Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

Here’s part 2 of the Portland series, from 2015. They did an excellent job of creating lively streets. We haven’t done nearly as well here in Ottawa. Yet the formulas for success are out there. Do note that since this story was first written, Claridge’s Flats project has greatly improved, with benches and gardens and resident participation and involvement growing. (We might look at that in a future story). Alas, the city continues to shun the area, except to collect fees and taxes, but not providing so much as a tot lot for the scads of kids that live there. … Continue reading Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

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

Bit of new west side Trillium MUP opens

The existing Trillium multi user pathway (MUP) on the EAST side of the OTrain tracks has been a hit with the commuting and recreational public. Its popularity grows weekly. Less well known is the planning “win” when the community obliged … Continue reading Bit of new west side Trillium MUP opens

Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

  In the previous three stories I’ve tried to review what is planned, what some of the tradeoffs were, what the consequences area, and slip in just a teensey tiny wee bit of my opinion. So what would Eric do if faced with the same starting situation,  of the City insisting its Western LRT had to go down the parkway space; and the NCC insisting that people using transit is incompatible with their revised greenspace plan? (note I am not considering other completely different route options). The physical plan My goal going into the conflict would be to keep rail on … Continue reading Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

Building a Better LeBreton, part 9, Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

  The South Waterfront neighbourhood is very well landscaped. Intensively landscaped, with interesting bits of planters, plants, gardens, courtyards, and squares tucked into the smallest corners. The contrast to Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats couldn’t be stronger. Some of this may be due to a milder climate in Oregon. Or a project that has had vegetation in the ground and growing for longer. Or maybe a much more generous budget for greenery. The Flats look good on paper, and on the ground the “right elements” are laid out, but the execution makes me wince and thus far is poorly maintained. The City has … Continue reading Building a Better LeBreton, part 9, Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

Burlington Design Smarts

Every place offers new twists and variations on urban design. My fall visit to Burlington revealed some interesting ones that were not on Church Street Marketplace. (see the previous series a week or so ago on Burlington, this completes that series) One of the streets dead-ended at the lake. It terminated in a traffic circle. A mini-traffic circle. Can you imagine Ottawa’s engineers designing something so tight you couldn’t drive a 53′ tractor trailer around it at 50kmh?? At the lakefront park, they had park benches mounted as swings. They looked glorious. They looked fun. But I dunno how well they worked, … Continue reading Burlington Design Smarts

Rearranging the benches on RMS Primrose

 Two neighborhood parks on the west side are getting major surgery this year. The redo of Chaudiere Park on Elm Street seems to have found a winner design. An especially innovative feature will be the expansion of the small park to take over a few parking spaces on Elm Street, although that feature may not be constructed until 2014 while bureaucrats fret over jurisdiction (it’s good to keep them busy on the innocuous). The remake of Primrose Park, a larger site just a block further north, is much more curious. The park was originally designed in the early 1980’s as center piece … Continue reading Rearranging the benches on RMS Primrose

Not your mother’s tulip beds

The NCC tulip beds at Commissioner’s Park at Dow’s Lake are gorgeous this year. And they sure don’t look like the large beds of single colour tulips of your mother’s day. Monochromatic mass displays are so yesterday. Drastic colour combinations are IN. Sometimes the new combinations include perennial beds. And new beds out in the flat lawn areas. The lawn beds can be operated for several years then grassed over and the tulips planted elsewhere. When Ontario banned cosmetic pesticides, it put the kibosh on large monoculture floral displays. Diseases and blights will remain in the soil, or spread unchecked by chemicals. So … Continue reading Not your mother’s tulip beds

On a Clear Day, (Dead) Councillors can see forever …

Back a few months ago when there was snow on the ground, I typically played around with it a bit when sent out to conduct my onerous shovelling obligations. For the first pass, I would make my six-foot-short sidewalk have perfectly vertical snowbanks on each side. Nice straight sides, looking like the whole bank was sculpted at once. A mini Corinthian Canal: Later, when the crisp edges started to blur, I would convert the sliced-through snowbanks into a gentle glaciated valley, with the sidewalk at the bottom and then the parabolic sides. This is a useful metaphor for Ottawa’s sight lines and view cones. There are a number … Continue reading On a Clear Day, (Dead) Councillors can see forever …

Museum of Strife

The (Federal government’s) Museum of Nature is embroiled in a dispute with some locals on the value and location of its parking lot. The nub of the problem is the Museum wishes to convert some of its parkland on its west side into a surface parking lot. The west side lawn had been converted to a “temporary” construction staging site during lengthy Museum renovations. Alas, in Ottawa “temporary” is usually a euphemism for never-ending. The thin end of the wedge to sneak in unpleasant changes under the guise of reasonably-sounding “it’s only for a while” arguments. The problem with these “temporary” agreements is … Continue reading Museum of Strife

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)

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

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

Parks and Parking, very different words

I recently took the city course on Parks Planning, part of a series of planning courses they offer to educate the great unwashed. I will offer some more comments on the course should I ever find my notes. But the most significant impression I took away related to parks and parking. Now I went into the battle  course with loins girded to ask some tough questions. Like, why is so much of our precious scarce parkland occupied by parking lots? Is this really the highest and best use of parkland? I was all prepared to offer up the example of the … Continue reading Parks and Parking, very different words

Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

Down on LeBreton Flats things are quieter right now. The music concert season is drawing to a close (did you notice, the HoDown patrons were much better dressed than the Bluesfest patrons? Cowboy boots, hot pants, checkered shirts, and straw cowboy hats….hee hah!). Claridge is finishing up his current building, but not yet started its next bunch. You can actually hear the birds chirp, and see them flitting from stunted popular tree to stunted shrub amongst the bomb-crater landscape that typifies much of the Flats. Claridge builds the condos, and landscapes their grounds. He then landscapes the “public parkland” space along the new bike … Continue reading Cheap, an oversight, or lack of oversight?

World heritage sunbrellas

I notice that at Harwell Lock, near Carleton U, the students working the canal now have sun umbrellas to shade them whilst cranking the sluices and the lock doors open. I did notice that they are not properly branded with the Parks Canada official beaver ™ or the designation of World Heritage Site ™ or a Giant Blue C.  Assuming the sunbrellas pass muster with the United Bureaucrats of Turtle Bay, I hope to see proper logo’d sunbrellas next year. Humour “off”. Continue reading World heritage sunbrellas