Hi, my name is Charles Akben-Marchand. This blog isn't about me, it's about Centretown, but it probably helps you to know who I am.
I'm active in community activities in Centretown, Ottawa, as well as local pedestrian, cycling and heritage advocacy. I like to take photos of my neighbourhood, and it would be a shame to keep my tens of thousands of photos to myself. this Ottawa Citizen profile of me does a pretty decent job. My Twitter feed (@Centretowner) might be less comprehensive but at least it's more current.
I do this blog on my own time for my own (and your) enjoyment. I do not get paid to do this blog and the content of the blog reflects my views and not necessarily those of any of my employers or any organizations with which I am involved (including, but not limited to the ones listed below).
For the purposes of disclosure, from late September 2011 until late October 2015, I worked in the office of the councillor for Somerset Ward (first Diane Holmes, then Catherine McKenney), whose ward includes Centretown.
How is "Centretown" defined on this blog?
Loosely. "Centretown" can be defined as the area bounded by Gloucester Avenue in the north (except Place Bell), the Rideau Canal in the east, highway 417 (the Queensway) in the south, and Bronson Avenue in the west. This is how it is defined in the Centretown Plan (1974) and the Centretown Community Design Plan (still in draft).
The Centretown Citizens Community Association (CCCA) (on whose Board I am a member, currently serving as Chair of its Planning Committee, and was president for most of 2011) defines "Centretown", for the purposes of its catchment/boundaries, as the area bounded by the Ottawa River in the north, the Rideau Canal in the east, high way 417 in the south, and Bronson Avenue in the west.
The Dalhousie Community Association (on whose Board I am a member, and was vice-president for a year), represents the area which some people call "Centretown West". I do not like this name. The catchment area, as well as the name, originates from the boundaries of the former Dalhousie Ward, which merged with Centretown to create Somerset Ward when the City of Ottawa amalgamated in 2001. It roughly extends from the O-Train tracks in the east, the Ottawa river in the north, Lyon Street in the east (north of Gloucester Street), Bay Street in the east (south of Gloucester Street), the 417 in the south (east of LeBreton Street South), and Carling Avenue in the south (west of LeBreton Street South). Yes, this overlaps with the CCCA's boundaries, and that is why I am involved with both. It includes LeBreton Flats, Chinatown and Little Italy.
The Centretown Buzz, a non-profit community newspaper jointly owned by the CCCA and the DCA (and on whose Board I also sit as a representative of the CCCA), is funded entirely by advertising revenue and operated, written and distributed by a group of dedicated volunteers plus the (paid) editor. The Buzz's catchment area includes all of Somerset Ward. First issue: October 1995.
The Centretown News was originally established by community members in 1970 (see my CCCA heritage video), and was later transferred over to the journalism department at Carleton University, where, I am led to believe, journalism students there are required to write for it as part of their program. Their coverage area also appears to be all of Somerset Ward. First issue: December 6, 1970.
The area described as "Mid-Centretown" was a term ascribed arbitrarily to the area bounded roughly by Gloucester, Kent, Elgin and the 417, for the purposes of the Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan. This was found to be a bad idea and the area was expanded to include all of Centretown for the Centretown Community Design Plan (CDP) (i.e. the first definition above). The area previously described as "Mid-Centretown" was expanded at the north and south ends and became the "Core Study Area" of the new CDP to justify not having to go back and fill in maps like this one for the east and west parts of the neighbourhood.
On my blog, I try to focus within the first definition, but I regularly deviate into the rest of Somerset Ward (I'll use the label Dalhousie if west of Bronson), and elsewhere also (including the Glebe, Sandy Hill/Market, Hintonburg, Westboro, suburbs, Montréal, Turkey...). It's my blog and I'll blog what I want to.
I'll also blog about cycling and pedestrian issues, and sometimes I'm unable to use examples from Centretown to illustrate the posts.
From 2005-2008, I was President of Citizens for Safe Cycling, although my involvement with them is now limited to organizing the free supervised valet bike parking at RBC Bluesfest, which is CfSC's biggest single fundraiser.
I am still active on Twitter on the #ottbike hashtag.
On the pedestrian file, I provided adminsitrative support to the now-defunct group Walk Ottawa when I worked in Councillor Holmes' office. To highlight pedestrian issues, I save Wednesdays for my "Peds on Weds" posts.
I'm also a member of Heritage Ottawa and the Bytown Museum, though I'm not on their boards or anything like that. I sometimes post about heritage topics or upcoming Bytown Museum exhibits.
I also post 3D photos viewable with standard red-cyan 3D glasses. These aren't all necessarily in Centretown. I've created an FAQ page on 3D photos. If you don't have 3D glasses, ask me for some next time you see me.
I have my twitter feed configured to automaticaly tweet when I put up a new blog post, and also to tweet new blog posts for some other people's blogs: URBSite, the Incidental Cyclist, and probably a couple others. However, my twitter feed is not for the faint of heart.
If you see typos, broken links, labels missing from a post, or other errata, feel free to point them out in a comment or drop me a line at centretown.ottawa at gmail dot com.