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Rowdy teens won’t prevent Barrhaven from staging annual Canada Day party, organizer vows

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‘I want families to come here and feel safe,’ Darrell Bartraw says of the Barrhaven Canada Day celebration at Clarke Fields Park.


Tony Caldwell / OTTwp

There may be a fence around the park and security guards checking backpacks at the entrance next year, but Barrhaven’s Canada Day celebration will continue, vows volunteer organizer Darrell Bartraw.

The community can’t allow a bunch of teenage hooligans who threw firecrackers into the crowd this year to scare people away, says the president of Canada Day Barrhaven Inc.

“They are not going to beat me.”

Organizers will meet next week to discuss what security measures will be added next year, he said. A fence will probably be erected if they can find money to pay for it. He doesn’t want to charge admission because that would mean the community party would not be open to all.

“I want families to come here and feel safe. We’ll do whatever it takes to do that.”

Bartraw says he can’t believe what transpired at Clarke Fields Park during the fireworks show this year. “I’m saddened, completely saddened, and aggravated and mad.”

His doctor won’t be happy about his blood pressure, adds the retired justice of the peace. “I’m stressed. I work 365 days a year on this frigging thing. It’s my life. It drives my wife crazy. I’m 61, I don’t need this.”

For 38 years, Barrhaven has prided itself on staging a family oriented Canada Day, what Bartraw calls “the safe alternative” to the huge party on Parliament Hill.

Bartraw can’t explain why a gang of teenagers disrupted this year’s event. Maybe the youths were emboldened because it was dark and they were part of an anonymous crowd, he speculates. “They aren’t all bad kids. It’s like pit bulls. It was a pack mentality.

“A few kids lead it and the others just followed.”

Witnesses say a group of teenagers threw fireworks into the crowd for about half an hour.

Volunteers escorted several teenagers out of the park, but the kids just came back in, says Bartraw. “It just escalated and escalated.”

He saw police arrest a 15-year-old who was subdued with a Taser and handcuffed. A group of about 100 teenagers surrounded three police officers trying to arrest the boy and started pushing, says Bartraw. “They were all just circling (the police) and chanting, ‘Fight the police! Fight the police!’

“Another young girl was trying to pull the cops off, saying, ‘That’s my brother!’ ”

Police pepper sprayed the teens to get them to disperse.

“Some of the kids who were screaming (at police) before were crying like babies,” says Bartraw.

Volunteers at the first aid tent treated about half a dozen people for burning eyes, while Ottawa paramedics said they also treated three people who were sprayed.

However, Bartraw said he didn’t see any fighting or weapons. “Just pushing, threatening police and anyone in authority.”

Some of the fireworks the teens set off were roman candle types that shot multiple sparks, according to witnesses.

“One went off about 10 feet in front of us,” said Eric, who didn’t want his name used because he fears the teens would retaliate against his business. “A little girl got hit right in the face. She was about four. She was holding her cheek and screaming and crying.

“Her dad scooped her up, and the mom picked up the other child, and they just ran.”

Eric said he and a few other men in the crowd began yelling at the teenagers: ” ‘Why do you want to be idiots? You are letting off fireworks in the middle of the crowd. There are babies here!’

“A lot of us started getting really angry.” His friend called 911.

Several of the estimated 100 teenagers in the group challenged the bystanders to fight and kicked one man before they ran away, he said. His two children, aged four and 12, were frightened, said Eric. “My son was crying because he thought I was going to get hurt.

“I was a bad kid, too, and I did stupid things,” says Eric. “But nothing like that. Come on. What if a little girl loses her eye?”

He won’t go back to the Barrhaven Canada Day party, he says.

Bartraw emphasizes that the rest of the day was lovely. There was a midway, a fun zone for kids, craft and food tents, a free breakfast for seniors, a citizenship ceremony and live bands on the main stage.

The rowdy teenagers didn’t show up until dark, just before the fireworks began. “I know they didn’t come to see all the great shows and take part in the midway,” says Bartraw with a sigh. “They were just hanging out.”

And he points out that several dozen other teenagers volunteered to help out during the event. “We have some great kids in this community.”

jmiller@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JacquieAMiller

 

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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