I can see Cleary now …

The City and NCC have come up with a revised connection of the Western LRT and Richmond Road corridor.

But I don’t think it is complete enough, yet. Just like a complete street is better than just a road, the Cleary Station deserves more than just being another boarding platform for our streetcar-service-in-a-pipe.

There is a huge place creating opportunity here, slipping through our fingers, waving goodbye, to paraphrase ABBA.

Let’s start with the glazed entry pavilion at the Richmond Road edge. It will replace a plain but functioning strip mall that has parking along the front. It epitomizes 60’s and 70’s mindset that puts parking first. It is actively hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. It discourages impulse shopping, “dropping in” and human contact. It is a great social spot for giant metal beetles needing temporary storage, but that’s it.


We know the City dreams of empty lobby spaces for its LRT Stations, but with this station pavilion right on the edge of the Road, it should have some strong retail presence. Other cities even offer discounted or even free rent for retail spaces in stations on the condition the florist or coffee shop is open long hours, animating a space that could become dead-ish or isolated feeling at off-peak hours. So the business pays social rent rather than monetary rent. And if we are afraid of “concessionary” rent, paper it over by letting it out to a social agency to run some sort of social business. So let’s animate that sidewalk and not let our city-building structure be a dead zone along a street that already has too many of them.

It needs to be an architectural beacon along the blah road that signals to everyone that “here is transit” (since the rest of the system is sewerized and invisible).

And lets put some strong pedestrian-first infrastructure in place right from the beginning, instead of yet another signalized intersection with peds squeezed into the awkward leftover spaces.

I regularly attend lunch meetings held at Kristy’s Resto nearby. It has some nice features, including south windows. And the view — it’s WOW, cars going by on Richmond Road. Golly gee, what a destination view.

Now imagine that restaurant, or another, but not a Beckta-class eatery, at the other end of the Station, in the above ground concourse planned for the parkway end. And I’ll be really bold and upset the McKeller NIMBY’s by suggesting it have NO PARKING at all. Walk in, bike in, or take transit. Imagine, a river view for the rest of us who don’t have friends in condos with river views who are willing to feed us.

I’d gladly go there. Often. And I’ll bet others will too.

The City has argued the LRT will improve access for the general population to the riverfront park lands. The NCC agrees. The station will have access to the waterfront if I recall correctly. A waterfront that won’t have restaurants, pizza, or a coffee shop let alone a bier garten … at least not in this zone. So this is our one big opportunity to put some urban amenity on this urban parkland and let city dwellers enjoy a nice landscape whilst seated at lunch instead of seated in a commuting car. And it offers welcome functionality to the more active uses of the parkland too.

Personally, I go way more often to eat at Westboro Beach than to swim. But the swimmers and beach goers eat too. Imagine, multifunctional space!

Tonight, 6pm, at Notre Dame HS on Broadview, with presentation at 7.30pm, there will be an info session on Cleary Station. I dunno if it is a “information only session” that tells us what they are going to do to us, without listening back. But it is one of the few chances to talk back, to tell the city and NCC to do better.

This station is Clearly a unique opportunity for placemaking.


5 thoughts on “I can see Cleary now …

  1. Yes to all of the above! This spot is the one place along the Western Corridor where within a mere 100 metres-or-so, you find and LRT station located RIGHT ON a main commercial street AND ALSO right on the NCC green space AND ALSO a few steps from the Ottawa River waterfront.

  2. The new Cleary location is obviously superior to the old one as it is nearer Richmond Road, and there will be less disruption to the existing Unitarian Church and daycare. Presumably the original route was chosen because there were fewer sewer mains to avoid.

    This is somewhat of a surprising development however , since until recently there were discussions with the Kristy’s restaurant on the original route for a new multistory retail development on it’s site. I would not be surprised therefore to see a similar proposal on the newly vacated mall site, possibly with a restaurant overlooking the SJAM.

    The Richmond – Cleary access to the new Cleary station will need to be integrated with the proposed Byron- Richmond Complete Street which is planned for 2018. Discussions on cycle lane options have already started here

  3. Well it is nice to see that all think this is an improvement. But we should still hold out for a better use of funds instead of the “sewerized and invisible” system, as you put it above. To really get a lively urban feel we ought to SEE our modern light rail vehicles (remember these are not subway cars or trains as you might see in Chicago but ultra-modern trams) and they are running underground in this area only because of the above mentioned McKeller NIMBY’s and the lack of imagination in the city and the NCC. But spend they can; hundreds of millions for an unneeded tunnel. If urban designers had their way we would see an imaginative city scape, for one third the cost. This area cannot escape the eventual development pressure such a system will surely bring (see O-Train rush) and the present generation will have sold all their homes to developers. So this shortsightedness is just that, a short term concession.

  4. I went to the City Open House on the New Cleary Station alignment and City Staff explained to me that the new Cleary Station Alignment, which was always a preferred option, was only recently proved possible based on more recent detailed analysis.

    Since the City will own the expropriated land, a future small scale ( 6-8 story) development is possible on the site, with a restaurant on NCC land behind the station, subject to NCC approval. The City apparently is giving the NCC $30M to build the Linear park from Dominion to Woodroofe during LRT construction.

    There was overall support from the community for the new Cleary station alignment. The major community concern was the disruptions and noise due to the estimated 2 year construction phase along the Richmond Byron corridor, and the busy Woodroofe intersection. There may be a requirement to restrict cars exiting the Parkway onto Woodroffe during evening rush hour.

    The challenge will be to integrate Cleary Station access ( bus, cycle, pedestrian, car drop off) with proposed Richmond – Byron Complete Street. The existing Richmond Byron Corridor , separated by the so called “Linear ( Tramway) Park” is currently difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to cross due to poor, or non existent, crossings; at Woodroffe, Lockhart and Sherbourne. The lack of crossings were probably intentional to reduce cut through traffic through McKellar Park . Another challenge will be is where to park the cars who now visit : Westboro Village, the new retirement home on Richmond and the 2 Churches near Woodroffe; when the segregated cycle lanes are put in. Some local bus connection will also be required between the Carlingwood Shopping center complex to Cleary as well.

    An initial Complete Street workshop will be held on June 4.

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