Variable standards

Listen, and I will tell you of one of the secret joys of working with City officials on neighborhood plans, especially transportation plans. I love hearing the city side telling us “we’d love to do that, but unfortunately, the [insert name of document/policy here] prevents us”. Of course, the same city promptly turns around and does just what you asked, but somewhere else. Community activists learn to like sharing, since our best ideas (eg Bronson road diet) get implemented somewhere else (hello, Scott Street road diet). Here’s an interesting example. Somerset is being reconstructed to two travel lanes, with two protected … Continue reading Variable standards

Parks Planning (ii)

Chaudiere Park is a well-used large-ish pocket park on Elm Street, between Rochester and Preston. It’s about 140′ along the street, and about 100′ deep. The park is dominated by a very large, very deep wading pool that delivers a freeze-your-bones-it’s-so-cold experience to kiddies for six weeks every summer. There is a large sandbox on the east; a basketball court on the west. The general impression is a sea of pavement. and Chaudiere Park on Elm is a newish location for the former Chaudiere Park on LeBreton Flats, which was relocated to Elm after the “slum clearance” expropriation in the 1960’s. As such, it deserves a proper park … Continue reading Parks Planning (ii)

Park planning (i)

Last week, the City and Councilor held a public meeting regarding the upcoming renewal / rebuilding of Primrose and Chaudiere Parks (Chaudiere is on Elm Street, is an oversized pocket park). Today: Primrose Park. A number of residents had heard the project was coming, and had already submitted some comments to get the hired planners’ juices going. Unfortunately, some people at the meeting thought this meant that the “fix” was in. A great deal of the divide was between the proponents of the “dog park” and the “kid park”. Primrose Park is a popular dog park. Has been for years. Many years. … Continue reading Park planning (i)

Bronson pleas fall on deaf ears

      The City held its only public meeting on the reconstruction and widening of Bronson Avenue last night. Over 200 citizens attended. Only 130 chairs had been set out. The crowd was not hostile, but was suspicious of the City and harshly critical. City staff have intimated that they agree the street should not have been widened back in the 60’s, but now we are stuck with it. That doesn’t explain why they insist it needs to be widened another 2′. The City had the usual poster display with glamorous statements about putting pedestrians first. The cognitive dissonance between the professed … Continue reading Bronson pleas fall on deaf ears

Avenue of Lights

Work crews are rushing to finish up the Somerset Street reconstruction projects. The section west of Preston, to Bayswater, has its final coat of pavement, the sidewalks are down, and the work crews are putting up the light fixtures: In the above picture, the concrete base for the fixture has been erroneously installed too low. Instead of being 4″ above the finished sidewalk, in which case the concrete protects the base of the light fixture from being dinged by the sidewalk plows, a few of these were installed flush with the sidewalk. Here’s the row of lights installed (on their raised … Continue reading Avenue of Lights

Highway to Heaven Marked with Big Red X’s

Congregants at the Peace Tower Church on Bronson face a difficult road to heaven. The way needs to be proclaimed, work must be done, respect paid, songs sung. The traffic engineers have it easier. Their road is wide, straight, paved, and about to be even wider. Truly a fast road straight to heaven hell. At the Peace Tower Church, City engineers propose chopping off the main front door steps. And removing the trees on their lawn. The City hides behind innocuous statements. Like, “minor widening”, or “improvements to lane width”. What does it mean out on the street? Rescue Bronson activists … Continue reading Highway to Heaven Marked with Big Red X’s

Is it a Syn?

There was a controversy about 18 months ago in the Westboro area about a “perfectly fine house” to be torn down to build a new, larger one. The property owner got their permits, and the house was duly built. Here’s a google street view of the old house, note the mature hedge along Spencer on the right, and the multiple evergreens: And here is a pic of the new house, seen from the front. For a corner lot, they did not take any advantage of westerly views. Fenestration on the front façade is minimal: and the view from the diagonal across … Continue reading Is it a Syn?

Bronson road widening a fait accompli ?

Faithful readers of past postings will be aware of that the City traffic engineers have wet dreams about widening Bronson. Motorists won’t notice the widening very much at all, since it is modest, about 2 feet wider. But it will make it just that little bit easier to go a little bit faster. Which is surely what the street and neighborhood needs — a faster road. Curiously, the road widening makes the lanes wider than what the City’s own guidelines call for (see table below). Now you really do have to smile in amusement at the limit of their wet dreams. They only … Continue reading Bronson road widening a fait accompli ?

Ross Avenue reno (ii)

More photos of a reno on Ross Avenue, in Westboro, this time of the inside. First, the front entry. The designers view, of course, is that two small spaces in a cut-up front entry have been consolidated into a single larger open space. It sure makes a great first impression when showing the home, but someone the open space with a few hooks on the wall will be a lot less practical when all our junk moves in. Definitely a great look for those who can live minimalistly: The kitchen was formerly a separate room off to the right of the dining … Continue reading Ross Avenue reno (ii)

Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views. Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant … Continue reading Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

CFNM in Ottawa

This past year has been a busy one in our west side abode. One daughter got married. This necessitated a lot of preparation on the parents’ part. A significant chunk of this was watching wedding videos: My Big Fat, Mama Mia, etc. I must confess that Mama Mia was the better choice (thank god, as it was screened numerous times). I also went off to the NAC to see it last fall, just in case the live show had additional hints for the parents that weren’t in the movie. And this brings us to the CFNM promised in the title. No, it’s not the … Continue reading CFNM in Ottawa

I know it when I see it …

 I attended a planning course at the City a short while ago and part of it was a presentation from the public arts people. The question came up about a large rock placed in front of a transit station somewhere. Apparently, it is much beloved. Is it art? The answer from the City was if a landscape architect put it there, NO. If an artist put it there, YES. Alas, no one asked about a landscape architect who also produces city-sanctioned ART. Maybe in that case it depends on which budget envelope the rock came out of. Mind, all this … Continue reading I know it when I see it …

Planning the O-Train bike path

Okay, so it’s not really a “bike path”, the City doesn’t have any of those. We have MUPs, or Multi User Paths, which are shared by cyclists, dog walkers, parents with wailers, grannies with yappers, kids alone,  etc. (It makes an interesting contrast: on roads, cyclists are told to play nicely with cars, buses, and tractor-trailers going 70km; off road, cyclists are sent to play with various pedestrian folks). I’m on the PAC (public advisory committee) for the O-Train path that will eventually run from the Ottawa River pathways south to Dow’s Lake. The City will construct the section from Bayview Station to Somerset (or maybe … Continue reading Planning the O-Train bike path

Hotel guests in a sandwich

It’s easy to watch the construction at the base of the Delta Downtown hotel. It is a delight to see the driveway ramp gone, although they are simply replacing it with a flat one at grade. Nonetheless the awkward ground floor arrangement needed major surgery. Only apparent from a distance: the top floors are also being renovated, as evidenced by the plan sheets taped to each window on the top four floors. Continue reading Hotel guests in a sandwich

Sidewalk parkers move on!

A reader responded to a previous gripe here about motorists that park on sidewalks. He suggested I conspicuously take a picture of the scofflaw. So when I came across this car on Preston Street, I first noticed that there were abundant on street parking spaces, and off street ones too in the Preston Hardware lot across the road. I stopped in front of Mr Motorist and spent a little bit of time setting up the picture. With a little squeak of the tires (sort of an attempted squeal, but he wasn’t going fast enough) he pulled out and parked legally in space fifty … Continue reading Sidewalk parkers move on!

Progress on Somerset

It seemed for a while that Somerset, running up from Preston, would never get finished. Would Chinatown be left with craters and a war zone all winter? Deadlines seem to have focussed the contractor’s mind. On Thursday, curbs were laid east of Preston, and by Friday the road base was largely in place. Can the paving crews be far behind? Alas, the sidewalks and landscaping will not be installed this year, that will have to wait for spring. Provided the contractor can assign a crew to do it. Continue reading Progress on Somerset

City counts cars

  It took numerous calls and some arm twisting by the Councillor, but the City is now conducting traffic counts on Preston, Bronson, and Albert.  The unique value of these is to count cars while Booth Street south of Albert is closed due to construction. The City always says it cannot close Booth south of Albert to through traffic because, like dammed water, it would flow around and flood the adjacent streets with cars. And push those streets to the breaking point, resulting in traffic chaos. To anyone who bothers to go out on the streets at rush hour (and that is all … Continue reading City counts cars

Noble residents

The modest house shown above on Elm Street is typical for the neighborhood. West Side homes have seen many stories played out. But this story is far from typical. This is the home Joseph Guillaume Laurent “Larry” Robillard and his brothers grew up in. On Nov 8, 1941, 70 years ago, Sgt. Robillard of the Royal Canadian Air Force was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. He downed two enemy aircraft while protecting a descending parachutist. Then just 20 years old, the resident of 15 Elm Street had already shot down a Messerschmitt 109 on 22 June . During a patrol over Lille, France, on 2 July 1941, then a … Continue reading Noble residents

Updating older houses

Older homes can sometimes look rather sadly outdated. Exterior renovations sometimes look a bit too much like lipstick, that soon wears off or smears badly. And then we regret the new updated look. But some old houses are just so butt ugly … Here is a neighborhood house that the owner transformed from a rather plain box with a minimally sloped roof, into something that certainly catches the eye. In addition to the vertical wall solar panels on the front and side, there is an array of low-slope panels on the roof. Presumably if the wall solar panels are removed, the reddish faux … Continue reading Updating older houses

Complementarity in sculptures

The City recently reopened Piazza Dante, a small urban parkette in front of St Anthony Church, corner of Booth and Gladstone. Two carved granite pillars flank the main entrance to the piazza from Gladstone. If they look familiar, well, they should. Their cousins mark the entrance to Preston Street at Primrose: When the Preston Street sculptures — Postcards from the Piazzas, by c j fleury –were being made, the granite carvers misread the order and produced four columns instead of two. With some quick thinking by the City, the artist, and Preston BIA, the additional columns were purchased, finished,  and used as gate … Continue reading Complementarity in sculptures

Planning Committee to set new low standard

At its Tuesday meeting, Planning Committee will have the golden opportunity to set new low standards for infill housing. Yup, right after a lengthy consultation and report process on making infill housing more compatible with the neighborhoods, right after the Mayor tells developers to obey the rules, and Councilor Hume says Amen to That… we have committee ready to approve an infill project that will lower the bar. The proposal is for 23 infill townhouses at the corner of Rochester Street and Balsam. The proponent, Fanto Group, came to the City a few years ago proposing a bunch of seven (+ … Continue reading Planning Committee to set new low standard

Controlling creepy car lots

One of my pet grievances is parking lots on the edge of the sidewalk. Too often motorists or the lot owner “creep” all the time onto the sidewalk. In the streetscaping treatment of West Wellington the City employed portable planter boxes, planted with currant bushes, to keep the cars back. They didn’t do this for every parking lot. But now, a few years on, I saw these planters being installed in front of yet another used car lot. Bravo! When the lot is redeveloped for urban purposes, the planters can be redeployed. I delighted in noticing that the lot owner was not moving his cars … Continue reading Controlling creepy car lots