Eric Darwin commemorative gate CLOSES soon

Intrepid follows of this blog may recall the brou-ha-ha over the gate at the north end of Preston (aka the Preston Extension) where for decades residents have accessed the Ottawa River parklands. We even had a legal crossing of the Transitway ! Then one day — shock:

… a popular cycling and walking route closed unexpectedly …

Several times the NCC has tried to close the gate, but we beat them back. Some kind soul even put up a sign naming the gate after Qui- Moi?

That sign is long gone, and today the NCC announced our gate and access to the Flats, the River, the bike paths … is coming to a demise. Closure. Pathway prorogation.

As part of the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP), the NCC will be proceeding with the second phase of soil remediation work on the northern portion of LeBreton Flats. Remediation work will occur on the land north of the open aqueduct, south of Wellington street, between Booth and Preston streets, from November 2012 to December 2013.Work will occur between 7 am and 6 pm, as per City of Ottawa by-laws. All trucks will reach the highway via the designated truck route on Preston street.

The site will be fenced off for the duration of the project, which includes the closure of unofficial trails between Wellington and the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway (formerly the Ottawa River Parkway).

The text isn’t exactly crystal clear. What unofficial trails exist between Wellington and the parkway? Isn’t all that area freshly landscaped as part of the War Museum? Wouldn’t they be “official”? Or do they mean the old, but still-in-use bike path along the north side of the aqueduct? So I asked the NCC for clarification.

The “Preston Extension” – both the current paved one and the future Preston extension are shown on the map below. Squint at the bottom left corner:


the area being closed is the bottom left, ie west of Booth, north of the aqueduct

Not all is lost, however, as the new OTrain corridor  bike and ped path, aka the MUP,  should be open shortly. This will give people access to the River. It will be less convenient for some; more convenient for others.

At the last Public Advisory Committee session on the OTrain MUP, I asked the city planners what would happen to the MUP and people who use it during the construction of the new Bayview LRT station, which straddles the path, and which will be a major construction project lasting for several years.

Their reply was that parts of the path might be shifted, detoured, or relocated during construction, but that the contractors would just have to deal with the path remaining open. I am much encouraged by those words, BUT the governing words will be those in the contract issued for the construction of the LRT.

The clarification I received from the NCC regarding the closing of the Preston Extension and the fate of the pathways on the Flats is as follows:

1.  yes, the pathway that is parallel to the aqueduct (north of the aqueduct) will be closed and eventually removed from Booth street to approximately the end of the aqueduct as the land beneath this section of the pathway will be remediated. It will not be immediately rebuilt as part of the forthcoming works.

2.   the pathway along the river will not be affected and users will see no change.

3.  The path within 30 meters of the aqueduct will have to be closed starting next week, to prevent accidents….  The pathway within 30 meters of the aqueduct will be closed on the week of November 19th, likely on Monday.

 Preston Street extension will be used by heavy trucks as part of the works and will have to be closed to protect the public. Although plans may have to be changed, we’re not planning to have to close it before a few months. The community will be informed as early as possible if it becomes the case.

4. lands south of the aqueduct will not be affected aside from the former Preston Street extension which might require closure. The contractor does not expect to use the former Preston Street for the next months as a trucking route for the site. Therefore, at the moment, the NCC does not plan to close the access at Albert/Preston streets. Nevertheless, for a project of this magnitude there are always unknowns and it is possible that the former Preston Street might become a trucking route at some point within the project. If that were to occur, the pathway would be closed to ensure public’s safety.

So, we gain a new OTrain path, and lose the old Preston Extension and the aqueduct path. Note that the LRT plans do not include a crossing of the OTrain at Preston at this time.


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