Changing the face of Carling Avenue

For decades — it seems like centuries — passersby have seen the dark brick façade of this building on the north side of Carling between the federal government office complex and the residential neighborhood that runs up to Bronson Avenue:

looking east up the hill toward Bronson

Here’s a closer view (Look! pedestrians!!):

The building hasn’t been used for some years, but the NCC took good care of the front yard (facing Carling) planting tulips and there was a green thicket of shrubs. While it the construction fence is a good indicator of impending demolition, the view from the street is largely unchanged.

However, the view from the back is something else. This is now a Potemkin façade. There is no back back there. If you gently reach forward to part the twigs in the foreground of the picture below you can get a good look at the back of the building already demolished:

The demolition equipment is just visible to the right side of the picture.

What will become of the site? The NCC isn’t saying. But the City, in its all-knowing wisdom, is putting a curse on it by requiring any future development to give up, free of charge, a portion of the frontage for the future widening of Carling Avenue. It escapes me why Carling needs to be widened; and why we need to keep widening roads with free (ie extorted) land as yet another subsidy to the rush-hour motorist.

10 thoughts on “Changing the face of Carling Avenue

  1. Eric, this is the same city that in their 20/20 Transportation masterplan claims to want a reduction in overall car use. I am no urban planner, but it strikes me that if you want to REDUCE car use, you don’t widen roads.

    Interestingly, I was in Eugene, Oregon, where they have a very progressive Mayor, and I met her and the City Manager (just as they were girding up for a final showdown over a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line) and I mentioned to the City Manager how nice it was to see a city staff not having to fight every decision tooth and nail with the traffic engineers, who in Ottawa are obsessed with Level of Service during the peak hour of each day.

    He assured me that every city he has seen has those same traffic engineers – the difference is that in Eugene they don’t come first in the queue.

  2. Taking land without compensation for additional road space is infuriating, but it is just as infuriating when the city wastes space by creating huge land reserves that are nothing but buffers for roads. At the corner of Knoxdale and Woodroffe, in my neck of the woods, there is a few acres of city land siting empty. There isn’t any concrete plan to actually use the land for anything but they are holding on to it for the future even though it is only steps away from the transitway.

    1. If you’re referring to the land that is west of Woodroffe between Knoxdale and the railway, that land is indeed being reserved for a future extension of the Transitway, along with a station. Needless to say, south of Knoxdale to Hunt Club, they’ve got a problem that will likely require a very expensive solution.

      The lands south of Knoxdale are part of the hydro right of way.

      1. I know at one time this was the plan, but it isn’t the plan anymore. According to the city staffer I talked to at an open house they don’t have any plans to extend the off road transitway south of Norice.

        If it isn’t part of the plan now, there is no chance that this will be developed in the next 30 years. Holding land (right by the transitway) in reserve on the off chance that someday you might want to build there is poison to a walkable transit oriented city. We already have too many transitway stations in the middle of fields.

      2. Even if they have no immediate “plan” to extend the Transitway south of Norice, that extension is still “planned”. That’s because they’ve got an approved environmental assessment out on it and until they carry out a new one to change it, that’s the way it is. The environmental assessment protects that land from any conflicting development or uses. They may not have a ‘plan’ for it in the sense of it being budgeted or allocated a slot in the bizarre phase/increment terminology that they’re using for the TMP, but that doesn’t mean it’s not built into the planning framework of the City.

        To take another example, the TransCanada Trail from Bells Corners to Kanata is also a designated future Transitway corridor. They can’t go out and develop it just because there is no immediate plan to build a transitway on it; it’s now protected by an environmental assessment carried out under provincial legislation and if they want to change that, they’ll have to carry out another environmental assessment.

      3. Oh, and it is in the TMP:

        You can find it in ‘Table 8.3 – Phasing of Required Transit Infrastructure Projects’ under Phase 2 as “Southwest Transitway – from Norice Street to Hunt Club Road”. It’s in there with “West Transitway – from Lincoln Fields to Pinecrest Road”, which they’ve also got an approved EA for but which they’ve decided to carry out another one for instead.

        Lesson: City staffers often don’t know what they’re talking about.

  3. Are they teaching traffic engineering any differently these days? I wonder. Maybe a newer crop of planners will come out with better ideas.

  4. I always wondered what was up with that weird building. Somehow it seems that putting up a 0ne-storey building wasn’t a great use for that site. Hopefully it doesn’t sit empty forever.

  5. Widening Carling? I could buy it if it were the sidewalks, I suppose. I was noting how close the 85 was to someone’s bedroom window near Bronson, where the sidewalk is as narrow as a social conservative’s world view. Wouldn’t want to try to sleep through that business. Still, I’d try removing a traffic lane or two first.

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