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Westboro crash brings back painful memories

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CTV Ottawa


Published Saturday, January 12, 2019 7:21PM EST


Last Updated Saturday, January 12, 2019 7:26PM EST

Amanda Brooks is reliving the horror of that day, September 18, 2013; when the double-decker bus she was on crashed into a Via Rail train near Fallowfield station.

“What gets me through each day is telling myself that’s never going to happen again.” Brooks said.

Six people died that day in 2013, three more yesterday with dozens more injured.

The 25-year-old’s worst fears were realized yesterday upon hearing of news of the OC Transpo double-decker bus crash at Westboro station.

When I heard it was the 269, I thought it was a joke, I thought to my sister, I thought no that can’t be true, that can’t be the 269. That’s the bus we take now, and it was.” said Brooks.

Still dealing with anxiety and flashbacks from 5 years ago, Brooks has sought counselling to deal with post-traumatic stress and the reminder of the horrific images from that fateful day when the bus she was aboard was hit at a railway crossing near her home.

“It was such a flashback to that day, because I am like, oh my god that’s the bus I take, obviously in 2013 I was on that bus, but at least this time I was fortunate enough not to be on that bus.” said Brooks.

Following recommendations made by the transportation safety board grade separators have been installed at some railway crossings near Fallowfield station; designed to prevent such a crash from happening again.

OC Transpo officials tried to make it clear last night the double-decker buses in service are safe.

“Everything we needed to do in that TSB investigation has been acted upon and a reminder there was nothing that pointed to double-deckers

New double decker buses, Manconi said, are designed to be safer with added measures to protect passengers.

“The new double decker buses do have bumpers on them. I don’t know if that was one of the more current buses. That was the designer who did that on their own.” said Manconi, unsure of whether the bus involved in Friday’s crash was a newer model vehicle. OC Transpo said officials are investigating the cause with members of Ottawa Police Service.

Gage Geneau is Amanda Brooks’ fiancé; he and Brooks moved to Kanata two years ago; to avoid travel along that railway crossing in Fallowfield. Geneau said he rides the route 269 bus and often boards the early rush-hour ride home.

“I do take that bus daily going to and from work.” said Geneau.

Geneau took a later bus home Friday night; lucky not to have been involved in that fateful crash.

“Having two major ones in 5 years is not really that long of a time-span. I’ll be fine taking the bus but I’m sure there’s plenty of others who won’t be. But, I likely won’t be sitting at the front anymore.” said Geneau.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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