An Excess of Moral Equivalency

Dear gentle reader: this post may offend some of you with tender sensibilities, so do not read on if you are sensitive about Italians, Catholics, Afghanis, Muslims, Fascists, Tamils, Tamil Tigers, the War Measures Act, moral equivalency, PC, are Liberal, or liberal, or easily offended in any way. You were warned. And then I ask of the reader some latitude, since I am unsure myself what I think of the situation described below:   First, to get us warmed up, some satire: ThePublic Citizen, October 21, 2070: Mo Kadr stood beside his father’s name today at the unveiling of the Muslim-Canadian … Continue reading An Excess of Moral Equivalency

Bike shelter at Bayview Station

OC TRANSPO has installed the new bike shelter at Bayview Station. It does not have a glass wall on the “back” side of it, but nor is the back side readily accessible for cyclists while there is loose dirt/mud. Presumably, if no glass back wall is installed, and the grass grows, some cyclists can use the rack from the back side but at the cost of losing out on the roof. Is it safe to suggest this is another one-sided front-in only bike shelter? In which case, it holds six bikes. After we spend millions on the new Bayview LRT and indoor-transfer-by-escalator to the … Continue reading Bike shelter at Bayview Station

City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

The above house near the Parkdale market got an award of merit for urban design in the City’s recent competition. Frankly, I was surprised, and bit annoyed too. The upper deck, which doesn’t relate to the street so much as soar above it, does have a neat angled sun roof. The exterior materials are well handled, and the design is  neat. But only neat in an architectural way. I don’t think it is good urban design. First, the entire front yard of these two houses is gravel. Is it really a xeriscape garden? Fess up, it’s two car parking spaces taking up 100% of … Continue reading City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

NYC new standard bench

This is a new bench for New York City. Designed by Ignacio Ciocchini, it is of powder-coated steel. It is designed to dissipate heat and shed snow. I was surprised by the very small side arm rests. By dividing it up into individual  seats, it prevents both sleepers and cuddlers (unless two people can fit onto one 26″ seat). In contrast, recent benches selected in Ottawa are divided into a 2:1 ratio with a single off-centre armrest, so that people can choose to sit touching if they wish. While Ottawa is struggling to find a suitable set of designs for its standardized street furniture, mainstreet rejuvenations continue … Continue reading NYC new standard bench

The Thinest of the Thin Houses

Very narrow houses are perfectly livable, if well designed. There are about 25 across the street from me on 12′ lots, which means they are  a bit more than 11′  wide inside. I think CCOC has a bunch a few blocks over, off Rochester. Nonetheless, very thin houses make City regulators expand with worry. A new group of thin houses is under construction at Gladstone and Cambridge. They replace the famous “yellow house” with its Charlie Brown zig-zag brown stripe. I have been anxiously awaiting their construction because they are thin – on 12′ lots. But the end unit, along Gladstone, is even thinner, being … Continue reading The Thinest of the Thin Houses

How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

        We are in the process of replacing the transitway with LRT. In the Scott Street cut, this won’t matter much. But at either end of the cut, it matters a lot. The City is preaching two totally opposed messages on how the track will interact with the community.  On LeBreton Flats, they claim that anyone getting near the tracks will be imminent mortal danger so great that six foot high chain link fences will be constructed on both sides of the tracks. For pedestrian safety, of course. So there will be no crossing of the tracks through the Flats.  City staff … Continue reading How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

A reader dies …

I regret to inform readers of this blog that one of their number has died rather violently. . Hopefully, the cause of death was not from reading this blog or acting on its advice. . This reader several times contacted me asking me to borrow my bank account numbers, just for a few days, in order to shift large sums of wealth to Canada. With a suitable share for me (last offer was $4 million dollars for my share). .   Alas, being independently wealthy and of modest needs, I had to decline. .   Bye bye colonel:   Continue reading A reader dies …

OC Transpo provides better bike parking

Users of the main transitway stations will have noticed that some bike parking racks have been shoved aside from their usual locations. Then concrete pads have been poured. Only at Baseline Station did I notice a sign identifying what is going on: new bike racks. Kudos to OC for providing better bike parking. In the pic below notice the new shelter, the moderately strong bike racks, and in the distance, the numerous bikes attached to the shoved-aside racks that are no longer bolted to the ground (and the background, the free employee parking lot attached our municipal office building). And here is a … Continue reading OC Transpo provides better bike parking

Slow as watching paint dry …

Much chided as the ugliest building in Ottawa, the City Centre complex on City Centre Avenue has been spruced up over the last few years. First the stubby office tower sign was removed, and then it was painted beige and black. Now the lower warehouse bays are being painted. Some of the highlights are picked out in black, as are the doors and railings. The lowest 12′ or so has now been painted beige. This painting has taken most of the summer. Sometime in our lifetime we may see the whole thing painted. Here are some before and after pic of the tower: Continue reading Slow as watching paint dry …

NCC reopens the gate …

Madame Chairman sent crews of workers down to LeBreton Flats and the Preston “extension” on Friday morning. Crews were busy adjusting the tension on the chain link fence, lopping off a few weeds, removing a superannuated  “stop” sign, etc. They even cut off the protruding rebar and its chip-bag safety cone top: While I was watching the crews, there were a steady stream of walkers and cyclists going through the gate. And a trickle of media-types to check up on the path. That the path is reopened is an example of people-power over the bureaucracy. Together, by complaining to Madame … Continue reading NCC reopens the gate …

City promotes tree growth

I’ll forgive you if the above pic is hard to figure out. Here’s what’s happening. Read on to find out why it is important. This tree is planted along Somerset Street. It was planted there sometime in the last 30 years. The curb, now removed, ran right close along the far side of the trunk. There was a four foot x four foot opening the concrete sidewalk, to let the tree breathe and obtain water. This opening was slightly constricted by being paved over in concrete cobbles, and packed down firmly. The four foot square opening was the minimum size tree hole as determined by the City … Continue reading City promotes tree growth

NCC / City agree to reopen Preston “extension”

This message is sent on behalf of Marie Lemay, Chief Executive Officer of the National Capital Commission:  I am pleased to inform you that we have just received confirmation from the City of Ottawa that they will allow the public to cross the Transitway at Preston.  The National Capital Commission will be re-opening the gate as of this weekend to all cyclists and pedestrians. We will have our contractor, Lafleur de la Capitale clean the site and fill any visible holes. As to whether or not this will become a more permanent path, the LeBreton Flats site, as you know continues to be in transition. There are construction projects … Continue reading NCC / City agree to reopen Preston “extension”

Road Diet Approved

Regular readers of WSA will be well aware of the community proposals for a Bronson “road diet”. A road diet tries to fix urban arterial roads that were mis-widened to four lanes in the 60’s-80’s in a vain attempt to handle more traffic, but which blighted the neighborhoods along the road instead. A three lane configuration – one through lane in each direction, plus a two-way centre turn lane – can usually handle the same volume of traffic, safer. The City’s contractors have managed to rule out a road diet on Bronson between Laurier and Gladstone. But the stink Rescue Bronson raised about the unsatisfactory four … Continue reading Road Diet Approved

Tree Petrified with fear of the big red X

The City is reconstructing Somerset  west of Booth. As part of the reconstruction, there will (eventually) be new, wider sidewalks; protected parking bays; decorative ped lighting; and lots of new trees. Existing trees are being protected, somewhat. First, inconvenient lower branches were pruned away. Then the trunks were wrapped in boards to protect them from impact damage. Alas, the roots are not so protected, and numerous trenches have been dug through the root system. But regardless of the care, some trees just won’t make it. Four existing trees have been marked for removal. The largest one is shown here (squint and you can make … Continue reading Tree Petrified with fear of the big red X

NCC passes buck to City, with eyes wide closed

The Preston “extension” running north from the Preston/Albert intersection, is a popular paved path for pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers, and people walking to Gatineau. The NCC recently closed and locked the gate (scroll down to see two previous posts…). Typically for the NCC, it did so after saying it would leave the link open. And it closes the link without explanation. Well, Madame Chairman Marie Lemay has finally responded to a resident. Here is her letter (I added the bolding to the key phrase):  “Thank you for your e-mail of September 30, 2011, regarding the closure of an informal passageway leading … Continue reading NCC passes buck to City, with eyes wide closed

Road to nowhere

Booth Street … what did our neighbourhood do to deserve such an abused street? Legally a local collector, it is of course abused by thousands of motorists daily who use it as a shortcut between the Queensway and Chaudiere Bridge. Every year on Nov 11th we notice it is deserted, which establishes that it is used by civil servants (who don’t work that day) and not by private sector, teachers, or university profs (who do work that day). But who the motorists is, is of less import than the fact that the street shouldn’t be carrying the volume of traffic it does. And … Continue reading Road to nowhere

Some Pic of Memorial bike/walk procession

It was really encouraging to see such a large and positive crowd come out this morning. I saw many familiar faces, a few politicians, cyclists, pedestrians, people with walkers …. . . . . . . . . . To the reader who asked if I was going to organize a ride for every pedestrian or cyclist killed. No. And I didn’t organize this walk either. But I might be convinced to organize a celebratory ride if a certain someone got pancaked. Continue reading Some Pic of Memorial bike/walk procession

Burning to get on that patio!

Out at the Westboro Station condo development on Richmond Road near Roosevelt, The Clocktower Pub will be opening a location. They have a huge outdoor patio space right at the front. It’s a great looking spot, although the noise of the people drinking  socializing below might be a problem for the condo dwellers above. Sticking up through the mostly-finished patio were several electrical bits of cable; and six yellow hoses. Hmm, look like gas pipes. Either they are going to have a lot of BBQ’s on that patio, or there will be overhead gas heaters to keep people warm and extend the patio season way … Continue reading Burning to get on that patio!

Important day to ride your bike

There will be a memorial bike ride (pedestrians welcome) at 9am on Tuesday, starting from Bronson and Queen, going east up Queen to the site where a cyclist was killed last week when she got doored. There are various bike parades and mass rides held from time to time in our fair city. This would be a good one to make. Remember, 9am Tuesday. Or would you rather do some boring desk work or attend another useless office meeting? Get your priorities straight. Get out the bike. I have a reason of my own to attend. In ’07 my wife got … Continue reading Important day to ride your bike


The new condo at 101 Richmond Road (site of the former Cdn Tire gas bar) is nearing completion. I see major appliances have been delivered to some suites; the interior walls are painted, the scaffolding is down, etc. The exterior has been divided into three layers, like an onion. The skin closest to and parallel to the street, and that also forms the podium element, is white blocks. The second skin, set just behind the first one, is that blah beige brick beloved by architects and designers which to me just looks … blah. And the backmost layer of the onion, a noir brick. … Continue reading Treeless

Autumn colours

The Preston BIA arranges with an exterior decorator to supply storefront, lobby, and window decor on a seasonal basis. This allows businesses that wouldn’t normally fuss about window decor to have professionally done seasonal displays. It also spruces up the whole street. The abundant and lush display above evokes the right mix of fall colours with an Italian element. As the leaves drop from real trees, those remaining dead tree trunks maintained by Ottawa Hydro (or Bell, or cablevision) reassert their dominance of the urban streetscape. I can’t help but regret the City’s policies of obliging suburban businesses to install underground wiring while … Continue reading Autumn colours

School daze

My kids have grown past the school bus stage. But I have numerous unfond memories of meeting the bus. My son had several contra-temps with the drivers. Once, the driver drove the bus, in winter, down Upper Lorne, a very narrow dead end with cars parked on both sides. She had to get someone from the bus company to come and direct the long backing out. Next day, someone’s son, who shall remain nameless, supplied the driver with a map showing all the dead ends in the neighborhood. He ended up in the office, and shortly after that gave up tormenting … Continue reading School daze

Madame Chairman relocks the gate

On Sunday, the gate to the Preston “extension” was still locked (if you are unfamiliar with the issue, skip back a few posts …). On the holiday Monday at 11.30 a reader alerted me to the gate being open. I nipped over and took these pic at 12.50:   But what is this? At 1.10, barely hours after the lock being cut off …   A couple of “conservation of locks” officers arrive at the scene. They knew the gate was open, as they hopped right to dragging out a new lock from the cargo bay and swinging the gates closed: … Continue reading Madame Chairman relocks the gate

Soho Italia: back from the drawing board

Readers will recall the proposed Soho Italia project at 500 Preston (near Carling) by Mastercraft-Starwood: (Use the search button to find more posts on the previous projects. The main posting is found at   Members of the community had a number of problems with the tower. First, it had above ground parking garage, meaning the bottom 6+ floors were a black box. The building had apartments facing outward on all four sides, right up to the lot line. It didn’t do an acceptable job of enhancing the streetscape, and struck pretty much everyone as being too much building on too … Continue reading Soho Italia: back from the drawing board

Park and Ride, here and there

There have been several stories in the media lately about park and ride lots here in Ottawa. The lots seem popular, and mostly over-used with late arrivals not being able to find a parking space. The first-come policy favours regular early morning commuters. The Ottawa lots are free. Well, not exactly free. They cost a lot of money to build, maintain, and patrol. But our municipal government doesn’t charge the users anything. It is therefore not surprising that they are full, as they are being sold (given away) wa-a-a-y below cost and wa-a-a-a-y below value. Things that are free are of course … Continue reading Park and Ride, here and there