OOECA and CAG: Next generation takes the helm at community annual general meeting

By John Dance

The leadership of two of the community’s major volunteer organizations passed to a younger generation at the November 12th annual general meeting of the Community Activities Group (CAG) and the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OOECA).

Jaime Girard and Bob Gordon are the new president and vice-president of OOECA, and Tina Raymond is the new chair of CAG. The transition came with great appreciation expressed to out-going OOECA president Phyllis Odenbach Sutton and CAG chair Don Stephenson.

Despite the record snowfall that blanketed the city, Old Ottawa East residents once again filled the Church of the Ascension for the annual general meeting, and they were warmly welcomed by the Reverend Rhonda Waters, Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden and Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard.

“I am impressed with how this community has made its mark on the development in this city…thank you for all the work you do,” Harden commented.

He highlighted some of the positive changes in the community, including the recent opening of Nu Grocery, but he flagged other potential changes, like the demolition proposed along Hawthorne Avenue for the Queensway bridge replacement, that need more consultation.

Councillor Menard paid tribute to Odenbach Sutton who “steadfastly led this community.” He spoke of the potential repurposing of the Deschâtelets building on the Greystone Village site as a new community centre. He also noted the ongoing efforts to protect the public interest at Lansdowne Park and to implement measures to mitigate the impact of the evening soccer activity at the Immaculata field.

Stephenson, who will continue as the community’s lead in its effort to secure a new community centre, praised the work of retired CAG executive director Carol Workun: “She gave 17 years to her community and made Old Ottawa East an even better place to live and play.” “We need volunteers,” Stephenson stressed.

“Join our volunteer team at CAG, make new friends in the neighbourhood … Give us just two or three hours per year and make a real difference!” he exhorted. And he noted specifically that CAG needs a new treasurer with the retirement of longserving Lynn Byford.

In her parting remarks, Odenbach Sutton noted, “With a younger president and vice-president comes a desire for a new approach to social media; personally I think this is a really good idea.”

Reflecting on her four years as president, she said, “I have been really lucky to have been involved in many celebrations, including the opening of Main Street as a complete street and the Flora Footbridge; barbequing together at the Main Event, the sesquicentennial circumnavigation by canoe and the sesquicentennial prime ministers speaker series.

“While I have seen many changes over the last four years – new commercial/ retail on Main Street, new art – what has remained constant has been the engagement and passion of OOE residents. Thank you for letting me represent you for the last four years as your president,” Odenbach Sutton concluded.

Nick Masciantonio was also thanked for his many years of community service, including four years as community association president, two as CAG chair and his video recording the speakers series on Canada’s prime ministers. Lorne Abugov, editor of The Mainstreeter, also told the capacity crowd of the importance of volunteering, noting that his two years as editor had been a “humbling experience … I feel very privileged to have this opportunity.”

The guiding principles of The Mainstreeter are engagement, relevance and accessibility for its readers, he explained, stressing that the community paper needs to be an open platform for residents to access news and information and to tell their stories to friends and neighbours.

Specifically, The Mainstreeter is urgently in need of a new advertising manager to replace long-standing volunteer Ron Rose, who stepped down after many years of service to the newspaper and the community. Anyone interested in joining the volunteer team should email chair@mainstreeter.ca for more details.

The open forum portion of the meeting included discussions on the appeals pertaining to nine-storey buildings in Greystone Village, climate-change related flooding along the Rideau River, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ proposed expropriation of Hawthorne Avenue properties, and the need to protect and enhance community parks and greenspace.

A social hour followed the AGM allowing residents to chat with Harden, Menard and the CAG and OOECA board members. Thanks to Councillor Menard for staying past 10:00 p.m., almost to the end on this bitterly cold November night.

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