Westward Ho ! (part iii) the curse of stations and transit users

The Cleary Avenue end of the western LRT and motor expressway corridor is shown here:   The westbound trains enter the picture from the right, along the orange line. Cleary Station is shown in dark blue. The Unitarian Church and apartment building is shown a bit further west (left). The underground track alignment swings gently under the Unitarian parking lot to get out towards its (under) Richmond Road alignment. The swing out to Richmond will occur under a car repair shop and/or Kristy’s restaurant. These businesses will not remain in place during construction. Since dig-the-ditch-and-cover construction won’t start until 2017 … Continue reading Westward Ho ! (part iii) the curse of stations and transit users

Western LRT (part iii): neighbourhoods with room to grow?

The transitway is being converted to LRT in order to increase capacity. It will haul more people sometimes for shortish distances, but mostly for longish, or regional  hauls. It is difficult to satisfy the long haul user and the short trip user on the same system. That’s why we have local bus routes, cross town routes, express routes to the suburbs, and high frequency express services on the transitway. As the LRT goes west from Tunney’s Pasture, the City is keeping a close eye on redevelopment potential along the route, as it is development charges that will paying for the … Continue reading Western LRT (part iii): neighbourhoods with room to grow?

News Headline: Developer listens first …

On Tuesday evening a most strange and wonderful event occurred on the west side. A developer called a meeting of neighbours and area residents, and then listened. And listened hard. Mizrahi Developments builds luxury custom homes in Toronto. Some of these homes are in a mid-rise condo format. They have bought the Joe’s Audio and Bella Restaurant site on Richmond Road at Island Park Drive. The site is zoned for six stories, with planning direction to go up to 9 at the corner to make a gateway statement. The planning therefore envisions a nine storey building right at the corner, with a six storey … Continue reading News Headline: Developer listens first …

Main street’s modal split

Annie Hillis of the West Wellington BIA (WWBIA) sent me the following data. They conducted a four-day survey in June, asking 830 people found along their typical older-city main street how they came to the street, their post code, and their shopping habits. The WWBIA main street runs roughly from Bayswater westwards along Somerset & West Wellington to Island Park. The modal split numbers surprised me.  Forty six percent of those found along the street got there by walking; 26% by car; 13% by bike; twelve percent by bus (numbers throughout this story are rounded off). Only 26% by car? That’s pretty low. And … Continue reading Main street’s modal split

Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

Last winter, Domtar knocked down an elderly mill building on the Islands in the Ottawa River. Great consternation arose, as they did it Without Consulting the Bureaucrats. Priceless heritage lost! Like a dog with a bone, the media and planning pundits worried about the lost potential for a vibrant outdoorsy urban waterfront à la Granville Island or The Distillery in Toronto. Few people seemed to notice that Victoria Island is one of the windiest, coldest, bleakest spots in Ottawa, a far remove from sunny* Granville Island or the spirits factory in Toronto. Numerous calls were made for the Distillery Folks to come to … Continue reading Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

False choices at Our Lady of the Condos — part i

The site with so much marvellous urban redevelopment potential is back in the news. Our Lady of the Condos is a former convent site running between Richmond Road and Byron. Is it just me, or does this site take on Lansdowne proportions whereby anything aggravates a vocal opposition, so that civil dialogue and compromise becomes untenable in a take-no-prisoners make-everyone-miserable sort of way? Ashcroft is asking for a driveway across the Byron linear park to access Byron Avenue. The alternative is to use Shannon Street. The city traffic engineers become bad guys here, supposedly wanting a full-fledged city street to replace Shannon … Continue reading False choices at Our Lady of the Condos — part i

Putting the pieces back together in the right order

Sometimes streetscaping projects by the City use lots of bricks or other paving blocks to enhance the sidewalk experience. Other times they use good ole’ concrete. I have mixed feelings about both. The biggest advantage of concrete is that it begs to be trowelled off level. No matter how crude the installation, or unskilled or careless the crew, the finished walk is usually usable. In other words, it’s a forgiving substance. Pavers look nice, but because each one is small they are subject to being laid with an uneven surface. Pavers have the advantage of being removable and relayable after disruption. When pavers … Continue reading Putting the pieces back together in the right order

Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

Claridge is proposing a six and nine story condo buildings at the corner of Richmond and Kirkwood, opposite the Real Canadian Superstore: The lot is currently occupied by a three storey industrial building, with strip-mall type retail on the Richmond side; with undefined street/parking lot on the east side where Kirkwood sort-of runs northwards from Richmond; and with loading docks and a very industrial frontage on the north side, Wilbur Street.  The current industrial building is zero lot line on the west, where it abuts the rear lot lines of homes. This is quite similar to my own home, and I greatly … Continue reading Proposed condo, 175 Richmond Road

Westboro tizzy (iii)

As part of the Uniform Developments condo proposal for Roosevelt Avenue, the City/Councillor negotiated some “community benefits”. This consists of $200,000 worth of traffic calming and streetscaping to be paid for by Uniform. Here is an overview of the changes to Roosevelt (top street in pic) and Winston (lower street in pic) (transitway trench is running up the right side of the pic): Double click on the picture to enlarge it. The south end of Roosevelt Avenue, to the left in the above pic, where it meets Richmond Road, gets redesigned to be more pedestrian friendly. Midway along the block are some traffic … Continue reading Westboro tizzy (iii)

How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

        We are in the process of replacing the transitway with LRT. In the Scott Street cut, this won’t matter much. But at either end of the cut, it matters a lot. The City is preaching two totally opposed messages on how the track will interact with the community.  On LeBreton Flats, they claim that anyone getting near the tracks will be imminent mortal danger so great that six foot high chain link fences will be constructed on both sides of the tracks. For pedestrian safety, of course. So there will be no crossing of the tracks through the Flats.  City staff … Continue reading How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

Burning to get on that patio!

Out at the Westboro Station condo development on Richmond Road near Roosevelt, The Clocktower Pub will be opening a location. They have a huge outdoor patio space right at the front. It’s a great looking spot, although the noise of the people drinking  socializing below might be a problem for the condo dwellers above. Sticking up through the mostly-finished patio were several electrical bits of cable; and six yellow hoses. Hmm, look like gas pipes. Either they are going to have a lot of BBQ’s on that patio, or there will be overhead gas heaters to keep people warm and extend the patio season way … Continue reading Burning to get on that patio!


The new condo at 101 Richmond Road (site of the former Cdn Tire gas bar) is nearing completion. I see major appliances have been delivered to some suites; the interior walls are painted, the scaffolding is down, etc. The exterior has been divided into three layers, like an onion. The skin closest to and parallel to the street, and that also forms the podium element, is white blocks. The second skin, set just behind the first one, is that blah beige brick beloved by architects and designers which to me just looks … blah. And the backmost layer of the onion, a noir brick. … Continue reading Treeless

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

Western LRT (part iv) The River Parkway

Perhaps the most controversial and divisive suggestion for converting the transitway to LRT concerned the portion along the Ottawa River Parkway. There seems to be a large crowd that is convinced the parkway would be ruined by letting LRT transit users have a view instead of just motorists. Concerns were expressed about destroying green space, the aesthetics of overhead wiring, and the danger to dog walkers from high speed trains. Spectres of high chain link fences demarking the line where it slashed through mature forests … etc etc. Recall that two of the Richmond-Byron options covered in the previous post used tiny bits of the Parkway – from Dominion … Continue reading Western LRT (part iv) The River Parkway

Western LRT (part iii) Richmond-Byron Options

If the western LRT does not go via Carling Avenue, there is a whole set of options in the Richmond-Byron corridor, shown below: The Churchill-Richmond option had a fatal flaw: too sharp a turn at the corner of Richmond and Churchill. The McRae-Richmond option required redoing the Westboro Station and then entering a short sharp S turn, something that engineers love — NOT. Another McRae option put a President’s Choice station at Loblaws and then turned west under Byron. That tunnel section would have emerged just west of the Westboro Station condo development. Here’s what is left: The Churchill-Byron option digs cut and … Continue reading Western LRT (part iii) Richmond-Byron Options

585 Churchill again

Continued from previous post: This old house has a third floor. Curiously the staircase does not go up from the upstairs hall, but from one of the large bedrooms. This severely impairs the utility of that bedroom in my mind, since the third floor is itself a marvellous room. The third floor was totally flooded with light. Skylights abounded, with gorgeous tree-house-living views. The white-washed ceiling beams kept the volume of space large. The deluxe bathroom fixtures made this attic room seem more like a retreat … except the toilet is totally open to the rest of the room … … Continue reading 585 Churchill again

Winston might be comfortable here …

There was a well-worn house on Churchill. Previous owners subdivided it into apartments. Now, it has been given an “extreme makeover”. The makeover kept and modernized most of the old elements. For example, the main floor walls were left in place rather than “opened up” to a loft style. Typically for such old homes, the antiquated kitchens and baths are scarcely what would be found in decorator mags or HGTV shows today. Kitchen: So who lives there and how did I get in? No one lives there. The house has been staged … selectively furnished with impact-full pieces of furniture and artwork. All … Continue reading Winston might be comfortable here …

Planning for salvation

There have been no end of critics for the Our Lady of the Condos site on Richmond Road; or for the Franciscan site in Overbrook (www.saveoverbrook.com).  The Dominican fathers on Empress have talked about selling their property. Now there’s a second chance (second coming?) for Hintonburg-Westboro too. The Salvation Army operates Grace Manor on West Wellington. Immediately east of the modern low-rise Hobbinesque nursing home is an elderly manor on a large lot. Here’s a Google streetview (before the streetscaping was installed): The red-brick manor house shows up just left of the bus. On the nearest left of the picture is the Rosemont Library. The parking lot … Continue reading Planning for salvation

Measuring the condo market

  It’s pretty typical for condo developers to be uncertain about what will sell. As a result, they offer a variety of unit sizes and configurations. If the smallest, or largest, units don’t sell well, they will redivide the space into the unit sizes that are popular. So yes, many builders do offer large family size units of two and three bedrooms … it just that they don’t sell. Builders sometimes stratify the building by putting more smaller units on the lower floors and larger more expensive units on the upper floors. Certainly it is common for the “penthouse” units to be larger and … Continue reading Measuring the condo market

West LRT – the Loblaws option

David James is a blog reader with some keen observations on the merits of various DOTT and west LRT proposals. You will frequently find his intelligent comments on my posts, gently pointing out the error of my ways. David isn’t particularly a fan of the “Loblaws” route I outlined yesterday, but he kindly drew up a drawing illustrating the route, and provided some commentary on its merits. The top right of the illustration below starts the route beside the 30 storey condo tower Minto built a few years ago. Underground, it swings onto McRae, under the Loblaws parking lot, and westward under Byron Road or … Continue reading West LRT – the Loblaws option

West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

The Scott Byron route starts at Bayview and re-uses the Scott corridor transitway trench to Dominion Station. It uses a toenail of the parkway until it can swing inland at Rochester Field, near the Kegg Manor and gardens. At some point, it would cease being a surface rail line and become cut and cover along the Byron right of way. It is important to notice that the Byron option does not necessitate cut and cover through the dog-walk greenspace that used to be the streetcar right of way. It might be cut and cover under Richmond Road, or under Byron Avenue itself. Byron could certainly use … Continue reading West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

Our Lady of the Condos, more Archly

The redevelopment of the Soeurs de la Visitation site on Richmond Road is a great opportunity for infill development and intensification. The City had the chance to buy the site for a park, and passed on it. An eight to twelve storey building along Richmond and 4-6 storey buildings behind it is appropriate. Some aspects of the current design are not my first choice, but then I am not building it. Previous posts featured the Rowe’s Wharf project in Boston. See  http://westsideaction.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/our-lady-of-the-condos-archly/ I thought it was a good inspiration for the Richmond facade of the project here in Ottawa. I like the idea of keeping the convent “cloistered”, ie … Continue reading Our Lady of the Condos, more Archly