Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ottawa River Pathway Two Solitudes: PostScript

Yesterday I was down by the canal locks looking over at the "missing link" and realized there may be some sections where it is a challenge to continue the pathway along the river at the bottom due to the terrain. But there is a solution. These photos are from the boardwalk along Ramsey Lake in Bell Park in Sudbury

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)




Tuesday, 28 September 2010

East and West: Two Solitudes - The Problems With The Ottawa River Pathway

(Click On Maps To Enlarge)

The really nice thing about Ottawa is that so much of the Ottawa River shoreline is in public hands and includes shared scenic recreational pathways/bike paths. In the past few weeks I have rode on the eastern and western portions of the Ottawa River pathway and made some observations. The first one being:


It is often said of Canada, that it consists of two solitudes, English Canada and French Canada. When it comes to the Ottawa River Pathway the solitudes are East and West. The connections between Ontario and Quebec are actually quite good, however the East and West sections of the Ottawa River Pathway are separated from each other by sometimes dangerous roadways. I did not even try to follow the roadway from the east to west on my last ride because it started along a very narrow and winding under construction section of road.

However if you examine the map above you will see that there is not much development along the riverfront between the two sections of the Ottawa River Pathway, and I believe most of what development there is, are federal institutions. One of the problems with the National Capital's very good system of pathways is the lack of key interconnections. I believe this missing link to be one of the most important missing connections and connecting the two sections properly, avoiding roadways, should be given the highest priority.

I also see a problem with the western section of the Ottawa River Pathway:


The Ottawa River Pathway ends at the Andrew Haydon Park water park, although two separate pathways continue, one through parkland (Andrew Haydon Park and Dick Bell Park) and one along Carling Avenue.

Unlike all other pathways that I know of in the National Capital Region, the one through this parkland is not a shared pathway and bicycling is not allowed on it. The only reason I can think of for this anomaly is that it goes back to when those parks were in Nepean and different rules were applied. Indeed the section immediately east of the water park going go Britannia Park has as much, if not more, pedestrian traffic than the section that goes through Andrew Haydon Park and bicyclists and pedestrians manage to share the pathway with no problem. As well since there is an alternative faster and shorter route along Carling Avenue, commuter cyclists in a hurry would opt for that route leaving the route through the parkland for those wanting a casual ride through parkland avoiding the traffic noise of Carling Avenue.

It is time to move on and apply the same rules to this pathway as all other pathways in the National Capital Region.

After Dick Bell Park the pathway continues along Carling Avenue as that is where the publicly owned land ends, at least until we get to Shirley's Bay.

I also have an observation to make about the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway:


I discovered that there is another very pleasant gravel pathway a short distance from the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway. The pathway starts alongside Hiawatha Park Road, not far from the Bruyère Continuing Care Saint-Louis Residence, and goes all the way to Trim Road. One interesting thing about this pathway is that a group of what appear to be hiking and/or single track mountain bike trails intersect with it and run alongside a portion of the pathway.

I believe it would be very useful to have some signage at the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway directing people to this, as far as I know, unnamed pathway.

The Ottawa River Pathway is a very important part of the National Capital Region shared pathway system and very enjoyable to cycle on. With some improvements it could be a real gem, the most important being connecting the east and west sections safely so that they are no longer two solitudes.

See also: Ottawa River Pathway Two Solitudes: PostScript

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Trail Building School in the South March Highlands

This past weekend I had the good fortune to attend a trail building school held by the people who invented sustainable trail building and literally wrote the books on it, the International Mountain Bicycling Association's IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew:

Supported by Parks Canada and the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and directed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association Canada (IMBA Canada), the IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew works with IMBA Canada-affiliated mountain bike clubs, TCT Provincial and Territorial organizations, Parks Canada and other trail user groups. Its mandate is to build new trails, maintain and restore existing trails, participate in solving trail management challenges, and to promote trails in order to improve trail conditions and trail experiences for everyone.

The IMBA Canada Trail Crew is a dynamic two-person team of professional trail builders that will travel throughout Canada year-round.

The work that the crew will do will benefit all types of trail users including hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, cross country skiers, snowshoers, bird watchers, and all other outdoor opportunities that use trails.

Source: Parks Canada website
Sustainable trail building is not just about mountain biking, and indeed most MTB trails are shared trails and IMBA has been working with other trail users in providing education and has trained people from the National Capital Commission (NCC) and Parks Canada in sustainable trail building methods. Parks Canada is currently revising their trail building manuals to reflect IMBA guidelines, and the NCC seems to be going through a slow shift in their attitude to mountain biking.

The first thing we learned at trail building school is that water runs downhill, well actually that was the second thing we learned. The first thing we learned was that planning is the most important part of trail building and should have the most time devoted to it. Key points are that all trail users need to be considered in planning a trail and that route design can be key in making a trail sustainable.

This is where the water runs downhill part comes in. One of the biggest factors in sustainable trail building is avoiding erosion so that designing a trail so that water runs off it rather than along it is key, and much of what we learned had to do with the degree of incline and slope of a trail. The bench cut method is one way of doing that. Some of the things we learned are described here.

Other factors in designing trails include keeping them away from fragile habitats of endangered species, the Blandings Turtle was mentioned, indicating that the Trail Care Crew was familiar with the SMH situation.

During the trail building school we got to meet many new people and learn a lot of new information, some of it not directly related to trail building techniques, such as the fact that OMBA has been given permission by the City to post signs on the SMH trails to help bikers and hikers know where they are and find their way out. I expect the signs will be in place by next spring. I also learned that the City of Ottawa's draft trail plan for the South March Highlands, with its inappropriate trail closures and denaturalization of trails, is apparently dead. Hopefully it will be back to the drawing board with proper consultations with the public and experts in trail design and building.

We spent the morning in the classroom and the afternoon in the field building a new trail, actually a re-route, in the South March Highlands.

Photos courtesy of David N of OMBA

In The Classroom


The Crew


Hiking In


The Route Is Flagged


Briefing From The Expert


Raking The Path


Bench Cut


Rock Work


The Finished Trail


Restoring The Old Trail


More photos of trail building school are available here.

Trail building school was sponsored by the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA).

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Who Are Terrorists Anyway

To me, terrorists were always people who targeted innocent civilians going about their daily lives. So how does a 15 year old child soldier accused of killing an American soldier in a battle become referred to as a terrorist.

But my definition of terrorism (and genocide) includes dropping atomic bombs on civilian populations. However, my definition does not take into account that it's not terrorism if the good guys do it and only the losing side ever commits war crimes.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

To Americans, and Obama, Muslims Are "Them"

Let us be clear the President of the United States is not a stupid man who speaks without thinking and when he speaks of "we", unless he makes it clear he is talking about some specific group like the Democratic Party or his family, he is speaking of the American people. So when he says

"The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else's religion is contrary to what this country stands for,...It's contrary to what this nation was founded on, and my hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it."
he is clearly stating that Islam is "someone else's religion", not the religion of Americans and thus that Muslims are not real Americans. Indeed he is accepting the religious right's assertion that, despite what the Constitution of the United States says and what the founding fathers intended, the United States is a Christian country and Americans are Christians.

This is the almost inescapable result of the American attempt to take a nation of immigrants from many different countries and create an artificial ethnic nation from it. For some people it may be easy, just change your last name, for others it is not so easy to change the colour of your skin or indeed the religion of your birth or choice if that is required to be considered real Americans.

I must say, I much prefer the inclusive Canadian multiculturalism where our nationality is not based on ethnicity, but on citizenship.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Everyday Can Be Burn A Religious Text Day

Any day can be Burn A Religious Text Day. Just take the day and look for some historical atrocity or crime committed on that day and determine who committed it and their religion. Then burn their religious text. It's really quite simple.

For example September 11 is the anniversary of the brutal 1973 coup by Augusto Pinochet against the democratically elected government of Chile and the assassination of President Salvador Allende. I couldn't find Pinochet's religion, but he went to a seminary school taught by brothers, and after all it is South America, so we will assume he was Catholic. Anyway, facts are not important on Burn A Religious Text Day. The important thing is to insult all the members of a religious community, supposedly to right a wrong committed by one or a few of the members of that community. So in that case we would burn the Bible. I would suggest burning the New Testament because burning the Old Testament would be the same as burning the Qur'an, since the messages in both of them are so similar. And, apparently, there already is a Burn The Koran Day.

So that's it. Happy Burn A Religious Text Day everybody.