Ottawa Hospital should prioritize health over parking

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By David Chernushenko, Special to the Ottawa Citizen

It seems that a hospital site solution has been brokered. What has not yet been resolved, or even adequately questioned, is the oversized surface parking "requirement" put forward from the outset as an essential criterion. That's a 1970s vision for a 21st-century hospital. We can, and must do better than repeating the mistakes of the past.

Let me start by stating the obvious: Most people don't take the bus to hospital in an emergency or if they have mobility issues. No one expects physicians on call to use public transit. Those visiting loved ones may not choose to take the LRT — unless they are among the 15 percent of Ottawa households who do not own a car.

But even if we assume that nobody will take public transit for urgent visits or if they are not ambulatory, that still leaves the massive majority of trips to hospital taken by staff, visitors and clinic patients. Given the choice, many — no, not all — would choose transit.

In the debate over the best location for a relocated Civic Campus, we've heard plenty from those who insist on easy road access, ample surface parking, and no traffic congestion. But we've heard much less about some other obvious questions:

Should a hospital of the 21st century be built for and around the private automobile, on the assumption that almost everyone can, will or should drive?

Would the Ottawa Hospital not do staff, patients and the broader community a valuable service by relocating to a place that offers frequent, convenient transit service — like the future LRT line — and is easily reachable by foot or bike as well as by car?

Shouldn't an institution dedicated to health actively encourage cleaner and healthier modes of transportation, and aim to reduce private vehicle use for non-emergency trips, as supported by Ottawa Public Health policies?

A hospital should be easily accessible to as many residents as possible, including those who cannot or choose not to drive. Encouraging people to use public or active transportation when possible also benefits anyone who drives by choice or necessity, by taking cars off the road.

The NCC, in its very public process, heard clearly from many citizens that protecting the Experimental Farm and its research fields is a priority, and that transit access should prevail over expansive parking lots.

The Sir John Carling site now being recommended by elected leaders, and apparently acceptable to the Ottawa Hospital board, is much nearer the Trillium O-Train line, and thus more accessible than the current hospital. But the matter of surface parking remains unaddressed.

Surface parking represents archaic thinking and runs counter to City of Ottawa policy direction. Reducing the need for parking — and accommodating required parking in multi-storey garages (like most big cities) — frees up more room for healthcare facilities and green space, both of which would benefit patients.

Prioritizing road access over transit, and failing to challenge the notion that all staff and visitors must drive, would harm us all by increasing congestion and air pollution. It also contradicts the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, and World Health Organization's climate change policy positions.

Our new hospital's location and design should support the policies of all three levels of government to shift away from the automobile as the favoured mode of transportation for environmental and health reasons.

The new hospital must carry us forward into a transit-oriented, low-carbon future. Emphasizing parking and car travel is out of step with 21st-century municipal planning, current health promotion practices, and all city policies.

Ottawa deserves a great hospital served by great transportation options.

Councillor David Chernushenko is Chair of the Environment and Climate Protection Committee and a member of the Board of Health. This article represents his personal opinion.

Bank St. Renewal: Riverside Dr. to Ledbury Ave.

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Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Presentation at 7:00 p.m.
Jim Durrell Recreation Centre (Ellwood Hall), 1265 Walkley Rd.
OC Transpo routes 1, 8, 41, 87 and 146

Bank-renewalThe City of Ottawa is hosting a public consultation session on the upcoming renewal of Bank St. from Riverside Dr. to Ledbury Ave., including full road, watermain and sewer replacement.

Your feedback is an important component for this renewal project. Key elements that will be presented for comment include:

  • Cycle tracks
  • Widened sidewalks
  • Transit priority measures
  • Additional medians and the removal of the two way left turn lane in select locations
  • Intersection designs, and
  • New traffic control signals

Comments and information regarding this project will be collected to assist the project team in finalizing the design.

Accessibility is an important consideration for the City of Ottawa. If you require special accommodation, please call or e-mail the project lead identified below before the event.

Visit ottawa.ca for more information on the project. To have your name added to the mailing list to receive project updates or to submit comments and questions, please contact:

Ann Selfe, P.Eng.
Senior Implementation Engineer
Development Review (Suburban Services)
Planning and Growth Development Department
110 Laurier Avenue West, 4th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1
613-580-2424 ext. 13185
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Montreal parking app looks for a spot in Ottawa

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CityParking is an Uber-style app that allows drivers to reserve parking in private or commercial lots

By Mario Carlucci, CBC News

A Montreal start-up has its sights set on downtown Ottawa neighbourhoods such as the Glebe to expand its parking business.

CityParking uses an app, similar to Uber, in order to connect drivers with people who want to rent out their residential, commercial or institutional driveway spaces. Owners can rent their spots out by the hour to customers who book up to weeks in advance.

The city doesn't allow the rental of residential driveways unless the rental is part of a tenant agreement, but company founder Amin Dada said he wants to work with municipalities instead of trying to force his way into the market.

Dada said there's a tremendous appetite for parking in the city, especially around the redeveloped Lansdowne Park, where demand for street parking has outstripped supply, especially on CFL football nights.

It's a problem he experienced first-hand, living close to the Bell Centre arena in downtown Montreal.

"I had a prime parking spot, which all of my friends wanted to use and before I knew it I was playing virtual lot attendant for them, scheduling their parking needs," said Dada.

"I also used to drive to other areas and look for parking while so many spots around me were just empty and I couldn't access them because they were private. And I realized that there definitely has to be a way to solve this issue and get parking for everyone at a very cheap cost."

Owner wants app to be regulated

Dada knows there are zoning and bylaw obstacles, but thinks they can be overcome.

"We do want to get regulated in Ottawa … Bylaws are there to protect the citizens but bylaws also need to be revisited when the environment changes around them.

"We are looking forward to getting regulated and becoming part of the system and that's what we're doing in Montreal as well," he said.

CityParking is part of a "smart cities accelerator" initiative in Montreal, said Dada, so the startup was tasked with helping to ease traffic trouble and is being mentored by Montreal's traffic authority.

The company's public relations manager has also reached out to the city of Gatineau's environmental council, to start discussions on bringing the app there.

As for Ottawa, Dada said some driveway owners and drivers have begun to download the app in Ottawa, but he's really looking to get local councillors and politicians on board.

Councillor open to idea

Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko, who represents the Glebe, says he's happy to look at any innovative approach to improving traffic flow and parking, especially if CityParking is interested in working with the city rather than entering the market and forcing the city to deal with it, the way Uber and Airbnb have done.

"I certainly see the merit of the service and having the debate and would welcome that. I hope it won't be another case of, 'Guess what? I'm doing business. Now try and stop me. Get rid of me,'" said Chernushenko, who adds the city is actually trying to get fewer people to drive to Lansdowne on game nights.

"If what you're saying is 'take your car rather than considering taking transit or considering cycling because now you have a guaranteed spot,' then unfortunately that's actually the opposite of what we want."

Costs, timeline make ranked ballots unlikely for 2018 municipal election

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

Advocates for election reform in the City of Ottawa are losing hope for a ranked ballot municipal vote in 2018.

With the clerk’s office outlining the challenges and increased costs to holding a ranked vote election, it’s unlikely council will see much upside to rushing through a new voting system under tight provincial timelines.

Colum Grove-White of Ottawa123, a group advocating for ranked ballot elections, said he hoped the province would have settled on the regulations much sooner than September. The timeline for council to decide — a bylaw must be passed by May 1, 2017 — makes it difficult to change the voting system for next election, he said.

“Yes, we would definitely like to have ranked ballots in place for 2018, but the flip side is we don’t want to rush into it either,” Grove-White said Wednesday. “We really need to balance those two things.”

The province is allowing all municipalities to use ranked ballots for future council elections, but not school board elections.

A ranked ballot allows voters to rank their preference of candidates. Candidates attracting the fewest votes have their ballots redistributed to other candidates based on the rankings. The winner must have a majority of the votes.

In the existing first-past-the-post election system, the candidate with the most votes wins.

Grove-White said a referendum on the voting system might be an option, but Ottawa123 prefers striking a “citizen assembly” to make a recommendation on what kind of election system to use.

The City of Kingston’s council has decided to have referendum question on ranked ballots. The question will be put on the 2018 election ballot.

The amalgamated City of Ottawa has never held a referendum.

According to Tyler Cox, the city’s manager of legislative services, adding a referendum question during the 2018 municipal election could cost about $1 million. Advertising and staff would drive the referendum costs.

For results of a referendum to be binding, at least 50 per cent of eligible electors must vote. Only once since amalgamation has voter turnout in an Ottawa municipal election hit 50 per cent (2006).

Several councillors on Wednesday were still thumbing through a large report on election reform published late Tuesday afternoon by the city clerk’s office.

Capital Coun. David Chernushenko supports the idea of ranked ballot municipal elections, but he’s disappointed to see such a large cost estimate to make it happen in 2018. The city says a ranked ballot election would cost $3.5-million more than a traditional first-past-the-post election.