Firestone Prescribes (iii)

I concur with Dr Firestone that Ottawa took its eye off the ball regarding the transitway. It always has money for road widenings and intersection “improvements” and new roads, and new bridges, but not enough for transitway extensions. Ask a city politician, and you get a dirge back about it’s the provinces or fed’s fault because they aren’t funding the transitway. Funny, the feds don’t fund a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t prevent the city from spending its own money. The City, IMO, has spending problems more than it has funding problems.

I must say at this point that Prof Bruce is on a roll here, a hit parade of the bigger errors. Fortunately, Ottawa as a City actually does very little (almost everything nice or significant in Ottawa is from the NCC or the Feds) or else it would screw up more.

One of my pet peeves regarding street trees is the ridiculously high standards the city demands before planting trees. It has never planted trees along Albert (through the Flats) or City Centre Avenue or some other places the community has continually asked for, because “those sites are only temporary, and will be redeveloped [someday] so trees would be a waste of money”. We’ve been asking since 1982; most city trees would have grown, matured, and died of old age before any such redevelopment occurs. Better a lifetime in a barren city than plant one more tree.

As for the Flats, what a fiasco. The city road department was ruling the roost when the Flats agreement was signed with the NCC, and the roads folks wanted sidewalks adjacent the curb to be snow-clearable by road equipment, so — no curbside trees permitted. The NCC fought for tree lined streets. The City refused. Shortly after signing the Flats agreement, the city changed it policy to permit side boulevard trees. Everywhere — except the Flats. There, the NCC is still stuck with the outdated policy. When the City decided to have CDP’s or update old CDP’s all along the new LRT line, they decided in their wisdom that they would not reopen the Flats one. I pointed out we were condemning the entire Flats to a substandard urban environment due to the ill-founded tree policy. The CDP stays closed, the City isn’t interested in the NCC project lookin’ good.

On Booth Street a few years back, the City chopped down a dozen front yard trees (to replace water lines) planted as part of the neighborhood improvement program in 1982. They refused to replant them, claiming that there wasn’t enough room for a 20′ diameter ground space around the tree trunk and therefore insufficient room for them to thrive. Only in Ottawa.





My thanks to Dr Firestone for letting me post his slides, and for his speech at the recent AGM of the Dalhousie Community Assoc.

7 thoughts on “Firestone Prescribes (iii)

  1. Here’s a thought: what would happen if trees just suddenly started to grow on Booth between Albert and the War Museum? The fields on the west side have been left to go fallow. If a citizen just “helped” some trees to grow there, how many years would it take for the City or the NCC to chop them down?

    1. I, and others, have planted trees from time to time on city property. They eventually get cleared right out. The city may be slow at planting trees but is proficient at clear cutting them.

    2. The NCC allows many of the greenspaces along the Ottawa River Parkway to go fallow, but this hasn’t resulted in any new trees growing. That’s because every autumn they dutifully send out the lawn mowers to cut down the year’s growth, so trees never get a chance. Indeed, the same thing had to have occurred on Lebreton Flats for the last 40 years since that place always looked fallow yet it hasn’t reforested itself.

      If bona fide trees were planted, i.e. greater than 4′ tall and preferably staked with some kind of fence post, I suppose they’d have a decent chance against the mowers but someone from officialdom might set out to cut them down anyway.

  2. He hits a lot of the big points that have messed us up over the decades. But he misses one big one…the building of the Palladium in a field in Kanata. This was such a disaster, but so perfectly exemplifies “Ottawa.”

  3. Think my reply disappeared…

    Firestone hits on many of the biggest points that have made Ottawa such a mess over the decades, but he fails to mention one of the biggest: the building of the Palladium in a field in Kanata.

    This was a major disaster in our city’s planning, but so perfectly exemplifes the Ottawa mentality.

  4. Well as unfortunate as that was, putting it there at least got us a team. Without that land development scheme, nobody would have lent the owners the money to pay for the expansion franchise. Sadly, we didn’t get a billionaire owner until many years later..

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