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(Updated 9:30 a.m., Jan. 2)
2017: Looking on the year that was

By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star

A small army of volunteers spent hours filling up sand bags in an effort to protect homes on Leo Lane near Cumberland Village from rising flood waters last June. Fred Sherwin/Photo

With 2017 now in our rear view mirrior, it’s a good time to take stock of the year that was.

If there was one theme that formed a common thread throughout 2017 it was that of community service.

That theme was most evident during the spring flooding which left more than a dozen homes on Leo and Boise Lanes along the Ottawa River in total ruin.

The trouble started on Sunday, April 30 and continued into Monday, May 1 when more than 56 millimetres of rain fell in less than 48 hours. That would have been bad enough, but when an additional 40 millimetres of rain fell on Friday, May 5, it spelled disaster for local residents.

Despite the best efforts of dozens of volunteers who showed up to fill sandbags after hearing about the rising floodwaters on television, the rains continued into the weekend and the water eventually breeched the sandbag walls forcing a complete evacuation.

It wasn’t until the following week that the water had receded enough to allow the homeowners to return along with dozens of additional volunteers who helped clear away the debris left behind.

Another group of volunteers organized a fundraising event for the flood victims in September that was attended by more than 1,000 people and raised over $10,000. The effort was a testament to the caring nature and generosity of local residents who came to the assistance of their neighbours at a time of crisis.

Masjid Bilal youth member Ameena Ally (left) stands in front of a display containing cards and letters writen by students at St. Peter High School, including Shealyn Foley (right). Fred Sherwin/Photo

Another example of the level of selflessness that exists in our community was evident last February when a group of Grade 10 students at St. Peter High School wrote a collection of cards and letters to students at the Masjid Bilal mosque on Innes Road, expressing their support of the Muslim community in the wake of a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six people dead and 19 injured.

Worshipers at the Innes Road mosque responded with cards of their own expressing their thanks and appreciation for the outpouring of support from the students at St. Pete’s.

Other examples of the community’s generosity include the Cairine Wilson Secondary School Relay for Life which raised over $90,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society; and St. Peter High School’s annual food drive during which more than 38,000 items were collected for the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre food bank.

In February, Navan teenager Jackson Bender was recognized for making excellent use of the $150 he received from the local RBC branch as part of their Make 150 Count program commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.

Bender, 16, used the grant to solicit another $760 from local businesses and donated the full amount to the Heritage Public School breakfast program.

The year started off with Ottawa-Orléans MPP Marie-France Lalonde get- ting a new Cabinet position as Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Service. Two weeks later, Sherwin Publishing launched L’Orléanais, a French language monthly serving the francophone community of Orléans.

Also in January we lost Ray St. Louis,a veteran of the Korean War and a popular member of the Orléans Legion. St. Louis was a mainstay at the Legion’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony during which he led in the colour party and reported the attendance which always ended with the numbers 632 – the Orléans Legion’s designated number.

In February, the Orléans Chamber of Commerce honoured some of their own at the 2017 Business Excellence Awards with State Farm insurance agent Lisa Cruickshank taking home the top prize for Business Person of the Year.

February also saw thousands of people attend the 11th annual Ottawa Health and Wellness Expo at the Shenkman Arts Centre and the unfortunate story of the little dog Ginnie, who was attacked and killed by a coyote while out for a walk with her owner along the bank of the frozen Ottawa River.

In March, Ottawa Public Health and the Ottawa Police Service issued a joint warning to the public on the danger of counterfeit opioid pills containing the deadly drug fentanyl. It came on the heels of information released by the province indicating that 40 people died as a result of an opioid overdose in 2016.

While the true number of opioid related deaths that occurred in the past year is months away from being released, front line public health workers estimate they have increased significantly.

The crisis sparked a group of frontline health care and social workers to form the group Overdose Prevention Ottawa which set up a pop-up tent in Raphael Brunet Park in Lowertown to offer drug users a safe, supervised site in which to inject and ingest their drugs which resulted in the prevention of more than 20 potentially deadly overdoses.

Sticking with March, the month also saw the city unveil its plans for Stage 2 of Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit system which included an extension from Place d’Orléans to Trim Road. Later in the year the plan would receive the blessing and funding from both the provincial and federal governments.

Later the same month, Orléans native and Carine Wilson Secondary School alum Rachel Homan led her rink to a gold medal win at the World Curling Championships in China.

The Homan foursome would go on to win the Roar of the Rings Olympic qualifying tournament in Ottawa in December, earning themselves a berth in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea this February.

As March drew to a close the contro-versy over a proposed wetland conser-vation project in Navan began to heat up. The project called for the creation of three man-made ponds in an area to the south of the village, bordered by the Prescott Russell Pathway. In the end the project was canceled due to public pressure.

In April, a tragic fire in a group home on Old Montreal Road claimed the life of 16-year-old resident Courtney Scott who was trapped in the basement. That same month, the jury in the Michael Wassill trial heard that the 20-year-old Orléans resident was killed in 2012 over a $100 debt.

Wassill was trying to protect a female friend from her former boyfriend and self-styled pimp Carson Morin. When Morin went to Wassill’s Fernleaf Crescent home to collect a sum of money from the female in question, he pushed his way past the front door before Wassill could grab him. In the scuffle that ensued, Morin slashed Wassill’s throat with a box-cutter knife.

The 20-year-old would die as a result of the wound and Morin was arrested and later charged with first degree murder. After a trial that lasted 13 weeks, Morin was found guilty as charged and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

As mentioned previously the month of May brought with it torrential rain which caused massive flooding along the Ottawa River affecting residents in Constance Bay, Cumberland and Rockland.

Also in May, the Navan Lions Club celebrated their 65th year serving the community and area bars reported doing tremendous business as the underdog Sens made it all the way to the East Conference finals before they were knocked out of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In June, Habitat for Humanity broke ground on their latest build in the National Capital Region. Leacross Landing is situat-ed at the corner of Jeanne d’Arc Blvd. North and Fortune Drive across from Convent Glen Catholic School.

The initial plan calls for the construction of four townhomes which will be completed this spring. Four more units will be built in 2019 and eight more in 2020. All the work is being done by volunteer labour.

On June 17, party-goers flocked to Petrie Island for the annual Carivibe festival celebrating the food, music and culture of the Caribbean. The event, which is organized by Orléans resident Trevor Mason, was blessed with excellent weather.

Unfortunately, the newly-revived Canada Day celebration on Petrie Island was not so blessed. Torrential rain leading up to the event turned the site into a bog. The rain continued for much of the day on Canada Day, which severely affected attendance. Despite the bad luck, organizers with the Kiwanis Club of Orléans plan to stage the event again in 2018.

On the same day Carivide was happening, residents in the village of Navan staged their own Canada 150 parade as well as a concert under the Domes on the Navan Fairgrounds. The events were organized by Wyatt McWilliams and J.T. Bradley Country Convenience Store owner John Bradley.

July was a fairly quiet month in Orléans, but not so for residents living on Beechmont Crescent in Blackburn Hamlet where a mischievous woodpecker was discovered to be responsible for cracked side mirrors on about a half dozen cars on the street.

The residents solved the problem by wrapping their side mirrors with plastic grocery bags. It’s not known where the woodpecker went after that, or if he continued his carnage some place else.

In August the Navan Fair was a huge success and the Cumberland Panthers Junior Varsity football team won the provincial championship.

In September, thousands of BBQ food fans attended the second annual Orléans Ribfest and 14-year-old Orléans resident Kayleeah Bartelemy made it to the finals of Ottawa Idol, finishing in third place.

In October, a Blackburn Hamlet family, a local community organizer and a business woman with Orléans roots were honoured as part of the Amazing People Awards.

The Agoro family was among the recipients for being able to overcome the 2002 stabbing death of their son and brother Dapo who was two weeks shy of his high school graduation when he was murdered while trying to break up a fight in a downtown dance club. After his death, the Agoros launched the Dapo Agoro Foundation for Peace and organized the first annual Dapo Fun Day which raises money for the foundation.

Pierrette Raymond received an award for the work she’s done through Women Living Fully in helping to enable women to achieve their full potential. Under Raymond’s leadership, the group recently launched the #$1M$10MProject with the goal of raising $1 million and turning it into $10 million, using public and private partnerships, for local and international charities.

The third recipient was Blackburn Community Association president Laura Dudas who was recognized for her ongoing community service. In November,

Marie-France Lalonde announced that the long-awaited and highly-anticipated Orléans Health Hub is still on target for 2020. The $65 million super clinic will be built near the intersection of Mer Bleue Road and Brian Coburn Boulevard.

Finally, in December, Ottawa city council passed the 2018 operating and capital budgets, which among other things contains a two per cent tax hike.

The year ended on a positive note with four local athletes qualifying for the Winter Olympics – Rachel Homan in curling; and Ivanie Blondin, Vincent de Ha­ître and Isabelle Weidemann in speed skating.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   
   

 




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