Tag Archives: Lowertown Community Association

Eye Spy: Rideau-Vanier Candidates Debate Tonight 7-9 @OttVote

The advanced voting has kicked off and the end is in-sight for this exciting and engaged Municipal Election. Rideau-Vanier candidates still have (at least) 3 more debates and one is tonight in the heart of Sandy Hill.

VoteSo come out listen to the issues and share your own from 7-9PM at the Sandy Hill Community Centre where the focus will be on Transit, Employment and access to good food and affordable housing in Ward 12.


A shout out to Vanier Community Service Centre, Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Lowertown Community Resource Centre who organized tonight’s debate.

All-Candidates Debate
7-9PM, October 2nd
Sandy Hill Community Centre, 250 Somerset Street East

Eye Spy: Inclusive Solution for Chapel/Beausoleil Intersection

bicycles_and_pedestrians_only-svgDavid Reevely has since covered this story in the Ottawa Citizen 

After a difficult and at times emotional debate surrounding the opening of the intersection at Beausoleil Dr & Chapel St an inclusive solution reflecting local community concerns about increased car traffic will be implemented.

“staff will convert the opening of Chapel Street at Beausoleil Drive into a “cyclist access only” intersection, as proposed by community members” Letter from Cllr Fleury’s office

This rewarding outcome heralds the importance of speaking-up, the importance of City reps that listen and the power of social-media (two blog-posts & much discussion/support from online communities outside Ward borders).  The positive result highlights that  through discussion and lively debate Councillor and Resident together shape the best possible outcome for a local community.

Special thanks to the Lowertown Community Association & Vanier (AC Vanier, VanierCycles and Vanier Now), local residents and to the very vocal Twitterati for adding their voices to the discussion.

The following is the full email received today from the Councillor’s office:

Dear Resident,

Thank you for your involvement in the discussions on the installation of stop signs on Beausoleil Drive at Chapel Street. As a point of departure, it is important to clarify three prevailing pieces of information currently circulating in the community:

1. Opening of Chapel Street: Our office did not ask for Chapel Street to be opened. Chapel Street has been open at Beausoleil Drive since summer 2013 to ease the construction work for Rideau Street Renewal. This was likely unnoticeable to the community, because Chapel Street at Rideau Street was closed for the majority of last year. Our office asked staff to delay  the closure of Chapel Street at Beausoleil Drive to allow staff to analyze if we could use this opportunity to create a safe intersection for pedestrians crossing Beausoleil Drive.

2. Permanence of this opening: The reopening of Chapel Street is a temporary measure until there are changes to the Highway Traffic Act, that will give priority to pedestrians by allowing mid-block crossings to be installed. As you are already probably aware, we are currently not able to install mid-block stop signs at non-intersections because of the Highway Traffic Act legislationThe opened Chapel Street and Beausoleil Drive is now a legal intersection, allowing the City to install stop signs.

3. Involvement and Feedback: Our office was approached by the school board and parent associations of York Street, St. Anne, and De La Salle schools, Lowertown Our Home, WalkOttawa and most importantly numerous parents of children that have been involved in near and actual accidents at this intersection, asking for a safe and controlled crossing across Beausoleil Drive at Chapel Street. Throughout our correspondences with the community we always stated that we intended to install stop signs. Our priority has always been to provide a safe and controlled crossing for pedestrians across Beausoleil Drive at Chapel Street.  We recognize the importance of finding a solution to cut through traffic impacts and we asked staff to return with a mitigation plan and resolution to these concerns. 

As committed at the meeting on December 20th, 2013, we asked staff to propose a solution to solve the issue of cut through traffic.As a result of their analysis, staff will convert the opening of Chapel Street at Beausoleil Drive into a “cyclist access only” intersection, as proposed by community members.  The intersection will be physically narrowed to make sure that cars cannot enter, while still ensuring that the intersection is legal by current HTA requirements. This will provide a solution to the concern of cut through traffic raised by residents, while allow us to keep the stop signs and crossing on Beausoleil Drive. Traffic and legal staff are favourable to this solution and we are now working through the implementation process with operations staff. We will follow up with the timeline for implementation.

We believe that this temporary solution, a controlled crossing at this intersection and a narrowed cyclist only opening, will have a positive impact on the community. The stop signs will reduce traffic speed on Beausoleil Drive and will provide a protected crossing for pedestrians. The intersection narrowing and cyclist only access will resolve the issue of cut through traffic.  

We are happy to facilitate a meeting at the request of the community.


Alanna Dale Hill

Councillor’s Assistant | Adjointe au conseiller

Office of Councillor| Bureau du conseiller Mathieu Fleury

Chapel St Re-Opening: Meeting Raises more Questions

A Brief History: In 1994 the Sandy Hill neighbourhood and City Council agreed a traffic plan. King Edward was designated for “through traffic” whereas Chapel and Range Road were designated as “interior neighbourhood collectors”.  The neighbourhood initially pushed for a diversion rather than traffic calming plan but accepted, on good faith, the latter. Chapel St was closed at Beausoleil and remained so until the Rideau St reconstruction this summer when one end of the block reopened as the other closed.  The Rideau / Chapel intersection was closed by the construction works when Beausoleil / Chapel opened. 
It is only since the construction team moved off Rideau in early December that Councillor Fleury requested that Chapel / Beausoleil remain open creating the Chapel Street end-to-end cut-through.

At 8am in the midst of a snowstorm with less than 24hours notice a clutch of Sandy Hillers met Councillor Mathieu Fleury and an Ottawa City planner on a wintery corner to discuss the Councillor’s surprise plan to re-open Chapel St to cars without notifying the residents of Sandy Hill.

Chapel BeausoleilAn angry Twitter storm had erupted putting pressure on the Councillor to meet with vocal residents as word of mouth circulated information about the street opening. Angry concerns were articulated about the lack of communication on an issue impacting the liveability of two residential neighbourhoods as the opening of Chapel end-to-end creates an alternative cut-through between the 417 & Gatineau. Chapel St – in the heart of residential Sandy Hill and Lowertown – is already, in Sandy Hill, beset with traffic and speeding drivers. Mann St leading from the 417 turn-off to Chapel had speed bumps installed such was the concern about speed.  Add to this the speculation that developers feel greater car traffic on Beausoleil could make the area east of Chapel more desirable while a new development at Chapel and Beausoleil is set to begin work and the scene for debate is set.

The reason for opening Chapel to cars initially appears worthy. There are no cross-walks or traffic calming measures at  Beausoleil where it meets Chapel – a popular route to 3 schools: De La Salle, York St Public & St Anne’s. Clearly an unsafe junction there have been near-misses and collisions with school children at this location and this situation – on the table for a number of years now – requires action.

Enter the snowy on-site meeting – the Councillor’s team explained that the Highway  Traffic Act (HTA) requires an intersection for a Stop sign to be erected. Stop signs are not legal mid-street. In calls prior to the meeting and at the on-site the explanation was that hands were tied. Council said they prefer to not open Chapel to cars but the HTA disallows this approach. The Councillor states in emails to residents questioning the unannounced change: “We believe that this temporary solution, a controlled crossing at this intersection, will have a positive impact “.  So it appears in the email that the opening to cars would be reviewed with the Street possibly closed to traffic once the HTA amended their current regulation (up to 2 years for this to happen if at all).

Adding cars to increase pedestrian safety is jarring at best while at worst it both increases the pedestrian danger at one location whilst spreading it beyond. Actions and words began to contradict one another as alternatives were suggested and solutions to legally and inexpensively secure the needed Stop sign without opening Chapel St were put forth.

Attendees suggested closing the other end of the block – Chapel at Rideau as had been done throughout the summer and fall – or the installation of mid-block barrier.  Practical, inexpensive and with little impact.

The next idea was to create a bike-only turn off/on to Chapel which appeared to be a seemingly tailor-made solution. The planner agreed this creates a legal intersection and meets the HTA’s criteria for a stop sign. A solution that is green, inexpensive, legal and allows time for discussion should the Councillor in fact want to open the street to cars. 

Strong positive problem-solving met with resistance from Councillor and City Planner. Blocking off the other end of Chapel at Rideau was potentially too expensive and the bike-only intersection was shockingly deemed “unsafe” because as the City Planner put it, “cars won’t stop for intersections without cars”.  This attitude contradicts the Councillor’s team statement that the Street could in future be closed to cars. If the City bows to drivers that disobey traffic laws for bikes surely it stands to reason the same will hold true re pedestrians regardless of the HTA.  Further there are -as listed- a variety of methods to legally implement a safe-crossing with Stop sign at Chapel and Beausoleil without opening the street to cars: initially stated as the Councillor’s preference. Hands are clearly not tied when it comes to options. 

In a time where cities worldwide embrace the transformational power of pedestrians and cyclists in keeping cities moving and reinvigorating neighbourhoods it should be unacceptable for City representatives to dissuade forward-thinking approaches and visions for urban improvement. Especially with outmoded approaches that reward illegal actions. In Ottawa cars do stop for cyclist – the proof is in the  number of cyclist and pedestrians that safely cross the Corktown (pedestrian) bridge to Somerset West alone. If drivers of any vehicle in Ottawa disobey the rules and put vulnerable road users at risk they need to feel the full weight of the law full stop. 

There may be many more solutions to the current issue but this can only be resolved once all factors under consideration are understood. Should a street need to be re-opened that mustn’t be done in isolation.  One could argue it makes more sense to open all blocked streets rather than a single channel – however this argument would require healthy debate and factual information.

The Councillor has said that the City will review alternatives offered. The Councillor should take immediate action and close the road to car traffic today (mid-block, at Rideau) or make it bike-only.  Implement a safe-crossing as the priority but do so with reduced impact to those that live nearby to keep all street crossings safe.

Sandy Hill and Lowertown will continue to speak-out to preserve their neighbourhoods and to grow progressive forward-thinking urban solutions in consultation with their population.

Should the Council and City attempt to institute changes without transparency or worse yet reward illegal and unsafe drivers by giving them more road – putting more cars at a popular school crossing and in the heart of a residential neighbourhood – they may get a bigger fight than expected.

The Lowertown Community Association (LCA) invites citizens to attend their monthly meeting in January.  Cllr. Fleury will address, amongst other items, the rationale behind his decision to open Chapel Street to vehicular traffic. Please be respectful and considerate as this is a Lowertown Community meeting. We remain hopeful that Cllr Fleury’s office will schedule an open meeting dedicated to the intersection issue shortly. 

Monday, January 13th 7pm, Routhier Centre, 172 Guigues Street.