We we should NOT remove Bayswater from the plan

The Preston-Carling CDP has a couple of sub-studies going on. The usual gang of high priced Toronto consultants has been brought in to make everything right.

One of their proposals was to “recognize” Bayswater as a collector street; rather than a ordinary residential street. This, the traffic consultant told us, just tidies up the nomenclature.

But it means way more than that. Some alert citizen involved in the process flagged the community association that these changes have consequences.

The residents organized, very well, and started an impressive sign campaign:



They got an impressive number of homeowners to plant matching lawn signs before our global-warming inspired early winter deep freeze.



And the campaign worked. The Councillor has promised it won’t happen. Presumably she makes this promise after checking with the Highrise Approving Department    Planning Dept that they will back her up. She says… I’m calling for the removal of any consideration to reclassify Bayswater Avenue from a local road to a collector from the plan*.

This isn’t the victory it first appears. I think we should NOT remove Bayswater from the plan. But not because I think it is a collector.

The City has three options when it wants to get something in plan:

1. propose it in the plan, pass the plan (WIN)

2. propose it in the plan, retreat under opposition, remove it from the plan, then bring it forward again at another time (partial WIN)

3. propose it in the plan, and conclude in writing that it should remain unchanged. (Lose)

So the City wins in 2 out 3 options.

By removing it from the Plan, it goes unmentioned in the plan. Then five years from now, the idea comes to life again. Look, say the planners, the status of this road was last set 20 years ago, etc, it’s outdated, time for another look, etc. 

Local residents (at least the long timers) will remember the battle like it was yesterday. But they won’t find any record of a decision that says Bayswater should be a local street.

Lest the kind reader think I am being cynical, I have seen exactly that scenario play out numerous times in my involvement with community planning.

In fact, some of it happened just in the last few months. The City is in the final plan stages for a pedestrian bridge over the OTrain cut straight in alignment with  Hickory/Adeline. Then they unilaterally moved the bridge away from that alignment, so that a road bridge could be put there. Big surprise, the next CDP promptly recommended a road bridge there because the “street grid (on each side of the cut) wants to be reconnected”. The neighbours went ballistic; the road bridge was removed from the Dark plan. But really, its just postponed to a more opportune time. There will not be a record of  deciding against a road bridge.

And in the same plan, the proposed connection of Prince of Wales to Sherwood … same deal. In the face of lots of opposition, it has been removed from the plan. But the plan will not, the planners confirmed, actually recommend against it. Thus being silent, they can bring it up again. And again.

And being very cynical, I’ll say that recommending against it isn’t any guarantee it won’t someday be flogged as a new idea whose time has come. But it does make it more difficult.

The City is not above rearranging the facts after the fact, either.  After multiple years of being IN the plan zone, the City decided not to rezone the small houses on the west side of the OTrain (behind Railway Street) which are indistinguishable from the small houses on the east side of the OTrain, which it decided to raze and redevelop with high rises and mid rise towers. How to hide the discrepancy? The City now produces documents that show the Preston-Carling CDP as never having included the Railway Street area. This both avoids the comparison and its lack of rationale, and means that in five years time when someone assembles some lots on Railway, they can submit a planning rationale that points out the area is plan is 25 or 30 years old and my, but how things have changed and the plan is out of date.

Another example: back when I was on a previous Preston plan, the city examined the residential neighbourhood north of Somerset, and decided it was fine, and rezoning wasn’t required along Preston. South of Somerset, lots of rezoning. But they wouldn’t say in the final plan that the area north of Somerset was fine as it was. Instead, we left depending on an even earlier, even more “out of date” study.

So that is why I say it is NOT enough to remove Bayswater from the plan. It should be in plan, recording a deliberate decision to affirm the current neighbourhood street status.


*Here is Councillor Hobbs’s letter to residents on the subject:

Dear Civic Hospital Residents,Today, I’m calling for the removal of any consideration to reclassify Bayswater Avenue from a local road to a collector from the Preston-Carling Mobility and Public Realm Study underway. I’ve made it known to staff that this is critical to our community, and will ensure it will remain a local road.

This followed extensive consultation with residents as well as discussions with the City’s Planning Department and its consultants on the Preston-Carling Mobility and Public Realm Study, a key component of the Community Design Plan.

You’ve made it known that you are concerned with traffic volume and speeding, and reclassifying the street as a collector will do nothing to alleviate these concerns. We are planning for a growing community in this area, but as a transit oriented neighbourhood. This growth cannot come at the expense of the desirability and liveability of the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood.

The Public Realm and Mobility Study will continue, but I will ensure that the classification will not change as a result.

I want to assure residents of Bayswater Avenue that your street will remain a local road, and that it will not be widened or otherwise changed to accommodate more traffic.


5 thoughts on “We we should NOT remove Bayswater from the plan

  1. Bravo. Clearly and articulately argued as usual Eric. Score one for the grownups.

    On Twitter yesterday evening, and later on CBC, Councilor Hobbs seems to be taking the line that the whole Bayswater controversy is based on an overblown reaction to a very pure and innocent “trail balloon” suggestion by traffic professionals. And since the community *asked* for the mobility study, shame on them for complaining when they got one they didn’t like….

    You can read the exchange here. Warning: contains strange misinterpretations of fairly straightforward statements. Oh, and sarcasm. There’s a bit of that too…:


  2. But is “very cynical” cynical enough? How much longer does a proposed change stay dead if it’s “conclude[d] in writing that it should remain unchanged”?

    The words of a councillor are surely written in water, but are planning documents any less ephemeral if our Toronto masters find them inconvenient?

    I’d like to think it matters, as you suggest. And yeah, inasmuch as the studies are underway anyway, they may as well record explicit “remain unchanged” conclusions. (Perhaps even now the councillor could demand that?)

    Nonetheless, residents might want to keep those signs stored away for next time.

  3. Eric, I was at the CHNA meeting a couple of weeks a couple of weeks ago held just as residents became aware of the draft plan to re-classify this portion of Bayswater. In context, the Councillor’s note seems very deliberately crafted.

    Before the meeting, a group of residents had circulated a flier alerting to residents to the potential consequences of the re-classification. This issue has ramped up over the past few weeks since at that meeting, residents were told that their concerns were overblown, the reclassification didn’t mean what they think it means, and the residents responsible for flyering their neighbourhood were spreading inaccuracies. This issue never needed to get to the point of a community revolt – some acknowledgement of the concerns and a commitment to have the offending clause removed at that time could have saved residents some time and money spent in protest.

    Now, we have the Councillor’s note that “reclassifying the street as a collector will do nothing to alleviate these concerns” around traffic and speed. It very carefully doesn’t acknowledge resident concerns that reclassifying the street could have potentially negative long-term consequences. A statement that the residents’ concerns are valid could well come back to haunt staff the next time they propose a reclassification somewhere else.

    There’s a pattern here dealing with the City. On the Scott Street/LRT diversion, there was a lot of back and forth between me and staff just to get them to acknowledge that residents had raised concerns in some meeting summary notes. There was no question of acknowledging that, in fact, there would be serious consequences for the people who live on Scott. To date, no one in either the Councillor’s office or City has recognized the severity of the problem for residents of Scott Street – and I don’t expect they will.

    Your overall point is well-taken. It’s important when drawing up these plans to acknowledge where consensus holds the status quo is appropriate. One of the very positive things about the Scott CDP is that it will do just that – we think. Dark & Co. have proposed that, within a large study area, some properties are under consideration for intensification, and the rest is intended to stay the way it is. The low-rise zoning for much of Hintonburg, with the deliberate exception of some considered areas for intensification, will be confirmed proactively. Nobody’s had the chance to look at the language that will accomplish that yet – the Secondary Plan and OP/by-law amendments came out last night. But if successful, that will be a very positive step forward for CDPs in this City.

  4. What seems to be missing from this post, the twittering, and the comments, is any discussion of how much traffic the street needs to carry, or what the consequences and alternatives might be. I guess those are unimportant factors, compared to process and what people want on “their” street.

  5. Capital Seven you are exactly right. The Liveable Bayswater Working Group does want to understand how much traffic the street needs to carry. Becoming a ‘collector’ was a solution to a problem the City has not been able to accurately define yet. For example, what are the long-term projections in South Ottawa for population growth that will increased traffic on roads?

    The October 8th, “driving strategy” describe several ideas to fix future traffic problems. http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/public-consultations/planning-and-infrastructure/public-realm-and-mobility-study

    How do these projections align with future LRT development & O-train users? What are the typical demographics and driving habits of urban dwellers/condo owners? We want to see numbers but we don’t think they exist yet.

    So Liveable Bayswater has our first small victory, no collector status. However, as Mr. Darwin aptly points out, this decision will be forever lost in our inboxes and will not be found on public record in years to come.

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