Gladstone CDP (part vi): roads, old and new

The City has developed three Option plans for the Gladstone CDP. Option 1 seems the preferred option, so let’s look at the roads:

option 1, roads


the new Oak Street extension is a big change. It crosses the OTrain cut via a new bridge, marked number 2 on the map. The other Options had this as a pedestrian-cyclist bridge, only option 1 showed a vehicle road.

A connection between the Hintonburg neighbourhood west of the study area through to Preston mainstreet and the Plant Pool complex is highly desirable. And Dalhousie residents would find it convenient to go to school (both Devonshire and St François are off to the left).

The fly in the ointment here is whether to have the link open to cars. Local traffic can be calmed by narrowings, raised intersections, etc, although those are measures usually employed to combat problems rather than being required before a road is built.

The real risk is that commuters to and from Hull or downtown Ottawa will find this a valuable shortcut to and from  Bayswater (which the city continues to try to upgrade to carry more traffic, despite temporary reprieves from connecting Bayswater to the Prince of Wales Hwy). Recall too that within two years Preston will be connected right out to the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway in front of the War Museum.

The City options also struggle to put a unnamed north-south road through the PWGSC site (shown in blue, designated for high rise offices). Sometimes they show this on the east side of the site, where is separates the office buildings from Ploufffe Park. Other times it, or a second road, runs north through the centre of the office site.

The biggest issue with the option putting Nameless Road along Plouffe Park is that it would be single-sided. In the Tunney’s CDP, the same planners butted offices right up to the edge of a new park, locating a cafeteria facing the park. It looked wonderful:tunneys nov 2013 010

Running Nameless Road through the centre of the site could service land on both sides. If it went through the centre of the office site, it would hit Somerset roughly were Somerset goes over City Centre Avenue. This does not mean it would connect with City Centre Avenue, which all options propose becomes a garage entrance under Somerset into the building complex parking. Instead, the new road would meet Somerset as an intersection or driveway, similar to the current entrance to 1010 Somerset. Throw in a few curves and speed humps, and the street would slow through traffic (particularly motorists trying to avoid the Preston-Somerset intersection by going around it).

Pedestrians and cyclists would, of course, like a connection through to City Centre Avenue. Domicile is bringing forth new plans for its site on the north side of Somerset — the earlier versions included a public pedestrian connection to City Centre Avenue. There is a north-south desire line here that the plan does not address in its preferred option.

The Other Nameless Street, let’s call it BLISS Avenue  also runs north-south, on the east side of the OTrain cut. It opens up the PWGSC lands currently used for the shortly-to-be-demolished warehouse. This road avoids putting traffic on the Believe in Liveable Side Streets dead-end streets. Or as the planners disparage them: mislocated suburban cul-de-sacs.

Existing adjacent streets will of course carry a lot more traffic as the area develops, particularly Breezehill. Its connection to Oak might be an attempt to filter some traffic away from the problematic intersection of Breezehill and Somerset.

The Adult High School is a large site. Arlington Avenue used to run along its south edge right to Preston (the stub end of Arlington was renamed St Anthony Street, west of Preston). If the AHS site is redeveloped into lots of buildings, as the St Anthony Soccer Club site will be, then it makes sense to reopen Arlington from Rochester to Preston to the OTrain MUP and Gladstone Station. This could be a street or a restricted lane. Arlington is a bike route through Dalhousie, crossing Bronson into Centretown.

Ottawa Community Housing — OCH — owns “the projects” east of Rochester. OCH may wish to redevelop the site, and diversify it into a more mixed use neighbourhood. This is easiest accomplished by building new OCH units on part of the AHS site, then selling parts of the former OCH sites to private developers. This requires coordination, however, and governments seem to excel at working in silos. Even though redevelopment is on the horizon, the OCH sites were not included in the study area.

The plans addresses some obvious cycling and pedestrian issues. It proposes a full multi-user path along the west side of the OTrain corridor, similar to the one just built on the east side. This is going to be popular, except maybe for the developers on the west side who have to figure out how to incorporate that into their developments.

WWCD? – what will Claridge do, given it already has approval for a 30 storey tower right at Somerset? It would be a real squeeze to plan for another pedestrian and cycling underpass under Somerset here.

The Gladstone Station, not currently in the ten year horizon, should be developed BEFORE the housing is built, so as to attract people who want transit access. The proposed plaza above the station, along Gladstone, looks to be a winner, framed by tall(est) buildings, open to the south sun. Effort will be required to keep car traffic slow in this open area.

Some options try to open up the Preston-Gladstone intersection, by converting the Cafe Italia site into a piazza (this won’t mean demolishing the restaurant tomorrow, only someday when the whole site is being redeveloped). Any new building will be further set back from the sidewalk anyway, so I don’t think this is a particularly useful idea at the large size proposed. And I remain suspicious the road department would seize some (all?) of it to “fix” the intersection.

The Gladstone CDP abuts the Preston-Carling CDP, which is working up for a off-road separated bike track along both sides of Rochester from the Queensway to Carling. Alas, this plan didn’t think of extending it north to the Rochester-Gladstone intersection, which would help provide access from the dense residential neighbourhoods directly to Commissioner’s Park at Dows Lake, and incidentally crossing the Arlington bike route. But it is an easy fix.

Thus far, no mention of cycling improvements along Gladstone either.

The plans engage in a fair bit of planner’s porn, too. All streets are lined with bright green dots representing continuous rows of trees. These tend not to appear in real life as property owners and the City prefer front yard parking. And there is nothing to stop the City from planting trees today, without development. Instead, the green tree-lined streets are the carrot for the rezoning plan. Property owners get rezoning now and forever; trees come someday, maybe, and in much fewer quantities. Bait and Switch.

Other porn bits are superficially titillating but elusive. The small edge of the Queensway slope perched on top of a 15′ retaining wall on St Anthony lane is called parkland. Really.

As is a portion (just a portion, mind) of the packed-dirt schoolyard at Devonshire. At least the portion that hasn’t yet been paved over for a Teacher Parking Lot.

Will the relocated soccer field at AHS really be a landmark when surrounded by high rises? It would be much better to rotate the field 90 degrees, and put buildings between it and the Queensway ( on the area now a parking lot).  At least the field would be visible. Beaver Barracks and SOBA prove that high rises can be attractive along the Queensway.

The Options all have delightful planning notions like Node, Landmark, Gateway. Some of them designate already-improved locations, such as the Vietnamese refugee monument, the Bambinos, etc. and do not seem integral to the building heights and roadworks planned. As the three city Options for the Gladstone CDP are reworked, cut-and-pasted, as people fully understand the implications of the changes proposed, then there will more interest in refining a final plan that delivers those nodes and gateways.