Archive for November, 2008

27
Nov
08

Light rail, supplemental

Shortly after writing that last post, I realized there’s so many proposals for light rail floating around out there, it might be a good idea to map them to see the various ideas we’re looking at. I’ll focus most specifically on the west end, since that’s where the majority of the debate seems to occuring.

First, the most basic—Transitway conversion, including the Ottawa River Parkway:

picture-3

Green would be the Parkway line, red is the current O-Train, orange the Transitway LRT, and orange is the Billings Bridge to Hurdman LRT, proposed in Clive Doucet’s Light Rail Now! plan.

Now here’s the Byron Avenue option:

picture-4

With the purple line representing the Byron line, you can see that it follows the Transitway up to Dominion, before it would duck south and travel between Richmond and Byron to Lincoln Fields. The biggest question mark is the final 500-or-so metres before Lincoln Fields, where I’m not sure where tracks would be able to run.

Lastly, here’s the Carling proposal:

picture-5

The teal is the Carling line, which begins at Carling station and is a straight-shot down Carling Avenue until it hits Lincoln Fields. This would leave rail to Tunney’s Pasture somewhat orphaned, so it’s questionable if that would actually be built past Bayshore, or if it would remain BRT. It might be worth considering, though, due to the amount of government offices in that area.

Finally, here’s an overall view, with the Byron option chosen for the western section entirely because I thought it looked nicest. So sue me, I’m a cartographer and that’s what I do.

picture-6

Again, you’ll note two aspects of Doucet’s plan I included. First, the 97’s run between Billings and Hurdman is light rail, providing a rapid transit alternative to traveling through downtown, and easily extendable to Barrhaven at some point in the future. As well, O-Train extensions to Leitrim and downtown Gatineau. While I question the logic of stopping the O-Train at Leitrim (I think the airport would be a better southern terminus), I’m very much in favour of extending our system into Gatineau. It might require a second tunnel, but integrating our two systems would be incredibly valuable, and it would save Ottawans that work in Quebec having to switch to STO buses at Mackenzie King like they currently do.

27
Nov
08

Light rail on Carling, redux

As reported by Transit Ottawa, there will be no Environmental Assessment (EA) on Carling Avenue’s suitability for light rail, at least not yet.

I know I’ve come out against the Carling LRT proposal before, but after seeing the full proposal and giving it some due consideration, I’m starting to lean towards it being a good idea. I’m not 100% convinced yet, and I definitely think there would be concerns that would need to be addressed before it goes ahead, but does that mean it’s a bad idea to do an EA?

EA’s are not terribly expensive, all things considered, and when we’re talking about starting work on a project that will cost the City of Ottawa at least four billion dollars over the next twenty years, we should at least look in to every possible option. The idea of running rail along Byron Avenue was also floated (and summarily shot down, as well) which is another excellent possibility. It’s maybe not quite as well-suited for light rail as Carling, but it would connect up well with both Dominion station and Lincoln Fields station and once more, should we not just consider it? An EA doesn’t lock us into doing either option, but does give us the information we need to make an informed decision.

And informed decisions are something we’re sorely lacking in this town, sometimes.

25
Nov
08

Subdvisions, the southwestern frontier

First of all, welcome to any and all new readers who came here through the link in Ottawa Start! Glad to see you here, and I hope some of you stick around.

Today, I saw a piece in the Citizen about a developer from Calgary proposing to build a major new residential development between Barrhaven and Stittsville in southwest Ottawa. Here’s a map, to illustrate:

Long-term plans

Blue: Immediate development, Orange: Long-term plans

Just a note about that image, it’s not official in the slightest, I made it myself. The short-term plans I’m fairly sure of, based on the Citizen’s description, but the long-term plans are nearly a complete guess. It’s what made sense to me, based upon the existing road network in that part of Ottawa.

Back to topic, I thought most of the points made in the article made sense, especially the “Live, work, play” notes. This is something I see attached to suburban developments, but what they don’t usually tell you is that the emphasis is on “live”. If you want to work or play, you’re probably going to have to start commuting.

What I’m sitting here asking myself is why we should even consider such a plan? I thought that sprawling new developments were supposed to be becoming a thing of the past, and that even in relatively-conservative Ottawa, we were starting to move towards intensification and sustainable development. I guess that because the price of gas has dropped back down to under $1 per litre, it’s okay to try to go back to outdated theories of suburban development.

Personally, I hope to see this get quashed at Council, but it’s hard to say which way this will go. The City is starting to see that we need to change how we build cities, but these changes occur slowly so who knows which attitude will prevail.

(As an aside, I recommend listening to this in the background to lend this post a proper atmosphere)

20
Nov
08

Diving into the past

Originally, I was planning on writing about the Rideau Centre for this post; where it came from, what it replaced and how it impacts the urban landscape today. However, whenever I set out to do something I almost inevitably get sidetracked by something, and while researching this post I ended up coming across a series of aerial photos showcasing the evolution of a particular area of Ottawa. And, if you know anything about me, you know that I was almost instantly fascinated, and I decided I had to craft a post around it.

It all started with this image, taken in 1920:

aerial1920

Photo courtesy Natural Resources Canada, Earth Sciences Sector

Confused and unsure of what it is you’re looking at? Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you—I know not everyone is as well-versed in analyzing these sorts of things as I am! Here’s a reference version:

aerial1920referenced

Green: City Hall, Teal: Rideau Centre, Red: Conference Centre, Purple: WellingtonRideau St., Yellow: Elgin St., Blue: Laurier Avenue

Make more sense now? The dark section running up the middle, is the Rideau Canal. I find this image really interesting, because it really shows off Ottawa’s roots as an industrial lumber town. In 1920, Ottawa had been Canada’s capital for less than 60 years and it shows. Where the Rideau Centre is today, a large rail yard sprawls just a few hundred metres away from Parliament Hill. Next to it, a quay juts out from the canal, likely a staging ground for passengers and freight to change between the rails and the water.

On the subject of passengers, Union Station dominates a stretch of land next to the canal, a stark contrast to the carefully manicured pathways that exist there now. To the south, a large military staging ground occupies the land where City Hall sits today. If it weren’t for a scattering of prominent landmarks, it’d be impossible to tell this picture is of Ottawa. A lot has changed in the 88 years since it was taken… follow the jump to see some of them.

Continue reading ‘Diving into the past’

13
Nov
08

Draft Budget

I wrote a column this week on the proposed increases for user fees at city facilities:
Youth shouldn’t pay for city’s problems

In other news, I also saw this article recently, which stated that City staff have recommended cutting Ottawa’s road construction budget and putting the savings into transit funding. Kind of a daring move, by this city’s standards, but one that would be nice to see pass through. After all, we should be hope that at least some good can come out of this mess of a draft budget.

04
Nov
08

Lansdowne Park survey

The Glebe Community Association has released a survey about the new Lansdowne Park proposal, and as I’m sure you can see it’s a long way from being impartial.

I have nothing against the Glebe or the GCA, however I think they may be undermining their own position by coming out with such a biased survey—you don’t need to be a statistician to tell that this sort of poll is going to lead to some pretty skewed results. I’m very much in favour of the new plan, and I had difficulty answering in a manner that properly showed my opinion. There were quite a few leading questions in there, to say the least.

I think this is unfortunate, because much as I am in favour of the plan, I fully encourage debate around the issue. That’s part of the reason why I write about it here, and I recognize that dissenting opinions can often help to turn a good idea into a great one. That said, the GCA needs to recognize that they are far better off trying to work with the plan rather than blindly trying to oppose it. So far, it seems as though Jeff Hunt and friends are quite open to community input (witness their inclusion of space for the famer’s market in the plan, for instance) and if Glebe residents try to work with the plan on the table, they may see more of their concerns addressed. On the other hand, by simply opposing it they may be left out in the cold, and everybody loses.




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