Toe chopping specials

Residents of the national capital(e) are indeed fortunate beneficiaries of tax dollars collected from the good folks of Ecum Secum and Lower  Shubenacadie who provide us with wonderful paths and benches to sit on. I am not sure how much thinking goes into the details of bench location, though. Take the above pic, which shows the most typical installation of a bench right on the edge of the travelled portion of the path. Slouch down and you risk getting your toenails clipped by passing cyclists. If you stopped because your kid was squirming in the stroller or bike trailer, and needs to run around for … Continue reading Toe chopping specials

Waterparks in the City

Dufferin Park in Toronto is justifiably well known for its innovative features. The boy on the left (picture, above) is by the spigot that flows water into this large sand lot, complete with oversize logs that seem perfect to stimulate little imaginations while containing the mess and providing bum rests for parents. Can’t you just hear Ottawa park bureaucrats commenting on the “safety” of that big log bridge? (shown above) Actually, watching the baby crawl up out of the ditch was hilarious and inspiring. The Dufferin Park neighborhood and adjacent Trinity Bellwoods neighborhoods appear to me to be in the “Glebe” level of affluence. A number of … Continue reading Waterparks in the City

Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Councilor Katherine Hobbs is in the news for asking the City to examine developing the air rights over the west side part of the transitway/LRT line. I have a bunch of mutually contradictory thoughts on this. 1. The City should sell air rights to help pay for the transitway. Taxpayers are forking out a bundle of money for a transit line, we can recoup some of that expenditure by selling prime access to the most-accessible locations in the city. Otherwise, many of the development benefits go to the builders on adjacent lands. In some cases, these are private developers; in the case … Continue reading Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Get Lost

This post was originally written for Spacing Ottawa,, and is reprinted here in case you are so negligent you do not subscribe to that site. You should have read it there! Spacing deals with geography across Canada; Spacing Ottawa deals with geography in Ottawa. WSA, of course, is a smaller focus on the neighborhoods on the  west side of the downtown. But it’s all geography! There is some new content at the bottom of the post. ________________________ As an urban society, we have to shift our focus away from exclusively serving motor vehicles as the norm, and towards serving people, regardless … Continue reading Get Lost

Ottawa District Parking Board

This is the view of the south side of Devonshire School, taken from the rear lane. The very old (historic??) chain link fence has been removed in preparation for the Ottawa Carleton District School Parking Board paving the tiny strip of grass that formerly separated the paved yard from the paved laneway. The playspace, which until last week was the site of parent-paid-for tether ball posts, the Board wants to convert into parking spaces for the staff. I really must commend the board for their economy, saving money on building parking spaces (then provided free to staff) by converting a children’s play yard. … Continue reading Ottawa District Parking Board

Planning Exercise (ii)

There is a large parcel of land owned by the Feds. It runs from Somerset Street to Gladstone, on the east side of the OTrain corridor. At the Somerset end, it has the address 1010 Somerset Street; at the Gladstone end it is 943 Gladstone; in the middle it has an Oak Street address. Most of the site is covered with a giant brick and concrete warehouse dating from the Second World War era. Before that, it was open field, my father tells me he attended the Ringling Circus there when he was a boy in the ’30’s. The circus arrived … Continue reading Planning Exercise (ii)

Preparing for winter (ii)

  Parts of the Dalhousie neighborhood have few parks. One nice one is Primrose Park, between Rochester and Preston. It is hilly (the hills are made of rubble and probably- contaminated brownfield dirt from the former industrial sites). One set of those hills makes for good winter sliding. Bizarrely, the park planners from the City in the late 70’s insisted that the park is not open in the winter, because the paths are not plowed, and therefore refused residents’ appeals not to put trees and benches at the foot of the otherwise ideal sliding slopes. In went multiple benches, garbage cans, … Continue reading Preparing for winter (ii)

Pruning thoughts

City maintenance crews have been busy in our west side neighborhood. This is the pruning done on the west side of Plouffe Park, behind the Plant recreation complex. I am always alarmed at the “shave it off at the ground level” style of pruning. It just seems an awful lot of green material to hack off and toss away. A similar pruning took place around the Plant Bath building itself, but not so close cut. Yesterday, the crews were gathering huge heaps of green branches into piles at Primrose Park. Continue reading Pruning thoughts

Slow Miracles worked here

  I last posted about St Francoise d’Assise school in August, showing the new playstructures installed but lacking finishing details to permit the kids to play on them. I figured they would be open by time school opened … or shortly thereafter … but a recent cycling trip detour to see the finished structures revealed them in virtually the same condition as August. Are contractors waiting until Dec 31st? In delightful contrast, two small enclosed playyards are open right beside the daycare LeCarrefour. They are surfaced in a soft material that cushions falls, drains well, and reduces the tonnage of sand dragged into the school in shoes, … Continue reading Slow Miracles worked here

Sk8ers UnStoned on grass …

Plouffe Park can be found behind the Plant Recreation Complex. Part of it runs along Preston street. Part of it used to run along Somerset street too, but the City found it convenient to convert the kiddie playground into a parking lot so motorists don’t have far to walk so far to the Complex to get their exercise …. Along the Preston side, pedestrians parambulating the Little Italy wide landscaped sidewalks are presented with numerous opportunities to rest their derrieres on benches. There are also several planter sections that double as benches along the sidewalk. Naturally, skateboarders will sometime discover these concrete edges … Continue reading Sk8ers UnStoned on grass …

Smells like Lawyers

St Mary school was one of the Little Italy and Civic Hospital neighborhood english-catholic french-immersion grade schools for west siders. My daughter went there (that was years ago…). The school was small, but attracted a local clientele and was not closed in part because the alternative catholic school was not perceived by parents as being an attractive choice. Over time, the board eroded the school, removed the french-immersion program, and eventually managed to kill the school. It is now a teacher ed centre, I think. The building sits on a huge block also occupied by another school building (rented out to … Continue reading Smells like Lawyers