|You're invited to #BudgetSpeak, a collaborative consultation with urban councillors. Also, I also want to share information about the proposed Baseline BRT, dogs in parks, Complete Streets, pedestrian crossovers, and the Ontario Municipal Board.
Thursday, Oct. 13, 7 – 9 p.m.
Once again this year I will be co-hosting a budget discussion with my urban ward colleagues, Councillors Fleury, Leiper, McKenney and Nussbaum. While there are a number of ways to contribute to Budget 2017 preparation and deliberations, I encourage you to participate in this session, which will be focused on moving resident-identified priorities forward. This consultation will dig a little deeper and will, I hope, provide value to all participants while allowing councillors to hear from you.
In preparation for both the 2015 and 2016 City of Ottawa Budgets, these same urban councillors co-hosted a series of consultations with residents to get a better sense of their priorities — and the funding options — for the municipal budget. The hundreds of residents who participated in these sessions consistently ranked transit affordability, provision of social services and safe mobility for all modes of travel as their top priorities.
With these priorities identified, this year's consultation will focus on the "how" instead of the "what". It will consist of short plenary presentations on all three issues, roundtable discussions and advice from residents to their councillors on what specific initiatives could usefully be considered for inclusion in their 2017 municipal budget deliberations at committee and council.
Baseline Road Bus Rapid Transit open house
Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6 – 9 p.m., presentation at 7 p.m.
Recent news coverage of an upcoming open house on a proposed Bus Rapid Transitway to run east-west along the Heron and Baseline corridor called into question where this idea came from, and why it would be a priority when weighed against other major transit projects.
My response: This project is firmly anchored in the Transportation Master Plan, and rightly so. Although I am a big supporter of the light rail plans to extend and improve north-south Trillium Line service and to build and then expand the east-west Confederation Line, these will only ever directly serve some parts of the city.
For people who want/need to cross the city south of the downtown core, it is essential to provide an attractive and convenient transit service. A bus rapid transit (BRT) line connecting Billings Bridge with Baseline, at Algonquin College, and then to Bayshore in the future will be a very important element, not least for many residents of Capital Ward, for whom going into downtown and then onto a busy LRT line will make little sense.
When you add into the mix the fact that the proposal would provide for an improved streetscape, traffic calming and full bicycle lanes/tracks, there is all the more reason to pursue this plan. It won’t happen overnight, but getting the plan right and getting the public behind it are crucial first steps.
Here is some background information for the open house:
The City of Ottawa is working on a Planning and Environmental Assessment (EA) Study for the proposed at-grade Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) facility between Bayshore Station and Heron Station along a 14.5 km corridor generally following Baseline Road and Heron Road. The proposed facility would accommodate increasing travel demand across the City and help achieve modal share targets as set out in the Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
Implementation of the BRT facility is identified in the TMP as follows:
The EA Study will determine measures to improve transit service efficiency along the corridor and result in the expansion of the City’s transit network.
In a world where people love their children and their pets equally — or so it seems — it's a challenge to come up with fair rules for sharing public space in a safe and responsible manner. I have received a number of complaints recently from concerned residents following unpleasant canine encounters, including several injuries.
I am loath to launch any kind of complete rewriting of the rules that govern such parks as Brantwood, Kaladar, Windsor and Brewer, and yet it is clear that the rules are either not clear enough, or the signage may not be sufficiently clear and visible.
My first step towards improving clarity and safety, and thus avoiding any wholesale reviews or changes, will be to study the existing signage and then update that signage. Should this, along with regular visits and enforcement by By-law officers, be inadequate to inspire full compliance by pet owners (it's not the dogs' fault, as they can’t read human signs), then and only then will I look at whether changes to off-leash rules are needed.
As part of the City of Ottawa's upcoming bylaw reviews, I will take an interest in how we can improve consistency in rules and signage, and understanding and compliance among pet owners. I don’t want to rub anyone’s fur the wrong way, but everyone — humans, dogs and wildlife alike — should be safe in our parks.
In light of the recent tragic death of a young woman cycling on the Laurier Avenue Segregated Lane, the City is re-examining the design of this particular lane with the view to improving safety, clarity and respect among all users. As a first step, stop bars for motorized vehicles have been moved back to provide better sight lines for vehicles turning right. More physical changes, signage improvements and public education for all road users can also be expected.
But with Laurier Ave. being only one of many such streets with segregated lanes or cycle tracks either built, almost built or planned, I feel it is essential to ensure that lessons learned from Laurier Ave. be applied to all "Complete Streets". I have asked City staff to perform a review of the (almost finished) Main St. and O’Connor St. facilities to see if changes are needed prior to their official completion and opening.
Both Main and O’Connor are proceeding on schedule and are slated to open in their near-final form later this fall.
Illustration of crossover at the Bank Street Bridge (NCC)
Installation of pedestrian crossovers
Significant work began this week on the installation of two pedestrian crossovers on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway — one between Queen Elizabeth Place and the Bank Street Bridge, the other mid-block at Commissioners Park — to improve the safety and comfort level of pedestrians crossing at these locations.
Changes were made to the original design of the Queen Elizabeth Place crossing based on feedback received during the consultation phase:
Illustration of crossover at Commissioners Park (NCC)
Changes have also been made to the Commissioners Park crossing design:
The work, being carried out in partnership between the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the City of Ottawa, will continue until mid-November. It will involve varying degrees of disruption affecting motorists, cyclists and pedestrians on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the Rideau Canal Western Pathway, as well as residents in the area:
Temporary Closures on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway: Expect delays as Queen Elizabeth Dr. in the construction areas is reduced to one lane during off-peak hours, between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Flag persons and signage will help direct traffic.
Rideau Canal Western Pathway: Although the multi-use path along Queen Elizabeth Dr. will remain open during the work, there are two detours in the vicinity of the construction areas. Signage will inform users about the impacts of the work. Users can also take the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway along Colonel By Drive during construction.
Motorists and pathway users are urged to comply with directions indicated by flag persons, and obey the directional signage installed on the construction sites to ensure their safety.
These new pedestrian crossovers are among the dozens being installed or planned throughout the City of Ottawa.
I recently worked with my colleagues Councillors Brockington, Fleury, Leiper, McKenney and Nussbaum on a joint position regarding the reform of the Ontario Municipal Board.
The provincial government is currently reviewing the OMB, and considering possible modifications to its mandate, terms of reference, etc.