In this issue of the Capital Ward newsletter, you'll find invitations to an open house concerning proposed safety measures on Bronson, and to a forum on Building a Liveable Ottawa, among other news. I also explain the rationale behind the Glebe parking garage and clear up some confusion over LEED standards in the City of Ottawa.
Open House: Bronson Operational and Safety Review
Wednesday, February 27, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Atrium (4th floor), University Centre, Carleton University
Over the last few months, I have been working closely with the Bronson Operational and Safety Review Group to make Bronson Avenue between Holmwood Avenue and Brewer Way safer for everyone. Members include motorists, cyclists and pedestrians representing Carleton University (students and staff), Old Ottawa South, the Glebe and neighbouring residential communities, as well as City staff. In addition, more than 600 residents have provided comments and filled out a survey on changes they would like see.
On February 27, we are holding an open house at Carleton University so residents can review the complete list of recommendations produced through these efforts. The open house is a good opportunity to provide your final input on the recommendations before staff delivers the report to the Transportation Committee in late April.
Among the options being considered are a new traffic signal at the canal, bigger signage, better paint markings at the Brewer intersection, and creating a buffer zone between cyclists and motorists.
One suggestion—to allow cyclists to share the sidewalk when crossing the bridge over the canal—has already been implemented as a stopgap measure. While some pedestrians were concerned about this change, early reviews are positive and cyclists appreciate being able to navigate the bridge without first crossing Bronson, at least until there's a safer way to cross.
Speed board for Capital Ward
Speaking of safer roads, my office has purchased a "speed board" for the City to rotate through four locations in Capital Ward. It will be installed in Heron Park, on Clementine near Secord, within the next couple of weeks and remain there for three to four weeks. After that, it will move to another problem location.
The board will show drivers their actual speed, thus serving as a reminder to respect the limit. It will also collect anonymous data that can be used to support measures to calm traffic.
I'm open to suggestions for where the board should go next. In consultation with traffic safety staff, we will evaluate different locations over the next few weeks and decide which ones should be priorities.
Building a Liveable Ottawa 2031: Community Forum
Wednesday February 13, 7 – 9 p.m.
Andrew Haydon Hall and Jean Pigott Place
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. West
In January, the City of Ottawa launched Building a Liveable Ottawa 2031, a city-wide review of policies and projects that will influence how our neighbourhoods grow and how we will travel around the City in the years to come.
You're invited to attend a public forum at 7 p.m. on February 13 to discuss the City's policy proposals to update the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan and Cycling and Pedestrian Plans.
Glebe Parking Garage Explained
As long as there are cars and roads, some people will want to or need to drive, and they are going to need to a place to park. Parking spaces in much of the Glebe are already hard to come by. The Lansdowne redevelopment, combined with a surge in residential infill development, will only put more pressure on the limited supply.
We can respond as a city by encouraging active and public modes of transportation, and we do. Still, judging by the calls and emails to my office, residents, visitors and merchants anticipate a major parking shortfall once Lansdowne reopens in late 2014, and they want the City to do something about it.
So, although I have voted for a major investment in light rail and O-Train expansion, and although I press for better sidewalks and cycling facilities, I must nonetheless also push forward with a 2010 City Council decision to build a new parking garage on Second Ave., behind the Glebe Metro.
The site is far enough away from Lansdowne that it won't be very attractive to visitors headed to events or new businesses there. That will benefit existing members of the Glebe BIA, who will face increased competition and congestion thanks to Lansdowne and want to ensure there's parking to accommodate clients who need to drive. It will benefit residents by taking some pressure off street parking, reducing the potential that shoppers and other visitors to the Glebe will cruise the side streets looking for a parking spot.
The lot on Second Ave. is the only appropriate municipal property within the affected business/residential area, so the site is not really up for debate. What we can discuss is what to build, how the community can provide design/function input, and how to maximize the community benefit of such a facility. For example, I want to find a way to make it available to residents outside of business hours to provide relief during special events or when there are winter parking restrictions in effect.
Residents have made it abundantly clear that any development must conform to existing height limits. They do not want a six-story building at this location, even if some of it is residential or commercial. They are telling me that, if we must build a parking garage, it should be as low as possible and as attractive as possible, and it must accommodate bicycles, car sharing and electric vehicle charging.
Including residential or commercial uses in a low-rise garage is pointless because it would limit the number of parking spaces and create more demand for those same spaces. So, while I recognize that this lot could be used for all sorts of interesting projects, and could even generate more revenue, my mandate here is clear: Build a simple parking facility, make it as attractive as possible, and get it done by the time Lansdowne reopens.
Green Buildings and LEED Certification
In the past few weeks, there has been some confusion about my stance on Ottawa's commitment to building "green" city facilities, and whether we should seek certification by the Canadian Green Building Council using the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) system. Just to clarify: I absolutely think the City should strive for the highest standards in green design for every building. The question is whether we should seek formal certification for every building.
Currently, Ottawa's green building policy states that all buildings above a certain size must achieve the minimum LEED Certified level, and should aim for the next highest Silver level. This commitment is more than just a feel-good, look-good exercise. Experience in Ottawa and elsewhere has shown that when architects, engineers, builders and building owners work to build greener buildings, they can reduce operating costs while improving performance and occupant satisfaction. The long-term financial savings far outweigh the relatively modest additional capital costs.
For this reason, some Environment Committee members—myself included—felt we should update our policy to aim for the next highest LEED level, Gold. However, we wanted to know what the incremental costs, as well as the anticipated savings, would be if we were to take this bolder step.
In addition, I asked our staff if the City could save money on consulting and documentation by not pursuing formal certification of each building, while still maintaining the same strong commitment to green design standards. This does not mean we would dilute the current design standards. We would actually raise the bar without seeking the official LEED stamp of approval.
The Environment Committee passed a motion to this effect, but the ensuing public response indicated there was confusion about the intent as well as the decision that had been taken. As a result, Council opted to refer the motion back to the Environment Committee, where the subject will receive a more thorough airing and discussion sometime this spring.
"Why I love Ottawa / Gatineau" Photo Contest:
Exhibition and Silent Auction
Saturday, February 23, noon – 8:30pm.
Ottawa Studio Works, 160 Preston St. (between Gladstone and Somerset)
As one of the "celebrity" participants in the "Why I love Ottawa / Gatineau" photo contest in support of the Ottawa Food Bank, I hope you have a chance to see the results and bid on your favourites at the exhibition and silent auction on Feb. 23. The auction and People's Choice ballot run until 7 p.m., with a presentation at 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the contest website.