Benchmarking Ottawa

Readers may have noticed I’ve been away for a while. I was in the American Pacific Northwest. And have tons of photos of intensification, sidewalks, streetscaping, traffic circles, transit, street painting, infills, bio-swales, bike lanes, bike paths, and just plain weird stuff.

Since this is election time in municipal Ottawa, I’ll take the next few weeks to look at Seattle, Bellevue, some smaller towns on the Olympic Penninsula, and nirvana Portland. It’s both interesting to see how they do things, and of course compare them to what we get here.

Of course the cities are bigger; the climate is different there: no snow plowing to contend with; no frost heave on pavement; lush plant growth due to the [perpetual] rain. And the area certainly seemed much more affluent than our little city on the Rideau.

There are things to make you lust, and some to make you cringe. And lots of things to get you asking “why can’t we do that?”.

As citizens, we cannot ask for better neighbourhoods and cities unless we know what else is out there on the menu board hidden behind the curtain. Better education makes us better influencers of change right here at home.

Long time readers of WSA have suffered through many trips / benchmarkings / envy rants about Boston, Cambridge, new urbanism in Florida, Phoenix, Germany, Austria … the blog postings take advantage of the trips I am lucky enough to take. Not everyone will spend time looking in ditches bio-swales on their holidays. Sometimes we go on bike, sometimes by car. This time we had an apartment in Redmond-Bellevue for 10 days (suburbs of Seattle), the rest of time was “on the road”.

So do up your seat belts and sit up straight, or whatever it is Rick Steves says, and lets go to the wet coast.


One thought on “Benchmarking Ottawa

  1. Bio-swales?!?? Did you say bio-swales?!? Hold on a minute while I get the popcorn!

    It’s nice to see that at least somebody is looking outside the Ottawa bubble. I’ve often said that our city Councillors should be forced to take at least one urban planning idea-finding trip to another city – preferably in a non-glamorous location – per year.

    Looking forward to all the insights – and rants – to come.

Comments are closed.