Chinatown Dead

There is another Chinatown in Ottawa, one less visited than Somerset Street. These photos are of the “Other Chinatown”: above: The entrance gateway is much more modest than the Somerset one. But then, the dead lead quieter lives. Pavillion with red posts, green roof tiles. The vocabulary of the construction is similar to the Somerset royal arch. The lane in the background goes out to the St Laurent Blvd entrance to Beechwood Cemetery. The Chinese interment grounds are close to St Laurent. In Chinese tradition, Dragon had nine sons. Chiwen likes high places, and is usually found on the roof ridge … Continue reading Chinatown Dead

Boring information: read it here first

There are many ways to get information in the city. One is file freedom of information requests. Another way is to just ask the workers what they are doing. Each time I go by a new location with one of those boring crews drilling a hole into the street, I stop my bike or walk up and chat to the crew. What are you finding? Is it all limestone down there or are there soft spots? Can you identify fault lines and fissures? Any nasty surprises like big underground rivers? Vaults of money under the Bank of Canada building? Political bodies burried … Continue reading Boring information: read it here first

Jollies on Lisgar Street

While walking down Lisgar Street last week I spotted this object lying on the pavement. Had it fallen out of someone’s car? If so, was it in use whilst driving or parked? Or did someone throw it out, having gotten their jollies and now ready to move onto more adventurous toys? Would some child walking down the street mistake it for a kid’s toy rather than an adult toy? Indeed, would most adults recognize it? I had to look twice before I recalled my sister-in-law’s address in Dildo, Newfoundland. Hey, maybe it’s part of a covert marketing campaign from Tourism … Continue reading Jollies on Lisgar Street

Bronson 4 lane reconstruction postponed

Readers will recall the City’s plan first to widen Bronson at the expense of narrower sidewalks, later revised to some widening but still four lanes. Then at the public advisory group consultation last week they reported their initial results of modelling the “road diet” approach requested by the Rescue Bronson group. While not enthusiastically embracing the road diet concept, they did find that it was not impossible, and would not result in traffic chaos. Members of the PAC will be meeting with the planners next week to reassess some assumptions and try to come up with a road plan that will … Continue reading Bronson 4 lane reconstruction postponed

Sidewalk dining

Caffe Italia used to offer a blank wall to Gladstone sidewalk users. The wall is much banged up and patched as motorists periodically fail to make the turn. These cracks and patches are now so frequent that they make an interesting old-world texture on the building. Recently, they added a row of pictures to the wall. Neatly framed, they mimic windows, with a viewpoint  that changes as you walk along the sidewalk and see the bar and dining areas “inside”. Clever, simple, and very well done, they successfully enliven the sidewalk experience. Just another reason Preston deserves it’s destination reputation. Continue reading Sidewalk dining

Heritage in context

I was delighted to read David Reevely’s Citizen blog today.   I do understand that a heritage building might have additional value if left in the context of other heritage elements. In San Diego, they took a bunch of their heritage houses and relocated them into a separate out-of-the-downtown enclave, put stores in them, and presto, heritage mall. Like Upper Canada Village, it is a theme park built with heritage elements. Fun places, but not exactly genuine. Ditto saving a farmhouse and reusing it as a community centre as plastic-siding boxes are built around it. Is the Horticulture building at Lansdowne Park different? All … Continue reading Heritage in context

Bronson — some progress made!

I hope you are not sick of posts on Bronson Avenue,  because Bronson is an important street in our community as well as being a significant barrier and blight creater; and because Bronson is a bit of a barometer — if we can fix Bronson, there is hope for similar four lane arterials throughout our city. Others may think nothing can be done, but true urbanists will fight on. There was a meeting last week of “stakeholders” (those are the residents who are suckers for punishment and go to long meetings with the engineers) and the engineers. With a pleasant smile, I can say … Continue reading Bronson — some progress made!

New Already Looks Old

The Mondrian condo tower in downtown Ottawa is just fully occupied. The parking garage below the tower is also busy. Looking up at the black ledge above the garage but below the tower … The black ledge is cracked and  efflorescencing. If it looks tacky when brand new what will it look like when its a few years older? Today, “condo” is frequently used as a synonym for apartment. In fact, condominium is a form of legal shared ownership of a property. The property can be a high rise residence, a townhouse project, or a single family detached home project, or industrial or commercial … Continue reading New Already Looks Old

Skateboarder vs Car

Last week I was at the corner of Bronson and Somerset reading an informative utility pole posting about alternative lane configurations for Bronson Ave, when this guy asks me to watch his camera for a second. My picture shows his camera filming the guy skateboarding through the intersection. I secretly wondered if we would get a “good shot” of him being taken out by a car. But alas, survived, made the movie, and you can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-SzHP7xBf4&feature=email. J2xF stars in the movie, as does his ex-car (he kept the skateboard). Continue reading Skateboarder vs Car

West LRT – the Loblaws option

David James is a blog reader with some keen observations on the merits of various DOTT and west LRT proposals. You will frequently find his intelligent comments on my posts, gently pointing out the error of my ways. David isn’t particularly a fan of the “Loblaws” route I outlined yesterday, but he kindly drew up a drawing illustrating the route, and provided some commentary on its merits. The top right of the illustration below starts the route beside the 30 storey condo tower Minto built a few years ago. Underground, it swings onto McRae, under the Loblaws parking lot, and westward under Byron Road or … Continue reading West LRT – the Loblaws option

West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

The Scott Byron route starts at Bayview and re-uses the Scott corridor transitway trench to Dominion Station. It uses a toenail of the parkway until it can swing inland at Rochester Field, near the Kegg Manor and gardens. At some point, it would cease being a surface rail line and become cut and cover along the Byron right of way. It is important to notice that the Byron option does not necessitate cut and cover through the dog-walk greenspace that used to be the streetcar right of way. It might be cut and cover under Richmond Road, or under Byron Avenue itself. Byron could certainly use … Continue reading West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

West LRT, part iii, Ottawa River corridor

It might be best to read part i and part ii, already posted. If you are a keener, the comments received are also worth reading. Now, for part iii … The Bayview Station is located at the top right. It is a future transit hub, with service extending south along the OTrain corridor; north via the Prince of Wales Bridge (possibly as rail, possibly doubled in width as a STO rapibus BRT route with a station at Bayview); east to the downtown; and west to Barrhaven and Kanata. Usually ignored, is the walk-in potential of Bayview Station: because there are no houses immediately adjacent, in … Continue reading West LRT, part iii, Ottawa River corridor

West LRT, part ii: Carling options

  I suggest you read Part i — the previous post — before reading this part. Some points are valid from post to post, and it would be boring to repeat them each time. Reading the comments is also fun and educational. This review of the options always starts at the Bayview Station (top right corner), ie I talk from east to west. The O-Train corridor option uses existing transportation corridors to take the LRT south then west. It would bump the Otrain off its track, forcing it to terminate at Carling. This LRT option is unlikely to be selected as it has some severe engineering … Continue reading West LRT, part ii: Carling options

West LRT, part i

This will be the first of several posts on the western portion of Ottawa’s LRT project. While some commentators insist that the current DOTT project is too short/too long/too wrong, some observers usually skip over that the Tunney’s to Blair portion is just the first part of a multi-phase LRT build-out. The temporary western terminus of the first phase LRT is at Tunney’s because the DOTT LRT piggy-backs on existing environmental approvals and studies. It would delay the DOTT portion for several years to try to build it all the way to Lincoln Fields in phase 1 due to the studies required for the “new section” west of Tunney’s. If the … Continue reading West LRT, part i

Neat and tidy reno

This neat and tidy reno is on Arlington, right behind the Harvey’s that faces Bronson. That’s the Qway sound barrier you can see in the left backround. Neat aluminum siding. Quality front door, stained glass window. New window units throughout the house. Soon, a large front porch. The chimney and dormer wall are not yet finished. So, what is so special about this house? Well, a few months ago the bank-owner applied to demolish it as unsalvagable. The Dalhousie Community Assoc felt it could be fixed up, and opposed the demolition. The City agreed. The property was sold. It looks like it will … Continue reading Neat and tidy reno

Definition of a bike rack, err handrail

I am glad to see so many cubicle bunnies are cycling to work (well, at least those not taking sick leave) that there isn’t enough parking spaces around 240 Sparks. Cyclists are apparently locking their bikes to the hand rails on the stairs. Now, I think the message from this would be to … install more bike racks?? But no, nothing so sane. The managers of the cubicle farm have decided that English-speaking cyclists don’t realize that these are handrails, or what they are for, so they conveniently posted signs elaborating on their purpose. And some people say Ottawan’s have no … Continue reading Definition of a bike rack, err handrail

Lego build a house …

This house looks like it is being built with Lego blocks. Located by the stairs connecting Primrose (lower) with Primrose (upper) and Upper Lorne Place, the infill lot is about eight feet above the Primrose street level. The house will be four stories high. The bottom floor, two stories down from Upper Lorne but “at grade” at Primrose, with be a studio — bedroom, room, kitchenette, bath — with its own exit on the Primrose side. The second floor will be bedrooms. The third floor, to be at grade with Lorne Street, will have the entry and a garage (yup, you park your car … Continue reading Lego build a house …

Parallel paths in life and death

  The two memorials shown are in Beechwood cemetery. Booth and Rochester were powerful early families in the city. The streets named after them are parallel, one block apart, on the city’s west side. The Booth tombstone is a list of children who died young. Wealth was no guarantor of life. Nor was wealth a guarantor that one’s tombstone would be maintained: the head is missing from the Rochester statue. Continue reading Parallel paths in life and death

Citizen’s take on Bronson

    Put Bronson on ‘road diet,’ city told   Community groups spot chance to fix street in coming roadworks   By Neco Cockburn, The Ottawa Citizen November 10, 2010 7:38 AM Comments (9)     Story Photos ( 2 )      More Images »   The city says that Bronson Avenue, because it is a major north-south arterial with a large traffic volume, lots of trucks and transit, is ‘a very, very difficult area to work with.’ Photograph by: Julie Oliver, The Ottawa Citizen OTTAWA — Community advocates want the city to make Bronson Avenue safer and better-looking … Continue reading Citizen’s take on Bronson

Bronson vid

Over on Spacing Ottawa they reprised the traffic video of Bronson at rush hour. Well worth watching the one minute video: http://spacingottawa.ca/2010/11/08/great-divide-the-reprise/ Trying to make a Better Bronson is not just the nefarious scheme of the radical wooly leftist elitist glebe-wanna-be’s, as some MSM might want you to believe. Look at the picture below. Recall that Bronson is supposed to be a typical mainstreet. You know, mix of houses, apartments, small businesses, useful to the community. Part of the house shown above was converted to doctor’s offices a few years ago. This city apparently didn’t notice. Oops, now they do. And there is … Continue reading Bronson vid

Generous sidewalks

If the city is really serious about promoting pedestrian movement, there have to be decent and attractive sidewalks to move along. Providing feeble excuses for a sidewalk system; providing deteriorated, unpleasant concrete curb extensions, does not a sidewalk system make. In the photo above, the sidewalk only appears to be sacrificed for a utility pole and driveway … but in reality, the squeeze was caused by adding in another lane on the adjacent street. The car lane does not get narrowed. The above location is too narrow for the sidewalk plow in winter. It goes around, on the street, leaving a packed … Continue reading Generous sidewalks

Bronson road diet idea heats up

The idea of a road diet for Bronson is generating lots of interest around the city. Here’s a story from today’s Ottawa Sun story by Scott Taylor: http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2010/11/07/16021031.html: “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, a community activist says, to do a makeover on Bronson Ave. that will appeal to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. With the city planning to completely rebuild the major artery next spring, the time will never be better to beautify it. The problem Eric Darwin sees, though, is that nobody is really listening. “You take streets like Preston. It used to be four lanes and now it’s … Continue reading Bronson road diet idea heats up