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 lane. Instead of this glorified private driveway…
… Shannon would be widened all the way to the edge of the houses on the left, with a two lane road, one parking lane, and a six-foot sidewalk on the south (right) side where it would nicely duplicate the asphalt path a few feet further to its right. The description of the traffic “problems” arising from this configuration are almost comical in their earnest inflation of the easily fixable into the catastrophic.
Ashcroft’s alternative is a laneway (road, if you are an opponent, as all terms here are subject to selectivity) across the linear park to meet Byron. They show their road like this:
The road is now shown in brick, a shared space for cars and pedestrians. No raised sidewalk, no on-street parking, although there are some rather ugly wing walls.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that this is an apples vs oranges comparison.
Why can’t the Shannon lane be brick, without parking, without a sidewalk? (If the City insists on sticking to its cater-to-the-motorist road standards, then sell the lane to Ashcroft, which will pave it in bricks and maintain it forever).
Indeed, where are the imaginative solutions to this access problem?
First step is to accurately identify who would use the access route and how many vehicles a day that might be. I don’t for a minute trust vehicle numbers for retirement homes that are based on resident behaviour. My own parents live a retirement residence, it generates almost no traffic by the residents themselves, but the large-ish parking lot and surrounding streets are chock full of parked cars from the staff, and visitors, and the resident mini-bus comes and goes as does para-transpo. It’s busy, make no mistake.
And who will live in this retirement residence? Will people from Cornwall be the target audience? I think its most likely to be the current residents of the west end. These are the same people who are busy objecting to growth, inadvertently condemning themselves to be exiled from their neighborhood when they out-grow their single homes and discover a shortage of suitable retirement homes. Mind, there may be space in Barrhaven or Cornwall.
We cannot count on the Councillor to come up with a compromise solution, because it would be her death warrant. Hobbs is no doubt aware of the fate of Leadman who proposed compromises at her penultimate planning committee meeting. Hobbs doesn’t want to go into the next election labelled as the woman who “sold public parkland to greedy developers for a busy road” etc etc. So she is doomed/destined to be visibly against crossing the park. Hobson’s choice becomes Hobbs’s choice.
And in the rush to focus on the south side of the property, we cannot forget the consequences if neither option is chosen. It’s to reduce the public parkland space within the convent grounds by expanding the internal roads; or to direct all traffic onto Richmond which means another sidewalk crossing and a rather deleterious change to the shared pedestrian-motorist arches that lead from the Richmond into the grounds.
Pilate, if you recall, outsourced the decision to another party, albeit a scarcely disinterested one. Council could do the same, calling their current Mr Fix-It, George Dark. It might get Council off the hook; it might get the neighbours and community associations to come to a minimally-acceptable joint solution; but it never solves Hobbs’s problem going into the next election.
We have managed to turn an opportunity into a divisive crisis.