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CASINO DEBATE

By the time you read this column, City Council will have dealt with a motion from the Mayor which recommends that the only location for a future casino is the Rideau Carleton Raceway. Considering that last year Council passed a motion requesting Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG), who do the procurement for casinos, have an open competition - this motion simply requesting that any bid at the Raceway be considered caused me a lot of concern. Proponents were not to discuss their submissions during this competition so it is not known how many were planning to make a submission. We soon heard from the Ottawa Senators that they had been working on one for more than a year and suddenly had the ground taken out from under them. The motion to remove all locations except the Raceway provided a huge advantage to a single business, horse racing, which is struggling. However, both horse racing and hockey are in need of additional funds to be solvent. I’m not an advocate for casinos, but I am an advocate for fairness and this wasn’t fair. I’ve spoken with both parties and attended a public session at the Raceway on transition funding and future provincial support for the horse racing industry. I’ve also met with the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and many of my colleagues to try to work out a solution that does not pit one business against others. I’ve spoken with the President of the OLG and Provincial MPPs about the possibility of having one casino operation with parts at two locations. I have done as much as I can to ensure a fair and open bidding process. Business is an important part of the Ottawa economy. The City needs to demonstrate that it treats all businesses fairly and doesn’t unilaterally choose one over others. I hope that the decision, taken after writing this column, is an amended motion that puts fairness first.

SPEEDING AND TRAFFIC
Many of our streets, particularly the collector roads within communities, have too many people travelling well over the speed limit. Two activities are now underway in Kanata North with the objective of making these streets safer by slowing traffic. Halton Terrace is one of 12 streets across the City where flexible plastic speed limit signs, 1.2 metres high will be installed down the middle of the street, approximately 100 metres apart. This is a seasonal installation until November, after which their effectiveness will be analyzed. The technique has been used successfully in Montreal, where reduced incidents of speeding were recorded in participating neighbourhoods. A Traffic Management Study is just getting underway for the Knudson Drive area. A Public Advisory Committee has been set up to work with City staff in analyzing the speeding along Knudson and develop recommendations to address it. A public meeting will be held later this year once preliminary information has been collected and analyzed. Please note the closure of the on-ramp going west from March Rd. onto 417 has been moved to July 26th and will be in effect for approximately 12 weeks.

POISON PARSNIPS and POISON IVY
A resident has seen Poison Parsnip growing wild in ditches and warns you to beware. It looks like Queen Anne's Lace but has yellow flowers and can be up to 6ft tall. It can give you up to 3rd degree burns or even blind you! If you come in contact wash your skin immediately. If it gets in your eyes, rinse them and get immediate medical help. It is a serious plant and not to be ignored. Look it up on the internet for more details. Poison ivy has been reported in some park areas and City staff will remove it. If you spot it please let me know and I will ask City Staff to remove it. The rash is not nice to have – I know because I’ve had it in the past.

COMMUNITY ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you to all of the volunteers, sponsors, entertainers and exhibitors who helped with the 7th Annual Kanata North Picnic. Summer is a time to enjoy being outdoors and my staff and I were happy to provide some picnic fun for everyone. Congratulations to Jenna Sudds for her appointment as the first Executive Director for the Kanata North Business Improvement Area. Come see THE MAGIC Show at Wednesday July 24 th at 2 p.m. For more information contact Chartwell Retirement Residence at 613 591-8939.