Urban Detail (vi): imitate faster

Valuable space can be pressed into service when imagination is applied to demand. This city, with a wide river and expensive real estate on each side, built a municipal recreation pool on a barge floating on the river:

Sundecks, swimming pool, yoga and exercise … and of course, drinks and pastries. Not from vending machines.

The Josephine Baker pool is in Paris. I’ve seen similar floating pools on the Danube in Vienna and Lake Como in Italy.

Short of park space? Why not plant up a superannuated barge as a floating public park? Note the lack of a six foot chain link fence on the perimeter.

Ottawa may not have a wide downtown River (the Rideau Canal is petite size, and the Ottawa River itself is strangely absent from the downtown) but where there is a shortage of civic space, it could be added.

Montreal parks “container parks”, aka sidewalk patios for street people, brown baggers,  and the rest of us not buying a $3 coffee:

The proposed decking over the LRT line through LeBreton Flats might be using prime land for upcycling.

Why not cover the Confederation Line track in the Scott Street trench with a linear park? Oh, of course, I remember why. The LRT will be in a tunnel to preserve the Byron dog walk park for upper income neighbourhoods, not Mechanicsville. Ditto the Trillium cut through the Preston neighbourhoods.

Note that covering shouldn’t be totally considered a “park” cost, but split between the transportation budget, the park department, and the development fees (where does all that park money go from the new highrises along the LRT?? I dont see new parkland appearing …).

And bonus, when covered, the LRT’s might be able to run in the snow and cold of winter too.

Here’s a rental venue that floats, for weddings, business meetings, parties …

Notice the famed six storey low rise Paris cityscape behind:


Ottawa isn’t hopeless. That’s not my point.

In this era, Ottawa is not an innovator, its a follower.

A fairly slow follower. A late-to-the-game “me too” city.

We need to watch what others innovate, and fast-copy those better ideas that offer good rewards and moderate cost.

4 thoughts on “Urban Detail (vi): imitate faster

  1. I agree. More places like these, tucked in for people in places that Ottawa hasn’t been thinking clearly about. Good article.

  2. I like your LRT cover suggestion. If you are running in a ditch, you have no view anyway. But I still oppose denying LRT riders the view across the Parkway to the river. This foolish (unique to Ottawa) design concept results in unwarranted waste of public funds and is totally lacking in imagination. It is a gift to people of means, the whole community is going to pay for.

  3. Speaking of the LRT. The total projected cost of the Ottawa LRT with phase 2 is now approaching $6.6B which buys: 56Km of track 57 stations with a constuction time of 12 years ( 2013-2025). Compare this with the original Montreal Metro subway system which had 22Km of track, 26 stations and cost $200M( $1.6B in 2019 dollars) and took 4 years to build( 1962-1966).. The entire Montreal metro system used the trench and cover method with the exception of the tunnel under the St Laurence river to the 1967 Expo sight.

    By my calculation the Ottawa LRT cost double the Montreal metro system on a per Km basis. I am not sure why the Ottawa LRT is so much more costly, but I suspect it has something to do with trying to meet the needs of so many stakeholders , having both surface and tunnel system as well as being built over a longer period of time.

    Montreal also has a nicer waterfront than Ottawa in the old City in part due to the decision to trench the highway. Hopefully the SJAM linear park will evolve into something more attractive

  4. i that bardge or parc is ugly as hell btw. why would anyone want to go on one of those when we are already isolated enough as it is, take the roof and wall of the barge off. 2 ottawa wont build parks around town it’s a waste of money in ottawa to invest in peoples well being and if they do they invest in areas that are upperclass only. ottawa is a working town that revolve around the idea that everyone is a rich professional and that we don’t need e-energizing and simply put, health and mental health is last on it’s list..prevention is only kept for profit making purposes.but the people are slowly waking up instead of acting like the good slaves they are.

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