Community Newspaper Columns

Councillor Chernushenko writes a regular columns for the local community newspapers OSCAR, the Glebe Report, The Mainstreeter, the Heron Park Herald and the Riverview Park Review.

Urban residents need to more room to play

February 2013

An important argument in favour of urban intensification — increased population density in central neighbourhoods — is that it generates higher demand for amenities and services, and more people to pay for them. Intensification should, in theory, bring improved transit and public health services, better-equipped community centres, and new sports and recreation facilities like arenas, pools, playing fields, and tennis and basketball courts.

But Capital Ward residents know we can’t count on population density to leverage more or better recreational amenities. Rather, we’re losing many traditional spaces to development and more people are competing to use what remains of existing facilities in increasingly space-challenged neighbourhoods.

In the past decade, instead of getting new, larger community centres, Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and Old Ottawa East have had to fight to hang on to and/or renovate old ones. Creative design generated more room in the modernized Old Firehall, but it’s not enough to meet demand. Heron Park, in the south end of our ward, continues to scrape by with a field house better described as a 50-year-old concrete bunker. This lack of functional space severely limits the possibilities for the programming and community meetings that are essential to a healthy neighbourhood.

As for open green space for organized games of ultimate, spontaneous soccer matches and community picnics, Old Ottawa South is reasonably well served. But Glebe residents have very limited options, and those in Old Ottawa East are about to see part of the heavily used open space at 160 Lees (actually part of the proposed Alta Vista Transportation Corridor) turned into a temporary parking lot to accommodate LRT construction.

What can LRT do for Capital Ward? Quite a bit, actually

January 2013

In December, when City Council approved the construction of Ottawa’s first Light Rail Transit line (LRT), it was very clear that the overwhelming public sentiment was to get on with it. That Capital Ward residents felt this way too — despite most of us not being directly served by the line — illustrates just how big a step this will be towards a better city for everyone.

On the surface, the new Confederation Line just barely touches the ward — the only station within our boundaries is Lees, in the far northeast corner. I suppose one could have said the same of the O-Train line, with its sole Capital Ward station, Carleton, on the very western edge. Not much use to us, some have said — and perhaps still do.

Yet the impact of the O-Train has been remarkable, if subtle. Despite its limited capacity and frequency, it has been embraced by thousands of regular riders, especially but not only Carleton students. It is a pleasant, bright and efficient way to travel, even if just part of a longer journey. Plans for an extended O-Train line and doubling service frequency by 2014 will be noticeable and almost entirely positive (although some Heron Park residents may experience more noise and vibrations).

I think the New Year is an opportune time to consider how rail transit can and should benefit Old Ottawa South residents.

Fewer cars on Bank and Bronson: How does that work, when neither the Confederation or O-Train Line serves Bronson or Bank — or Main, for that matter? Simply, many drivers currently using our north-south arteries will have a better option for the east-west segments of their trips, which may encourage them to start and finish their trips by bus or maybe bike. A lot of drivers are looking for a compelling reason to not be tied to the stress and cost of daily car trips. This is a good one.