New Years Resolution

Well, if it isn't obvious what it should be, my resolution is to actually write and post all those blog post ideas that come to me almost daily and get thought about but never written and posted.



Cyclist Fatality Waiting/Designed to Happen

If you wanted to design a storm sewer grate to catch a bicycle wheel and throw the rider into fast heavy traffic you could not do better than this.

These are located along Eagleson Road between the Queensway and Hazeldean Road. They seem designed to capture bicycle wheels and kill cyclists.

I'm not sure why anyone would want to use something like that rather than the design below, used along Eagleson Road south of Hazeldean Road, that has the openings perpendicular to the wheels so you ride across them rather than along and into them.
Still shaking my head and making sure I stay well away from the curb along that section of Eagleson Road.


Saving the South March Highlands: Looking to the Future

The first thing I want to say is that any discussion of saving the South March Highlands has to start by acknowledging that, indeed, some of it has been saved and placed in public ownership and that we might not even be discussing saving the rest of it if that was not so.

On November 10, 2000 the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton announced the purchase of 556 acres of the South March Highlands for $1.6 million at the urging of Kanata Regional Councillor Alex Munter who has stated “his biggest achievement would be putting South March Highland into public ownership to keep it protected.“ The source for these statements was Kanata History Net, which is no longer online, however the text of the November 10, 2000 announcement can be found at http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=46087029890&topic=16257.

So the signs recognizing the South March Highlands Conservation Forest are no joke

Indeed a lot of people have put thousands of hours of volunteer work into building a sustainable trail system in the South March Highlands Conservation Forest and getting it recognized, which is what these signs represent. And more is to come in the spring with a comprehensive new map and signage system on the trails. For more background see
OMBA Forums - South March Highlands: Past, Present, and Future.

(click/double click on image to enlarge)

So how does the protected South March Highlands Conservation Forest relate to the South March Highlands as a whole. Simply put, it is part of one ecosystem. While the Conservation Forest may be able to "survive" on it's own retaining the trails and a forest of sorts, it's biological diversity is dependent on being part of a larger ecosystem. If we destroy the surrounding ecosystem it's diversity will undoubtedly be affected, the endangered and at risk species in the forest being most affected.

The question becomes where do we focus our resources in fighting to protect the broader ecosystem.

The focus so far has been on the KNL/Urbandale lands that are threatened with imminent development, which of course is a "nice" way of saying destruction. These lands were originally classified as Environmentally Protected and their development has been fought by the community and environmentalists every step of the way. But it is very difficult to fight an industry that is dealing with a city whose staff may have worked for this industry in the past or expect to work for it in the future, an industry with political connections that donates large sums of money to the politicians who decide on their proposals and an industry with it's own Kangaroo Court, the Ontario Municipal Board. Unfortunately much of this history is not known to the broader general public who have been told by the developer's well funded public relations campaign that they have done everything by the book and that their proposal has all the proper approvals.

Of course this is their version of history. The fact is that the approval process has been replete with all sorts of improprieties and misuse of power and outright ignoring and violation of laws and regulations. Even with all that, the approvals were conditional on the developer meeting multiple conditions that have not been met, and that the developer and the City seem to be prepared, indeed anxious, to simply ignore.

There have been some positive developments within the last few months including the designation of the Kizell Pond as a provincially significant wetland and the revelation that the developer's stormwater management plans are grossly inadequate for the development proposed. These are vital issues that need to remain in the forefront of the public and nothing in this post is meant to suggest otherwise.

This all being said, fighting a development that has been approved, even if it never should have been, is a huge undertaking requiring extensive resources that will never be able to match the resources available to the developer.

None of this is to say that this battle should not be fought but to call attention to other lands in the South March Highlands that also need to be saved but for which the battle may not be as difficult and for which victory might indeed be probable if the fight is taken up early enough.

We are talking about the lands north of the South March Highlands Conservation Forest, a large portion of which are owned by Metcalfe Realty. Unlike the KNL/Urbandale lands, these lands are not approved for development and are still zoned Environmental Protection. And, unlike the KNL/Urbandale lands, the owner is willing to sell and the City is interested in purchasing. This was confirmed by a city staffer as recently as last month, but has been fairly common knowledge for quite some time. Indeed the City has been quietly adding to the Conservation Forest by buying up land in what was known as the "dark side" when it became available at a reasonable price.

The biggest problem in getting political will for the City to buy the KNL/Urbandale lands has been the price for land approved for development, even if it was for sale. On the other hand as fiscal a conservative and non-environmentalist as one could find on the previous City Council, Gord Hunter, has publicly proposed the City purchase the lands north of the Conservation Forest. That being noted, it should much less difficult to convince the City to purchase these lands than it would be to convince them to purchase the KNL/Urbandale lands.

What is needed is a real campaign focused on these lands. And I understand resources are scarce and the natural inclination is to fight for the lands under imminent threat first. But every minute these lands are ignored is an opportunity for the landowner to start quietly working to get their status changed so that they too are under imminent threat, and much more costly to acquire.

At the moment the City is just quietly waiting for the landowner to offer the land to them at fair value for land zoned Environmental Protection while the landowner is offering the land for sale at the price of land approved for development.

There is a way to break through this but it requires political will and political will requires public pressure. The City must move now to start the process to negotiate a fair price for the land based on it's current zoning and status and inform the landowner if that is not successful the City will begin the process to expropriate the land at fair market value for it's existing status and zoning.

Other than some additional administrative costs this will not cost the City more than it is willing to pay for the land. That is a big factor in gaining Council support in these "fiscally conservative" times.

This will require public pressure. It will require an organized effort. But the automatic rejection arguments that the land is too costly and that it is not for sale and that there is an approved development proposal do not exist. Expropriation can be promoted simply as a mechanism to determine a fair price for the land.

This is a winnable battle if undertaken seriously. And right now we need some winnable battles. It may even change the mindset of City Council, making saving most of the South March Highlands a possibility for all to work towards.


Watts Creek Pathway Construction Alternative Route

On Wednesday November 9, I noticed that a section of the Watts Creek Pathway running alongside the Nepean National Equestrian Park has the asphalt torn up and appears ready for construction work, barriers were ready to be placed across the path in two locations. It appears that the pathway will soon be blocked.

However there is an alternative route that was used as a detour previously during sewer construction. Some of you may remember it as a gravel road. It has been closed off and started to grow in considerably, but the gravel base remains and a well used walking/biking track remains as many people still use the route. Both ends were blocked off but they have been re-opened and there does not seem to have been any effort made to re-close them. I am not certain who owns the land but I think it might be the City of Ottawa or the National Capital Commission.

(click on map to enlarge)

This is an unauthorized detour - use at your own risk.

Update 2011-11-13 - Paving underway

Update 2011-11-16 - Paving completed, pathway open


Cycling and Mountain Biking Season in Review

I know it's not over yet, and with the winter bike it is never over, but I feel it's been a great season so far and now is as good a time as ever to put my thoughts down in print.

The time will come soon enough when the trails are no longer rideable and the salt is being dumped on the roads and paths, that I will have to bring out the winter bike. Last year my last mountain bike ride was on November 11th in the South March Highlands and my last hybrid ride on November 22nd, my first winter bike ride was a week later on November 29.

Last years total was 3175 km, 475 on the MTB and 2700 on the hybrid and winter bike from January to December. So far this year, since January, I have done 2630 km, 930 on the MTB, 1410 on the hybrid and 290 on the winter bike.

Will I actually beat those numbers this year. In a sense, I probably already have when you consider that I have almost doubled the distance on the MTB which is considerably more intense riding than hybrid riding. Of course, last year I was off the MTB for 9 weeks and off both bikes for 6 weeks, after the incident (broken arm).

But I am hoping, considering how dry the trails have been this year and still seem to be, to see an extended season before the fall rainfall and slow drying effect of the fall weather come into play.

The season started well with putting the winter bike away at the beginning of April and about a month of hybrid riding to prepare for the CN Cycle for CHEO. I really enjoyed the improved route this year, even if there was more climbing. They certainly improved the way they handled the route across the downtown core. Unfortunately the organized mountain biking participation has been steadily declining since we had 5 teams raising $15,000 at the peak of MTB Kanata. I may simply ride independently next year.

My first MTB ride this season, on the GFR trails and Trillium Woods Trail, was the day before the first OMBA South March Highlands group ride on May 12. After missing most of the SMH rides last year due to the incident I got off to a good start this year, enjoying the Thursday night rides up until they became night rides and I decided to restrict my night riding to the Greenbelt.

But perhaps what I am most pleased about this season has been the enthusiastic participation in the Tuesday Night Greenbelt Rides, and no broken bones yet. We have a great regular group of riders, sometimes joined by others, that enjoy the casual pace of just tooling around the flowy Greenbelt trails, with some technical sections thrown in for added fun. I finally got my new batteries for my Magicshine lights, which I had hardly used before. What an improvement over my old NiteHawk lights, for the same (aprox $100) price. It is a real joy to ride with these and I am really finding the continuing night riding to be a great experience.

The Greenbelt rides have also led me to find a new riding buddy, that shares my local trails and rides at about my same pace and technical ability, so riding with him has been great fun. I have to get him to expand his riding preferences though - get him out to SMH and into distance riding the on paths and roads.

I'm going to have to say, what some in OMBA might consider to be blasphemy, but I also prefer the Greenbelt to SMH for sheer enjoyment, probably because I can ride to the trails from my front door.

I believe I have only been to one OMBA SMH trail day this year but I have spent some time working on the Greenbelt trails clearing dead-fall. What a season it has been in both SMH and the Greenbelt for storms bring trees down over the trails. I have plans for early next season to get into Middle Earth on foot and clear out what is certain to be a lot of dead-fall in there and to do some discreet trail work near Old Quarry to connect up two sections of trails that are calling out to be connected and clear another section of trail that is difficult to follow, especially at night. And then some new trails to take the Tuesday Night group out on.

A report on riding would not be complete without talking about my Richard's GPS Trail Maps project to map all the western Greenbelt trails as well as other trails. I never did get back to mapping the Bruce Pit Trails, as planned this summer, as I got sidetracked into unplanned mapping at SMH in response to the clear-cut of the Beaver Pond Forest trails and the impending development of the old Kanata Lakes Trails. I also was made aware of a neat little trail system by Lytle Park that has been added to the collection.

In regards to the GPS Maps project, about a year ago I was contacted by the people who produce the Backroad Mapbooks who wanted to use my trail maps in a new GPS map product for Garmin GPS units. The end result of that was that I agreed to let them use the GPS data with no conditions and they graciously provided me with a free copy of their Ontario GPS map product. I have only used it for about a week but I have to say that I am very impressed and a full review will appear soon on "Richard's GPS Trail Maps" site.

Had a really nice ride today on a nice cool afternoon. The next two weeks are still looking pretty good, especially both Tuesdays. See you on the trails.

Update (2011-11-10)

I just realized I had a formula error and my hybrid distance was incorrect.
My corrected totals as of today are:

Hybrid: 2632.20
Mountain Bike 1004.75
Winter Bike 287.50
TOTAL: 3924.45 Kilometres


This Land is Your Land - The Uncensored Version

Occupy Let Freedom Rain: Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello to join Occupy Vancouver Wednesday?

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie


This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)


If Don Cherry is Right it Means Banning Hockey

I have always tried to give Don Cherry some credit for his knowledge of the game so I listened when he said fighting was necessary as a relief valve for players because otherwise they would take cheap shots and inflict even more violence when the officials were not looking.

As we learn more about the impacts of violence in hockey, including fighting, and particularly concussions, I am convinced that we must ban fighting in hockey and if hockey players really are the neanderthal brutes that Cherry seems to believe they are and they just turn to greater violence to replace fighting, then we have no choice but to ban the game.

It is time to find out if Don Cherry is right or just the fool he appears to be.


Bought My New Winter Bike

Well my old Supercycle winter bike finally died after two winters and I decided to go searching for something better to replace it with, something with a somewhat better derailleur and switchers.

I went to look at bikes at the Ottawa re-Cycles and found a bike in the Cycle Salvation stock. Both shops share the same space and sell each others bikes.

Cycle Salvation is a social enterprise operating under the umbrella of Causeway Work Centre. Our business strives to achieve a triple bottom line (profit, people, planet) by providing training and employment in the field of bike mechanics to people who are economically disadvantaged, while at the same time diverting bikes destined for scrap and landfill sites. Our employees refurbish donated bicycles using a multi-point inspection process. Bicycles range in price from $100 to $350. Please note that we do not offer repairs or tune-ups.

Cycle Salvation is co-located with re-Cycles, a volunteer-run non-profit community bike shop. re-Cycles sells refurbished bikes and parts, takes donations of the same, and provides a space where people can learn to repair bikes, either their own or donated bikes.
I found myself a classic Reflex STX from around 1990.

I had never heard of it before either till I found it at the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology. It comes with a Shimano Exage 400 derailleur from 1990-1992.

It's a bit small for me, but was about the largest they had in stock and with some adjustments to the handlebar and seat height I have it set up about the same as my mountain bike, which should be fine as my winter riding is usually confined to under 20 km rides around the neighbourhood. It's all ready to go now with the winter studded tires installed.

(click on images to enlarge)

But I'm hoping it will still be awhile before I have to take it out in response to the deluge of salt on the roads as soon as we get a sprinkling of snow.


Let us make one thing perfectly clear

Ontario is parliamentary democracy, albeit within it's own constitutional jurisdiction. As such it is the Ontario legislature that determines who will be in the government and form the Cabinet. As in all parliamentary democracies a government is legitimate if, and only if, it has the confidence of a majority in the legislature. This majority can be made up of members of one party or, as is actually more common in western democracies, be made up of a coalition of members of several parties.

There is nothing illegitimate about a government that represents, and has the confidence of, a majority of the members of the legislature. Indeed, it is the only form of government that is legitimate within a parliamentary democracy.

It's too bad none of our political leaders are willing to stand up for democracy.


The Most Annoying Thing About Cycling in Ottawa: Postscript

I was riding the shared bike path along the Ottawa River today and across from the War Museum on the pathway I noticed three yellow dots similar to the three yellow dots on roadways that mark where cars can activate traffic lights( I have tried using them on my bicycle with no effect). I can only assume that they serve the same purpose and, being on a bike path, are activated by bicycles. I returned via a different route so was not able to test them. However, if that logical assumption is true, it is doable. So why is it not done.

Previous Fifth Column Post


Thinking It Through Brings Clarity

So what is an atheist who believes in a single secular public school system supposed to think about noon hour Muslim prayers in public schools.

The answer should be simple but first let us look at the context.

In the province of Ontario there are two publicly funded school systems, one for a specific religion and one for everybody else (all other religions and non-religious persons). If one did not have an understanding of the province's constitutional history, one might assume the religion with the separate school system was the largest religious group in the province, but actually it is the second largest group that gets special treatment.

This religion has it's own school system where they are allowed to indoctrinate students in their religion and adopt policies that provide "when there is an apparent conflict between denominational rights and other rights, the board will favour the protection of the denominational rights".

While the Roman Catholic Church, and it's separate school boards, may be exempt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Constitution Act, Section 29), I cannot ignore it.

Thus, as long as one religion is allowed to have it's own publicly funded school boards in which to indoctrinate students, the minimum reasonable accommodation that should be made for other religions, in the name of equality, is to allow them to use school facilities for prayer services for the convenience of students, as long as no one is compelled to attend such services.

The real solution, of course, is a constitutional amendment to remove discriminatory rights given to one religion and provide for one secular public school system in Ontario, as has been done in other provinces, including Quebec.


The Most Annoying Thing About Cycling in Ottawa

We all agree that Ottawa is a great place for cycling, but it is not perfect. Apart from the fact that the City of Ottawa and NCC have to do a better job of completing the system and linking their pathways together there is the problem of a lack of washroom and drinking water facilities along the pathways.

However that is not my biggest complaint. Ottawa is supposed to be encouraging and promoting cycling and bicycles are supposed to be considered vehicles. But it all seems somewhat hypocritical.

Can you imagine someone in a vehicle stopped at a red light virtually forever, unable to move, without getting out of their vehicle and walking over to the side of the road and pushing a button. But that is the reality, more often than not, for cyclists in Ottawa who are stuck at red lights until a "real" vehicle or a pedestrian comes up to the intersection. It's that or just run the red light out of frustration and anger at the hypocrisy and lack of respect.


Realigning Canada's Political Spectrum

Canadians have traditionally held social democratic values while supporting centrist political parties. Canadians support universal single payer public health insurance, public pensions and a social safety net, all of which, at the federal level, have been proposed by leftist political parties but legislated by centrists political parties. These parties traditionally were the Liberal Party, slightly to the left of centre, and the Progressive Conservative Party, slightly to the right of centre.

The new extreme right wing federal Conservative Party of Stephen Harper (and Ontario PC Party of Harris and Hudak) are historical anomalies.

But the rise of the New Democratic Party in the recent election, and the rapid decline of the Liberal Party are signs that a change may be underway.

Some are suggesting a move to a two party left/right alignment with a merger of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties, but I do not see that happening.

What I see happening is a realignment closer to the traditional Canadian model.

I see the demise of the Liberal Party with it's right wing moving to the Conservatives and it's left wing moving to the New Democrats. I see the right wing Liberals joining with the former progressive wing of the Conservatives to move that party closer to it's former position slightly right of centre, while the New Democratic Party fills the position formerly held by the Liberals but somewhat further left of centre.

This would mean that the centre of Canadian politics would move to the left leading to more progressive future governments.

But I also see a further possibility of a New Democratic Party government bringing in proportional representation so that a true left wing party could emerge, with political representation equivalent to it's public support, along with a similar right wing party. The Greens would also get representation equivalent to their public support.

Their would be the potential for a more democratic system that made majority governments unlikely and co-operative (rather than confrontational) politics not only possible, but a necessity.


Celebrating the Natural World @ Beaver Pond Park - Schedule and Photo Contest

Algonquin Union Presents: “A Living Temple” - South March Highlands
Honouring Grandfather William Commanda

Beaver Pond Park (end of Walden Dr., Kanata)
Saturday Sept 10th, 6am - 11pm

(click on images to enlarge)Union-Algonquin-Union

Donations Welcome


Riding the Desecration Highway

This afternoon I rode over from Bridlewood, via the Trans-Canada Trail, Huntmar Drive and Old Carp Road, to the South March Highlands K2 trailhead to put up posters for the September 10 Celebrating the Natural World @ Beaver Pond Park and then returned via Terry Fox Drive.

It's a nice highway with nice wide cycling lanes and it's enjoyable to ride, but as I was riding through I could not help but realize that the beauty of what used to be is now desecrated by the highway. I realized then that the perfect name for the Terry Fox Drive Extension is the Desecration Highway.


Algonquin Union Presents: Celebrating the Natural World @ Beaver Pond Park

“A Living Temple” – South March Highlands
Honouring Grandfather William Commanda

Beaver Pond Park (end of Walden Dr., Kanata)
Saturday Sept 10th, 6am - 11pm

(click on images to enlarge posters)


Jack Layton - In His Own Words

August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus:
I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers:
On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians:
Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/08/22/pol-layton-last-letter.html


Much Ado About The Wrong Thing - Canadian Forces DisIntegration

As a political scientist and somewhat of a historian I prefer our system of government based on a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. I also appreciate the role that our historical links to the United Kingdom play in our multicultural society, including their role in our political and justice systems.

Therefore I am not particularly upset about including "Royal" in the names of the Canadian Air Force and Canadian Navy. But that is not the point, however much Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party would like to direct the debate to that minor issue, by using references to Canadian history.

The point is to start to undo the integration of the Canadian Forces. The forces were integrated for two reasons, one operational and one more symbolic, but of operational impact.

Operationally the goal was to obtain efficiencies by having one command structure and developing one set of priorities and to eliminate competition between the three services, Army, Navy and Air Force.

Symbolically the goal was to have our servicemen all identify with each other through the Canadian Forces, rather than simply with one service.

It's not about being Royal. It's about being separate services rather than one combined Canadian Forces all working together with one loyalty to Canada.


When Beavers Abandon Their Dam: Heron Pond, South March Highlands

This summer a breach in the dam at Heron Pond in the South March Highland was discovered that appeared to be a natural occurrence. In such cases the beavers will usually repair the dam, but this did not happen and it appears they have abandoned the dam and the pond. This has caused the water levels in Heron Pond to drop dramatically so that what once appeared to be a lake now appears to be drying up.

This has caused concern amongst nature lovers and others who appreciate hiking and biking along the pond, but in reality it might provide an opportunity to observe and study a changing ecosystem if the beavers do not return to the pond and it gradually reverts to forest or pasture or a yet to be determined other natural state.

The following photos were taken before and after the beavers abandoned the pond. The first two in each series were taken from what mountain bikers call The Shield, a flat rocky area on the trail that goes through the Metcalfe Realty lands northeast of the pond. The last three photos in each set were taken from what mountain bikers call Pete's Wicked Trail in the city-owned South March Highlands Conservation Forest southwest of the pond.

Click on the images to see enlarged versions




The Geology of Kakakiwaganda Lake (Rock Lake)

Every summer we spend about a week at our favourite Bed and Breakfast Whispering Pines On the Bay which is about half-way between Sudbury and Killarney Provincial Park. Not only does it have gracious friendly hosts and interesting guests from all over the world, it is also located on beautiful Kakakiwaganda Lake, or as the locals call it, Rock Lake.

We also get out kayaking on the lake at least once every visit and one of the most interesting things about the lake is the geology and rock formations along the shore. The photographs in the slide show below were taken from my kayak as I paddled around the lake.

(select 720p to view in high definition and full screen to view full screen)


Three Things Every Casual Cyclist Should Know

While I am by no means an expert, as a serious cyclist there are some things I have noticed that I would like to share with my readers, some of whom are thinking about taking up cycling in a more serious manner.

1. Almost everyone has their bicycle seats set too low. Even when I got my first good bike, the bike shop set it too low because they simply asked me what felt right rather than suggesting setting it at the proper height.

For most efficient pedalling a bike should be set so that when your pedal is at the very bottom of the rotation there should just be a very slight bend in your knee. An exception is for mountain biking where in the case of downhill or very technical trail riding you might set it with a bit more bend. I notice most casual riders have an extreme amount of bend in their knees when they are cycling. If that is you, try reducing the bend and you will notice the difference.

2. Almost everyone keeps their tire pressure too low and rarely checks it till it is obviously almost flat. If you are always riding on pavement you should keep your tire pressure near the recommended maximum stated on the tire. This will provide more efficient cycling with less rolling resistance and less effort required.

My hybrid tires' maximum is 75 PSI but I run them at about 60 because I ride my hybrid on gravel and easy dirt trails as well as pavement. For that reason I also use hybrid tires with a fair amount of tread on them.

My mountain bike tires', used for trail riding, maximum is 50 PSI but I run them at about 40, which is fairly normal, though some mountain bikers run much lower tire pressures in certain conditions. Unless you know why you are running really low tire pressures avoid them.

Hard core roadies with serious road bikes and extremely skinny smooth tires will run at very high pressures, but if that is not you it is probably best to keep to under 80 PSI and never more than the maximum rating on your tires.

3. The majority of cyclists neglect to keep their drive-train (chain and gears) lubricated. Preferably one will check and re-lube their chain regularly with special bike lube. But if you are a casual cyclist with an inexpensive bicycle you are probably better just using heavy grease that only needs to be reapplied a few times a season. That way you will be sure not to have your chain running dry.

I ride an inexpensive bicycle in the winter to avoid exposing my good bikes to salt damage and I use lithium grease on it, supplemented with chain saw bar oil to deal with the slush and salt on the roads in the winter.

I also want to add two further comments that should not really need mentioning but by watching a lot of cyclists out there they obviously do need to be emphasized, and that is headgear and footwear.

Always wear a helmet, You never know when you will need it. It is not a panacea but it definitely can be the difference between walking away with no harm or with a head injury, in particular a concussion. And in worse case scenarios in can mean the difference between a serious injury and death. Being alive is far more important than looking "chic".

And please, no flip-flops or sandals. Never wear footwear that exposes your feet or toes. Decent running or walking shoes are fine. In the winter I wear my winter hiking boots. You don't even want to think about the pain of your exposed toes being dragged along pavement or gravel.

And finally, I will mention two other things I have noticed. Parents seem to think their children are smarter than them and thus protect their children's brains but not their own, essentially sending the message that "once your older you won't have to wear your stupid helmet". And teenage girls seem to think that keeping a spare helmet hanging from their handlebars is more important than having one on their head. Perhaps they think being pretty is more important than being smart, but trust me, a smashed brain is not a pretty sight.

These are not the only things one should know about cycling but they are the most obvious things I have noticed novice riders neglecting.


Solving Urbandale's Beaver Pond Forest Subdivision Marketing Dilemma

The normal method of promoting house sales by telling buyers their houses will be close to the wilderness of the South March Highlands probably isn't going to work for Urbandale, because reminding potential buyers that they just clear cut the Beaver Pond Forest is probably not their best marketing strategy.

So I am going to try to put myself into Urbandale's mindspace. One thing they have got to be thinking right now is why does Bill Teron dare criticize them and why is he still a hero and they the villains. After all, it was Bill Teron who, as a developer, assembled the land for development and sold it to Campeau, who sold it to Genstar who sold it to them. And they have a good point.

BUT, they also have to realize that when they acquired the land they also inherited the responsibility for all the actions that got the land to the point it is in the development process, and that includes the bullying and blackmailing that led to the meaningless 40% agreement, which leaves very little land protected - narrow strips of "protected land" are not ecologically sustainable and a developed golf course is not environmentally protected land.

I think they are quickly going to learn that normal does not apply in this case. Normally potential house buyers see rows of pretty streets and and brand new houses and have little thought to what was there before. Urbandale knows that in this case all potential buyers are going to be completely aware of what was there before - the Beaver Pond Forest - part of the most significant environmental lands in Ottawa, the near wilderness South March Highlands. They are going to know it has been clear cut to build the houses they are looking at and that every new house purchased paves the way for more destruction of the South March Highlands.

It may be easy to dismiss the first factor - it's done now, we can't bring the trees back. But the second one is going to gnaw on potential buyers because they will feel the responsibility and guilt of helping to destroy the rest of the forest that KNL/Urbandale plans to develop. And while there may be some potential buyers that don't care, even some who take glee in being anti-environment, anti-earth - is that really who Urbandale wants to market their houses to. No doubt concerns over the destruction of the Beaver Pond Forest is going to affect sales of all Urbandale homes in the Ottawa area.

There is a way out - a way to turn Urbandale into the hero rather than the villain and one that would gain them my praise. Why would I praise the people who just clear cut the Beaver Pond Forest. Because I believe it is never too late to do the right thing, and because I believe in redemption.

The solution of course is obvious. Remove that last factor, the threat to the rest of Urbandale's South March Highlands lands that purchasing a house in the former Beaver Pond Forest represents.

Urbandale can protect the lands by donating them to the City and they can even gain a financial advantage by doing it in as way that maximizes their tax benefit.

Of course I would still expect them to respect the First Nations archeological and cultural heritage within the Beaver Pond Forest site and find appropriate Storm Water Management plans that do not pollute the rest of the South March Highlands.

Urbandale could use some good press right now and it certainly would boost their marketing ability all over Ottawa. And sometimes (even better late than never) being a hero just feels good.

Lyon Sachs and Mary Jarvis are you ready to feel praise rather than condemnation. Are you ready to become heroes.


His Spirit Will Live on: Grandfather William Commanda (Ojigkwanong/Morning Star)

How does an atheist write about the death of a great spiritual leader. It would be hypocritical to use the conventional references to his passing on to a greater place or going to meet his creator. But there is nothing hypocritical in speaking of his spirit living on, for it will in his works and accomplishments and his teachings and especially in those he inspired to carry them on in the future.

I have never personally met Grandfather William but I know people that have and I can attest to how inspired they were by him, as I was indirectly, and I know they will carry on his spirit and teachings.

Grandfather William was a man of the land, who understood and loved the land, and was a friend of the South March Highlands who recognized it as the special place that it is and declared it sacred. As an atheist I may not understand "sacred" the same way Grandfather William did but I understand just how special the land that sustains us all is and especially that very special place in Ottawa known as the South March Highlands. All of us who know the land within the South March Highlands, and are working to protect it, have lost a true champion in the death of Grandfather William.

To Grandfather William I say Meegwetch.

A Message from William Commanda regarding the Proposed Development in South March Highlands

APTN News: ‘Grandfather’ Commanda, an Algonquin man of ‘wisdom’ and ‘inspiration’

Ottawa Citizen: William Commanda, Algonquin spiritual leader, dead at 97

Ottawa Citizen: Archival story: Morning Star's rise

CBC News: Algonquin elder William Commanda dies

CBC News: Keeper of the wampum: William Commanda, Algonquin elder


Dumping Shit in The Ottawa River

This blog post contains graphic language because there is no way to pretty up dumping shit in the city's drinking water source.

If I were to walk into the Ottawa River and take a crap I would probably be arrested, and not just for indecent exposure but for polluting the river with human excrement.

However the City Of Ottawa routinely dumps shit in the Ottawa River due to a an inadequate and outdated sewage system. Yes, the City has been fined for some of these occurrences, but the fines are not paid by the decision makers who set the city's spending priorities but by citizens and taxpayers. Indeed the people who drink the water and swim in the Ottawa River, the victims of this environmental crime, are the ones who are punished for it, not the decision makers responsible for it.

Should there not be a law, or at least a policy, that the City spend money on improving the system responsible for this environmental crime before giving it to developers to build a shopping mall, condominiums and professional sports facilities. Should there not be a law that requires the City to spend federal and provincial infrastructure funding on reducing the amount of shit they dump in the Ottawa River before they spend it on building a road that destroys the most bio-diverse and environmentally important area in the city just to serve the desires of developers.

Indeed, should it not be legislated public policy that the City's decision makers must put the interests of taxpayers and citizens before the wishes of developers.


Ottawa: Proud of It's Municipal Water Supply and It's Pathways - The Disconnect

Ottawa is very proud of the quality of it's municipal drinking water supply and goes to great lengths to assure people they do not need to buy bottled water.

Ottawa is also very proud of it's shared recreational pathway system which, along with the NCCs pathways, provides a great opportunity for lengthy bicycle rides. Indeed, I regularly ride over 40 km, often over 70 km and occasionally even over 100 km.

All the experts will tell you that it is very important to keep hydrated when exercising in the hot summer weather and the best way is to just drink water.

However it is almost impossible to take advantage of the municipal water supply when riding the city's pathways as there are very few water fountains available along them and those that are require you to almost swallow the fixture to get a drink making it impossible to fill a water bottle from them. On many long rides I have had to purchase bottled water to provide the required hydration to ride safely.

This, along with the shortage of public toilets (which I have already written about), limits the useability of the pathway system and may discourage many Ottawa residents from being as active and fit as they could be.

Along with providing the necessary missing connections in the pathway system, the City also needs to provide the proper infrastructure (water fountains and toilets) for a proper pathway system that people can use all day, rather than just for a few hours at a time.


Scary Bear Soundtrack Performs "Beaver Pond Forest"

I recently had the opportunity to hear Scary Bear Soundtrack perform both their acoustic and rock versions of "Beaver Pond Forest" live and I have to say that I prefer the rock version of it, and of all their music. Those women can really rock and their drummer is amazing.

beaver pond forest

written by gloria (2010)

when the movie stopped, we took a walk
into the woods behind the cinema
you touched my mouth, those words came out
you held me so tight you bruised my fibula
the trees in that spot where my cherry popped
were all removed like they were eczema
now those parking lots where Beaver Pond was bought
flush out my memories like an enema

meet me at the pond
meet me at the pond

as soon as school was out, we’d bike to Beaver Pond
hidden from our parents and our teachers
there we’d talk of life, and the bands we liked
blissfully untold of the future
sometimes the kids would smoke, sometimes the kids hooked up
we all grew up inside these woods
one day when we returned, it was all blocked off
with the ashphalt burying our childhood

coyotes and the deer
the beavers and the pond
bulldozers came
now my playmates are gone

i’ve watched these neighbourhoods
swell up like a blob from a horror film
eating everyone
all i want to know is where your children go
is it better in malls than in the sun
they’ll never learn to play
just to consume and wait
when you speak of love they won’t understand

they’ll only know beauty as Angelina Jolie
and not the way the milkweed feels when you press it in your hands.

They also make reference to the Beaver Pond Forest in their song "Time to Riot".
time to riot
written by gloria (2010)

it’s time to riot: take to the streets
make known our cause as leaders meet
they send their cops; they build a wall
they cannot possibly arrest us all

turn off the radio,
they don’t sing about, they don’t sing about us
these saccharine dreams and vapid love songs distract us while we’re robbed

it’s time to riot: let’s start a mob
no education, no cash, no jobs
they rob the youth so the old can feed
we’ll show our outrage, we’ll show the queen

it’s time to riot: the games are on
rich countries gather to show off their brawn
they cast us off with careless shrugs
we don’t be swept under the rug

it’s time to riot before it’s gone
rally to save our stomping grounds
to save the future, to save the past
they’ll tear down beauty in exchange for cash
it’s time to start a riot
it’s time to fight

Scary Bear Soundtrack is Gloria Song, Ainslie Lahey, Dannik Leduc and Maggie Woodley.

Photos from their latest performance at Babylon can be found here.


Riding on the Hottest Day of the Year

Knowing it was supposed to be the hottest day of the year I decided it would be a good day for a hybrid ride, but not being a fool I set out at 9:00 in the morning when it was only about 25 degrees with a humidex around 30, and headed towards Westboro Beach.

It really wasn't too bad and I passed several other cyclists, mostly my age or older. There were actually very few people at the beaches between 9:30 and 10:00 but a few were in the water, despite the beaches being closed.

I noticed I had one of my best times for the season at 20.6 km/hr average (22 km/hr average on the way to Wesboro with the wind). I think the heat does help your muscles perform plus the added incentive to go faster to create more wind.

On the way back it started to get hotter, which was most noticeable when I had to stop at the lights at Moodie and Corkstown, and during the last half hour it was really starting to get uncomfortable. When I arrived home at about 11:30 the temperature was 30 and the humidex was 42 and I was glad that the ride was over.

Distance 46.2 km
Time: 2 hrs 14 min
Avg Speed: 20.6 km/hr
Max Speed: 35.2 km/hr


Back From The Great Green North

The Fifth Column has been idle for a few weeks because the Fifth Columnist has been on vacation in Northern Ontario.

We spent about a week at our favourite bed and breakfast, Whispering Pines on the Bay between Killarney Provincial Park and Sudbury. After that we spent almost a week at Killarney Lodge in Algonquin Park. Although a bit pricey, Killarney Lodge is a family operated lodge on Lake of Two Rivers with absolutely wonderful service and owners that really care about their guests.

I hope to soon post some photo blogs about our northern vacation as well as get back to regular blogging, although that may still be intermittent throughout the summer.


Announcing Kanata's Paradise Lost - World's First World Heritage Subdivision

The following is a fable, but like all fables it contains hidden (and not so hidden) truths.

Yes, for the first, and undoubtedly last time in the world, you can own a house on a World Heritage Site. Only in Ottawa, the world's "Developers Rule Capital" ©Development Ottawa Promotion Establishment (DOPE), could this be possible.

Killing Nature Limited (KNL) , in conjunction with UrbanDesolation Inc. and RichCrap Homes announces the construction of the first stage of houses in it's new Paradise Lost World Heritage Subdivision.

Located on the site of what used to be known as the Beaver Pond Woods this subdivision represents the new wave of natural destruction in urban development. Whether your home is on Blasted to Bits Drive, ClearCut Avenue, Extinction Way or Sacred Land Road you can be assured of the same quality Ticky Tacky that our homes are renowned for.

As an added feature each home comes with a Grand Forest Room that has, in place of a picture window, a forest mural. This feature is ideal for educating your children in the wilderness features that were once where your house stood. You can teach your children the names of all the plants, animals and endangered species that were sacrificed to build your home.

Each home comes with it's own Certificate of Destruction listing all the natural features and wildlife that were destroyed so you could have your own home where splendour and wonder once stood. You will also receive your own piece of the forest, a bag of wood chips from the trees that once stood here, to use in your garden.

For a limited time those visiting our sales offices on Walden Pond Dies Drive will be able to try some of our Forest Stew - there is nothing like stewed porcupine after it has been shaken out of it's tree and frozen to death - it's like Ice Wine, a real delicacy.

Most people do nothing about the wasted and undeveloped wilderness that covers much of our county. By buying a home in Paradise Lost you can help to reduce that waste and advance progress.

Remember by buying a home in Paradise Lost you pave the way for the destruction of even more forest and wildlife in what has come to be known as Our Community's Great Forest and World Heritage Site.


108 Kilometres and 5 Pounds Later (Ottawa River Pathways Hybrid Epic Ride)

Well it has actually been a few years since I have done an Epic (Over 100 kilometre) Hybrid Ride and I have been wanting to find out just how long a ride encompassing both the western and eastern Ottawa River pathways would be, having rode both separately.

Click on Map to Enlarge

One of the things keeping me from doing this sooner was the lack of proper connectiveness between the two sections, which I have written about previously.
East and West: Two Solitudes - The Problems With The Ottawa River Pathway

The Ottawa River Pathway Two Solitudes: PostScript
Starting in Bridlewood I took the Trans-Canada Trail through the Greenbelt joining the Ottawa River pathway at the Andy Haydon water park. The western pathway route is an enjoyable ride along the Ottawa River on paved pathways with the opportunity for pit stops to eat and drink at Britannia and Westboro beaches.

The connection to the eastern section was not as bad as I expected. After the killer hill up the cliff by the locks you just take Murray Street to Sussex Drive and continue to the Rockcliffe Parkway and onto the eastern pathways. So I was fine, but anyone who is intimidated by riding on major heavy traffic roadways could be intimidated and even a bit frightened, and our pathway system should not force cyclists into those situations.

Once I reached the Rockcliffe Parkway I was back onto paved pathways leading to the pathways along the river.

Click on Map to Enlarge

For the ride east I took the paved upper pathway along the Rockcliffe Parkway that goes past the Aviation Museum and then rejoins the path along the River.

Once you hit Orleans you follow the streets a bit past the Résidence Saint-Louis following the bike route signs and then take the Petrie Island Pathway that ends at Trim Road, but you can continue down Trim Road to the island. Most of the Petrie Island pathway is brand new pavement except for the last portion that is gravel. The pathway goes past a number of what appear to be mountain bike trails crossing over it, that I have yet to check out.

On the way back I kept to the pathway closest to the river, which is primarily a hard-packed gravel surface. Both pathways are enjoyable and scenic.

Casual cyclists should be aware that after you leave the river pathway, the path along the Rockcliffe parkway goes along a cliff and narrows for a portion and that can be a bit concerning but really is no great problem.

Getting from Sussex Drive back to the western pathway was another matter. I should have done better advance planning for the trip back and I ended up darting across the road where St. Patrick joins Murray Street during a break in traffic to get back to the path down the cliff. A better route would have been to continue along Sussex Drive to the other side of Murray Street and then walk the bike along the sidewalk to the path down the cliff.

Click on Map to Enlarge

The biggest concern of the ride was the heat and probably a sign that I picked the wrong day for an Epic Ride. I have done long rides (60-70 km) on hot days and I have done over 100 km rides before but combing both was probably a bad idea and after the 90 km mark I was starting to feel the effects of heat exhaustion, but I managed to make it home without collapsing.

One of the problems of the pathway system (besides the lack of washroom facilities, particularly in the early and late season) is the shortage of drinking water facilities. There are very few water fountains on the route and the few that are there require you to almost swallow the fixture to get a drink, making it impossible to use them to refill a water bottle.

I was able to buy water from a vending machine at the Rockcliffe Yacht Club though. The multitude of Private Property and Members Only signs kept me from even thinking about asking them to refill my water bottle with tap water, I felt fortunate that they let me use their vending machine.

But all being said it was a great experience and I would do it again on a cooler day.

Overall stats:

Total Distance: 108 km
Time Moving: 5 Hrs, 40 Min
Average Speed 19 km/hr
Maximum Speed 36.3 km/hr

Weight Lost During Trip: 5 pounds (but I regained about 3 pounds by next morning after rehydrating, etc.)


The NDP, The Quebec Question and 50% + 1

Much has been made of Jack Layton's "controversial" comments on a possible Quebec sovereignty referendum.

The fact is that it is a very rational and defensible position. Based on the closest precedent, the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation, Quebec has followed the same rules, keep on holding referendums hoping to get the result you want with 50% + 1 required for passage. After all, otherwise we have a minority deciding Quebec's constitutional status.

That position, however, has it's problems. Other constitutional precedents require greater than 50% + 1 to make constitutional changes. As well, if support is that close the results of a referendum can vary from day to day.

That is why I tend to support requiring something like 60% support for such changes in constitutional arrangements, to ensure that the new constitutional arrangement will have continuing support. However that position also has it's flaws because in the case of, for example, a clear and continuous 55% support for sovereignty, the minority that opposes the change in status would effectively decide the fate of Quebec.

That is why the real focus needs to be on maintaining strong support for federalism in Quebec, support that has just recently been very effectively expressed by the people of Quebec in choosing a federalist social democratic party over a sovereignist one. We need to work on building and strengthening a strong federalist consensus in Quebec.

This will not be done by "giving Quebec whatever it wants" but by giving Quebec respect and building a strong Canadian community. This starts with recognizing Quebec's nationhood and it's right to decide it's own fate. Can we have a country within a country. It seems to work well enough for England, Scotland and Wales, within a unitary state. When have you ever heard Scots refer to themselves as "United Kingdomers" but their loyalty to both their country of Scotland and their nation state of the United Kingdom does not seem to be in conflict.

We have the best opportunity ever to set aside separatism in Quebec and build a strong Canada that includes Quebec. Quebec has spoken in the election and chosen federalism. All we have to do is work with the Quebecois to build a strong united Canada with them.


Reflections on Mapping the South March Highlands Kanata Lakes Trails

For purposes of simplicity, although both trail systems are within the South March Highlands, I will refer to these trails, across from the Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR) parking lot, as the KL trails and the ones in the Conservation Forest as the SMH trails.

On Wednesday (May 25, 2011) I started my latest mapping project of what mountain bikers refer to as the Kanata Lakes trails, to distinguish them from the trails within the South March Highlands Conservation Forest. I do this either with a sense of history or a sense of optimism because these trails are located in Phase 7 of the KNL/Urbandale Destruction and are planned to be destroyed along with the forest and geology they are part of, to be replaced with yet another ticky tacky suburban subdivision.

Need I say one more time that losing this land and these trails will be a real tragedy, and indeed the Terry Fox Drive extension (routed over the least environmentally friendly route after public consultations indicated environmental factors should be the first priority in route selection) has already had a devastating effect on the natural and trail connectedness in the South March Highlands. Nevertheless as we fight to save what is left we should enjoy it for as long as we can and hopefully this trail map, when completed, will contribute to that.

As with any mapping exercise I start I quickly discover the trail system is more complicated than I thought and includes more trails than on any existing map. So this is going to take a few rides to complete. At the moment I have tracks from this ride (blue) and another from last summer (red) on the very preliminary map below.

click on image to enlarge

As there did not appear to be any visible trail left at the old Kizell Pond signpost, I thought I would go in from the "Race Track Entrance" (that is not the entrance right across from the parking lot, but a bit south of it where you go "through" a couple of rocks) and see if I could work my way out to the signpost.

I never did get there but I did follow the hydro cut all the way to it's southeast end and discovered it ends in the Kizell Pond Subdivision. In the process I discovered a little loop around part of Kizell Pond, that might provide a pleasant route for short nature hikes with easy access. That was the first time I followed the hydro cut all the way to that end.

I also followed the hydro cut all the way to the northwest end where it ends at the Terry Fox Drive extension close to where it used to cross the rail line. As there was construction going on, and operating equipment right in my route to the other side, I was not able to confirm if you can access the other side. Depending on the gulley along the rail line you should be able to cross Terry Fox Drive at the rail line (traffic permitting) and connect to the rest of the trails.

The other interesting thing I discovered was another open section of trail (blue) west of the hydro cut on "The Dark Side", in addition to the section (red) I discovered open last summer. "The Dark Side" was private land that was fenced in and biking was prohibited on. Some of it is now city land but the status of these sections would require a very careful map comparison/overlay to determine. Both of these sections end at the new Terry Fox Drive extension.

The rest of my mapping experience consisted of following the usual KL trails including one offshoot that leads to a big open field where you can see the rail line across on the other side. If you follow the preliminary map above with these descriptions you should be able to see where much of what I am talking about is.

So why is this land and these trails so important. Very briefly, the South March Highlands is the most bio-diverse area in Ottawa and we are very fortunate to have such an area within our city and so close to the urban area. But, being surrounded by urban land puts its ecological integrity under great stress and if we continue to develop important pieces of it not only do we reduce its size but we increase the outside stresses on the land. We are close to the point of it's losing it's ecological integrity.

But this post is about the trail system and the KL trails have their own character distinct from the SMH trails. For mountain biking much of these trails are at an easier level and more open to riding by beginners. The terrain differences also make these trails much better suited to cross-country skiing than the SMH trails, which are better suited to snowshoeing. The two trail systems complement each other very well and are part of one interconnected ecological system, even with Terry Fox Drive running through the heart of them.

There is one distinct difference between the two systems. The KL trails are older and most were built by hikers and cross-country skiers while many of the SMH trails were by built by mountain bikers and are being maintained by them. It is very obvious that the SMH trails are much more sustainable than the KL trails. If we are successful in saving the KL trails there will need to be a review of the trails, which can probably be done as part of the City of Ottawa - OMBA (Ottawa Mountain Bike Association) joint stewardship agreement that is expected to be signed soon. Much work will need to be done to bring them up to OMBA standards. possibly including rerouting or closing some sections of trail.

But for now I hope to just finish mapping the trails so that we know what is there and can all enjoy the wonderful experience of being in this forest that we all hope to enjoy forever.

Now if we could just get the decision makers to spend a day in this wonderful forest.


Obama Gets it Right on Palestine

President Obama understands what I wrote three and a half years ago, that ending the Israeli Palestinian conflict depends on recognizing that "the solution essentially comes down to understanding the most and least that each side can accept".

We could argue forever whether the State of Israel should have been created the way it was but, as most Palestinians have come to accept, that is a historical fact that is simply not going to change. It has been a huge and difficult step for the Palestinians to accept that, after all it was their land that was stolen from them. But come to accept it they have. That is the most they can be expected to accept. The least they can be expected to accept is to have their own Palestinian State and have Israel give back the land they stole since the creation of the State of Israel with no exceptions. The original boundaries must be restored, including the status of Jerusalem at the time Israel was created.

The least that Israel can be expected to accept is to have their right to exist accepted by the international community, including Palestinians and Arab states. The most they can be expected to give up is all the land they stole after the creation of the state of Israel, a not unreasonable expectation.
Hard line Israelis, and their even harder line supporters in the United States, may not want to accept anything other than a solution dictated by Israel but the rest of the world knows, and President Obama understands, that Middle East Peace will require compromise, and while the hard liners may not want peace the rest of the world does.



It's Time To Vote


Best CN Cycle for CHEO/Tour Nortel Yet

Well surprisingly this was the best year ever that I have had riding in the Tour Nortel or CN Cycle for CHEO. I've been fighting something off all week and was not even sure when I got up this morning if I could do it but decided once I was on my bike everything would be OK.

click image to enlarge

After iffy forecasts the weather turned out great, even if it started out cool. The route was very scenic, even if it did turn out to have some long hills with the wind against us. My longest training ride was 57 km and my best average training speed was 19.5 km/hr so I figured if I could do at least 18 km/hr I would be fine. It turned out I had my best time yet of 20.5 km/hr average with a maximum speed of 41.5 km/hr (downhill with the wind behind me).

click image to enlarge

A good time was had by all I am sure.