Chicken pedestrians

The City will reconstruct Somerset Street West between Booth and Preston later this year. As part of the streetscaping, a number of decorative granite pavers will be inserted into the concrete paver sidewalk. While the final designs haven’t yet been selected, the likely theme will be animals of the Asian zodiacs. In addition to the Chinese zodiac animals, the Vietnamese zodiac has some different characters, so there will be more than twelve designs. Each will be carved into a granite block that is then set flush in the sidewalk. These will be sure to delight children and amuse adults who watch where they … Continue reading Chicken pedestrians

Storm damage

There are so few large trees left in the City, and the City is determined not to (re)plant large-maturity trees, instead preferring small-size trees. Even in areas with no overhead wiring, or underground utilities, where there is plenty of room for a large tree, new tree stock is generally what I have heard some refer to as “toy trees” or furniture-size trees. As for fruit and nut trees … fergetaboutit. Yesterday I saw this large limb knocked off the tree at the corner of Albert and Commissioner (Bronson) Streets: Continue reading Storm damage

Primrose Park cleanup

Local residents have registered a Spring Cleaning project for Saturday, April 30 as part of the city’s “Cleaning the Capital” campaign. Our neighbours are invited to bring their work gloves and join us in the park at the corner of Rochester and Primrose Streets on Saturday, April 30 anytime from 9 AM to 3 PM. We will have cleanup kits, several rakes, and cold drinks on hand. Bring your kids: we’ll clean up the play area first! Rain date is Sunday May 1 but we are sure to have a beautiful sunny day on April 30. Continue reading Primrose Park cleanup

Electric bus

I was doing some browsing on the internet to look at bus and transit technologies. This is dangerous for me, as with little knowledge I can be easily mislead. But I did see a few things that interested me, and so I am sharing them here. Shanghai fast charge electric bus:  The bus charges at bus stops, when picking up passengers. A pantograph-like device rises from the roof to connect to charged overhead rods. The bus needs ten minutes to fully charge its batteries, which can be spread over several stops. In theory, the bus could run all day without … Continue reading Electric bus

Well planted trees

Here’s another bit of Ottawa sidewalk I like. It’s along Place Bell Canada. Notice how well the curbs protect the trees against snowplows, parked objects, construction vehicles and equipment, etc. The tree trunks are thick, the leaf canopy is generous. The trees appear to be happy and growing. What a difference from so many Ottawa trees so obviously struggling hopelessly along the streets. Hey, it’s a sidewalk worth walking on. Continue reading Well planted trees

Bus shelters vs a station for Bayview

 The picture below shows the current Bayview Station. It is simply a bus shelter on a hill in the middle of a field. It’s been that way since 2001, and while not ideal, it does function. The City is currently designing its transit stations for the new LRT network. For the first few years of the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT) process, they had very elaborate station design for Bayview. It was a long elevated structure with east-west trains on top, and underneath was a second set of platforms for the successor to the north-south LRT that would someday replace the O-Train. Until that … Continue reading Bus shelters vs a station for Bayview

City-provided sidewalk improvements

From time to time the City actually does spend some money for streetscaping projects. These projects are designed to “recover” the public space from adjacent property owners that have encroached on it over time, too often appropriating it for parking. Those property owners who have landscaped right out the sidewalk may not be affected at all. Adversely affected will be those who snuck in parking spaces on their front gardens. There have been previous blog posts that show condo and apartment properties widening the sidewalk in front of their buildings as part of the landscaping. See for example this: I think the project … Continue reading City-provided sidewalk improvements

Good sidewalk environment

It’s not “all bad” on downtown sidewalks. I love this bit of private landscaping on Gilmore Street, near Kent. The sidewalk grew a tiny bit wider, which is useful. The precast block wall is attractive and understated, not competing with the building or the street. The modest elevation increase gives more room for tree roots, defines the “garden” space, and helps keep litter out. The densely planted row of trees greens the environment and helps shade the adjacent south-facing building façade. The tough decorative grasses planted along the base puts lots of rich greenery at eye level (for those who watch … Continue reading Good sidewalk environment

From mediocre to worse

  This post originally appeared in the WalkSpace series at The loss of amenity is noticeable when an attractive bit of the pedestrian realm or sidewalk is adversely affected by adjacent developments. The contrast is less sharp when a mediocre space becomes worse. Yet the result is the same: the pedestrian zone gets impinged and impoverished. I always find the C D Howe building in downtown Ottawa to be an underachiever. The building is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Inside there’s a waterfall, winter garden, soaring three storey spaces, pedestrian bridges, Jetson elevators, retail spaces, food court …. And outside offers an extra-wide sidewalk with some … Continue reading From mediocre to worse

Four inches that makes a difference

Four inches more. That’s all it would take. But alas, that shortage of four inches is significant.   City planners are today wishing they had four more inches to play with. The significance is on Gloucester Street, shown above, behind the Queen Elizabeth Towers condos. Notice that the city has changed the painted bike lane to a parking zone. As part of the “deal” to install the separated bike lane on Laurier, the city relocated the parking from both sides of Laurier to both sides of Gloucester. The Gloucester bike lane becomes redundant when the Laurier lane is installed this fall. During … Continue reading Four inches that makes a difference

More parking on sidewalks

A few weeks ago I ran a quickie post on motorists that treat sidewalks as their private parking spaces. The front entrance of the Delta Hotel on Queen Street is already a bit tough for pedestrians to get to or to get by. Ever since it was built by Teron & Ian Johns with wide sidewalks, the walks have been chipped away and replaced by more traffic lanes, queueing lanes, stopping lanes, and now the patio at the front entrance has been taken over as a taxi stand, often leaving just inches of space to squeeze out onto the city sidewalk. On Monday I … Continue reading More parking on sidewalks

You could do it. But we won’t help.

I sometimes fancy that I can do things around the house. You know, manly stuff. Hang a storm door. Repair the fence. Oil the bike wheel. Fix the flapper dapper thingy in the toilet. Operate the corkscrew. Living in an auto-free household as I do, but as part of a vehicle-dependent society, I do rent a vehicle several times a year. One of the convenient things about Home Depot at College Square was that I could hop out there right some fast on the #95, buy stuff, and then take it home using their rental van. The van rental is $20 plus gas. … Continue reading You could do it. But we won’t help.

Great Roadway Removal Contest

It seems to me that other cities are galloping ahead of Ottawa, converting freeways and elevated structures to other, more urban-friendly purposes. New York converted an elevated rail line to the High Line linear Park. Seoul, Korea tore down a huge urban freeway in just six months and created a long linear park along the (previously sewerized) river below once it was daylighted. San Francisco also removed freeways and no one noticed any transportation disaster unfolding. Now Vancouver is examining removing some elevated road bits: This leads me to wonder what roads in Ottawa might be candidates for removal. Not downsizing, not … Continue reading Great Roadway Removal Contest

Bridgehead flagship store and HQ

Bridgehead has made it official that they will be the third major coffee chain to open on Preston Street. There is a Starbucks at 333 Preston, at the base of the three Sakto office towers; and Tim Horton’s in the government office tower at the south end of Rochester/Booth at Carling (this shop is behind the security cordon, so don’t try to drop in for a jolt unless you have a pass). Bridgehead will take the former Bell building on Preston at Anderson, initially moving into the location of Preston and Leif and all the “back” areas of the building, … Continue reading Bridgehead flagship store and HQ

The Bambinos are coming!

This is the northeast corner of Preston and Gladstone. The little survey sticks on the slope have been there for six months, but something has just changed. There are five fewer trees there now. The pines have been removed to make way for the entranceway feature to Little Italy called the Bambinos. Located on the north and south sides of Gladstone, it will read as a continuous horizontal arch. The decorative sidewalk paving on the west sides of Preston were designed to continue across the road to join the east side, but City engineering requirements were so onerous that it became … Continue reading The Bambinos are coming!

Under the veneer

Aluminum and plastic siding is too often used to hide deteriorating structures. (Trendier materials are sometimes used today, such as corrugated metal panels). Once hidden, are those walls and soffits protected from further weathering, or is the rot ongoing but unseen? On Primrose, opposite St Vincent Hospital, is home somewhat lacking in curb appeal. For as long as I can remember, it was clad in aluminium siding, the wide stuff that was popular in the late 60’s. It is now being removed, revealing to my surprise, a brick façade underneath. A brick façade that is collapsing (foundation problems?): I haven’t a clue … Continue reading Under the veneer

King Edward, meet Mr Bronson

The Transportation Committee meet yesterday morning and I was there to speak on the funding of the Somerset multipurpose path underpass at the O-Train corridor. The motion passed, the tunnel will be installed later this year, although it won’t be opened because the City hasn’t yet funded any paths or access along the route. Presumably that will come later. I rejoice we got as much (as little?) as we did and am confident we will get the actual usable facility in the next few years. The Committee then moved on to discuss King Edward Avenue. Essentially the Community there has been fighting … Continue reading King Edward, meet Mr Bronson

Smart Car Diplomats

This is the Nepalese Embassy on Queen Street. Notice the size of the Diplomatic zone at the front. Is their other car a Smart Car? Do they drive in it or do they carry it up mountains? This grand old house is much diminished by the conversion of the front sidewalk and garden to more parking spaces. This clearly violates city parking rules, but I somehow suspect we won’t see the greenspace again until the snow melts on Everest. All hail the sacred parking space! Continue reading Smart Car Diplomats

New Firefighters memorial

There is a large patch of grass between the first towers by Claridge on  LeBreton Flats, and the new Wellington Street. This is the site of the new Fallen Firefighters’ Memorial. Construction is supposed to begin this year to build the memorial. I remain sceptical about how well it will function as a people space. I am concerned it may be a dead spot along the road. In the drawing above, the road at the bottom is Wellington, the block at the top is the first podium part of the LeBreton yellow brick condo, and the curvy road is the new Lett Street which … Continue reading New Firefighters memorial

More views from the Flats

Yesterday’s post had some interior shots and eastward views from the ninth floor of Claridge’s condo tower on LeBreton Flats. Here are some shots in other directions, including the courtyards. The stair and elevator access to the public roof decks is brightly lit all night with flourescent lights. Perhaps the condo board could replace these with a 25 watt nite lite and maybe something brighter on a motion sensor that turns on for a minute then dims. The glare now must impede the view.     Continue reading More views from the Flats

Dramatic views from the Flats

Claridge has five furnished model apartments for viewing on the ninth floor of the second condo tower (the yellow brick one) on LeBreton Flats. The views, particularly to the east, are stunning; nothing can be built to block them. In 20 years no doubt I will kick myself for not having bought these NYC-central-park-style views while they were affordable. Better than central park — the views include cliffs, a national kayak course, cycling paths, the gothic parliament buildings … The windows are huge, #903 had views in three directions. (Only $560,000 or so for 1300 sq ft, but if you had to ask … Continue reading Dramatic views from the Flats

Hand in hand, we’re all in this together …

The City has now published a list of who donated to the various candidates in the last municipal election. In my mind, it is appalling that this list comes out months after the election. I think it should be a public list being updated daily. If candidates can have a treasurer that cashes cheques, they can type in the name and amount to an on-line list at the same time. It might be necessary to “cut off” donations in the last three days of the campaign, to prevent a sudden dump of money (and consequently conceal the publicity of donors) in the last moments, in … Continue reading Hand in hand, we’re all in this together …

Sweet smell of … dust

Earlier this week I was delighted to discover the MUP through Centrepointe neighborhood was already swept by the City. It makes for a much more pleasant walk with the grit and salt brushed aside. Over the course of this week I discovered swept sidewalks on Albert Street near Bayview; on Greenbank Road south of Baseline; on Carling Avenue near Lincoln Fields transit station, as well as the aforementioned Centrepointe path. I think this is a truly delightful aspect of Spring in Ottawa: a faint haze of road dust throughout the city as the streets finally dry after months of snow and slush. The … Continue reading Sweet smell of … dust