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First, I suppose I should state up front that I am a former Ottawa Renegades season ticket holder. And I loved the view sitting in the stands at Landsdowne Park. At least when your team was losing as bad as ours was you had something else to look at (aside from girls trying to win the Mardi Gras beads contest).

Second, while I’m a huge Sens fan, I’ve never paid to see a game at Scotiabank Place and I never would. I did pay to see them win game 5 in New Jersey two years ago to advance to the finals. But we got to take a very easy public transit to the game. It was a Voyageur type bus (not OC transpo) that took us from the Port Authority in Manhattan to the Devil’s old arena. In fact I think that game was the last game played before it was torn down. It reminded me a bit of Scotiabank Place, that is, in the middle of nowhere. I have taken the “Sens” bus along the transitway once to a game where the tickets were given to me. We watched at Tunney’s Pasture as four packed buses drove past, with passengers paying extra for the privilege of standing all the way to the game. Never again!

So now here’s the crux of my thoughts:

1. We need to do something with Landsdowne Park. It’s in a beautiful setting, with an historic building next to it, and falling apart. The public transit isn’t great, but it’s walking distance for students from Carleton and Ottawa U. It’s not too far from the O-train, so you could argue that “water buses” could help ease congestion, at least when the canal is open.

Another option would be to replace Colonel By drive with light rail and convert the Government Conference Centre back to the rail station that it was. Anyone who has every attended a conference there knows that the acoustics are awful. It was designed to be a train station where none of the announcements are understood.

So whether it’s football or an outdoor concert venue or just plain development with a park for small outdoor theater and neighbourhood sports, it’s simply a disgrace that the nation’s capital can allow a venue to fall into such disrepair.

2. When the Gliebermans left town the second time, they did so with a lot more class. They refunded our season ticket money, and said they would give (not sell) the list to any future group that wanted to run a team here. Why not take them up on their offer and ask those former ticket holders whether they would go to Kanata?

3. A stadium in Kanata means everyone drives. Even people who live the same distance from a stadium as I do to Landsdowne would drive simply because Kanata is simply not designed for walking and most families have at least two cars. People who live in the centre of town do so to be able to walk everywhere.  We do 80 percent of our groceries on foot, even in the winter because we have three different stores within a short bike ride or a 10 minute walk.

4. Just because people play soccer, doesn’t mean they will drive to a stadium in Kanata to pay to watch soccer. People who play soccer are busy enough without spending time driving for an hour to get to a stadium to watch it.

5. BUILD AT BAYVIEW – it’s a transit hub. The Bluesfest and other festivals are able to have thousands of people attend and parking and public transit are not an issue. It’s the perfect venue, close to Gatineau, transit, and the centre of town. Okay, I admit I’m biased because I could walk home after the game.

Let’s hope council makes a decision and sticks with it today.

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At one point working with our architect, the dream got out of hand. We were going to increase the size of the dormer by one and half times, and re-engineer the roof to support this new feature. Eventually we scaled back everything to just the additional one-storey with a crawl space underneath. When we were in the middle of our grand renovation to the second floor, it included replacing the existing floor. We thought about hardwood, but given that it’s about 40′ by 15′, it wasn’t realistic. Once we had scaled back the plans, we contemplated putting in laminate wood flooring over the winter so that the upstairs would be finished before construction started downstairs.

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Well, it’s happened. The first real concrete step in our renovation. And here it is for your viewing pleasure:

I probably should have written this during the planning stage, but we were too busy planning. What finally moved us from dreaming about an addition while walking through the neighbourhood and actually making it happen was the winter of 2007/08. And all that snow. It sat on the garage roof for three months and made it sink even further into the ground at the garage door end. It meant that the garage was going to need to be fixed. And the three season room at the back of the house only had a few years left, so the stars seemed to be aligning.

Some people are lucky in that they can look at  a large deck and envision a room, maybe a family room to be added onto the back of their house. For us, it wasn’t as simple. Not having children and having recently downsized from a suburban home, we weren’t looking for more space. After talking for about a month, and doing a lot of soul searching, I came up with the design brief. It was a description of what we truly wanted: windows to see the beautiful garden in the backyard, a place for me to ride my bike on its exercise stand, but most of all the space had to be multipurpose.

Once we knew what we wanted (well sort of), we did a lot of research on local architects. We narrowed it down to five, including one who charged us  for his visit, and a full-service  design and build firm. When meeting with firms, it’s important to know that you can trust them and have enough of a rapport that you’re not afraid to say that you don’t agree. We elimated one (the design-build firm) almost immediately. Let’s just say personality conflict. We elimated another one because he was so old school we just couldn’t see him using e-mail, which was a key tool for us to communicate with the one we eventually chose. We narrowed it down to two, and it was tough choosing. In the end we chose one who was probably used to working with more money.

The next issue you need to tackle is budget. Don’t assume you know the value of your home. When it comes to valuations knowing the listing prices or even the selling prices in your neighbourhood doesn’t help. The bank will use someone who doesn’t know you and you really have no right of appeal. So know how much you really have before you tell your architect. And take 10 – 20 percent off that amount because he’s likely going to go over.

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