Taking pride in your work

The city likes signs. Sometimes we run out of sidewalk or curbside space to put signs on posts and so we paint them onto the roads. Or, in the case of sharrows, they are a sort of lane marking. But winter, plowing, and general wear and tear means we have to repaint most pavements annually. Why can’t the city use the same size stencil from year to year? And why can’t work crews align this year’s stencil directly over last year’s?   Continue reading Taking pride in your work

Priority parking

Taking transit for a trip isn’t usually the whole adventure. Somehow, one has to get to and from the transit stop. Transit boffins know how far people are willing to walk to a bus stop. They are willing to walk further to a train — or LRT — stop or station than to a bus stop/station. The catchment area of a BRT station or a LRT station is also extended if people find it convenient to ride their bikes to the station. That convenience requires some care and thoughtfulness in the provision of safe cycling routes. And at the station, the … Continue reading Priority parking

Chariots of Ire

Loblaws has an outlet in Westboro called the Real Canadian Superstore. And we all know Real Canadians don’t complain. But we apparently do steal shopping carts. They show up all over the neighborhood: The RCSS in Westboro recently got a fleet of new carts. The half-size carts in particular are a welcome alternative to the tractor-trailer sized ones the dominate the store and invite you to load ’em up with more stuff than you need and then clip the heels of the fatigued shopper ahead of you.. The new carts have wheel brakes on them. Once you leave the parking lot, the brakes … Continue reading Chariots of Ire

Meeting the Man with the Screwdriver

So, I was walking down the street the other day (not in Ottawa) lookin’ at the cycle track and bumped into Jeffrey Hoffmann. He is the five-time astronaut on the various space shuttles, including stint(s) as commander. He has logged over 21.5 million miles in the shuttle. Note that you get free upgrades for life on terrestrial airlines when you fly 1 million miles. He is also the guy who held the screwdriver that fixed the Hubble Space Telescope. While walking in space.  I did not ask if it was a Phillips head. He’s now a professor of engineering at … Continue reading Meeting the Man with the Screwdriver

Where east meets west

The fabled silk road ran from Europe to China, on the route blazed by Marco Polo. Charlene Lafontaine named the sculptural glass pieces of art on the recently reconstructed bit of Somerset after the silk road. Here is a nifty YouTube video that explains the title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VKAWVD5PkOg The Preston sculpture by cj fleury just south of the intersection of Preston / Somerset is called Marco Polo and shows his route. It celebrates the meeting of (Little)Italy and China(town), expressed by the Italian palazzo on the bottom and dragon on the column. The unfurled map at top shows his route. (There is an explanatory brochure for … Continue reading Where east meets west

853 Carling, in the news

David Reevely writes in his Ottawa Citizen blog Greater Ottawa,  that a representative of Arnon was lobbying the City about LRT in Kitchissippi Ward, but that details were lacking. What a surprise. However, we can speculate on what might be going on. Arnon owns 853 Carling avenue, immediately west of the Carling Otrain station, now a large parking lot, former home to Campbell Iron and Steel. They propose to build two large high condo towers on the site, and two lower rise condo buildings on the back sides of the site, toward Hickory St, where the city proposes to built … Continue reading 853 Carling, in the news

WestSideAction is moving

West side action is moving to www.WestSideAction.com     (note the “.wordpress.com” has been removed). Some  October posts have disappeared for some browsers. I am working on restoring them. And the wordpress-hosted site has filled up all its capacity (too many posts ! too many pictures !) Some kind readers with techno knowledge met with me on friday and we will  move the site to another host, and make numerous improvements. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading. Continue reading WestSideAction is moving

Moving beyond compatible intensification and infill (part ii)

Neighborhoods come and go in trendiness. A trendy location in Copenhagen is the “potato fields” area, Kartoffelraekkerne. The former working housing, consisting of three storey flats, is now very popular with those whom Richard Florida would label the “creative class” (including architects, professors, planners). Of course, 1880’s worker housing doesn’t meet modern needs, so the creative types have kit bashed the three flats per building into three storey townhouses. While this is 1880’s style, and not what we expect to find in Ottawa, I am impressed by the attractiveness of the long uniform rows along the streets. There are no garages or … Continue reading Moving beyond compatible intensification and infill (part ii)

Waste not, want not

Andy Haydon park has a nice kids waterplay feature, a leftover from the Nepean days, the sort of admirable and interactive play structure Ottawa’s park planners love to avoid. I suspect that as bits wear out they won’t be replaced with like, but the play structure will diminish until it ceases to exist. It’s called maintenance. Adjacent the structure is a public washroom building. It has outside showers, presumably to hose off the little tykes who get their pants loaded with wet sand from the play structure. The showers have been running full tilt, for quite some time /for months /all summer, with muddy soggy … Continue reading Waste not, want not

Construction on new west-side bike path begins

Survey crews were out in force on Monday marking the route of the new north-south multi-user path (MUP in planner jargon; bike path to the rest of us mortals). The path parallels the OTrain corridor on its east side. It starts at the Macdonald Parkway (aka Ottawa River Commuter Expressway) by the historic Prince of Wales railway bridge and runs south through Bayview Station, through the new tunnel under the Somerset Street viaduct, and further south to cross Gladstone. The section from Gladstone to Young runs behind the St Anthony Soccer Club parking lot and under the Queensway, where construction work … Continue reading Construction on new west-side bike path begins

Veterans on Parade

I accompanied my dad to the Dieppe remembrance service at the cenotaph on Sunday. The sun was hot; the speeches were blessedly cliche-free (mostly). Sitting in the sun gives ample time to consider some things. Most of the vets are old. Very old. Considerations abounded: there were two articulated OC buses to drive people from the NAC garage to the War Memorial. Below, a facilitator rubs sunscreen onto bare hands that have seen too much hot sun. There was a giant duffel bag of Tilley hats to plop onto the heads of those who arrived bare-headed. Water, of course: There was music, including The Maple Leaf Forever, … Continue reading Veterans on Parade

Treed vs less-treed street

From time to time, social scientists flip pictures at subjects to find out what makes a “good street” or good neighborhood. Time and time again, tree-lined streets hit the emotive jackpot. Why then are so few streets well treed? And if hotter summers are to be the new normal, it’s not to late to plant trees now. Certainly, the residents of Daniel Avenue in Champlain Park can appreciate the complete canopy of dappled shade. What heat wave?   Meanwhile, on the adjacent streets, trees are smaller, irregularly planted, and the pavement radiates oppressive heat at mid-day: Continue reading Treed vs less-treed street

Chinatown gets new street furniture

Ottawa’s Chinatown runs along Somerset from Bay Street to Bronson to Booth to Preston. The Chinatown Royal Arch, of course, is immediately west of Bronson. Do you recall that its primary colours are red, turquoise, and gold? Most people remember only the red: The bit of Somerset from Booth to Rochester to Preston has been reconstructed over the last year. Out of the big mess has come some nice textured red pavers, a significant number of locust and other trees. And now, benches. The new benches are in turquoise and red. They are laser cut steel with a pattern of wind-blown lanterns. … Continue reading Chinatown gets new street furniture

When little things mattered …

Back some years ago, the city was considerably more decorative. Take the base of this lamppost … shell-like covers for the bolts. Honestly, you’d think that Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was immanent. And in some ways, municipal lighting was the birth of civilization, driving away the animals and thieves that prowl by night. Securing property seems a rather old-fashioned municipal concept today, a ready object for scorn, but I think that is because we have so much of it (stuff, that is). Thus we can afford to be dismissive of property rights. But they are a hallmark of western civilization, and … Continue reading When little things mattered …

What condo dwellers will view

A few days ago, a post showed the view from the roof of the Adobe/Xerox towers at 333 Preston. Thanks to Debbie, a reader, here are some really fresh views from the CMPA buildings on Carling at Sherwood. This will give you some idea of what people on the mid- to lower-floors of the plethora of condo towers along Champagne and Carling might have for their view. The views also go a way to explaining why there is a demand for condo apartments. Ironically, the clustering of towers (a direct result of city policy strongly backed by neighborhood demands) often blocks … Continue reading What condo dwellers will view

What condo buyers see

There’s a big flurry of condos going in around the Preston – OTrain corridor. There are obvious attractions, such as shopping and dining on the traditional main streets (Preston and Somerset/West Wellington). And easy access to the numbers one and two employment centres (downtown, Tunney’s Pasture) and minor ones such as NRCan, Agriculture, or Gatineau. And being on one or both of the  two major passenger rail transit lines, and Carling Avenue/Queensway for motorists. But what will the residents see? Alas, I am unable to hold my camera up 23 stories, let alone 42, but here are some pictures from the top of … Continue reading What condo buyers see

Commercial renovations

Commercial renovations are very different from residential renovations. They are often done for different purposes. Sometimes a quick and dirty reno is all that is justified by an elderly building or underused site where something much better is around the corner. Many commercial modernizations do not maintain the historic style of the old building. And too often those that try to open up the façade (the modern need to see inside) while maintaining a look and feel and materials similar to the old,  are derided as “faux historic”. Some commercial renovations in our west side community go awry: consider the strip on West Wellington, which whilst … Continue reading Commercial renovations

Shocking photo of air fault detector

You probably have a ground fault detector plug in your bathroom. It’s an ordinary plug but with a little button in the centre. It prevents you from electrocuting yourself when you drop your electric eyebrow pencil into the water-filled sink. Strolling along Preston, trying to escape the ever-present thumps of Noisefest, I spotted this unique electrical installation. Judging by the position of the wires, the device must diffuse electricity into the air, to prevent one from being electrocuted when touching the steel tree guard. Pretty clever. Personally though, I prefer my plugs installed the other way around, so the two slots form eyes and the roundish-one … Continue reading Shocking photo of air fault detector