Wednesday Jan. 26, 2022

Jan. 20, 2022

6 janvier 2022


Upcoming events

ORLEANS FARMERS MARKET from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot at the Ray Friel Recreation Centre, 1585 Tenth Line Rd. Market staff have been working closely with public health officials to create protocols to help make our markets the safest source of fresh, local food possible while we strive to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

CUMBERLAND FARMERS MARKET from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the R.J. Kennedy Arena in Cumberland Village. Over 45 local producers and artisans. All products at the market are locally grown or made.

THE ORIGINAL NAVAN MARKET from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Navan Fairgrounds. Over 100 vendors.


Pandemic dominates the news for second straight year
Fred Sherwin
Jan. 6, 2022

2021 will go down as the year of the variant. The year began with so much promise and optimism over the vaccines, but ended under the spectre of yet another COVID-19 variant that has forced yet another round of shutdowns and restrictions.

While it is not yet known how bad the Omicron variant will be in terms of future hospitalizations and deaths, it’s impact on our daily lives is already being felt. If ongoing studies in South Africa, Denmark and the UK are any indication, it may not be as bad as predicted early on.

The same dire warnings were issued over the Delta variant last spring, but mass vaccinations were able to keep that variant at bay, at least for the most part.

The general population began receiving the first dose of either the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines in early March starting with those age 80 and over. Within a week, it was extended to those 75 and over, and on March 17 the Orléans YWCA-YMCA was turned into a vaccination centre.

By late May, many residents in Orléans were already receiving their second dose – now those same people are getting their booster shots.

But there was other news happening in Orléans besides the pandemic and vaccinations.

The biggest story of the year had to do with former St. Matthew High School teacher Rick Watkins, also known as Rick Despatie, who was charged last spring with multiple counts of sexual assault, voyeurism and sexual exploitation involving former students as young as 14 years old.

Watkins is currently released on bail with a number of conditions including not contacting any of his alleged victims or their families, or attending any public area where kids under 16 would reasonably be expected to be. His trial will likely begin sometime this year.

The allegations against Watkins sparked outrage among parents of former students at St. Matt’s who are highly critical of the school’s former administrators who, they claim, ignored their concerns over Watkins, known then as Rick Despatie.

Despatie was not only a Grade 7 and 8 teacher at the school, he was also the coach of the junior girls basketball team.

After the charges against Watkins were made public, the Facebook page, Crime Spotting Orléans, was inundated with further allegations of inappropriate behaviour involving Watkins and former underage students, as well as claims that their concerns were dismissed by several former principals, sparking claims of a possible cover-up.

Those claims forced the Ottawa Catholic School Board to launch it’s own investigation along with the Ontario College of Teachers. Neither of those studies have been made public to date.

Another big story that made the headlines in 2021 was the opening of the Orléans Health Hub.

First promised by then Health Minister George Smitherman in 2009 and later re-iterated by former premier Dalton McGuinty during the 2011 Ontario provincial election campaign, the health hub was long overdue.

Even after it was opened to the public on June 24, the health hub didn’t have an official opening until October, due to the pandemic.

Ottawa’s LRT system also dominated the news in 2021, for all the wrong reasons.

A derailment on Sept. 19 forced the LRT to be shut down for nearly two months. When not enough buses were available to handle the stranded commuters, they were forced to find other means of transportation sparking outrage, even among non-commuters.

In response, the provincial government has launched a public inquiry to “get to the bottom” of the issues facing the city’s LRT system. In an effort to try and make up for the shutdown, city council agreed to provide all transit services free of charge during the month of December.

Construction of the east end LRT extension along Hwy. 174 also caused a lot of consternation among residents living nearby in Convent Glen, Chatelaine Village and Orléans Wood.

Noise was the biggest complaint with excavation occurring all hours of the day and night for days on end.

Orléans Ward Coun. Matt Luloff did his best to try and address their concerns and mitigate the noise in discussions with the contractors which seemed to have a positive effect.

With so much news happening around the pandemic and the LRT shutdown, the federal election came and went with little fanfare to speak of or report.

Local MP Marie-France Lalonde was re-elected and the Trudeau government was able to once again form a minority government with roughly the same number of seats they held before the vote was called.

The Liberals’ share of the popular vote was down from the 2019 general election, going 33.12 per cent to 32.62, more than a full percentage point behind the Conservative Party which received 33.74 per cent.

The big news story in November was the on-again, off-again state of Santa’s Parade of Lights. It had been assumed that COVID restrictions would prevent the parade from happening for a second year in a row, but then the province eased up on restrictions allowing for large outdoor gatherings on Oct. 25. That announcement touched off negotiations between organizers of the Parade of Lights and the Help Santa Toy Parade and officials with the city of Ottawa.

The hope was that a parade could be held in three phases in Kanata, downtown Ottawa and Orléans on Dec. 4. Those plans were ultimately kiboshed a week before the parade was supposed to happen.

The year ended with yet another big story when Mayor Jim Watson announced on Dec. 10 that he would not be seeking a fourth term.

Watson served as mayor of the old city of Ottawa from 1997 to 2000. After taking a three-year respite from politics he successfully ran for the provincial legislature in 2003 and served as MPP for Ottawa West Nepean until 2010. In 2010, he returned to Ottawa City Hall after defeating incumbent Larry O’Brien and was reelected in 2014 and 2018.

As the year came to a close, speculation was running rampant over who might decide to run for the city’s top job in next fall’s municipal election. Registration for potential nominees opened on Jan. 3..



Shenkman Arts Centre unveils 2021-2022 lineup

Live music returns to Shenkman Arts Centre

Cumbrae Dance School takes year-end recital program outdoors

Orléans pair named to Canadian Olympic curling team

Blondin, Weidemann continue to shine in lead up to Olympics

Former Panther QB makes history in Penn State debut

Local business



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180-FITNESS CENTRE: Home of the Biggest Loser




VIEWPOINT: Getting to the bottom of COVID data is no easy feat


WALTER ROBINSON: Traveling during the pandemic requires plenty of planning


Doug Feltmate:COVID-19 pandemic the final straw for troubled industry

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