strip news

A lot of people will be glad to know that Star Fries, located across the strip from the soon-to-be-demolished Tim Hortons, will be back next year.

Fans of Star Fries appreciated the friendly service, the excellent grub and the inviting seating area provided for customers, people waiting for busses, and pedestrians. It was a busy place, especially at lunchtime.

The father and son duo enjoyed the season and are looking forward to next year. Business was good and even the rowdies exiting the bars at closing time respected the family-run business – no graffiti, littering or vandalism to speak of.

One competitor for the fast food dollar along the strip is shutting down. The venerable Bells Corners Pizza Hut is calling it quits. Was the BIA/Chiarelli Tax the last straw? It might be tough to find a new tenant, which would be bad news for the landlord (a numbered company belonging to someone of note?).

Hmmm, this must be the Rexall – five signs can’t be wrong.


The Rexall is off to a bit of a rocky start – the double drive-thru idea hasn’t worked out. With only a few customers a day there’s barely enough business for one drive-thru, let alone two, so the outer lane has been closed and the infrastructure removed. Delivery trucks blocking the remaining drive-thru have also been a problem.

These Stillwater residents were visiting the Rexall on an excursion – that’s their bus in the background.

This guy gave the Rexall store the thumbs up. He told me that life is good at the Stillwater Retirement Community and that Bells Corners is a great place to live, in spite of the councillor’s machinations.

One last bit of strip news – the BIA got its hands on a grant (tax dollars) to put up some signs on the Moodie and Richmond train bridges, to be created by a Toronto media group that Alex favours.

Let’s hope the signs aren’t as crass as the sad BIA banners, which featured the ridiculous “Shop! Dine! Spend Money!” exhortations and the presumptuous “BIA welcomes you” slogans. The gateway signs should represent the entire community, not just the business owners. Alex has promised to “host consultations,” but consulting anyone outside of Rick’s inner circle is not his strong suit (look at the Lloyd Francis Boulevard fiasco!).

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29 Responses to strip news

  1. What happened to the tulips?

    I heard that the plans to have tulips for the Tulip Festival have been cancelled. If true I’m not at all surprised, given that both Rick and Alex have a history of promising things and not delivering, but curious if you can confirm that the rumour is true.

    – I got it from the horse’s mouth – Alex told me that the tulips-along-the-strip plan is kaput while I was giving him and Meghann a ride on the bike-taxi at the FreshCo clean-up. (Tony’s filled the gap by planting six tulips in a mystery location along the strip.)

    It was also in the Oct. 11 WECA minutes: Alex told the meeting that “tulip planting in BC has been put on hold until further notice.”

  2. Alex Lewis says:

    Craig,

    I’m witting to ask that a small correction be made. While it is no secret that the Bells Corners BIA is looking into the bridge entrance features, similar to those in many other city BIA’s, there is no “grant” monies involved in this particular project and therefore no “tax dollars” being allocated.

    This project is one of many that have been discussed by our Board of Management and as we move forward on this project or any other, we will certainly be looking for constructive commentary from the community at large. Should this particular project proceed, the community consultation will be open to all members of the Bells Corners Community in an accessible public forum.

    It is in the interest of the Bells Corners BIA to continue to work proactively with the surrounding community and as such, we will continue to remain open and transparent to not only our membership but the customers and residents who support our membership.

    Yours in Business,

    Alex Lewis
    Executive Director
    Bells Corners Business Improvement Area
    info@bellscornersbia.ca
    (613)695-2425

    – Alex, thanks for the info. I was going by the minutes of the Westcliffe Estates Community Association meeting (Oct. 11) where I read this:

    Whatever happened to the original idea, using famous Bells Corners muralist Stephen Sammon instead of a company from Toronto? Wasn’t it his idea in the first place?

    Also, why neglect the Robertson Road bridge? Our Kanata neighbours buy stuff too.

  3. margaret says:

    Rexall drive through – not the easiest to get through, especially if you’re not sure you can’t go straight ahead rather than a sharp right and U turn out …. not the best design – they need a very clear barrier at the end of the property line

    as for the bridge stuff – might want to clarify with the councillor and/or BIA on that ….
    sounds like there are a few too many fingers in the pie on this one so it will be interesting to see who gets what … all I want is consultation with the public …. consultation with the public …. consultation with the public …. consultation with the public …. consultation with the public

    sorry – did I repeat myself ?

    • margaret says:

      now see there’s been a comment from the BIA about the bridge signs,

      as for the other ‘kanata’ bridge – that belongs to the city ….. end of story

    • Marylin Seveny says:

      The Rexall drive-thru was a laugh from the beginning. I tried using it to pick up meds for an elderly neighbour. No one came to the window, so I had to go in. No one behind the counter. Rang the bell quite a few times. When the young lady finally came out she said she was behind the wall on break. Oh my! Think I know why they are not busy.

  4. Alex Lewis says:

    Craig,

    First off let me apologize, I will ask that the meeting minutes from the specified Westcliffe meeting be corrected and thank you for pointing out the mistake. In response to Ottawa City Council Watch, I would kindly ask that they provide example(s) of announcement(s) I have made in an official capacity as Executive Director of the Bells Corners BIA in which I have not followed through on. You will find this statement is baseless. We are still an active partner in the 2012 Canadian Tulip Festival in which the organization will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary and as such, we will fulfill our intention to “Paint the town Tulip” in a manner that is cost effective and realistic for our membership as well as embracing the vision of our community.

    As for the imaginative proposal to have a mural artist paint the bridges, we have been told from CN that this is not a positive practice as this method of beautifying an area requires an impractical amount of maintenance and has had uncomplimentary results from communities in which this method was used. You find in the most recent minutes from Westcliffe, that we are simply investigating different methods of beautification and that this particular scheme may not end up being the correct fit for our area. In response to Margaret, we intend only to proceed with this specific project should consultations with the public turn over a clear support for this initiative. Secondly, thanks to Margaret for pointing out that the bridge located near Westcliffe is owned and maintained by the City Of Ottawa.

    As stated in my last email, “It is in the interest of the Bells Corners BIA to continue to work proactively with the surrounding community and as such, we will continue to remain open and transparent to not only our membership but the customers and residents who support our membership.” I would like to thank you for using Bells Corners businesses, and I understand more than ever that it will be our combined vision that will make Bells Corners a better place to Live, Work and Play. I welcome your questions and comments regarding any and all future BIA/community projects and I can be reached at the number and address below.

    Kind Regards,

    Alex Lewis
    Executive Director
    Bells Corners Business Improvement Area
    info@bellscornersbia.ca
    (613)695-2425

    • margaret says:

      Alex … from what I heard the other day we might not have much of a say in anything if the CN says it will do it anyway and City wants to use its by-laws and doesn’t want this sort of thing

      BC is stuck with 2 CN + 1 City bridge – beautification is always welcome – you mentioned it as a gateway but from what I heard only one side of the CN bridges can be classed as ‘beautification’ the other will be advertising – and this is the problem I have – even with some control of what the content is it is still advertising and we already have enough of the billboards around our small community that are eyesores and the city allows it

    • Alex,

      As for items that have not materialized, Rick does have a much longer record of this than you do, but when you choose to be associated with him as closely as you do, it’s going to influence how people perceive you.

      For example, while you did not state condos were coming to the old Vox property — you nevertheless allowed your name to be used in the media reports and at the time both you and Rick knew there were no condos. If Rick wants to do stuff like that I don’t really expect you to stop him, but I would expect you to refuse to comment and be associated with a story that you should have known was a propaganda piece.

      http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/06/13/vox-property-may-get-high-rise

      With respect to items directly from the BIA, you have failed to deliver at least twice.

      The most obvious is the tulips. It was a bad idea, but the time to realize that was before agreeing to it and holding a press conference. Since you reference the cost as an issue, my guess is that you are unable to get volunteers, and hiring a company to do it is obviously cost prohibitive. Thing is that you put your name to this and, as such, even if it means doing it yourself, you get out there and do it.

      A second item that never materialized was this field where some sort of talent night / local entertainment type of events were supposed to be held. Again I don’t see this as being at all useful to local businesses, so again the fact that it seems to have been shelved isn’t a big concern, since it should never have even been a consideration. That being said, it was announced publicly and as far as I know it hasn’t happened.

      Then there are all the small things that local merchants claim they were told are coming — murals, baseball games, soapbox derbies, an advertising campaign for the community, streetscaping, etc. To be fair, I think Jay and Rick might have made a lot of these promises on your behalf when they were going up and down the road over the renaming issue, but since again you chose to participate in that effort you tied yourself to their statements.

      Not to mention that you went to Toronto on BIA business and tweeted about the murals and flower pots, so you can’t pass the blame completely to Abbott and Costello. My guess is that tweeting about that was just a transparent excuse to justify your trip to Toronto.

      My question for you though is what exactly has the BIA accomplished? Can you please list what you have accomplished as of today?

      The way I see it, the business situation in Bell Corners is worse today than it was before the community had a BIA. The only accomplishment that I can see are the banners — so what other than the banners have you actually accomplished? How is the Bells Corners business community better off for the existence of the BIA?

      Lastly, with respect to the banners, as you are certainly aware, the design for the most recent set of banners was stolen from DesignHQ and they further contain the trademark of another BIA. I am not going to hold you completely responsible for what a designer you hired chose to do, but I am curious about what you have done in response. Did you refuse to pay the designer for the stolen designs? Did you at least apologize to the other designer and BIA that had their intellectual property had been appropriated?

    • Gravy says:

      “We are still an active partner in the 2012 Canadian Tulip Festival in which the organization will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary and as such, we will fulfill our intention to “Paint the town Tulip” in a manner that is cost effective and realistic for our membership as well as embracing the vision of our community.”

      This statement is extremely ambiguous — what, specifically, will this involve?

      – Alex told me that he might organize a “tulip parade” down the strip.

  5. margaret says:

    are you sure pizza hut is closing and not just getting a new sign – noticed the one on merivale is different …. and I really don’t like the black roof – just not the same … like when Howard Johnsons had the orange roof – knew exactly what to look for ….
    corporate identity – those were good ones – like RR for rolls royce and IBM and 3M – who cares what the letters stand for

    – It’ll be closed soon, probably by the end of the month.

    • I have no information directly from Pizza Hut but the space is listed as available for occupancy on December 1. I would expect that means that Pizza Hut will close a few days before that so that they have time to remove the equipment.

      – The guys who removed the two huge Pizza Hut signs told me that they were trucking them to Montreal. They said that this hasn’t been their first Pizza Hut dismantling contract. They added that KFC is another giant chain losing the junk food war.

  6. TonyL1 says:

    Margaret, I have a friend who has worked there for 8+ years – it’s finished, kaput, dead!!!
    I knew about it tentatively 4 months ago ……. it’ll be closed for sure Dec 1st.

  7. TonyL1 says:

    off topic quite a bit here, but here’s an early HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! to bellscorners.wordpress.com!

    hard to believe it’s been a year for this blog! (and a very busy year at that)

    Tony!

    – I’ve really enjoyed my year as a blogger. As of today (for what it’s worth) we’ve received 82,615 hits since Nov. 2010.

    People are hungry for LOCAL news!

    Thanks to everyone for reading/contributing to this pathetic blog.

    • margaret says:

      happy birthday …. who’s providing the cake?

      yes people do want local news and so far this is about the only place for it

      our community associations are trying to provide general activity events on FB and their web sites, but the real ‘news’ is nowhere, especially not in the local rags, which on the whole are as far removed from ‘local’ as you can get ….

      gone are the days of the good old ‘Clarion’ who used to let community associations do their own columns and even the ordinary ‘man on the street’ could do an article if it was of interest to the community

      thanks Craig for 90% of your ‘pathetic’ blog … the rest I’ll put up with 🙂 just to read the news on the street – literally on the street

  8. It appears that another Bells Corners business has failed. PC Cyber closed last week, supposedly for renovations, but apparently that’s not the real reason. They have now ceased operations and will not be re-opening.

    Rick made a big deal about dealing with the empty spaces yet now, two years into having a BIA, the situation is worse.

    • Charles Dangler says:

      Actually, this is not a Bells Corners epidemic specifically. A few PC Cyber stores have closed AND many other businesses are putting up the ‘For Lease’ signs EVERYWHERE. This is what a global recession does to communities and businesses. It’s awfully presumptuous to say that this is as a result of Rick or the BIA.

      Credit to you Craig, you’ve really worked to pin Rick with everything including the demise of the record player but no one can blame the BIA or Rick for businesses leaving.

      – Does that mean they can’t be credited if new businesses come?

      Rick can’t be blamed for EVERYTHING that’s bad in the world, only about 90% of it. Alex Lewis is responsible for the other 10%.

      • TonyL1 says:

        I’m sure the BIA tax levy and the readdressing that’s coming up were contributing factors to ditching the Bells Corners location for PC-Cyber.

        Also, that mall is as obsolete as an 8-track tape player…I’m surprised it even still has a bank!

      • A discussion of the economy is a little beyond what can be accomplished on a site like this, but blaming a global recession for the problems in Bells Corners is incorrect. Further, claiming that this is a citywide phenomenon is also incorrect. Stittsville just recently had a large amount of new space come online and they have had no problems filling it with new tenants. I can’t speak for the east end, but I spend a lot of time in various communities both downtown and in the west of Ottawa, and no other community has this much empty commercial/retail space. This is a Bells Corners specific problem.

        The reason Rick can be blamed for this is because he took it on. Rick, in his never-ending quest to constantly be in the press, decided to make a big deal about the failing Bells Corners business community. Rick claimed he was going to fix the problem, and then he set off on a course that would only make sense to a lifelong politician. Anyone with any business experience would instantly recognize that Rick’s plan would make the situation worse.

        Having first taken on the issue, and then done everything wrong to aggravate what was already a bad situation, the horrible results are now Rick’s to own. Do you really doubt that if Rick’s flawed plan for revitalization had paid off that Rick wouldn’t be taking credit for the results?

        With respect to the BIA again, I ask what has the BIA accomplished? Nobody is willing to actually answer that, because the answer is nothing. Well that isn’t absolutely true — the BIA has made it more expensive to do business here. This is probably the worst thing that could have happened to Bells Corners.

        Given the geography and business composition of Bells Corners, a BIA was a bad idea, but the execution of this particular BIA has been a disaster. Rick chose to use his influence to get an ex-staffer– Alex Lewis– the position of BIA director. Alex has no formal education, no business experience, and there is absolutely nothing in his employment history that makes him qualified for the position.

        As can be expected from appointing someone completely unqualified to lead the BIA, the results have been disappointing and at times comical. Alex doesn’t understand what the job requires and it seems to me that he thinks that his position is more akin to being a mini-Rick than an advocate for the business community.

        So yes, Bells Corners imploding is Rick and Alex’s problem. Rick charged in, claiming to be the saviour of Bells Corners, not realizing how foolhardy it was for someone who lacks the skills required to fix the situation to make such empty promises. Rick then set out on an absurd revitalization plan that made the situation considerably worse. Part of this plan was forming a BIA, so that Alex Lewis could leave his previous employment as mall security and play at having a job with a fancy title and considerably better pay. The BIA two years in has been a complete failure. If we look at who pays for Rick’s misadventures, the answer is easy to find — the business owners. I can’t see how anyone can have any issue with blaming Rick for the Bells Corners situation.

  9. TonyL1 says:

    RIP PC-Cyber. You’re at rest with Everbest Computers which also died (it was beside the Subway for years).

  10. Dave Mc says:

    Just a note: The Trailing Edge computer store is still open. (6 Bexley Place, behind Shoppers mall)

    • Trailing Edge is a great store. The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful. They stock a lot of stuff that you can’t find at most computer stores which is especially helpful if you are upgrading older machines or looking for an inexpensive machine and don’t need the latest and greatest (so basically most people).

      Trailing Edge also runs a recycling program in a facility behind their store. If you have old computers/monitors take them there rather than just dumping them in the garbage. It is free and better for the environment.

  11. margaret says:

    it’s good people hoping to make a go of a small business, and I admire those who try and especially those who succeed, but it’s a major competitive world out there and the average person is not willing to spend the big money when they can go to a large corporation store close by with big $$ buying power and get more for less

    computers are a prime example …. for the average person – we have staples in BC and just ‘down the road’ is best buy and future shop, who have the financial backing to compete against each other, and this allows the consumer to play the barter game – been there and done that. let’s face it … why spend $3000 when you can get something for $2000 – they aren’t going to last long anyway!

    how does a small place like the ones mentioned above compete unless someone really needs the personal service or specialized custom-built units.

    gone are the days of the local store and the city allows more and more large complexes to be built with big box and outlet stores. it also allows for more expansion of residential units well past what used to be the suburbs, and the residents demand local shopping and schools … and so it goes

    BC is no longer in the boonies on the edge of ‘civilization’ … we’ve been swallowed up and passed by and passed through and it will stay that way because of the greenbelt and the NCC so development is very limited …. but then that’s what I like about BC – everything is handy

    so how does the city expect the small areas to survive? and this is not just BC, it’s all over the place, one area flourishes while another dies

    how do newer and smaller businesses think they can survive? the answer … they need something unique that is not available anywhere else

    still can’t understand though how we can manage to keep 3 Tim Horton outlets going

    • PC Cyber at one point was the go to computer store in Ottawa despite the competition from big box stores. PC Cyber use to have unbeatable princes. The best places to buy a computer in Ottawa have always been PC Cyber, Orleans Computers, Sprint Computers, Canada Computers, and Trailing Edge.

      While you are right that a lot of people go to Best Buy/Future Shop/Staples, the reason they do so is actually ignorance rather than better prices. The prices at the big box stores are actually slightly higher or the same, and you typically get a machine with slightly inferior specs than you would for the same price at the stores listed.

      Further, the staff at big box stores are clueless and they will often guide non-computer people into the wrong machine for them. The worst aspect of big box stores is their very aggressive pitch for extended warranties, which everyone knows is a complete scam, but the store employees browbeat customers and take advantage of their ignorance to get them to pay for the extended protection plan. Being in a Best Buy/Future Shop is actually upsetting because of how they do business.

  12. TonyL1 says:

    “Being in a Best Buy/Future Shop is actually upsetting because of how they do business”

    That has to be the most blatantly accurate assessment of those outlets. You won’t catch me in one – an awful experience all around.

    I’m sorry that PC Cyber is gone. They were great both with Knowledge and products. And it was close, Trailing Edge is also highly regarded – they are also great!, especially now with their E-waste thing. (this msg typed via my TTE computer!)

  13. TonyL1 says:

    OK, I’m back from a very in depth, accurate count of the boarded-up businesses on the strip.

    29!

    Actually it’s 28, but I added the about-to-close Pizza Hut.

    Holy crap, the BIA mall (AKA The Robertson mall) looks bleak.

    My last count a couple of months ago was 25.

    – What was it when Rick hatched his wacky BIA tax levy idea – 17 boarded-up businesses?

    • margaret says:

      you can’t really blame RC and the BIA for all of this … but I don’t see that what has been done so far has in anyway helped or prevented these closures

      Pizza Hut isn’t going to stay for the sake of it …. RC or BIA don’t have that power

      these places have closed but others are opening
      in the last few years …. how many NEW places are there ?

      obviously Rexall and Holiday Inn think there’s a good financial reason for opening a new place or bigger place – Shoppers also expanded, Staples came in, Winners stayed even though they opened the Bayshore store

      it’s not as though any of these are without competition either
      how many hotels? how many drug stores?
      we’ve opened a third successful food store in an area that really has not grown since the 90s and at that time it was thought the area could not handle any major expansion of Loebs (former Robinson IGA) and Loblaws

      it’s a sign of the times … look at the fast food outlets
      McDs stayed
      Harvey’s stayed
      DQ stayed
      Burger King left
      Wendy’s left
      Ponderosa left
      Arby’s left …. most people won’t even remember them
      KFC left
      Pizza Hut is leaving
      Morts is still here
      Country Donut left
      Tom Horton’s is all over the place

      the list could go on and on
      why do some stay and others leave …. ? all most likely for different reasons
      but demographic changes of the residential community is a main reason

      and there’s nothing that RC and the BIA can do about that – even if they think they can … unless Council moves to infill by the thousands and replace the empty stores

      even having DND moving into the vicinity … who knows what these people want? or if they will shop here rather than go home or Kanata or Bayshore

      the former Nortel complex started in BC as a smaller entity and so people moved to this area and Crystal Bay/Beach etc to live with their life-time job. Nowadays DND staff most likely live all over the place – and I doubt that few will move just to be close to one place of employment when the chances are their partner works elsewhere or their kids are happy at school where they are etc

  14. TonyL1 says:

    Margaret, Rick/the BIA haven’t totally caused it, I agree, but they certainly haven’t helped it – the strip renaming fiasco that dominated the media the entire late spring/summer was just one of their blunders. The businesses still have to renumber and change their addresses on Robertson and Richmond. Few would think about setting up shop here now and have to change their address a second time later. A lot of the strong survived, Staples etc. I agree, and FreshCo is hardly a new store, it’s PriceChoppers 2.0 in a dying mall.

    A proper BIA accomplishes progress. Here there hasn’t been any. This area needs a whole new dynamic. Maybe it needs more housing – the population is stagnant here (and no, Rick, don’t start drooling over the tainted mobile home park land just yet).

    A lot of the the decline in Bells Corners business can easily be attributed to Rick and his lackeys, especially the heart-wrenching Ma & Pa shop closures.

    Also, my buddy who is losing his job at Pizza Hut says the rent in that entire plaza sucks and is too high…

  15. zebra says:

    What happened to Ricky’s big dreams? Seems like he’s only a legend in his own mind.

    All rhetoric, no action. Typical politician.

    The BIA should just have two letters: B and I’ll leave you to guess the other one!

    They just want the MONEY!

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