Job knowledge at City Hall

On March 7th, there was a new sign posted along Albert at the [closed] Preston Extension that used to carry traffic out to the Sir JAM Parkway and Wellington St:

First, it seems like more bureaucratic self-work to officially close the temporary detour road the city built while the Booth overpass and Freeway were under construction.

But look more closely at the sign:


So maybe they just put the sign in the wrong place – and the City is thinking about permanently closing the new bridge that they just built. No, even the City would have a hard time justifying that.

Let’s check the map:

Ah, it is not BOOTH that they are planning on closing permanently; it is the PRESTON EXTENSION. The signage has a mistake in it.

This, of course, begs the question: How well does the City know the city?

I can’t tell you when the error slipped into the wording on the sign, but I suspect that it was early in the process; a process that involved many people – or should have.

The idea to permanently close the Preston Extension had to be conceived; it had to be run-by ‘the approvers’; the project file created and assigned.

From here, though, the information had to be provided on an application from the City to the City; the text of the sign had to be written and dutifully translated into French (or English, depending on which came first); a map had to be prepared for the sign; the sign had to be laid out; the sign mock-up had to be proof-read; it had to be fabricated (and, presumably proof-read again); and finally it had to be attached to the fence.

So, is it possible that not a single one of all of the people whose hands the sign went through actually read the sign’s text and looked at the map and realized that it was not BOOTH that was being permanently closed?

Is it possible that even the people erecting the sign didn’t realize a) that they were not at BOOTH when they mounted the sign, or b) that the sign should have said PRESTON since they were putting it at 10, rue Preston Street? Do so few people at the City actually think about what they are doing, as opposed to just ‘doing their job’ that such a mistake can get posted for all the public to witness?

Apparently, unfortunately, yes.

And how many of the public read it and did not notice the error, or noticed it and chalked it up to “typical city”. Does the error negate its function of giving public notice? Just what did the newspaper notices say?

story by Richard Eade

6 thoughts on “Job knowledge at City Hall

  1. Hi Eric- It’s always a treat to read your insightful writing. I must admit you had me terrified for a minute. The thought of reopening the Preston Street extension was a horrifying one. When it was in use it was like living next to the 401. But I’ve never noticed this sign even though I live right across the street from it. Mind you I’m usually getting off a bus at night right there. Now that OCTranspo lets you request a different stop after 7:00 p.m., if I don’t want to wait at the Rideau Centre for a number 85 to take me home, I just get on any bus and request a stop at Albert and Preston. I don’t have to walk all the way from Lebreton Station which is long enough of a walk to cause me breathing problems. Of the many drivers I’ve requested this of only one was rude about it. “Just because you request it doesn’t mean I have to do it.” COPD is one of those invisible diseases that unles I’m having a breathing attack you’d never know I’m cursed with it.

    1. (Oh, and this is NOT to say I think the Preston extension in the RvLb plan is a good idea. I’m wary of it certainly. But as far as we humble, non-NCC folk know, the idea is still on the table and deserves to be discussed in context.)

    2. @DenVan

      RvL will have to submit a plan of subdivision, which will define the entire road network. When and if they do so, if the road isn’t the same as the one that’s currently legally there, or if they add more roads (which they’d be likely to), they would have to make applications anyway.

      Given that there is no set timeline for RvL’s work (and even if there were), having a road legally open (even if it’s de facto closed) creates responsibility and liability for the City to maintain it. This is both on the side of responsibility to keep it accessible, and also liability in the event someone crosses the barriers and gets injured.

      The City can close roads temporarily during construction, but when the construction is over they will have to have permanently closed the road via the process described in this sign.

      Given how long it can take for developments to come to fruition on LeBreton Flats, it’s prudent for the City to not assume that a new neighbourhood springing up is right around the corner.

      This also means that they can replace the crosswalk on the north side with a pathway and remove the east-west pedestrian signals, since you’d no longer be crossing a road.

      1. Thx charles … but even when there was no road there at all, the city still had signals in place for the mup, just like they do at a number of T intersections, in the belief that crossing along the top of the T is still an intersection. Fortunately they are inconsistent and dont do this all the time. DUNDRIDGE is the term.

  2. If the road is dedicated as a formal “public highway” the public has access rights and there is potential increase in maintenance costs and/or liability. Closing the highway only requires a simple by-law and perhaps a survey. The extension is still in the City’s Transportation Master Plan. Once they have re-built the road and are ready to open it, it would be re-surveyed and a by-law would be passed to open it.

    The sign must be in the wrong template as well, as it has a link to the development apps page and talks about appeal rights, but this is under the Municipal Act and is not a Planning Act application.

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