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Sens players Borowiecki, Ceci disappointed by Ottawa downtown arena setback

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Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, December 20, 2018 3:58PM EST

OTTAWA — Mark Borowiecki hopes Ottawa will one day have a downtown arena.

As an Ottawa native and a defenceman for the NHL’s Senators, he said a new facility in the city’s core would be a boon for its citizens.

But on Thursday morning, he was left wondering what lies ahead after the National Capital Commission moved to terminate a development deal that would have included a new NHL rink a short distance from Parliament Hill.

“As someone who grew up here, plays here now and likely will be living here in the future, I think a rink downtown is something that the city needs eventually,” Borowiecki said. “I’m not at the negotiating table, that’s not for me to decide or understand, but as someone who plans to stay here for a long time as a resident, it would be nice for my wife and I to be able to bring our kids downtown for a game one time.

“At this point, it is what it is and hopefully things get worked out.”

There was a sense of excitement in the city back in April 2016 when the NCC selected a bid from the RendezVous LeBreton group, which included Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, to redevelop the prime land near the downtown core known as LeBreton Flats. Part of the development plans included a new arena.

More than two years later, a downtown arena in the foreseeable future seems unlikely. The NCC announced Wednesday that it is seeking to terminate the agreement with RendezVous, effective 30 days from initial notice.

The news was hardly a surprise as Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy had sued each other in recent days over struggles within the RendezVous consortium.

The Senators released a brief statement Wednesday expressing disappointment at the NCC’s decision.

“For over a year, we have tried to resolve our concerns about the flaws in the economic model for the redevelopment, both within the context of our private negotiations with the NCC and then publicly since November 22, 2018.”

On Thursday, Melnyk held his annual Skate for Kids, which provided skates and helmets for 100 local children.

Melnyk was not available for comment, but the recent developments were cause for concern.

“There’s definitely some uncertainty right now,” Borowiecki said. “I get it. It’s tough probably for the city and this community. You probably look at a place like Edmonton, they got a beautiful new rink downtown, and Detroit just got one.

“I think it would be nice to have a part of that too, but it really is beyond me the negotiating side of things. I wasn’t following it super closely. I was excited about the new rink and when I heard the news it was disappointing for sure, but obviously there’s more to the story.”

Cody Ceci, who grew up in Ottawa’s east end, said a downtown arena would have facilitated things for friends and family who live clear across the city from the Canadian Tire Centre — the Senators’ current home in Kanata.

He added recent developments were also disappointing for players who don’t hail from the nation’s capital.

“Some guys want it down there because they live down that way and it would make for an easier commute,” Ceci said. “It would have been fun. They could go to different restaurants and stuff.

“A downtown arena would make it easier for a lot of people since they could go right from work instead of getting in their car and driving to the west end. I know people are trying to move downtown, but not every team has a downtown rink.”

NOTES: The Senators will get some help on the ice Friday as they take on the New Jersey Devils as centre Matt Duchene is set to return after missing the last six games. Defenceman Dylan DeMelo also could return to lineup.

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Students call on University of Ottawa to implement pass/fail grading amid pandemic

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OTTAWA — The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) is calling on the university to introduce optional, one-course-only pass/fail grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The students’ union said nearly 5,000 uOttawa students have signed its petition supporting the grading system.

In a letter to the university, the UOSU said it is asking the school to make changes to the grading structure, including allowing one course per semester to be converted to the “pass” or “satisfactory” designation.

The UOSU also made recommendations regarding a reduction of workload and course delivery.

“The adaptation to online learning during the pandemic for students has created unique challenges and disruptions that could not have been anticipated,” wrote Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s Advocacy Commissioner. 

“The use of flexible compassionate grading options has been introduced in other universities, such as Carleton University which includes a use of Pass/Fail which we feel could be implemented at the University of Ottawa.”

Carleton University approved the use of flexible and compassionate grading for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms in early November.

The UOSU also called for all grades that constitute a fail to appear as “Not Satisfactory” on their transcript, which would not be included in grade point average calculations. 

The union represents more than 38,000 undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa.

In a response to CTV News, the University of Ottawa said it is aware of the petition.

“Last spring a decision was made by the (University) Senate to allow the Satisfactory/Non Satisfactory mark to be used, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, which hit us close to the end of the Winter 2020 semester. The University is aware of the petition and is looking into the matter.”

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OPP warn of phone scams in Ottawa Valley

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Upper Ottawa Valley OPP warn residents of a phone scam that’s been making its way through the region recently. 

Police say a scammer pretends to be from a local business and tells the person their credit card didn’t work on a recent purchase before asking the person on the phone to confirm their credit card number. 

The victim may not have even used the card at the store, but police said the scammer creates a sense of urgency. 

Police remind residents to verify the legitimacy of any caller before providing any personal information over the phone. 

Similar scams have been reported recently in the region, according to police, with scammers posing as police officers, Revenue Canada or other government agencies demanding payment for a variety of reasons. A Social Insurance Number scam has also been reported recently, where a victim is asked for their SIN number under threat of being arrested. 
 
If a scam artist contacts you or if you have been defrauded, you’re asked to contact police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit their website at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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The human history of Ottawa Valley is thousands of years old. Archeologists may have found a piece of it on Parliament Hill

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OTTAWA—Archeologists working on Parliament Hill have discovered a relic of Indigenous life that one Algonquin leader sees as a symbol of his people’s long history in what is now the heart of Canadian political power.

The jagged stone point was unearthed last year on the east side of Centre Block, but its discovery was not publicized as officials worked with Algonquin communities to authenticate the object, the Star has learned.

Stephen Jarrett, the lead archeologist for the ongoing renovation of Parliament’s Centre Block, said this week that while such an object is “not an uncommon find,” the stone point joins just a small handful of Indigenous artifacts ever discovered on Parliament Hill.

“It’s about the size of my palm, and it could be used as a knife or a projectile,” Jarrett said this week in response to inquiries from the Star.

He said the point is made of chert, a type of sedimentary stone most often used for implements of this type. And while the point was unearthed in what Jarrett calls “disturbed soil” — earth that has been dug up and moved, most likely during construction of Parliament — the soil it was in “is natural to the site.”

That means “it came from a source nearby, but finding exactly where it came from is impossible,” Jarrett said.

For Douglas Odjick, a band council member responsible for education and culture with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, this artifact of “an original world” is a testament to the longevity of his Algonquin nation in an area they still claim as unceded and unsurrendered territory. Based on the assessment of Ian Badgley, the top archeologist with the National Capital Commission, Odjick said the stone point is likely 4,000 years old and dates to a time when the confluence of the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers — along with all their tributaries that stretch out into the surrounding area — served as a great hub of regional trade activity.

“It symbolizes who we are and how long we’ve been here,” Odjick said, comparing the area to an ancient version of a busy hub like New York’s busy Grand Central Station.

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