OC Transpo bus routes in the downtown, 2018 version

This is part iii   of a series on downtown bus routes once the Confederation Line opens in 2018. Part i was on STO routes. Part ii was aimed at understanding what OC Transpo is trying to achieve with the new bus … Continue reading OC Transpo bus routes in the downtown, 2018 version

West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part viii – Albert-Slater alert

The City is hosting an “open house” on Tuesday (Nov 28, 5.30pm  onwards  ) to show their plans for the future Albert and Slater Streets between Empress (the Good Companions) and Waller (Rideau Centre, UOttawa U). Here are some things … Continue reading West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part viii – Albert-Slater alert

Yes you can, Mr Mayor

John Turner and Jim Watson have lots in common. In a crisis, both  claim they can’t do something. It didn’t work out well for Mr Turner. So people get killed moving about in Ottawa. Anyone looking at the traffic fatalities knows … Continue reading Yes you can, Mr Mayor

Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

The projected build out of Albert and Chaudiere Islands * starts with the material already at hand, ie the existing buildings. The former brick and stone mill buildings will be converted to commercial uses, starting in 2015. These offer the quickest revenue opportunity for the developer, Windmill, and I imagine it is much easier to attract firms rather than condo residents. Particularly hi-tech-y firms which show a propensity to edgy industrial sites in other cities in part due to their often young employee age group and non-conventional self-image. The first buildings to be converted will most likely be on Albert … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

Traffic splitting in the Glebe

Rescue Bronson was born a few years ago when the City decided to “improve” [for through motor traffic] Bronson north of the Queensway. Their plans did not include landscaping, traffic calming, fixing the jack rabbit stop-and-start flow or the frequent rapid lane changes. Pedestrians? Never heard of ’em. Cyclists — run ’em over til they go somewhere else. Rescue Bronson had limited success in correcting the City’s mania to facilitate commuting to Pointe Gatineau. We got better landscaping. A signalized intersection at Arlington where the unmarked crossing was heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians. Cost of relocating the utility poles … Continue reading Traffic splitting in the Glebe

Lipstick on Pig improves looks

Last year, we wondered if the proposed artwork on the “reconstructed” part of Bronson Avenue would be enough to make a difference. Andrew O’Malley’s artwork is now installed on the porch roof of the Bronson Centre (there being no public right of way space available at ground level as its all devoted to car worship). The residents of the ‘hood, taking refuge on the Bronson Centre’s roof, were installed this week. And lit up. Here’s some snaps of the action figures: As promised, sometimes the figures are all the same colour, as we come together. I think this is fun … Continue reading Lipstick on Pig improves looks

Return of the Fake Trees

The City of Ottawa proposed a few years back to install metal and plastic trees along Bronson because  “there was no room for real trees”. Strong community opposition lead to a citizen’s initiative to show the planners where they could be installed, given more effort. And whatever beauty Bronson will show this summer is due to that effort. Those thoughts were engendered by the offhand remark of a city employee just before Christmas who commented that Bronson didn’t turn out so bad after all, that all our fuss was for nothing. I beg to differ. The street is less awful … Continue reading Return of the Fake Trees

New developments on Bronson

Two new developments are coming forward on Bronson Avenue. One very big; one very small. One by a big Toronto developer; the other by a local. The small one is for a demolition and infill on the west side of Bronson between Christie and Gladstone. The proponent has tentative plans for a three storey infill, consisting of a ground level business, with two floors of apartments above. Both apartments are three bedrooms and the layout is conducive to family living. There is also a proposed basement apartment. The building is snuggled up to the north side of the lot, with … Continue reading New developments on Bronson

Rescue Bronson (part v): gas station flip flop

Several years ago, Suncor rebuilt the Petro-Can station at the corner of Gladstone and Bronson. It is on a fairly big site for a city. It has the conventional layout: gas pumps under a canopy out front where it can be seen, a convenience store and pay point in the rear. The whole station architecture is part and parcel of a “branding” exercise so we all know whose station it is without any signage actually being required.   Now, let’s look at the Petro-Can at Somerset: When trying to rescue Bronson from the City’s original excessively auto-obsessed design, community members … Continue reading Rescue Bronson (part v): gas station flip flop

Rescue Bronson (part iv): how to plant trees in gravel

It’s somewhat scary to look at the pictures of the Bronson reconstruction zone. One naturally wonders how trees could possibly survive in such little squares of space in a sea of asphalt and concrete. The tree roots are underground, and it’s what’s underground that counts most for their survival (although the concrete curb around the planting hole also helps a lot but preventing the soil from being compacted, and deterring cars and other forms of abuse). Here is one method of planting trees in the hard-compacted gravel road base: Plastic frames, very similar to those ubiquitous plastic milk cartons found on bike … Continue reading Rescue Bronson (part iv): how to plant trees in gravel

Rescue Bronson (part ii): why concrete is good landscaping

    Once the underground utilities are in, visible structures start to appear on the surface. The City necessarily puts a high value on the unseen stuff; as members of the public we relate more to what’s visible. And members of Rescue Bronson wanted a quality surface landscaping. If the City merely restores what used to be there, we end up, after two years of construction mess, with an expensive  landscape that facilitates front yard parking, dinky walkways to what were originally-built as celebrating building doorways, foot traffic that wears out the front foot (or more) or soft landscaping, etc. … Continue reading Rescue Bronson (part ii): why concrete is good landscaping

Rescue Bronson makes lemonade (part i)

Long-time readers will recall the bru-ha-ha about Bronson reconstruction. The City rather high handedly announced it was rebuilding Bronson through the west side of the downtown, was going to widen it by 2′, and do precious damn little for pedestrians, cyclists, and residents. The Rescue Bronson led a valiant two year battle against the current dysfunctional and dangerous road design that blights the community. Efforts to put Bronson on a road diet failed. The City opted for a faithful remake of the 1950’s roads-are-sacred movie (best seen at a drive-in, of course). Within the Rescue Bronson group and community at large, there … Continue reading Rescue Bronson makes lemonade (part i)

Making the wrong arguments to planning committee doesn’t help

Yesterday, Planning Committee had an over-full agenda of contentious items. This meant huge waits for the assembled throngs. All seats were taken, and there were over 70 standees / folding chairs / sitting on the floor. For a 8+ hour meeting. The final votes were to approve various high rise developments, leading to the predictable reaction of citizen attendees that the process was unfair, rigged, or otherwise unsatisfactory. I agree the process is unsatisfactory  and might dedicate a subsequent post to suggestions to fix it. And incidentally save us all buckets of money. But a large part of the dissatisfaction yesterday … Continue reading Making the wrong arguments to planning committee doesn’t help

One cyclist down, 200 more to go

Friday’s Ottawa Citizen had a story about proposed changes to Bronson Avenue at the Canal, scene of a fatal cyclist-motorist collision last year.  I didn’t see any mention of a program to address similar bits of bad road planning that proliferate in this City. Do we have to kill more cyclists to get more fixes? The proposed  changes to Bronson are welcome. They may even “solve” the problem on this stretch of Bronson. I use the word solve rather loosely. In fact, these measures address the most egregious problems in this one stretch of road. All these measures are small … Continue reading One cyclist down, 200 more to go

Maybe the temporary on Bronson should be permanent

The noisy work crews on Bronson have taken a winter break. They need one. It must be dispiriting for them to be reconstructing Bronson in the same dysfunctional 1950’s pattern of urban abuse. Our city is sometimes like a dysfunctional family, where the mistakes of the prior-generation parents are doomed to be repeated by the so-called adults of the present. Here’s a view of the Bronson-Somerset intersection prior to the construction. Note the big yellow signal lights we so love to festoon above the traffic lanes, suspended on long metal arms in turn supported by freestanding metal posts, sometimes known as “street furniture”. For … Continue reading Maybe the temporary on Bronson should be permanent

Will Art on Bronson be better than lipstick on a pig?

Bronson is downright butt ugly. And it’s unsafe too. Now the City proposes putting some public art on the street verges to “humanize” the experience. The City didn’t believe the community when we lobbied for a better, safer design (see previous Rescue Bronson stories). Instead they opted for a remake of the 1950’s horror show version. That nightmare unfolds daily.  Can public art be more than putting lipstick on a pig? Battered and bruised community residents came into the Bronson Centre earlier this month seeking to find out. Seven artists had proposals on display. The City had “steered” the artists to … Continue reading Will Art on Bronson be better than lipstick on a pig?

Civic Gateways (absence of)

Ottawa is nicer than many other cities. Despite the criticisms of the NCC, they do engage in long term planning and city building that generates a sense of grandeur or pride. Without them, Ottawa would be vastly impoverished, just another short-sighted mid-sized city planned with short term expediency the governing rule. Ottawa is engaged in a worthwhile planning exercise for the downtown core, called Downtown Moves (DOMO). The removal of the bus lanes by 2017-18 creates the opportunity to remake the surface streets in a more livable and pleasant way. And not just replace the bus lanes with parking lanes. For this strategic thinking … Continue reading Civic Gateways (absence of)

City wins battle; Mayor losing the war

Last night the City held a public meeting to tell residents all about the plans for Bronson. Well over a hundred people turned up. All were glum, and subdued. Resigned. Was I alone in sensing the seething resentment beating inside those winter coats? Recall that Bronson was widened from a street to a road back in the late 50’s. It was a bad road back then. And it only got worse. It’s bad for motorists. It’s bad for residents. It’s bad for landlords*. It’s bad for anyone who tries to walk along Bronson’s pathetic sidewalks. It’s life threateningly bad for … Continue reading City wins battle; Mayor losing the war