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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Ontario > SSP: Local Ottawa-Gatineau > Culture, Dining, Sports & Recreation

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  #41  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 5:22 PM
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Originally Posted by d_jeffrey View Post
To be a great city, Ottawa will need to get a) a real transportation system (that means deemed as essential service and be actually rapid) b) a vivid cultural scene (a few plays and shows is not that) c) unique restaurants (that is one that is definitely getting there) d) rid of public servants e) more immigrants
So Copenhagen and Stockholm aren't great cities? Both have lots of (d) and much less (e) than we do. Worse still for (d) would be Brussels. Or what of the megacities of Asia - they pretty much all fail on (b), (c) and (e) compared to us. Even Hong Kong, which, while technically it is a city made up of immigrants, is really just a Chinese-populated city created under British rule - ethnically it's probably more homogeneous than Kingston, never mind Ottawa.


Frankly, what I think you're doing is mixing cause and effect. Great cities don't result from the things in your list, but rather these sort of things occur in great cities (except (d)). Just dumping boatloads of immigrants, opening restaurants and creating a real transportation system aren't going to make Ottawa a great city.

The risk aversion aspect of the bureaucratic mentality that permeates Ottawa is, I think, one of the greatest barriers to Ottawa becoming a great city. There's a reactionary political culture in Ottawa. On paper, Ottawa has a lot going for it - the cultural trappings of being the capital, a fairly rich history that has endowed us with some significant assets like the Byward Market and the canal - no other major Canadian city has something quite like the canal in so central a location, a good location with fairly prominent natural assets close at hand (I can be cycling or skiing or skating or swimming or sailing or canoeing or whitewater kayaking or whatever in a relatively short period of time, unlike, for example, Toronto). We've even got a linguistic duality the likes of which is really only found in Montreal. The federal government provides a degree of stability and its promotion-agency, the NCC, is responsible for creating or having got the ball rolling on many of the fine festivals and events that occur throughout the year. We've got many of the amenities (and the potential for more) that one would expect and hope to find in a great city. And yet... that risk-averse political culture suppresses most of the potential.

Take our favourite target, transit. Our reactionary bureaucratic political culture couldn't take the risk of adopting light rail rather than BRT in the late 1970s/early 1980s like Edmonton and Calgary did. It's not that light rail in and of itself would have made us great, but rather the willingness to take the risk on it would have been a step in the right direction. The history of the O-Train is illustrative here because of the sheer amount of bureaucratic intransigence that had to be fought and beaten back to get it. It was our zenith moment in the high-flying late 90s and for a brief moment it looked like a new political culture might emerge coinciding with the new City, but, alas, the bureaucratic culture reasserted itself with a vengeance. The openness to new ideas just is not there.


I honestly don't know how a city fixes a problem like this, and we (not us here, but city-wide) don't likely even realize we have this problem. Changing a political culture, and indeed a wider culture in the populace, is not an easy task but until we do we're not going to accede to the greatness to which we aspire.
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  #42  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 5:29 PM
d_jeffrey d_jeffrey is offline
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Originally Posted by Dado View Post
So Copenhagen and Stockholm aren't great cities? Both have lots of (d) and much less (e) than we do. Worse still for (d) would be Brussels. Or what of the megacities of Asia - they pretty much all fail on (b), (c) and (e) compared to us. Even Hong Kong, which, while technically it is a city made up of immigrants, is really just a Chinese-populated city created under British rule - ethnically it's probably more homogeneous than Kingston, never mind Ottawa.
They're great cities, just I wouldn't live there. But given the choice, of course I would prefer them to Ottawa. If people remember, I still love swedish pop!

Immigrants are not a necessity, it just helps with variety. Stockholm can be considered a city of risk takers.

But Brussels, I will never set a foot in that city again.
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  #43  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 5:58 PM
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I remember my trip to Amsterdam. A great city with its history and canals. Its tramways and bicycle lanes made access to downtown easy and the streets were buzzing. Part of this was because of the density. It was the place to be, for shopping and whatever else. What Amsterdam did not have was the variety of immigration, which has enormously enriched Ottawa in the last generation. This greatly affects the dining choices.

I think inner city density affects how vibrant it is. Ottawa was only a small city when the automobile came on the scene. This is especially the case when comparing us with Toronto and the even older Montreal. People in dense neighbourhoods tend to spill out onto the streets and enjoy the culture of the city. The suburban lifestyle is entrenched on a more widespread basis in Ottawa, so instead of hitting the streets, we hop in the car and head for the nearest shopping centre and then retreat back to our suburban bunkers. This widespread suburban culture also affects the friendliness of the citizens.

This suburban culture can only be slowly changed with increasing density in the inner neighbourhoods and by providing broader access to high quality transit.
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  #44  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 6:33 PM
deva deva is offline
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Originally Posted by Dado View Post
Or what of the megacities of Asia - they pretty much all fail on (b), (c) and (e) compared to us.
Which megacities are you thinking of?
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  #45  
Old Posted Feb 16, 2010, 8:06 PM
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Mille Sabords Mille Sabords is offline
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I remember my trip to Amsterdam. A great city with its history and canals. Its tramways and bicycle lanes made access to downtown easy and the streets were buzzing. Part of this was because of the density. It was the place to be, for shopping and whatever else. What Amsterdam did not have was the variety of immigration, which has enormously enriched Ottawa in the last generation. This greatly affects the dining choices.

I think inner city density affects how vibrant it is. Ottawa was only a small city when the automobile came on the scene. This is especially the case when comparing us with Toronto and the even older Montreal. People in dense neighbourhoods tend to spill out onto the streets and enjoy the culture of the city. The suburban lifestyle is entrenched on a more widespread basis in Ottawa, so instead of hitting the streets, we hop in the car and head for the nearest shopping centre and then retreat back to our suburban bunkers. This widespread suburban culture also affects the friendliness of the citizens.

This suburban culture can only be slowly changed with increasing density in the inner neighbourhoods and by providing broader access to high quality transit.
Very true. The more a city densifies, the more it will have that natural instinct to grow a street life.

I know Amsterdam well. The streets aren't the only thing buzzing, by the way, which is another factor (like it or no) that makes Amsterdam such a unique place. Its name is equated with freedom and easy-going hedonism.
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  #46  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 4:49 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I remember my trip to Amsterdam. A great city with its history and canals. Its tramways and bicycle lanes made access to downtown easy and the streets were buzzing. Part of this was because of the density. It was the place to be, for shopping and whatever else. What Amsterdam did not have was the variety of immigration, which has enormously enriched Ottawa in the last generation. This greatly affects the dining choices.

I think inner city density affects how vibrant it is. Ottawa was only a small city when the automobile came on the scene. This is especially the case when comparing us with Toronto and the even older Montreal. People in dense neighbourhoods tend to spill out onto the streets and enjoy the culture of the city. The suburban lifestyle is entrenched on a more widespread basis in Ottawa, so instead of hitting the streets, we hop in the car and head for the nearest shopping centre and then retreat back to our suburban bunkers. This widespread suburban culture also affects the friendliness of the citizens.

This suburban culture can only be slowly changed with increasing density in the inner neighbourhoods and by providing broader access to high quality transit.
Excellent points.
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  #47  
Old Posted Feb 17, 2010, 7:23 PM
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Originally Posted by deva View Post
Which megacities are you thinking of?
Just about any other than perhaps Singapore.
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  #48  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 5:24 AM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I remember my trip to Amsterdam. A great city with its history and canals. Its tramways and bicycle lanes made access to downtown easy and the streets were buzzing. Part of this was because of the density. It was the place to be, for shopping and whatever else. What Amsterdam did not have was the variety of immigration, which has enormously enriched Ottawa in the last generation. This greatly affects the dining choices.
Sorry what?!

Amsterdam is FAR more diverse than Ottawa! It has 30% foreign born, which is comparable to cities like Sydney and New York. Ottawa is at something like 22%.
Over half (that's 50%) of people are of an ethnic minority and in a recent study Amsterdam was said to have the highest number of different nationalities by passport (177, New York was at 150).
Frankly, your claim is ludicrous, as Amsterdam is also a heavy tourism city with over 8 million visitors a year, so walking the streets of central Amsterdam you probably see that 70% of people are of non ethnic Dutch origen.

Lastly, you as a tourist not being able to find good restaurants is hardly surprising. In reality Amsterdam probably comes only after London, Paris and perhaps Brussels in variety of choices in Europe. It is bound to have more variety and on average higher quality than Ottawa (how many Michellin stars?), which I'm sure is a nice enough town...
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  #49  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 6:20 AM
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waterloowarrior waterloowarrior is offline
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Originally Posted by SHiRO View Post
Lastly, you as a tourist not being able to find good restaurants is hardly surprising. In reality Amsterdam probably comes only after London, Paris and perhaps Brussels in variety of choices in Europe. It is bound to have more variety and on average higher quality than Ottawa (how many Michellin stars?), which I'm sure is a nice enough town...
Michelin hasn't published any of their restaurant guides for cities in Canada, they don't really have much coverage in North America yet.

Maybe lrt's friend was looking in the wrong place... Amsterdam has plenty of dining choices available


wikitravel (we need some of these machines in Ottawa!)

Last edited by waterloowarrior; Feb 18, 2010 at 6:30 AM.
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  #50  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 3:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SHiRO View Post
Sorry what?!

Amsterdam is FAR more diverse than Ottawa! It has 30% foreign born, which is comparable to cities like Sydney and New York. Ottawa is at something like 22%.
Over half (that's 50%) of people are of an ethnic minority and in a recent study Amsterdam was said to have the highest number of different nationalities by passport (177, New York was at 150).
Frankly, your claim is ludicrous, as Amsterdam is also a heavy tourism city with over 8 million visitors a year, so walking the streets of central Amsterdam you probably see that 70% of people are of non ethnic Dutch origen.

Lastly, you as a tourist not being able to find good restaurants is hardly surprising. In reality Amsterdam probably comes only after London, Paris and perhaps Brussels in variety of choices in Europe. It is bound to have more variety and on average higher quality than Ottawa (how many Michellin stars?), which I'm sure is a nice enough town...
My comment had nothing to do with the quality of restaurants. Obviously, great European cities offer a greater choice of excellent restaurants. My comment ties the diversity of immigration with the diversity of ethnic dining choices and this has exploded in Ottawa in the last generation. No doubt, Amsterdam has diversified since I was there with increasing EU open border policies but Indonesian was the dominant ethnic cuisine when I was there as I recall.
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  #51  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:00 PM
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An excellent article comparing Ottawa to Vancouver by Ken Grey, Ottawa Citizen.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/...422/story.html
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  #52  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:08 PM
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An excellent article comparing Ottawa to Vancouver by Ken Grey, Ottawa Citizen.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/...422/story.html
I thought it was a terrible article. A half-hearted, trying-to-be-funny piece of grumpiana that the Citizen produces as part of its duty to some of its readers. I thought the piece lacked imagination, laced focus other than to rightly point out a certain ambition deficit, the comparisons are bizarre and irrelevant... a very junior piece from one of the Citizen's senior guys. Big let down. He could've done so much more with the theme.
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  #53  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:23 PM
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The bigger disappointment is the mayor who claimed that Ottawa would have a swagger under his leadership. We ended up with no leadership at all.

To be honest, although the article could have been better written, it reflects my sentiments that Vancouver is doing exciting things and Ottawa is not.
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  #54  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:25 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
The bigger disappointment is the mayor who claimed that Ottawa would have a swagger under his leadership. We ended up with no leadership at all.

To be honest, although the article could have been better written, it reflects my sentiments that Vancouver is doing exciting things and Ottawa is not.
How is vancouver doing exciting things and ottawa is not.
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  #55  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:36 PM
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Right now, Vancouver is hosting the Olympics.
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  #56  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:54 PM
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How is vancouver doing exciting things and ottawa is not.
Just finished the Canadian Line, planning the Green Line, long term plan for M-Line to UBC.

Offering development incentives to spur density.

In general just having long term goals for the city's and outlying community centre's futures.

Cheers,
Josh
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  #57  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 4:59 PM
d_jeffrey d_jeffrey is offline
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Right now, Vancouver is hosting the Olympics.
I actually spilled my juice on my keyboard.
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  #58  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 5:07 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
To be honest, although the article could have been better written, it reflects my sentiments that Vancouver is doing exciting things and Ottawa is not.
They are. Ken Gray could've got more mileage out of his piece by being more serious than his haf-assed attempt at derision, which ends up missing the point. Because there is a point to be made, for sure.
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  #59  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 6:01 PM
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I agree that Ottawa's complacency is a problem that needs to be attacked. I also agree that we could learn many lessons from Vancouver.

That said, one could make any city look bad by drawing an example of something good from one city, and then ignoring the similar examples in another city to specifically find something bad. Usually I am fond of Ken Gray's opinions, but this one was garbage.

Here's my response to his list:

Quote:
1. Vancouver has mountains; we have hills.
True, but anyone who has visited Gatineau Park, hiked up some of those hills, or better yet gone skiing and taken a moment to stop at the top and look out over the beauty that is the Canadian Shield knows that our landscape is just as beautiful and majestic, just very different.

Quote:
2. Vancouver has an ocean; we have a river.
2. Vancouver has a straight that is connected to a very cold ocean, Ottawa has three rivers and one canal, and the Ottawa River is the most majestic river I have ever come accross in Europe or North America (haven't yet travelled elsewhere) aside from the Saint Lawrence.

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3. They have the Olympics; we lost out to Hawkesbury for the Eastern Ontario Bowlerama Five-Pin Shoot-out qualifications and Bass Fishin' Derby.
Did we want the Bowlerama and Bass Fishin' Derby?

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4. They have Whistler; we have the warmup hut at Lac Philippe.
While Whistler and Vancouver are together hosting the Olympic Games, Whistler is in fact 125 kilometers from Vancouver. Ottawa is only slightly further than that from Algonquin Park.

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5. They have Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams; we have Paul Anka.
5. They have Nelly Furtado; we have Alanis Morissette.

Also, Bryan Adams actually was born in Kingston and went to high school in Ottawa. It's more difficult to attribute 'hometowns' to celebrities once they have money, fame, multiple homes, etc.

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6. They have Pamela Anderson; we have Charlotte Whitton.
I'm actually quite fine with that.

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7. They have killer whales; we have canal carp.
Both are dangerous and equally inedible. Maybe Ken's onto something with this one...

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8. They have grizzly bears; we have coyotes.
8. They have grizzly bears; we have black bears, wolves, coyotes. Hooray for wildlife!

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9. They have the world watching the Olympics; we have 14 insomniacs nodding off in front of CPAC.
I take offence to such a stereotype. I am not an insomniac!

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10. They have entrepreneurs; we have bureaucrats.
10. They have entrepreneurs; we have bureaucrats AND entrepreneurs.

Quote:
11. They have a stadium that seats 60,000; we dynamited a quarter of our stadium before it collapsed.
Good point. Thankfully Landsdowne Live should remedy this situation.

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12. They have a domed stadium; we have Larry O'Brien's chrome dome.
Not sure what he means by a 'chrome dome', but any potshots of O'Brien are always welcome.

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13. They have a football team; we don't.
13. They have a football team, and soon so will we.

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14. They have a soccer team; we don't.
14. They have a soccer team, and soon so will we.

Quote:
15. They have a baseball team; we don't.
15. They have a baseball team; and soon we will again.

Quote:
16. They have a rapid-rail transit system; we have big, honkin' buses in for repairs.
Point taken. If all goes well, this will be rectified over the next few years, although I would be in favour of a more aggressive approach to modernizing and expanding our rapid transit system than is even espoused in Ottawa's current plan.

Quote:
17. They have Gastown; we have Gloucester.
This one really makes me laugh. Vancouver has plenty of suburbs. How can you justify comparing completely different parts of each city simply because they share the letter 'G'. Additionally, Gastown isn't necessarily the best place in the world. A much more apt comparison is "They have Gastown, we have Vanier", although this does not work greatly in favour of either city. If we wanted to favour Ottawa, we could say "They have Gastown, we have (insert "The Glebe", "Little Italy", "New Edinburgh", etc)."

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18. They have one of the finest cities in the world; we have one of the finest cities in the Ottawa Valley.
This one is just an unsubstantiated cheap-shot. I would have thought Ken above such meaningless slander.

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19. They have a brilliant, intensely developed community; we have LeBreton Flats.
Another poor comparison: the developed part of one city vs. the undeveloped part of another. I, contrary to many, still believe that Lebreton has the potential to be a great community once fully developed. Please, can we hold our judgement until then.

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20. We have the National Capital Commission; they have nothing in comparison.
Excellent point! Huge advantage for us! (and I mean that sincerely)

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21. We have Alex Cullen; see above.
Ok, point taken.

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22. They have the new Olympic facilities; we have Bruce Pit.
Don't forget the Conroy Pit!

More seriously, it's true that Vancouver will benefit from those facilities, but Ottawa is hardly bereft of Athletic venues/facilities. And for speed skating there's always the Canal.

Quote:
23. They have the Lions Gate Bridge; we have the third lane on the Champlain Bridge.
23. They have the Lions Gate Bridge, we have the Union Bridge (now referred to as the Portage Bridge), which is older than the Lions Gate, and equally historically significant.

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24. They have Stanley Park; we have Lansdowne Park.
24. They have Stanley Park; we have Gatineau Park. Both cities should pat themselves on the back.

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25. They have Granville Island; we have the Westboro Superstore.
25. They have Granville Island; we have the ByWard Market.

Quote:
26. They have mountain views; we have the Carp Road landfill.
Wow, I never knew that Vancouver doesn't produce any garbage! While on the topic of garbage, I was reading this opinion piece by Ken Gray the other day...

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27. They have the Olympic flame; we have a space heater in the Conference Centre.
At least the space heater works.

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28. They have majestic forests; we have One Hundred Foot Line.
28. They have majestic forests; we have majestic forests.

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29. They set a goal and accomplished it; we don't have a goal.
Excellent point. Finally something good from this article.

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30. They do big things; we don't.
As an optimist, I would change this to:

30. They have done big things; we haven't yet.
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  #60  
Old Posted Feb 18, 2010, 6:40 PM
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harls harls is offline
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While Whistler and Vancouver are together hosting the Olympic Games, Whistler is in fact 125 kilometers from Vancouver. Ottawa is only slightly further than that from Algonquin Park.
A better comparison would be Mont-Tremblant (200 km) . Not that Algonquin Park is without its charms.

Last edited by harls; Feb 18, 2010 at 6:52 PM.
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