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With the city pushing toward a trash incinerator, is it rushing to make the wrong choice?

The city is considering building a trash incinerator. Is it rushing to the wrong conclusion?

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Good morning!

Sometimes being a pedestrian in this town is more than a little unpleasant. Take yesterday, as I crossed the street at a crosswalk that gives pedestrians an advance walk signal, so those of us on foot get to go first.

One driver in a truck, once he had a green, started off the line and began creeping up behind me while I was still in the middle of the road. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy having several tons of rolling steel approaching from behind. I turned, raised my arms to say, “Hey, can you maybe wait a second?”

The driver didn’t really appreciate this, giving me a “Yeah, yeah, I see you. Why don’t you just hurry up.” I then gestured with an emphatic “Hey I’m walkin’ here” gesture (it did not involve any impolite digits, but the meaning was implied) before I finally made it across to the sidewalk. I heard a honk from behind as I headed on my own way.

It was an unfriendly reminder that to far too many drivers in this town, a person crossing the street is an impediment, causing whole ghastly seconds of delay. Even at one of the few intersections in town where pedestrians are given true priority, 

I really can’t stand it. Flesh and bone is no match for steel and torque. It would be nice if crossing the street in one piece didn’t so often feel like a privilege I’d been afforded by a gracious driver, rather than a right I shouldn’t have to question. Alas.

Anyway, let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor.


Friday: +10 🌡️ -3 | 🌦

Saturday: +8 🌡️ +2 | 🌤

Sunday: +6 🌡️ -4 | 🌧

Monday: +1 🌡️ -8 | 🌤


Is the city rushing into a decision on building a garbage incinerator?

The Trail Road dump, as seen from space. Google Maps

What happened: Rather than reducing waste, the possibility of the city turning to waste incineration could give social licence — even necessity — to create trash, CBC reported. Waste-to-energy incinerators need to run continuously to be efficient. And to keep running, they need fuel, which is to say trash.

  • The concern is this need will convince people that it’s not necessary to recycle or compost, and even good, to put things in the garbage.

The dilemma: The city will be forced into making a decision on what to do with its waste sooner than later. As it stands, the Trail Road Waste Facility only has about a decade of life left before it fills up. Incineration offers a quick way to solve that problem. 

Other options: The draft of the solid waste master plan, first discussed late last year, lays out the issues facing the Trail Road Waste Facility. The hope is the city can at least encourage more recycling and green bin use to keep garbage out of the dump, according to the draft. This could give the dump another 10 years of life. But staff have also considered adding new technologies, including an incinerator, that could give even more life to the dump.

What if we do nothing? Doing nothing isn’t really an option. Costs for handling waste are going up one way or another. According to staff, the cost of garbage pickup is expected to rise above $300 per year for each household in the next decade. Adding new technologies could see prices rise to about $500 or more over the next 30 years.

Staff charted out the costs main options, doing nothing, following the solid waste master plan (SWMP), a waste-to-energy incinerator (WTE), adding an anaerobic digestor (AD), and mixed waste processing (MWP):

Leaning incinerator? Last November, the environment committee voted to tell staff to hurry up with their study on the costs and benefits of building an incinerator, CBC reported at the time. They weren’t planning to start their studies of burning trash and other methods until later this year. The worry is that an incinerator could take 10 years to design and build, so the city will be cutting it close.

  • But if waste levels drop, for example through better diversion of compost and recycling, the incinerator will still need to be fed. In one scenario, this could mean the city would be in the unenviable position of having to dig up old garbage from the dump to keep the trash fires burning.

Toxic output? The Durham facility tests dioxin levels in the air twice a year, and said there have been no issues with the toxic chemicals. The facility told CBC that with its furnace burning at 1,000 C, it’s hot enough to destroy the compounds so they aren’t released into the atmosphere.

Competition: At the same time Ottawa is considering constructing its own incinerator, the Pontiac region is considering building one to bring in trash from both sides of the provincial border.

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💸 $135 million: The amount the city is hoping to reclaim in unpaid fines and offences. The city said the credit hit many people took for uncollected fines will be removed from their score once they pay the fines. [CTV]


🗳️ Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden has filed paperwork to run in the seat federally for the NDP in the next election. If selected, Harden would face Liberal Yasir Naqvi, who lost the race to lead the provincial Liberals. [Kitchissippi Times]

🚲 Advocates are pushing the federal government to keep the Alexandria Bridge and convert it to active use only, instead of tearing it down and building a new one. Before it closed it only carried nine percent of the vehicle traffic between Ottawa and Gatineau, but 40 percent of the pedestrian traffic. [CTV]

⚖️ Febrio De-Zoya, accused of killing six people in Barrhaven last week, made a brief court appearance by phone. His lawyer said the 19 year old is in protective custody, and would not comment on whether his client would get a mental health assessment. His next court appearance will be to start the disclosure process. [CTV]

😷 A judge certified class-action status for a negligence lawsuit filed against six for-profit long-term care home operators. Chartwell, Extendicare, Responsive, Rivera, Schlegel, and Sienna are all being sued for providing inadequate care during the pandemic. [CBC]

🩻 A local woman was charged for basic cancer screening, a procedure covered by OHIP, after a visit with a nurse practitioner at an Appletree Clinic. Provincial NDP Leader Marit Styles said the government needs to act swiftly and ban the practice. [Ottawa Citizen]

🚂 A rail traffic controller who had been drinking, likely before his shift, was to blame for a head-on freight train crash near Prescott in 2021. [CBC]

🚒 Neither people nor pets were injured by a house fire in Dunrobin that destroyed a home. It took firefighters more than an hour to douse the blaze. [CTV]

📲 The Canadian programmers of Canuckle said they don’t expect to get a takedown notice from the New York Times, which is threatening other Wordle clones with legal action. [CTV]

⚠️ A potent veterinary tranquillizer has been found in the street drug supply in Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark, health officials warned. The number of drug-related ER visits have doubled in the last two weeks. [CBC]

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What to do this weekend

Gig listings are provided by OttawaGigs.ca, the best place to discover live music in Ottawa. Check out Ottawagigs.ca for full listings across the city.

🎤 DillanPonders, Friday 7 pm: Powerful, versatile hip-hop from the Canadian trailblazer. At Brass Monkey, 250 Greenbank Rd. Tickets $27.

🎸 Kasador, Saturday 8 pm: Bright, emotional guitar-rock from Kingston. At Rainbow Bistro, 76 Murray St. Tickets $18.

🎙️ Positive Charge, Saturday 8 pm:  Ottawa-based anthemic punk rock. At Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St. Tickets $15. 

🎸 Tony D, Saturday 8:30 pm: Award-winning veteran bluesman, self-described ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins with an electric guitar.’ At Irene’s, 885 Bank St. Tickets $20.

☘️ St. Patrick's Day Celebration with Kelly Sloan and JIG, Sunday 7:30 pm: A rich evening of traditional Irish music and song. At Red Bird, 1165 Bank St. Tickets $30.

Other events

🦋 Cyanotype Workshop, Saturday 11 am: Learn to make beautiful blue prints with sun and water. No experience or materials required. At 807 Merivale Rd. Tickets $134.

🎨 Starlight - Watercolour Workshop, Sunday 12 pm: An introduction to watercolour painting. All materials provided for adults of any skill level. At Art Haven Ceramic Cafe, 150 Katimavik Rd. Tickets $71.

🎻 Young String Musicians in Concert, Saturday 7:30 pm: A concert put on by the YSPF of local string musicians under the age of 18. At the First Unitarian Church of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Ave. Tickets $7.

🚂 March Break at the Ingeniums, all week: All three Ingenium museums (Aviation, Agriculture, Science and Tech)  have special March Break programming on. Various locations. Prices vary.

♟️ Ottawa Nostalgia and Collectibles Show, Saturday 9 am: More than 50 vendors with all sorts of great collectibles, from comics to pedal cars. At the Nepean Sportsplex, 1701 Woodroffe Ave. Tickets $8.


The week in food

Ralf Joneikies/Ottawa Lookout

🍫 A new chocolate shop on Bank Street brings fine artisanal treats to the local scene.

🇬🇧 They bake your favourite pastries, and import all the UK essentials. British Pride Bakery has everything for your freezer and your pantry.

🍜 (Insiders) Revisiting a favourite can be tricky sometimes. Is it as good as you remember? At Chez Lam, the answer is an emphatic yes.

🇻🇳 (Insiders) An old favourite in Gatineau (and once run by the owner of Chez Lam) Phoenix du Vietnam delivers, especially for lunch.

🍁 (Insiders) For sugar shack season, why not celebrate with these two maple liqueurs. Great as a mix, or on the rocks.

  • The Ottawa Citizen spent a great deal of time talking to a local man who waited 16 years to get a rare five-organ transplant. Zach Colton suffers from a rare genetic condition that virtually shut down his digestive system. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • 🌍 Geopolitics in <5 minutes? Get International Intrigue, the free global briefing crafted by former diplomats. [Sponsored]

  • Seems some locals are getting fed up with the city dragging its feet opening up stairways it closes for the (very much over) winter. [Twitter]

  • The city is asking the public to stay off sports fields until they have more chance to dry, otherwise they may be damaged. [CTV]

  • Beware of scammers messaging with unsolicited tech support advice or posing as police officers. [CTV]

  • One woman in Sawmill creek has been leading popular aqua fitness classes for seven years. [CBC]

  • Stittsville’s Erica Wiebe, who won gold in wrestling at the 2016 olympics, announced her retirement. [CBC]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Congrats to Dennis, Kelly, Doug, and Chris, who all knew that this week’s Ottawa Guesser was of the Kevin Haime Golf Centre in Kanata.

Think you can solve this week’s Ottawa Wordle? Play now.

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