Why this catch-basin makes me happy

My wife and kids already know I’m weird. No doubt many readers have come to that suspicion as well. The catch basin in the centre of the above picture makes me happy because … it is located on the future curb line. The sidewalk will be much wider. Life will be better for pedestrians. Crossing the street will be safer. The sidewalk will have three trees in it, which will shade the buildings and make eating more pleasant inside May’s Restaurant. Continue reading Why this catch-basin makes me happy

Inside the new Bridgehead

Bridgehead will be opening their Preston location in the fall. While the building faces Preston, their entrance will be just around the corner, off Anderson, approximately where the Preston&Leif Glass doors are now. Above: view of building along Preston St Above: view along Anderson Street. The boulevard along the sidewalk will be much improved and landscaped, and will include a patio. Bridgehead is proposing some major renovations to the building façade, closing up some doors, opening new ones, extending openings the full height. The mis-matched brick, which apparently is not original to the building, will be reclad in new material. The coffee shop … Continue reading Inside the new Bridgehead

Cornerstone Opens

Cornerstone is a sheltered housing building on Booth Street near Somerset. They had their official opening and tours on Wednesday. If you couldn’t be there, here are some shots of what’s outside and inside the building. I am really pleased with the exterior façade of the building. Streets like Booth are perched on the verge of going downhill (witness Cousin Eddy’s garage empty lots/burned out house,  just down the street) or gentrifying (witness Z6 condos, Cornerstone, and a new condo going up at the corner of Booth/Somerset). A quality exterior, superior landscaping, eyes on the street, diversity of people, make for a better neighborhood. … Continue reading Cornerstone Opens


While out for an after-dinner stroll, I came across this woody knoll of trilliums. I was fortunate to stumble on them at the height of their blooming glory. The well-worn path indicates many others have been here before me. There were a few little pot holes too, indicating gardeners have been here to try to take some plants home. I have three trillium plants in my garden, one I got from a vendor at the Parkdale Market a few years ago. The other two I bought from Artistic Landscape on Bank Street at Johnstone Road (about $7, I think) which … Continue reading Trilliums

Mobile home in Little Italy

This mobile home, a real land yacht, might look normal somewhere else, but parked along Preston Street during the tulip festival it looked huge and oddly impressive. In addition to the two side-extending rooms, the luggage bay also expanded. Awning, door mat, what else could be wanted? Ahh, the “little” runabout on a hydraulic lift, that by itself is very large: Is this the marriage of a cottage and car? The modern version of gypsy caravan? Suburbia on wheels? Someone’s houseboat with wheels? And what of our reaction to seeing this … Would we approve or disapprove of this vehicle if … Continue reading Mobile home in Little Italy

Local store goes international

  The internet is a funny place. I came across this article http://americancity.org/buzz/entry/2989/ , which is reprinted from a Washington DC article, about corner stores in Detroit, Cleveland,  and the American midwest, that features as its illustration the corner store from Elm and Rochester Streets right here on the west side of beautiful downtown Ottawa. School teachers are right: be careful about what you post on the internet, you never know where it might end up. Life is curious. Continue reading Local store goes international

O-Train Cycle Path makes progress

A version of this post appeared earlier this week at www.SpacingOttawa.ca. ______________________________________________________ The City has an amazing bureaucratic machine. It spends most of its time and resources promising, planning, and budgeting. All of that mental heavy lifting seems to leave it quite exhausted, but, sometimes, just sometimes, it surprises by making something actually appear “on the ground”. There is a multipurpose path (MUP) (aka a bike path) proposed to run along side the O-Train corridor. Parts of it, south of Young Street, have existed since 1963. This year, Council decided to fund an underpass under Somerset, which is the last big … Continue reading O-Train Cycle Path makes progress

LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre

The Rideau Centre station isn’t really on the west side, but it interesting, so here is a quickie overview: the underground station is outlined in red oval, the route of the underground tracks is in dotted red. The west entry is beside the NAC, facing onto Confederation Square and War Memorial. The west entry may include a weather sheltered or indoor connection to the NAC. The east entry is marked as “future east entry” but as it is the only east entry, presumably it is built at the same time as the station opens. The aerial photo below shows the key entry points … Continue reading LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre

LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

There is currently a bus transitway station at LeBreton Flats. The proposed LRT station is essentially at the same location, except it extends further west under Booth Street and is a few feet south of the current station, allowing room for landscaping and breathing space between it and the aqueduct. On the aerial photo above, note also the pedestrian crossing of the aqueduct off to the left side of the picture, this is the old Broad Street right of way and ped bridge. The site analysis drawing, above, shows the proximity of the current LeBreton residential neighborhood. Blue arrows show view planes, but both are rather curiously … Continue reading LRT Stations (part iv) LeBreton

LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

The Bayview Station is quite complex to describe compared to Tunney’s or Hurdman. Basically, it is a long thin platform built atop an earthen embankment, pretty much where the bus shelters are now. But rather than have sloping pedestrian paths connect to the O-train platform about 16′ lower down, under the overpasses, the City proposes to build an escalator connection at the west end of the new platform that takes users directly down to the O-Train platform. This is a great development for users that transfer.  What complicates the Bayview Station is that it is in the middle of an … Continue reading LRT Stations: (part iii) Bayview Station

LRT Stations Revealled (part ii) Tunney’s Pasture

Tunney’s Pasture is the interm western end of the initial LRT system. At Tunney’s, riders will transfer from bus rapid transit on the transitway to LRT to go through the downtown and then on to Blair Road in the East. Tunney’s is the second largest employment node in the City, and will triple in size over the next few decades. At some point the LRT service will extend west of Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields and then out to College Square. The new LRT station will replace the existing bus station at Tunney’s, down in the cut. The train track will extend a few meters west … Continue reading LRT Stations Revealled (part ii) Tunney’s Pasture

LRT Stations Revealled (part i)

The design for the Ottawa LRT stations will be shown below. In this post, there will be the inspiration for the Ottawa design, then some initial Ottawa designs both at the surface and in the tunnel sections. In following posts, there will be the detailed station design and layout and approaches to the Tunney’s, Bayview, and LeBreton Stations. Finally, there will be the Rideau Station and Hurdman. So stow your tables, put your seat backs upright, buckle up, here we go: Interior decorators call it the “inspiration shot”, the picture of some other project that captures some of what we want to emulate. The above … Continue reading LRT Stations Revealled (part i)

Ottawa District Parking Board

This is the view of the south side of Devonshire School, taken from the rear lane. The very old (historic??) chain link fence has been removed in preparation for the Ottawa Carleton District School Parking Board paving the tiny strip of grass that formerly separated the paved yard from the paved laneway. The playspace, which until last week was the site of parent-paid-for tether ball posts, the Board wants to convert into parking spaces for the staff. I really must commend the board for their economy, saving money on building parking spaces (then provided free to staff) by converting a children’s play yard. … Continue reading Ottawa District Parking Board

Exciting Downtown Ottawa

During the years I pretended to work downtown, I could count on some periodic excitement since the UNHCR was next door and was regularly subject of street demonstrations. An hour ago, it was rather like old times cycling back from City Hall via the Library to come across this demo. The ambulance was there to load up a yellow striped officer. It arrived in a bloody hurry but was reluctant to leave the excitement. On the west side, with the green and black flags, Libyan rebels. On the east side, with green flags and the portraits of the dictator with clenched … Continue reading Exciting Downtown Ottawa

No water shortage here…

Across the street from me, there is a housing coop for active adults over 55. They water their driveways pretty much every day. They either want the asphalt to grow, or have some sort of cleaning fetish. In the photo above, the guy is pressure washing his driveway at the same time as it rains. His behaviour is not odd on this street, his neighbours do this too. What explains this? The desire of older men to play with water? Boredom? Or is it because the water is almost “free”? In this co-op, the water is bulk-metered, so it’s cheaper … Continue reading No water shortage here…

Intensification follows LRT

Throughout the LRT planning process the City and its consultants have been showing walking radii around the proposed stations. These radii are more than just the convenient five-minute walk zone around the station. They will also be where the City will encourage transit oriented development (TOD). Most residents get the five-minute walk radius. Judging by questions and comments I hear at LRT meetings, they have much less understanding of TOD. Some clearly think it only applies to vacant lots. If there are few or no vacant lots, there’s no room for highrises, is there? They seem bonded to the present land use, not realizing … Continue reading Intensification follows LRT

Timing the OLRT

The was some good news on the LRT construction schedule last week. The City announced that the project could be finished a full year earlier than previously announced, ie spring 2018 instead of summer 2019. This is sleight of hand. The City attributes the shorter time line to various design factors. Instead of designing the system 100% in-house, they will do all the preliminary design and then outsource the detailed engineering to the winning bidder. This will allow the winning bidder, according to the city, to be more confident that the design is implementable and covers all the bases. They also have the … Continue reading Timing the OLRT

145 Elm updated

At 145 Elm is a 56×100 lot that used to contain just one very small house. Now Sage Developments is constructing 4 very large “shoebox” style houses  on it.There are two at the front, two at the back, and parking for four vehicles in the centre. A number of previous posts showed earlier steps in the construction. Here is the artist’s impression of two finished units: They are very far advanced now. Two have been drywalled; two are still being wired and plumbed. Here are some shots of the framed-in units: Above: A view from the front windows back into the unit, … Continue reading 145 Elm updated

The Bicycle

While walking over to Art Is In bakery, I saw this bike. The lock has been cut off in a most bizarre way. Here I am fretting over my wobbly bike, and someone has done this to a road-worthly looking bike!  But why cut the bike off the lock and not remove the bike? Is a bike like this even repairable? I find myself thinking of Charles who has a bike wherein the rides separately from the back, joined by some hinged mechanism. Maybe this is the latest trend, the frameless bike? Continue reading The Bicycle

Western LRT (part v) Choosing the best route

The Western LRT study outlined in the previous posts assumes there will be a WLRT and a separate local LRT along Carling should one of the non-Carling routes be chosen for the WLRT. But could the two services be combined? If one of the northern corridors is chosen for the Western LRT, then the TMP identifies Carling as the route for a supplementary LRT corridor. Thus the political process has pre-selected the mode, it is up to the engineers to make it work and be financially viable. If Carling is the route of the Western LRT, then a supplmentary transit service would be required in the northern corridor, … Continue reading Western LRT (part v) Choosing the best route

Western LRT (part iv) The River Parkway

Perhaps the most controversial and divisive suggestion for converting the transitway to LRT concerned the portion along the Ottawa River Parkway. There seems to be a large crowd that is convinced the parkway would be ruined by letting LRT transit users have a view instead of just motorists. Concerns were expressed about destroying green space, the aesthetics of overhead wiring, and the danger to dog walkers from high speed trains. Spectres of high chain link fences demarking the line where it slashed through mature forests … etc etc. Recall that two of the Richmond-Byron options covered in the previous post used tiny bits of the Parkway – from Dominion … Continue reading Western LRT (part iv) The River Parkway