Westboro tizzy (iii)

As part of the Uniform Developments condo proposal for Roosevelt Avenue, the City/Councillor negotiated some “community benefits”. This consists of $200,000 worth of traffic calming and streetscaping to be paid for by Uniform.

Here is an overview of the changes to Roosevelt (top street in pic) and Winston (lower street in pic) (transitway trench is running up the right side of the pic):

Double click on the picture to enlarge it.

The south end of Roosevelt Avenue, to the left in the above pic, where it meets Richmond Road, gets redesigned to be more pedestrian friendly. Midway along the block are some traffic calming chicanes, or bulbouts that are slightly offset, forcing vehicles to wiggle a bit as they travel the street. These slow traffic speeds and enhance the pedestrian experience.

The north end of the street, to the right in the above pic, is more of a mixed blessing. Now, it just sorts of peters out, turning from paved street onto potholed dirt service lane — as shown in the google image below — between the Fendor plant and the transitway cut. I presume this is part of the public right of way that has, over time, been appropriated for Fendor’s exclusive use, and is not part of the condo property. The Fendor plant is the large trapezoid shaped building in the centre of the Google image, with minor industrial buildings extending to the right beyond the parking lot that would otherwise be the north end of Winston Street. Note that the same linear park alignment east and west is landscaped with trees and a grassy swale, only the Fendor space remains of the former industrial lands that used to abut the CPR tracks that is now the transitway:

The proposed revisions to Roosevelt avenue at its north end are to add a turning circle to the dead end. The main entrance to the new condo tower is shown at the very corner of their property, meeting the street right at the edge of the landscaped linear corridor along the transitway cut. In the drawing below, this ped entrance to the building is the thin rectangle boardwalk extending right from the turning circle and coloured gray.

It is definitely an improvement to have the current Fendor parking and service lane landscaped along the cut, but I do question the intrusion of a traffic turning circle into the linear corridor. It’s sole function is to facilitate car drop offs to the front door of the new condo. (Residents coming via car use the ramp that runs off to the right just before the circle).

I suspect that this turning circle could be resdesigned to be something much less intrusive into the linear parkland. A T-shaped end to facilitate 3-point turns might take up much less space. Is it only me that sees several attempts at traffic calming being contradicted by the provision of traffic circle on what would otherwise be green parkland?

And why, for that matter, is the public park corridor being turned into what is essentially a private drop off zone for the condo — shouldn’t the developer, Uniform, be providing that necessary front entrance drop off zone on his own lands, you know, a front driveway? (he does this for the other tower, as shown in drawings below) It seems from a casual amateur inspection of the drawing above that a private circular driveway could have started right at the south edge of the property (rearranging the down ramp a little bit to improve the angle), cut in towards the building, and then back out to the dead end of Roosevelt, with only the tiniest bit of intrusion onto the parkland.

The other N-S street accessing the property is Winston. It current dead-ends just short of the Fendor plant. To the south, it dead ends at Richmond, as shown here:

It’s one of those curious street arrangements from prior traffic calming. At one time, Winston met Richmond at a T-intersection. The Richmond sidewalk has been extended across the now dead-ended street. Note only one sidewalk, on the west (right) side of Winston. From what I can make out from the handout drawing (at the top of this post) the space between these buildings will be landscaped.

The north end of Winston, where it dead ends at Fendor, but which will someday extend into the condo site, is another matter:

Once again, the street (public? or private?) extends into the parkland greenspace to facilitate the front entrance to the second condo tower. The far stub end of the Winston extension seems to be for parking cars. This time the turning circle is on the condo property, and the street itself is quite narrow. There appear to be decorative bands of brick crossing the street, which will enhance the pedestrian experience, and the new neighborhood link to the bike path along the corridor.

I don’t know if the $200,000 being collected from Uniform for streetscaping includes this northward extension of Winston  Street, which appears to be on private land now and which may stay private land. The streetscaping at the north end of Winston is of great benefit to the condo builder and should be built as part of his normal marketing efforts.

The street running off to the right in the pic is Wilmot Avenue, which will get traffic going to and from the condo to Churchill Avenue off to the east (right). It apparently does not get any streetscaping improvements. Have they been naughty?

Overall, the negotiated streetscaping with the developer does deliver some community benefits directly to the affected neighbours. It also seems to have significantly benefited the developer with the extension of car traffic onto what should be public parkland.

27 thoughts on “Westboro tizzy (iii)

  1. Absolutely Eric. Nice catch. “Community benefit” monies can only be considered if the benefit is solely – or at least mostly – for the community. Giving away parkland for private use should *never* be on the table. Period. Shame we have to make this point again after the long saga over Byron Linear Park and the Convent.

    1. Also dumb: giving away rail corridors for stupid “linear parks” and other Sacred Holy Precious Stupid “Green” Space.

  2. Just to clarify; the parkette that will be constructed at the south end of Winston (at Richmond) is City land, and the City is building this community area for use of all the community. It will be paid from Cash in Lieu of Parkland funds and to have this parkette her is an initiative that has been driven by the community, to build a Veteran’s Square beside the Westboro Legion.

    In regards to the development site itself, no City land is being used by the developer. In fact, one acre of land at this site (which was privately owned) will have public easements, increasing the public’s use of this area. That includes the 37 meters between the new proposed buildings.
    This will increase the ease of pedestrians and cyclists access to the pathways and beaches.

    There will be many opportunities to shape what the area will look like during the site plan process, but the initial plans give far more space to the community to use than they have access to right now, given that it is a working industrial site and private property with a locked gate at Winston.

    1. It is the “public” traffic turnabout that is at issue here. Yes it will technically be city-owned, but as Eric points out, a) will be certainly used almost exclusively by the condo, b) takes away their need to provide adequate drop off on their property, and c) intrudes into the linear park.

      1. The turning circle may also be there to facilitate the turnaround of waste and snow removal vehicles which right now use the gravel area alongside the Fendor building. In fact, it doesn’t look to me to be taking up any significant amount of current greenspace (maybe a sliver of poor quality grass on the west side). The pathway there is already up against the Transitway fence. Personally, I don’t have a complaint with it – I’d be open to hearing about improvements but this doesn’t look to be another case of the Byron issue.

    2. Hmm, I thought the Tom Brown arena and surrounding lawn was built for the same reason, ” for use of all the community” . But now their is a sign from the city telling me I am trespassing. 🙁
      Bureaucratic city.

  3. Parkette… I had only heard this term before on Parks and Recreation! In last last episode they were building Indiana’s smallest park (on a former telephone booth square). Food for thought.

  4. Another annoying feature is how the turning circle pinches into the right of way of the bike path – and it looks like it’s actually narrowing the path from its current awkward width along the North side of the Fendor property. So much for a broader East/West Bikeway connecting to the Scott / Albert corridor.

  5. Traffic will be a nightmare! I’m especially NOT thrilled to hear about traffic calming chicanes, or bulbouts. They are supposed to slow down traffic. Important to add a few adjectives before the word “traffic,” as in the new high levels of traffic… that Roosevelt north will experience. An added feature is that the chicanes will throw bicyclists right into the roadway. Boo-hiss! Expect lots of input from the community when these measures come up for public debate.

  6. Eric,

    You should examine the location of the middle bulbouts more closely: it’s a classic example of developers and/or the City proposing things without looking at the “facts on the ground” (or for that matter, Google Streetview). The moment I heard about these things I thought to myself: “but what about all the semi-detached infill going in with their oversized driveways? what happens when some developer buys the house behind the bulbout?” because I assumed – wrongly as it turns out – that Uniform/the City was intending to put the bulbout in front of an existing detached house (and it certainly looks that way from the image you’ve provided).

    But when you investigate further it turns out that the bulbout on the west side is already destined to be in front of a semi-detached infill, and it’s one that is already in Google Streetview (!).

    http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Ottawa&ie=UTF8&om=1&hq=&hnear=Ottawa,+Ottawa+Division,+Ontario&ll=45.392267,-75.758005&spn=0.001432,0.002411&t=h&z=19&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=45.392267,-75.758005&panoid=aN-ulstaIG0pgwOpZdH98g&cbp=12,168.75,,0,-4.37

    The two planter trees on the west side, according to the diagram in the post, are positioned such that they will block the driveway/contiguous walkway of the nearest semi on the right. The east side bulbout will be in front of the first brick house on the left, the one beside the semi and with a sale sign on its lawn. The diagram also does not acknowledge the existence of the squarish grey semi detached infill on the left, either (i.e. the one with a nearly continuous paved frontage and a damaged sidewalk that still hasn’t been fixed). I’ve counted off the properties/houses on the diagram from both directions and get the same result – there’s no mistake on my part – they’ve proposed putting trees in front of someone’s driveway.

    Whatever they based the diagram on is years out of date. In Westboro! Land of infill, here, there and everywhere! You’d think the developers would know that Westboro is a place of churning development and check that the data they’re using is actually up-to-date, but apparently not. It’s hardly any surprise that people have such low opinions of developers when they continue to make such basic errors.

  7. You are all referencing a watercolour rendering by Novatech Engineering of what Roosevelt will look like. It is not a site plan. That will come later. I am surprised by the negative assumptions being made in regards to a $200,000 improvement to this street. The goal was to create a street that no longer looked like it was for cars – to create a space that is equally for use by pedestrians and cyclists. The exteme traffic calming measures serve to slow down traffic and discourage the problems of vehicles racing down this street when they find out it is a dead end, as is what is happening today. They serve to beautify this street and add greenery. Turning on to Roosevelt from Richmond, drivers will experience a raised intersection. This gives a tactile clue that this is not a normal road. There is a signifcant row of green alongside Tubmans that serves to narrow the road. There will be trees on the pinch and on the chicanes. Where the road widens at the north end of Roosevelt, this will be cleaned up and curbed. All vehicles that go down this street, such as garbage trucks, fire trucks, delivery trucks and snow plows will be able to turn in this area. You see other spaces like this built on Byron and Churchill for example — spaces where you are not allowed to park as they are for turnaround uses. Please remember this is a dead end.

    The city pathway that runs alongside the trench today will be improved and lighting will be added. There is absolutely no loss of any greenspace or City land, but it will be improved.

    This street treatment has been designed with cyclists and pedestrians in mind. There will be bike racks and new infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists here – benches, places to sit by pools. It is intended to be very safe for cyclists.

    In regards to Veteran’s square, this will be paid out of Cash in Lieu. It is currently being looked at in terms of design. There will be a mural competition and more consultation with the neighbourhood. This is intended to be a wonderful use of an unused dead end at Winston and Richmond — to have it made into a beautiful space where people can sit and eat, relax and socialize. It is not often that City streets are made into park, but that is the case here. We are extending down into the road and reclaiming this space for the community.

    Just in closing – I want to repeat that an entire ACRE of land on this site is now fully accessible to the public. This was an industrial site and it was private. It was not used by the public. Now, there will be easements that allow use on one acre of land on this site by all residents in the City. This allows you to breeze through on your bike as you please to get to the path or get to the Dominion Transit station.

    1. Councillor Hobbs:

      In the CDP, the community was clear: No more than six stories is appropriate for this site. It was explicitly specified in the CDP for this site.

      Now, the developers, city planners, and councillors like yourself have clearly told the community that their efforts and input into the CDP are irrelevant. That, in the end, what developers want will triumph over the community will; that participating in the development of the CDP was of no importance, that it was merely a cynical ploy by the planning department to buy silence from communities.

      So, my questions:

      Will you release all communications between your office, the planning office, and the developers? Are you willing to let us see how you represented our desires, our direction (as expressed in the CDP)? Are you willing to order the release of all communications between the planning office and the developers? Or will you assert some sort of privilege, and keep all that hidden?

      Vox Populi, Vox Dei?

      1. To David P. I have absolutely no issue with releasing any and all communications from my office in regards to this matter. Municipal law offers this opportunity for you to view correspondence on any subject in the City which you are interested in and has a dedicated group to ensure this is done properly. This way you could also request communications between the planning office and the developers which I don’t have access to. The route to go is per MFIPPA. You can get information on how to make your request here: http://ottawa.ca/city_hall/mfippa/index_en.html This route would ensure you would get all the communications which you indicate you would like to see and I would encourage you to do so.

    2. Councillor Hobbs,

      I am glad you are engaging on this forum. You negotiated this deal with the developer without any input from the people of the neighbourhoods affected (at least not on the Winston-Wilmont-Whitby side). Now, with the traffic calming measures you have negotiated on Roosevelt, and none on Wilmont, you risk making a bad situation even more difficult for that neighbourhood. What will you be doing to rectify this? Now that you have backed this proposal, community safety concerns need to be adequately addressed for ALL neighbourhoods affected. Beautification is nice, but I am much more concerned about the risks posed by construction traffic (to 2015) and 194 additional vehicles (plus those of 37 visitors) on 4 quiet residential streets. Logically, I just don’t buy the findings of the developer-commissioned transportation study that says that there will be no significant changes in traffic operations. And since they did their only peak-hour data count on a mid-January day for which there was a freezing rain advisory*, I buy it even less. Oh yeah, and they based their assumptions on a 40% modal split which the City’s own data apparently says we are not meeting. And is Dominion station moving with LRT conversion or not? Please keep working on this aspect of your deal.

      * http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/01/18/ont-freezing-rain.html

  8. Sorry to be a realist, but if, as Councillor Hobbs says, “The goal was to create a street that no longer looked like it was for cars,” you’d pretty much have the street as it exists now! It will become a street innundated with cars once the 200 units are in place at the north end of Roosevelt. And chicanes are NOT bike-friendly measures. They force cyclists to move out of the extreme right of the lane they’re in and into the path of following cars. I have used Roosevelt for years as a street to bike along when I want to get from my home in Champlain Park (east of Island Park) to Richmond Road west. I can assure you that chicanes will not entice me to use the street in the future.

  9. Debra: there is a rule of thumb I heard several times, but for which I have no known authority or source. It is that adding 100 units to a (residential?) street will NOT have any noticeable impact to the traffic capacity or the traffic flow or the safety of the street. One hundred units translates into only a small number of vehicles at the morning rush hour, the most concentrated time. Accordingly, the 200 Roosevelt units, having two equal entrances, will generate the same as one one-hundred unit bldg on each street. Hmm.
    I’d love to know more about this “rule” but I last clearly recall hearing it quoted at meetings about the Domicle and Starwood buildings on Champagne and 853 Carling developments. [obviously it would impact on a street with only 4 houses on it, etc etc, but I am not trying to be too literal and testable on this, just relating a rule of thumb that might be helpful…]

  10. I feel very strongly that the Veterans Park can only be an asset to the community. This dead end street is nothing but an eye sore at the moment. Westboro Village is now beome one of the trendiest areas in the City of Ottawa and this area currently does nothing to help. At the moment, there are many retailers on this corner or nearby and oftenn pedestrians are standing or sitting on the curb at this dead end. This proposal will keep much nicer to look at for residents of the area, businesses, tourists or people passing through. It will alolow the people a place to sit and relax but at the same time recognize what the Legion does for the community, and what the Veterans have dione for all of us. It will be a safer place for families and friends to gather and have a rest while shopping, maybe have a snack or just a place to socialize rather than playing on the street where there is a great deal of traffic all the time. This alley is currently being misused by delivery trucks, service vehicles and people with handicap permits. Handicap permits are only to be used in no parking zones to drop someone off with a disability – they are not free parking passes. Currently the Westboro Legion has a large drop off lane in front of the building which the Para Transpo buses use. A concern that I have been hearing is parking in the area – perhaps the City can assist the Legion and others with negotiating parking in the nearby garage at Roosevelt which is privately owned but closed on evenings and weekends. The Veterans Park is long overdue and soon we will all have a place to gather peacefully and perhaps Pause for a moment and Remember! On a final note, I am likely the one responsible for coming up with idea to use this space and turn it into a park for our Veterans or at least for us to say Thank You!

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