Community Newspaper Columns

What’s in the works for 2014

February 2014

City Hall is unlikely to launch big new initiatives during an election year. The focus will be on keeping current projects on track and on budget (Light Rail, road/sewer/water infrastructure renewal), and wrapping up others (new rules for infill development, Lansdowne Park). Here are some issues I’m working on that are of particular interest to Old Ottawa South residents:

Park improvements
It’s difficult to create new parks in a dense, older neighbourhood, so I’m working with City staff and OSCA to make minor improvements to existing parks with a specific fund available to the ward councillor, and to identify medium- and long-term needs requiring larger capital investment. Brewer Park is slated for a major renewal (arena, pool, change hut, etc.) in the next 7-10 years. I would like to see public consultation start early, so we can clarify our needs and approve a plan to make them a reality. By doing the work in phases, we may be able to start sooner than planned.

Active transportation
The Bronson Avenue safety initiatives approved last year are central to my vision for safer, more attractive walking and cycling routes. We should be able to start work on redesigned ramps connecting with Colonel By Drive this year, then add a signalized crosswalk south of the Canal in 2015. I also expect detailed design of the Rideau River Western Pathway to go ahead, providing a river’s edge route all the way to the Lees transit station.

Lansdowne rollout
Whether you love it, hate it or are just ambivalent about the “New Lansdowne,” construction is nearing completion. We will soon find out how many people are willing to get there without driving. Will our fears of congestion and parking bedlam prove pessimistic, or will it become a crisis in need of emergency measures? See next item.

A bridge too far?
Though construction of a Fifth Ave./Clegg St. pedestrian bridge is not slated to start before 2020, I’m launching a campaign to identify non-traditional sources of funds. I think we need this bridge now, both for local residents and to provide another route for visitors to Lansdowne. If enough other people share this dream, we may find ways to raise private, foundation and corporate money. Ideas are welcome.

A bridge too narrow!
I’m pressing for reallocation of space to create bike lanes on the fear-inducing Bank St. Bridge. Pedestrians need the sidewalks, so bike lanes would be carved from the four car lanes. The bridge has been narrowed to accommodate construction for two years now. The world did not end. So why not experiment with a three-car-lane design, plus two proper bike lanes?

Main/Lees renewal
While the renewal of Main Street as a “complete street”, to have started in 2014, will mostly occur in 2015-16, the redevelopment of Lees Avenue as a “complete-ish” street will go ahead in 2014. While this isn’t in OOS, it’s of interest to urban design and transportation buffs, and the construction work will have ripple effects in this community.

Alta Vista Transportation Corridor
Construction of the “Hospital Link” road within the Alta Vista corridor just south of OOE is slated to begin this year. The release of detailed designs is imminent, with a public meeting to follow. Work is expected to span three construction seasons. Love it or hate it — community response is certainly mixed — this remains a stand-alone project, not the start of a corridor-long “parkway”. No additional road construction within the corridor is scheduled under the latest Transportation Master Plan (2016–2031). Our world, and city, will have changed immensely by the time the next Plan is developed, so I won’t speculate about what might happen then. I am, however, looking ahead to whether there will be a need for a road and bridge to connect new transit-centric communities around the Lees and Hurdman LRT stations. As the design proceeds, we should ponder if a connection is needed, and what form it might take.

Bronson renewal
The renewal of Bronson between the Canal and the Queensway is also not in OOS, but we’ll all be affected. I cannot see any way of turning this heavily used artery into a complete street, but public consultations this spring will give OOS residents a say on ways to calm Bronson and make it safer and more attractive for everyone.

Infill housing and conversions
Moving from NIMBY to YIMBY was a central theme of my platform in 2010, so I’m eager to see City reports recommending changes to how infill development occurs, and where and how home conversions are allowed in urban neighbourhoods. I want to establish clearer rules by which infill (and some conversion) projects can be carried out, so that we can all say Yes In My Back Yard, at least most of the time.

TD closing/ TD opening
Our well used “neighbourhood scale” TD Canada Trust branch at Bank and Glen in Old Ottawa South is closing, to be replaced by a larger, full-service branch at Lansdowne (where the field and arena will be renamed TD Place). Whether local customers go north to do their banking, or south to the branch at Billings Bridge Plaza, they’ll miss this truly local branch.

Farmer’s Market
When the “Lansdowne” Farmer’s Market moved to Brewer Park in 2012, there was much wringing of hands, and a couple of weeks of traffic and parking confusion. Once those issues were promptly (if not perfectly) sorted out, local response to the Farmer’s Market went quickly from “Why here?” to “Leave it here!” Well, it is staying here, for one more season. The Market Square at Lansdowne will not be ready for this spring/summer, and the changeover will likely occur in time for a Christmas market at the Aberdeen Pavilion.

1125 Bank Street
What’s going on with the West Coast Video building in Old Ottawa South? It’s been an empty eyesore since the 2009 fire, but as long as the owners continue complying with the rules by removing graffiti and maintaining certain property standards, there’s nothing local residents, neighbouring businesses or the City can do to force the owners to renovate or redevelop the building. I’ve tried to induce action by requesting a structural safety report and by regularly asking bylaw officers to assess the building. Since it’s deemed safe to the public, and repairs are made promptly, all we can do is keep reporting property standards concerns to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or buy it ourselves (kidding!). Public rights do not trump private property rights in Canada, but we can keep voicing our frustration.

 

Councillor David Chernushenko