Funding Municipal Politicians

In the Citizen today: Cullen is preparing a “motion asking the provincial government to give the city the power to ban all corporate and union donations to municipal election campaigns, and it’s bound to be controversial. Cullen, and some other left-leaning councillors, already choose to reject donations from these groups, but other city politicians accept them.”It will be interesting to see the wording of this motion. Back in my civil service days, I was a union steward for about 7 years. Marion Dewar was running for office, and the union called all its reps out “on union business” for one … Continue reading Funding Municipal Politicians

Extending the O-Train

There have been many calls to extend the O-Train service north to Gatineau, or to increase its frequency using existing equipment. At transportation committee next week, according to the Citizen: a motion by Kanata North Councillor Marianne Wilkinson will also be debated. She wants the city to extend the O-Train line, which currently stops at South Keys, south several kilometres to Leitrim Road. This is not called for in the city’s current rapid-transit plan, but there is growing pressure from people living in the southern part of the city for better public transportation options. Continue reading Extending the O-Train

Guerilla Marketing

I love guerilla marketing – or as it is more often called today, viral marketing – when it is well done. Joe Contronio of Pub Italia is always amusing, whether its the faux-religious themes, the faux-Queensway signs or now, making the most of the construction fences. If you enlarge the picture, you will see his fence that separates the patio from the sidewalk, then the construction fence that separates the sidewalk from the road-now-dig-up-zone, and the third fence that separates the construction zone from the travelled road surface. All of them are festooned with his advertising. Well done ! Keep … Continue reading Guerilla Marketing

Little things make a difference

Greenbelt Taggart Winter … then roadwork. How road reconstruction is handled makes a big difference to motorists and pedestrians too. Last year, on Preston, contractors used crowd control barricades to separate sidewalks from dug-up roads. These barriers, silver colored and looking vaguely like old bedsteads, have side legs that extended a full foot onto the sidewalk, narrowing the already chopped up walking space and rendering passage impossible for strollers, walkers, or wheelchairs. They also frequently toppled/were pushed over into the construction holes. This year on Preston the preferred fencing is the thin high wire fence panel system. Taggart, working on … Continue reading Little things make a difference

Carlington Vet Houses celebration

click to enlarge and see the lady on the verandah Carlington community association held a celebration last Sunday to honour the war vets, the veterans housing estates built just south of Westgate Shopping Centre (the first suburban shopping centre in Ottawa), and the renewal of the community. There was a parade and march past of some veterans. The parade was lead by an Ottawa police motorcycle driven by an Asian cop. The tail was another police car, driven by a Tamil (?) cop. Some of the parade-route residents were Asian. The old vets were all white. It made a nice … Continue reading Carlington Vet Houses celebration

New Apartments on Preston

A sign recently appeared at the now-vacant properties at 193 Preston, promising the construction of low-rise rental apartments above a storefront. Clicking on the photo may enlarge it enough to see the artist sketch of the building beside Photo Lux studio on the east side of Preston. I am delighted to see some additional rental housing stock appear, and to see low rise too. It is a nice change from the high-rise towers frequently proposed for the area (Acquarello, the 31 storey Phoenix project for City Centre, the 18 storey proposal for Sydney Street, the seven story proposal for Balsam). Continue reading New Apartments on Preston

Leadman’s DOTT meeting May 26th

Leadman’s ward bumps up against Somerset Ward where I live, almost on the border of the two, which is why this blog is named West Side Action, since I try to cover events that happen on the west side of the downtown, regardless of fiefdom. Anyhow, I joined the big turnout for her forum Tuesday evening on the DOTT. Her presentation and meeting themes covered two things: the DOTT in the downtown area, and the first-phase LRT in her ward terminating at Tunneys Pasture. She was accompanied by Renfrew Morrison, a transportation consultant that we recall was Clive Doucet’s hired … Continue reading Leadman’s DOTT meeting May 26th

Urban Planning Nostalgia

Over at the blog The Ottawa Project is a story of visiting Lorne Ave and the not-unreasonable assumption that what is visible on Lorne represents that which was demolished on the Flats in the early 1960’s. I think that overview is overly sympathetic to the demolished areas. I do not wish to take the view that it was right to demolish whole neighborhoods/built up areas in favor of total rebuilding, which was the big government view of urban renewal then (note to today’s amateur city rebuilders and commentators who too often wish for bigger govt action – be careful of … Continue reading Urban Planning Nostalgia

Plouffe Park sodded

Last Wednesday, May 13 about 1/3 of the park was sodded. There was no further action until Tuesday, May 19 when the remainder of the park was sodded. Fences have been constructed to try to keep people and animals off the fields. Limited activities (not including soccer) will be permitted during the summer when the Plant Pool Rec.Assoc (PPRA) holds summer camps. The big green swatch in the middle of the ward is really welcome given all the construction and dirt elsewhere. This neighborhood has the least amount of City greenspace of any ward in the City of Ottawa. Continue reading Plouffe Park sodded

Uniform Rules for Buried Utilities (Wiring)

(While browsing some buttons on my blogspot site, I found this older post that somehow never made it onto the blog. Recall that there was some controversey and commentary in the blogsphere and in the Citizen on burying wires. Old, but still relevant: ) – The city does not pay to bury the gas mains, it just requires the gas company to do that. It does not bury the water mains for free, it charges the users to do that. It charges customers/forces the utilties in most areas to bury the electric, teleco, cable tv wires but exempts existing urban … Continue reading Uniform Rules for Buried Utilities (Wiring)

Booth Street update

double click to enlarge pictureA few weeks ago, this blog featured Cousin Edy Garage and Chados Auto Body as the ugliest, messiest businesses in the neighborhood. As I went by today, the old tires left on the boulevard are gone, the garbage picked up, and as shown in the picture, several unhappy people removing some of the sign clutter. If they mow the lawn … and the mysteriously disappeared trees replaced … the place will once again be an acceptable neighbor, at least until someone redevelops the lot for condos! Continue reading Booth Street update

Preston Street repaving

Final topcoat of asphalt being applied to Preston Street north of Beech. The finished landscaping sections of the street look great. Unfortunately, while two sections are finished, work is just commencing on the other three sections, and major construction will continue until late December. But the finished sections will encourage residents and businesses and visitors to have courage, better times are coming. Final landscaping and decorative intersection pavings will be done in 2010. Continue reading Preston Street repaving

Interprovincial Transit Ideas

I attended a few hours of the interprovincial transit study meeting last Thursday. I heard lots of suggestions for improving interprovincial transit experience. Here are some of them: 1. Use the Prince of Wales Bridge. This rail bridge from Bayview Station to Gatineau is a favorite solution to most problems. Many felt it need not be double tracked right away, but could operate for the first years as a single track with passing tracks at each end and maybe at Lemieux Island. 2. Most attendees want a rail solution (LRT or O-Train) not a bus solution or bus on transitway … Continue reading Interprovincial Transit Ideas

Inter-Provincial transit study – some observations

I went to the Open House held Thursday about the interprovincial transit study. The study should identify problems with transit going between the two cities, user problems, and suggest solutions. I signed up for a round-table exercise. It was the first one I think I have attended, and it wasn’t as bad as I feared. First, the moderators at each table were well informed and not too rigorous about keeping the participants on topic. This was important, because the topics, defined beforehand by the sponsors, were very narrow. Basically, they were looking for expressions of what the problems were. In … Continue reading Inter-Provincial transit study – some observations

Bikepath to No-where

The NCC has been landscaping the area north of the Claridge condo building on LeBreton Flats since mid-winter. Earlier posts on this blog showed the winter landscaping and very early spring planting of trees and shrubs. Eventually, the Fallen Firefighters Monument will be constructed on the grassy area. The contractor (same one as is doing Plouffe Park) has now paved the bike path from Wellington Street north along the west side of the tailrace. A side branch cuts off to the west to join Lett Street beside the condo. But the path goes nowhere, as Claridge hasn’t yet landscaped the … Continue reading Bikepath to No-where

Plouffe Park landscaping

note the two receivers mounted on each end of the blade sod rolls; elevation transmitter in the background laying the carpet … Plouffe Park is behind the Plant Recreation Centre at the corner of Preston and Somerset. The playing fields were torn up last fall in order to lower the ground level several feet. This permits the fields to function as a storm basin in case of severe flooding expected only every 50 years or so. The Park is the lowest point in the entire Preston street catchment area, and has no natural overland outflow. The bulldozer spreading the topsoil … Continue reading Plouffe Park landscaping

Greenroof Example – Pl de Ville

One of Ottawa’s older multipurpose developments has a lovely green roof on its south side. This roof is above what was for 30 or so years a shopping mall, but for the last years has been federal government office space. The pond adds an unexpected water element to the downtown, as does the fairly large bright green lawn. It is highly visible, located adjacent to one of the busiest downtown transitway stops at Place de Ville. The glass pyramid lets light into the office area below. It suggests the pyramid glass structure at the Louvre in Paris, but on a … Continue reading Greenroof Example – Pl de Ville

DCA – AGM Tonight

There is a community association for the neighborhood bounded on the east by Bay St – on the north by the Ottawa River – on the west by the O-Train tracks – and the south by Carling Avenue. Called the Dalhousie Community Association (DCA) after the now-retired ward name for the area, the association concerns itself with planning, traffic, and social issues in this mixed income changing neighborhood that incorporates both “Chinatown” and “Little Italy”. Their Annual General Meeting is tonight at 7pm at the Dalhousie Centre, corner of Empress and Somerset, 3rd floor. Free cookies. I’ll be baking my … Continue reading DCA – AGM Tonight

LRT – the 1950’s version

This video of the former streetcar service in Ottawa is certainly interesting. At minute 4.19 there are shots of streetcars on Elm St running up to Preston (Elm street was the exit from the Champagne Streetcar Barn. The entrances were from Champagne [now City Centre Ave] In the background is a large structure the predates the City Centre complex, which is now nearing the end of its lifespan). Most of the houses filmed on Elm are 100% recognizable today. My house abuts the Champagne Barn, I enjoy a great westward view over its rooftop. The roof used to be mostly … Continue reading LRT – the 1950’s version

US Housing Policy in a Nutshell

Over at the City website, there is an article on the repeating US housing crisis. I like their site because it often offers a contrarian view of what is conventional wisdom in the urban affairs sphere. It makes an interesting comparison to the Metropolis website. Here is a summary (first three para) of their most recent article on the US housing policy: In December, the New York Times published a 5,100-word article charging that the Bush administration’s housing policies had “stoked” the foreclosure crisis—and thus the financial meltdown. By pushing for lax lending standards, encouraging government enterprises to make … Continue reading US Housing Policy in a Nutshell