Category Archives: Local Politics

Eye Spy: Marc Aubin enters the Rideau-Vanier Race

After much speculation Monday marked the day that Marc Aubin officially threw his hat in the ring as challenger for the Councillor seat in Ward 12 Rideau-Vanier.

Aubin websiteAubin brings with him a wealth of local advocacy experience as the former President of the Lowertown Community Association and the former Chair of the King Edward Avenue TaskForce.  Marc is born and bred in the Ward from a family that has lived locally for several generations.  We look forward to learning more about Aubin’s vision from his recently launched campaign website .

Ward 12 is shaping up with strong voices bringing much needed vision and advocacy – bring it!

Eye Spy: The Segregated Laurier Bike Lane cycles into Sandy Hill + a suggestion to the Mayor

As per our tweet yesterday afternoon:

Say it w/ me: woohoo! . starts work to extend Laurier Bike lane from Elgin to Cumberland. Opens in August   RETWEETS10

It is with great excitement that we learned about the extension of the segregated Laurier Bike Lane in to Sandy Hill.

The extended lane will be segregated from Elgin St to the Queen Elizabeth Drive turn-off and from there it will be a painted lane across the bridge up to Cumberland St.

Mayor & us at Ride of Silence - advocating for safe cycling

Mayor & us at Ride of Silence – advocating for safe cycling

As a strong advocate of safe infrastructure supporting the use of urban “destination” cycling for all from 8-80 years we applaud advancement. Thank you City & Mayor Jim Watson for making this extension happen.

We urge the Mayor to consider extending this work, at least with painted line, – though segregated would be much better esp for those unsure or with young children – across King-Edward to Chapel St.  This further extension would lead nicely – via a right-hand turn – to the soon-to-be build Donald St -Strathcona Park bridge connecting us to Vanier & Overbrook. While a left hand turn off Laurier at Chapel would take cyclists smoothly through Lowertown to Beausoleil (Ottawa’s 1st Bike-only interesection) and up York across King Edward in to the Byward Market.  This network would truly unite all of Rideau-Vanier Ward 12.

It would be Ottawa’s first fully connected, full Ward cycle network – Let’s do it!

 

Eye Spy: Candidate Catherine Fortin-LeFaivre in the News

The race is heating up in Ward 12 for the municipal elections this fall and some strong, visionary voices are speaking out for positive action in Rideau-Vanier.

CFL_finalThis week Catherine Fortin-LeFaivre challenged incumbent Councillor Mathieu Fleury’s view that the market “is safe” and more tellingly spoke of measures to increase pedestrian & cycling safety to transform the area  making it safe and welcoming to all comers.

We look forward to hearing more pragmatic solutions from each of the Candidates to create and build the most vibrant Rideau-Vanier possible.

Read the metro’s interview with Catherine here: Rideau-Vanier Candidate Fortin LeFaivre Speaks out on Ward Safety.

Eye Spy: Community Steps Out & Up for Positive Development

Beautiful Bate’s Hall in the back of All Saints Church at Chapel St and Laurier was alive with foot-stomping and fundraising over the weekend.

Food and dancersThe local community alarmed by a lack of vision from City officials and the dearth of action to preserve heritage architecture (some designated, some not) threw a party to raise money for conservation &  proactive, considerate development planning in the hood.

AuctionLocals are grateful for the tireless volunteer hours put in by spearheading dynamos Jane Gurr, Lynn Marchildon, Susan Young-Audet & Willow Scobie from ASH. SandyHillSeen was happy to be a part of this initiative and work with so many other local contributors including TAN Coffee, Remax, Andrex Holdings – who embrace sensitive development, Roz Matthews, Chez Lucien, C’est Bon Cooking, Rosemary Scagg, Hilltop Restaurant & bar who laid out an amazing spread and Ashton Brewing Company & Wellington Brewery who generously donated wonderful craft Beers.

Tellingly, on the same day as the party the illegal demolition of the Stewart-Dworkin building (under heritage study) on Rideau commenced. Please sign the petition for this building and ask your City to take action.

541RideauFinal note – Another grand old dame at 541 Rideau (formerly housing Culinary Conspiracy) is equally under threat. Lets talk it up and raise the rafters to protect our beautifully evocative & important history.

Eye Spy: Vocal Advocating Attendees at RideauSt CDP Planning Primer

I attendimageed the 1st of three Rideau St Community Development Plan (CDP) planning primers hosted by Ottawa City Planner Melanie Knight at the Rideau St Library this morning.

Though the room was about half full the meeting was amply  filled with vocal input from advocates from Lowertown & Sandy including Chris Bradshaw, Diane Beckett and Francois Bregha. It was an informative meeting with a very animated discussion around the way we ensure a thriving mainstreet. Highlights were not using the highest building as the guideline for height (there are only 4 over 10 stories and only 1 over 15 – hardly a hand-tying precedence for towers), creating open inviting corridors from Rideau to nearby parks (either side at Chapel St & to MacDonald Gardens)  and creating resting spots or plaza’s on Rideau st.

The final session is tonight at 6pm. It should be fun and vocal as I know of at least two strong advocates & visionaries Eric Goodwin & Catherine Fortin-LeFaivre who will be in attendance. I hope you will be too!

Eye Spy: Residents Come out for Pedestrian Memorial

DSCN7732

Cllr Diane Holmes

Spring was in the air as the Ottawa community gathered at Rideau and Waller this afternoon to witness the memorial unveiling for Yvonne Hendrikx – killed by a double-trailer truck at this intersection in February. Trucks roared around the gathering and Councillor Diane Holmes who worked with WalkOttawa to organise the commemorative “Walker” at times struggled to be heard. It is good to see a marker indicating the significance of this incident. Hopefully it will remind City Hall of the urgency required to ensure this tragedy is not again repeated.

Eye Spy: Rideau St CDP Open House TODAY – Make your voice heard

Rideau St CollageToday from 3-8PM at the Rideau St Library (377 Rideau) is the Open House for the Rideau St re-design.  Cllr Fleury’s office explains this is a pop-in Open House to inform the public of  aspects of the 2005 Community Design Plan (CDP) that are to be reviewed and revised in the next edition “to provide clear direction for future development.” Read more on the reasons for reopening the CDP and the items  affected (e.g., Building height, traffic management, etc) here.

pedestrianproject reading paperToday is the first opportunity for the community to get their vision across for this stretch of Rideau St that runs from King Edward to the Cummings Bridge.  The whole Ward is affected by this section of Rideau. A “destination” visionary design rather than one that simply supports short-term developer gains could bolster the desirability of the whole area from Montreal Road by creating a shopping corridor to the Market generating a diversity of clients allowing businesses to flourish.

The 2005 CDP limited height to 6 stories so an important aspect to review will be if this height limitation is preserved as sunlight is an important aspect to any shopping district- witness the demise of  Spark Street’s dark corridor or the lack of patios and foot fall on Queen & Slater at the weekend.

Equally it would be nice to see if there is any room for mini-parks to encourage residents to gather or street furniture to take a break.

Jermyn st street gardenRideau st  affects the entire Ward – if it becomes a dark speedy wind tunnel of high-rises it will forever cut off Vanier from Lowertown/SandyHill and the Byward Market bringing down the tone of each and every neighbourhood in Ward 12. If however Rideau is designed with a strong vision in mind- and I for one see it as a strolling, shopping, low-rise patio-friendly destination that draws visitors and residents alike – it has the location and bordering neighbourhoods to become a true destination with shopping, a cinema, great history and restaurants all a joined up in a walkable distance. Upper Rideau is without a doubt the vital link between Ward 12 neighbours from Vanier through the shops on Cumberland, Dalhousie and the Market.

Hopefully  today’s open house is a step in ensuring a traditional low-rise strolling- and-shopping,district that reinforces our Ward as a desirable, liveable destination that all of Ottawa deserves.

 

Eye Spy: Local Twitter Advocate in the News

What started as an en-ragingly absurd conversation on Twitter has hit the printed press.

Photo courtesy Eric Goodwin @auxonic

Photo courtesy Eric Goodwin @auxonic

On Wednesday morning, March 19th, a driver with license plate “CF MOM” needed a parking spot on Laurier. Rather than park legally in a designated spot this driver decided the protected bike lane looked great.

Eric Goodwin – he that bikes  in all seasons – took some pictures, tweeted some cracking comments alongside others in the Ottawa cycling twitterati and later was interviewed by Joe Lofaro.

Read more from the Metro’s article here:  http://metronews.ca/news/ottawa/978403/ottawa-cyclist-tweets-photo-of-egregious-violation-of-segregated-bike-lane/

Unfortunately Ottawa City bylaw failed to take  decisive action despite the vehicle being in place for at least – from twitter photos – almost 20mins. The City told Metro they could not issue a ticket as the car had moved by the time the bylaw officer showed up.  Might this member of your electorate humbly suggest a strongly worded letter of warning be issued to the owner of the license plate “CF MOM” at a minimum if the City feels unable to issue a fine despite all recorded evidence.

Eye Spy: Open House on Rideau Street Re-Design

The 1st Open House for the Rideau St re-design will be March 26th, 3-8PM at the Rideau Library. Pop-in to see the plans.

In December 2013 the City of Ottawa deemed it important to re-open the Community Design Plan (CDP) created in 2005 “to provide clear direction for future development.” Read more on the reasons for reopening the CDP and the items  affected (e.g., Building height, traffic management, etc) here.

This open house will be the first opportunity for the community to see and comment on proposed changes. The Uptown Rideau area covers Rideau street from King Edward to the Cummings Bridge which leads to our neighbours in Vanier and the Montreal Road.

We are hopeful  this is the first step in ensuring a traditional low-rise strolling- and-shopping, patio-friendly commercial street that locals and visitors can enjoy. Rideau is a key corridor linking the Byward Market to Sandy Hill, Lowertown & Vanier. Rather than belonging to no-one it belongs to every neighbourhood in our Ward. At the very heart of Ward 12 Rideau must be fully transformed from a conduit to other places to a desirable liveable destination.

Wednesday March 26, 2014
Rideau Library – 377 Rideau Street
Drop in anytime between 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Eye Spy: Serious Words on Revitalising our Hood

Tomorrow is the cut-off for letters to the City Planning department on a proposal from Dharma Development that wishes to more than double the height allowed on Upper Rideau Street.

bytownerideau1.pngI want a strolling, shopping corridor so I wrote this to City Planning. I want businesses like the Bytowne, Auntie Loos, Rideau Bakery and All Books. I want them supported by foot-fall and I want more of their ilk. Strongly worded? Yes but if we don’t advocate for our neighbourhood who will?
—–

Re: File Number D02-02-13-0129 – Zoning By-law Amendment Proposal, 541-545 Rideau Street

I am writing to you today to oppose the proposal to rezone 541-545 Rideau Street. The proposal brought by Dharma Developments violates current zoning restrictions and goes directly against the City’s stated aim to create a Traditional Mainstreet (TM) on Upper Rideau.  The City spent taxpayer money developing the Upper Rideau Design Plan in 2005 with the communities’ involvement to identify the best approach to creating the best possible Street. To allow rezoning is wasteful of taxpayers’ money and disrespectful of the Ward’s wishes.

The City planning has stated that their “hands are tied” in respect to high-rise developments as they were zoned for height and the City must respect the owners rights. This was a response from City planning when asked why we can’t spot-rezone for lower height –it is always and only greater capacity the City bows to. Let the City have their hands tied and be respectful citizen and property owners rights in areas zoned for low-rise development.  The City must have an equal obligation towards respecting the investments of property buyers that purchased in areas zoned as low-rise. Let’s finally start respecting investments equally be they by corporation or individual.

To be completely clear a TM means buildings should be no higher than 19meters – ideal for light thus encouraging strolling and patios which are two much needed developments on Upper Rideau.  The Dharma Development proposal wants to more than double the zoned height restriction and tear-down 541 Rideau a building noted as “of Heritage Interest”.  The last thing residents of the Upper Rideau want – and that the City as a whole should encourage – is the transformation of beautiful old neighbourhoods in to an extension of the wind-tunnel dark shadowed portion of Rideau Street between King Edward and Cumberland.

That these old neighbourhoods have been neglected is no excuse for irresponsible development.  One need only look to the transformation of Bank St in Old Ottawa South to see the flourishing benefits of listening to Community input.

I want to see new developments on Upper Rideau that enhance the liveability of the street.  Developments must encourage quality businesses catering to and are supported by the neighbourhood.  Currently Upper Rideau St is not a “destination” it is a cut-through for car drivers.  Building light-blocking high-rises will reinforce this. If the City is sincere in its stated plan then it needs to respect the Upper Rideau St Design and, as this plan states, adhere to the zoning of 19ft height that allows no more than between 6-9 stories; as opposed to the 16stories the current proposal request.  The Upper Rideau Street plan was adopted 8 years ago – let’s enforce it today.

Developing Upper Rideau Street properly can – given the diversity & density of the surrounding neighbourhoods including Sandy Hill, Lowertown, Vanier & the Byward Market –create a natural shopping and strolling corridor between Vanier and Byward. Doing this will strengthen the quality of businesses, the desirability of all four neighbourhoods and create a vibrant shopping street to rival any seen in Old Ottawa South or Wellington West.

It is time for the City to get serious about the commitment to transform Upper Rideau – talk and planning sessions and whitepapers are nothing other than a waste of taxpayer money if they are not implemented.

——

Please feel free to copy this letter and email it with your own message to Douglas.james@ottawa.ca
Letters on this proposal are due by end of day 17 February 2014

Mr. Douglas James
Planning and Growth Management Department
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON, K10 1J1