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Cruise Alongside Ottawa’s Rideau Canal On An Effortless Cycling Daytrip

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Effortless, you say? That doesn’t sound like a cycling jaunt around the city. Well, this bike trip is on an electric bike so it really is about as easy as pushing a button!

Of course, you can choose to leave the feature turned off on hybrid bikes and rely on good old fashioned pedal power, but when confronted with a steep hill or just when your legs start to get tired the automatic function on e-bikes can be a real life-saver.

Start at the bike rental shop RentABike Ottawa, located downtown along the canal, right underneath Plaza bridge. They have a huge range of bikes to choose from including traditional bikes, e-bikes, tandem bikes and trailers for the little ones.

Along with your bike, they also provide helmets, maps and lots of advice.

Your journey will take you along the canal and pathways of this scenic Canadian capital city.

The Benefits Of An Electric Bike

e-bike
An e-bike and trailer from RentABike OttawaFiona Tapp

I was accompanied by my young son who sat in a trailer behind the e-bike. For parents, who aren’t experienced riders or who maybe haven’t been on a bike in a while, an e-bike gives you peace of mind to know you’ll be able to get up any incline even with the added weight of kids on the back.

Electric bikes are also just plain fun, my son was so excited when we suddenly took off at speed and would yell out “full steam ahead!”

Cycle Along The Canal

Rideau Canal - bike
Ottawa Tourism

Starting at the RentABike shop, head out along the historic Rideau canal where you’ll pass beautiful boats and lots of other people out enjoying a ride, or run along the path.

Cross over the Corktown pedestrian bridge which has love locks adorning the railings like so many other bridges around the world to swap direction or just for a gorgeous view of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

Enjoy A Picnic Lunch

Portrait happy girl eating watermelon, enjoying picnic with family
Family picnicGetty

Continue down the path and cross over Colonel By Drive to access the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. Here you can try out the speed settings on your e-bike on straight sections of pathway with clear lines of sight for oncoming cycle and pedestrian traffic.

Follow the path as it crosses Bank street and heads down a little hill into a tree lined and shady section. Consider stopping for a drink or perhaps a picnic at Vincent Massey Park which has lots of picnic tables to choose from.

Stop To Let The Kids Play

Brothers sharing ice cream cone at summer neighborhood block party in park
Enjoy an ice cream enrouteGetty

One negative aspect of pulling kids along in a bike trailer is that they don’t get to exercise themselves and may even fall asleep in the back, as my son did.

Help them to let off some steam by continuing along the path to Hogs Back Park where you’ll find the 150 Mooney’s Bay Playground, a giant park with play structures representing all the provinces and territories of Canada constructed in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Grab an ice cream at the snack stand and visit the washroom before starting the next half of your journey.

Try A Little Street Cycling

Corktown Pedestrian Bridge
Love locks on Corktown Pedestrian Bridge Fiona Tapp

Retrace your steps (or wheels) back along the path to Bank street and turn left at the bridge. Ride along the street, remembering to obey all traffic laws until you pass over the second bridge by the football stadium at Lansdowne Park.

Then you’ll cycle underneath the bridge and rejoin the canal path traveling in the opposite direction back towards the bike shop.

Head back to RentABike to return your bike and helmet and let them know all about your one day adventure.

You’ll return home a little sore, there’s still some exercise involved with riding an e-bike after all and with tired happy kids, sounds like a perfect day to me!

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Virtual farmer’s market comes to Ottawa

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Ottawa first-ever virtual farmer’s market has begun delivering food from local farms straight to people’s homes.

Farm to Hand is making it easier for people who cannot access their local farmer’s markets to find local, fresh organic food by bringing ordered food right to their doors. 

“The difference between us and the farmers market is really just the convenience and the on-demandness,” Sean Mallia, the co-founder of the business, told CBC Radio’s In Town and Out.

“[Often times a] person wants to make the purchase but they don’t have the time on Saturdays to go to the farmers market. Everyone wants to eat local … so when it’s easy for them to do it, it just happens.” In Town and Out No time to drive to the farmer’s market but really want to eat local?

Connecting farmers with people 

The online platform allows farmers to list all their own products, and buyers can have the goods delivered. 

“What we really are trying to do is build that connection between farmer and consumer,” Mallia said. “When people fill up a cart … they’re not just filling a cart full of food, they’re filling a cart full of farmers and farms and their stories.”

Mallia said the aim is to connect people to the “vibrant food ecosystem” around them, and to local support farmers.

The virtual market is currently limited to the Ottawa area as a pilot project, but Mallia, 21, said the company is looking to expand.

“[We chose Ottawa because] Ottawa really cares. Ottawa really thinks about local [food] and thinks about sustainability,” he said. “It just made sense to come out of Ottawa.”

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Denley: Stonebridge and Mattamy show compromise is possible over development in Ottawa

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In Ottawa, development proposals too often end up in acrimony and trips to the provincial planning tribunal. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Mattamy Homes and residents of the south Nepean suburb of Stonebridge work together to resolve a dispute in a way that’s likely to lead to a victory for both sides.

A little over a year ago, Mattamy created an uproar in the golf course community when it announced a plan to build 158 new homes on golf course lands and alter the Stonebridge course to make it shorter and less attractive to golfers. To residents, it looked like the first step in a plan to turn most, or all, of the course into housing.

It’s easy to see why residents were upset. When people pay a premium for a lot backing onto a golf course, there is certainly an implication that the lot will continue to back onto a golf course, but without a legally binding guarantee, it’s no sure thing.

Mattamy’s situation was understandable, too. This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive, doubly so when the golf course is owned by a development company.

This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive.

In the face of the local opposition, Mattamy withdrew its development application. When things cooled down, the company, the neighbours and the city started to work together on finding a solution that would satisfy everyone.

With the city-sponsored help of veteran planning consultant Jack Stirling, they came up with an unusual idea that will still let Mattamy develop its desired number of homes, in exchange for a promise to operate the course for at least 10 years and redesign it so that it remains attractive to golfers.

At the end of the 10 years, Mattamy can sell the course to the community for $6 million. To raise the money, the community working group is proposing a special levy to be paid by Stonebridge homeowners starting in 2021. The amount will range from $175 a year to $475 a year, depending on property values.

If the deal is approved by a majority of homeowners, Mattamy gets its development and a way out of the money-losing golf business. Homeowners get certainty about no future development. They can choose to keep the course going or retain the 198 acres as green space. It’s not a cheap solution, but it keeps their community as it is and preserves property values.

If a majority of homeowners backs the deal, both the levy and redevelopment will still need to be approved by the city, something scheduled for late this fall.

Stonebridge Community Association president Jay McLean was part of the working group that prepared the proposal and he’s pleased with the outcome. The community’s number one goal was preserving green space, and the deal will accomplish that, he says. Mattamy division president Kevin O’Shea says the deal “gives the community the certainty they are looking for.”

As useful as this deal could be for Stonebridge residents, it doesn’t provide a template to resolve a somewhat similar dispute in Kanata North, where the owner of the Kanata Lakes golf course wants to work with a group of local developers to replace the course with housing. In Kanata, a longstanding legal agreement saying the community has to have 40 per cent open space strengthens residents’ situation. In Stonebridge, there was no legal impediment to developing the whole course.

Golf course communities have become an anachronism in a city intent on intensifying within the urban boundary. Redeveloping those lands for housing is in sync with the city’s planning goals, but it’s not politically saleable to homeowners who thought they had a deal. If it goes ahead, the Stonebridge plan shows there is a reasonable middle ground.

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City eyes five big themes for Ottawa’s new official plan

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As Ottawa maps out its future for the next 25-plus years, city staff propose focusing on five major areas, including the places we live and the ways we move around the capital.

A staff report to the city’s planning committee lays out five themes for future public consultations, before city council finalizes the plan.

1. Growth Management: City staff say Ottawa should focus on building up, rather than out. Staff also suggest the city provide direction on the type of new housing developments, rather than focusing on the number of units in a development, to encourage a wider variety of housing types.

2. Mobility: Staff say the city should encourage active transportation — like walking and cycling — and transit use by better co-ordinating land use and transportation planning. The report also encourages designing streets to better accomodate pedestrians and cyclists, as well as improving connections to the O-Train and Transitway.

3.  Urban and Community Design: Because Ottawa is a major city and the nation’s capital, staff say the design of our city’s buildings and skyline should be a higher calibre to reflect that status. Staff also suggest the city provide high-level direction for better designed parks and public spaces.

4. Climate, Energy and Public Health: Staff say residents’ health must be foundational to the city’s new official plan, with policies contributing to creating more inclusive, walkable, and sustainable communities.

5. Economic Development: Because much of Ottawa’s employment is knowledge-based, the city suggests those employment spaces could be better integrated into neighbourhoods and along main streets and transit nodes, instead of being isolated in business parks. City staff also suggest the city encourage more business incubation and identify opportunities to increase local food production.

The city’s new official plan will map out the city’s growth to 2046. The five themes and the plan’s high-level policy direction will go before the city’s planning committee, next week.

Public consultation and fine-tuning is expected to happen before city council approves the final version of the new official plan in 2021.

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