018: Rosemount Library Renovation;
Faulty Assessment Leads to Wrong Decision.

By Blaine Marchand, R.E.A.D.

Increasingly in Ottawa, community consultation seems to be tokenism – architectural plans are presented and comments noted. But often when push comes to shove, the finished product is a far cry from what was shown and doesn’t reflect the input received. There are many examples of this… the Lansdowne development, and closer to home the former Visitation convent. Rosemount Branch library is another case in point.

Despite community input in 2016 that recommended a new facility located close to the current site, the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) board hired a consultant to evaluate possible renovation and new-build options for Rosemount. At no time was community input sought in the development of the scope of the business case. Rather, a hard financial budget was pre-set, which effectively eliminated any consideration of expansion or a new building. Was the real intent to ensure the only possible conclusion would be a superficial renovation of the branch?

In spite of the views of the community, expressed in extensive public consultations, the consultant’s report did not assess the benefits of an expanded Rosemount library. The Rosemount Expansion and Development (READ) group has stressed the need for a library that responds to 21st century needs. The READ group believes the report ignored the fact that Rosemount has the highest circulation per capita of ALL branches. READ believes the consultant’s report relied on faulty or misleading data in its analysis of Rosemount’s overuse and user needs, including allocating half the space at Carlingwood, more than 7km away, to the Rosemount catchment area.

The OPL’s proposed $2 million renovation will not expand the space at Rosemount and will result in the closure of the branch for a significant amount of time. The OPL has said that community consultation will take place prior to the closure, but no timeline has been provided. Closure could be as early as autumn 2018.

A related issue is how the city budgets for new and renovated libraries, which in READ’s view, is deeply flawed. Consider two other cities. The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has created a library system that is responsive to the needs of both urban and suburban neighbourhoods. Edmonton has a 10-year capital plan for its libraries and budgets accordingly. The budget covers a four-year period but permits the EPL to come back twice a year to City Council for necessary adjustments. The EPL Board approves the project priorities but City Council approves any city funding for the projects.

Winnipeg’s city council approved funding of a 2013-2023 long-term Library Facility Redevelopment Strategy to rebuild, relocate, expand or significantly redevelop nine existing branches, including two 1915 Carnegie facilities. The city has three principles it considers for each library branch redevelopment – maximize investment and revenue potential of city owned lands with stand-alone library facilities; advance community benefits through mixed use development opportunities and partnership possibilities; and, recognize today’s technology necessitates contemporary library services.

Other Canadian cities develop strategies and commit to long-term funding for their library systems. Why, in Ottawa, do the OPL and city council not adopt similar approaches?
mar15-2018-pg-14
Photo Caption: Rosemount Library, with the highest per capita circulation of all library branches in Ottawa, will undergo a renovation instead of the desired expansion requested by users. Not all users of the overcrowded Rosemount Branch are satisfied with what many deem an inadequate and inefficient assessment lacking adequate public consultation. Photo courtesy of R.E.A.D.

March 15, 2018: Rooming Houses vs Private Home; When does a “Home” become a “Bunkhouse”?

March 15, 2018: Rooming Houses vs Private Home;
When does a “Home” become a “Bunkhouse”?

By HCA Security Committee.

By-Law Services held a public consultation Feb. 21 on proposed clarifications to the definitions of a Rooming Houses, related definitions and some of the newer housing forms being seen in recent years – private home conversion which have sometimes been labelled “bunkhouses”.

This process is an attempt to align the definitions in other City departments so that there is one clear definition for Zoning and By-Law. A further review slated to begin later this year will be a comprehensive review of the licensing of residential room rentals including short-term rentals such as Airbnb and shared accommodations.

There has been a lack of clarity in defining what constitutes a rooming house and what constitutes shared accommodation – a group of friends sharing a residence.

This consultation has been prompted by conversion of houses into many bedrooms under the guise of friends sharing accommodation when they clearly operate as a Rooming House. Areas close to the universities and Algonquin College have seen many of these conversions. A house that once had a family of 4 or had 2 apartments might be converted to 10 or 20 bedrooms.

Neighbours have complained of problems with excessive and unmanaged garbage, many vehicles parking on the property and street, lots of visitors, parties and general disruption.

Another complication with the definitions was that a rooming house was defined by the number of roomers not the number of rooms – so if a room was empty at the time of inspection it might fall below the threshold.

Rooming houses began to be licensed in 2002. There are yearly inspections and there are a number of specific requirements and building code standards that must be met before a license is issued. All these strict requirements are in place for tenant protection and to ensure minimal impact on the neighbouring community.

Many of these conversions or “bunkhouses” essentially operate as rooming houses but avoid the more stringent requirements, inspections and expense. The essential difference is how the people operate together. They are deemed to be a single housekeeping unit if they have collective decision-making and responsibility for the management of the interior of the dwelling unit.

It is a rooming house if they are independent tenants with no collective decision making or responsibility for the management of the interior of the unit (ie: common areas) and there are more than 4 rooms.

This review and the one to start later this year is also being looked at in conjunction with the larger Zoning review of R4 zones.

For information and to fill in the online survey : https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/laws-licenses-and-permits/laws/rooming-house-licensing-law-review

 

March 15, 2018: Councillor’s Corner; City News.

March 15, 2018: Councillor’s Corner;
City News.

By Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward Councillor.

Happy March, Kitchissippi! Our February was very busy. We have lots of active planning files on the go, which means lots of public open houses. We also had our last community bonfire of the season, complete with s’mores and a synthetic skating pad courtesy of the Wellington West BIA.

On February 14th, council voted – including me – to approve a modified version of the Rochester Field development concept. This concept still contains two mid-rise buildings grouped together at the south end of the field, but some changes have been made to address the concerns I was hearing from residents.

The original proposal contained two six-storey buildings on Richmond, with a setback and a gap of roughly 15 meters between them. Because of concerns from myself and residents that this offered too little gateway between the Richmond and the SJAM park, I successfully secured a pause on the process to see whether any improvements could be made. My thanks to Councillor Harder, the Mayor, and the NCC’s Dr. Kristmanson for helping us get that second look.

Ultimately, the new plans resulted in a 4-meter widening to the gap between the two buildings, which is roughly the same width of the Byron Linear Park. To compensate for loss of density, the building on the east side of the site is proposed at seven stories instead of six. It was a difficult decision for me to support this, and I am grateful for all the advice I received, but I consider the addition to the gap to be meaningful. There is no actual development proposal for this property, and there likely won’t be for many years. This effort was not the last chance to effect change in the proposal, and we will continue efforts with the NCC as opportunities arise.

Recently, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) decided that the City must take steps to either officially decommission the Prince of Wales Bridge or bring it into a state of repair where it could be used for rail operations within a year. While this decision has enormous repercussions for the City, it could be good news for those advocating for a cycling/pedestrian connection between Gatineau and the Bayview Station. The City will take some time to determine how it wants to proceed, and the current deadline for the City to outline its intended actions is April 30th. I have a few outstanding questions about this; it seems to me that the City should appeal the April 30th deadline in order to gather more information about the cost of renovating the bridge. Furthermore, we need to understand what the CTA will accept as a plan to repair the bridge moving forward. I consider that the bridge should be put into operation as a rail/cycling/pedestrian connection, but the issue is complex. You can read more about my thoughts on the blog.

We look forward to welcoming spring in the Ward and all the wonderful activities that attend it! Hope to see you out there enjoying the warming weather, Kitchissippi.

March 15, 2018: Federal Report; Everything you need to know for the 2018 Tax Season.

March 15, 2018: Federal Report;
Everything you need to know for the 2018 Tax Season.

By Catherine McKenna, MP Ottawa Centre.

Tax season is in full-swing and I want to make sure you have all of the information you need to easily and successfully file your taxes for 2017.

Our government has made it easier for Canadians to receive the credits and benefits they are entitled to through two major service changes. First, Canadians who filed by paper last year will automatically have their forms and guides mailed to them directly. If you filed by paper and have not received a package in the mail, please contact my community office.

Others who want to file on paper can download the forms online at canada.ca/get-craforms , call the CRA at 1-855-330-3305 (for service in English) or 1-855-330-3310 (for service in French), or get a package from my community office.

Second, there is now a “File My Return” automated phone service for individuals on low or fixed incomes. File My Return is free, secure and easy to use by giving some personal information and answering a series of short questions over the phone.. There are no paper forms to fill out or calculations to do. Those who are eligible will have received an invitation letter in the mail in mid-February 2018.

I also want to make sure you are aware of benefits you might be entitled to. Here are some of the most common benefits:

  • Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
    This benefit helps with the cost of raising children. In Ottawa Centre 7,340 families receive an average $5,410 per year from this benefit.
  • Child Disability Benefit.
    This is a tax-free benefit of up to $2,730 per year for families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.
  • Working income tax benefit.
    This is a benefit designed to help individuals and families in the workforce who have low-income. Eligibility is based upon the income of individuals and families.

For a complete list of benefits, you can visit: http://canada.ca/benefits .
If you need help filing your taxes, the Community Volunteer Tax Program is available for Canadians who make a modest living. To find local tax clinics in Ottawa Centre, you can visit the Canada Revenue Agency website or call my community office.

Canadians have until April 30, 2018 to complete their 2017 tax returns and until June 15, 2018 if they are self employed.

My community office is here to assist you in any way we can. Feel free to give the office a call or a send an email.

[Ed: I think this link of a list of CRA forms will work better for our readers https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/forms.html ]