The Week That Was, Hits and Misses

TOP MARKS go to some hardworking students at the Algonquin Times. In this age of social media, with news breaking on Twitter and journalists capturing photos on their iPhone, there’s something somehow incredibly romantic about the idea of an underground newspaper. Adding to that, the underground newspaper is being run by a small group of Algonquin College students who refused to back down when told to cease and desist publishing the Algonquin Times. As it should be.

“It’s quite an exciting time to be a journalism student at Algonquin College,” Devyn Barrie, an editor at the paper told On The City, From the Burbs

The Algonquin Students’ Association ordered the Algonquin Times student newspaper closed during the ongoing faculty strike, The student had other ideas, working on a new and independent website and print edition. Called Algonquin Timeless (LOVE THAT!), the students are aiming to keep everyone at the college up-to-date on the status of the strike. Huge kudos to all.

MAYOR JIM WATSON makes the hits list this week with his timely response to the shenanigans going on in Quebec, quick to condemn the legislation banning anyone who chooses to cover their face. Good on him. And Watson’s letter of complaint was quickly followed up by an email from OC Transpo advising employees of the city’ policy and how to deal with the public.

“Quebec Bill 62 does not apply to OC Transpo customer service and fare policies As you may have seen or heard in the media, the Quebec National Assembly recently passed Bill 62, which prohibits individuals who choose to cover their face from receiving public services,” wrote AJ Ryland, the manager of Bus & Para Transit Operations in an email obtained by On the City, From the Burbs.

‘Bill 62 is legislation of the Province of Quebec. As a result, it does not apply to OC Transpo operators or passengers, even if the bus is operating in Gatineau. The City of Ottawa, which includes OC Transpo, is committed to the right and value of a “City for everyone” – respecting the diversity of its employees, residents, and customers of our municipal services. Bill 62 does not change that fact, and all existing OC Transpo customer service and fare policies continue to apply.

“If you are approached by someone who suggests that a passenger is required to remove a face covering or any other obvious religious symbol, please advise politely to them that OC Transpo is a service of the City of Ottawa. Bill 62 does not apply on our buses, and that you have no obligation to enforce it. If the person persists, contact the Transit Operations Control Center. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”

It was a BIG MISS this week for the city’s Housing First program. As reported by the CBCs Ashley Burke, landlord Nitin Mehra participated in the program, which connects people living on the streets or in shelters with landlords. Asa result,he’s now looking at thousands of dollars in damage from feces, garbage and maggots after he said no one came to the unit to check on the tenant in seven months. The video was absolutely disgusting and of course dealt a real blow to the program, which has the best of intentions but apparently no follow-through.

There are a lot of hands in this mess, including the city, the Salvation Army and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Of course, the goals of the program are laudable. But it’s naive to suggest the program not be abandoned. Let’s hope the problems are be addressed, absolutely. But it’s clear for the time being, convincing any landlord to get involved, simply naive. Widely interviewed, quite clear Mehra belongs in the Hits list, the program as it nows stands, absolutely doesn’t.

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