Tag Archives: Mathieu Fleury

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.

Regards,

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.

Chapel St Opened to Cut-through Traffic without Consulting Sandy Hillers

On Monday via an unsolicited email from a concerned citizen SandyHillSeen (SHS) discovered that a developer was proposing a 31-storey build in 9-storey zoned Sandy Hill.

On Tuesday Cllr Mathieu Fleury’s “Community Progress Report” came through the letter box.  The positive announcements were reviewed with interest  then relegated to the recycling bin.

On Wednesday another email from concerned citizen brought to our attention that Chapel St was to be opened at Beausoleil Dr in Lowertown. Essentially creating a traffic cut-through from the Queesway via Mann & Chapel through Lowertown to the Market, New Edinburgh or Gatineau. A great new route for all those neighbourhoods to reach the 417 but it cuts right through the heart of a residential zone.

Mat Fleury Progress RepSome how both the significant challenge to zoning and the significant potential increase in traffic on an already busy residential street weren’t important enough to feature in the Councillor’s report. This alone is incredibly disappointing and it demonstrates a lack of transparency when important information is received via the grapevine rather than official channels where decisions are taken on our behalf.

Any Sandy Hill’er who walks or bikes knows the danger of the Chapel & Beausoleil intersection. The danger here is of vital importance as it is the key pedestrian and cycling route to 3 schools: De La Salle, York Street Public & St Anne’s.  Not one of the emails received in regards to the opening of a cut-through route on Chapel St challenged the idea of creating a safe crossing for children. All championed the idea of much needed safety measures to provide a secure crossing. The emails did however share dismay at the lack of consultation, let alone information, and the appropriateness of increasing car traffic in the name of protecting pedestrians. One also has to consider the increase of traffic here at peak times. As well as a great new route to the 417 it’s also perfect for parents driving to the schools.

The Councillors officer Alana Dale, consulted today, puts forth that opening the intersection to traffic is the only way to create a safe crossing and allow for Stop signs under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). 

Of course one can’t really aptly respond to the above as there is no detailed information on the other methods of traffic calming or safe-passage explored – from crossing-guards to traffic lights, speed bumps or closing an alternate section of Chapel St (say Chapel at Rideau for instance) to reduce cut-through.

Allowing more cars on to Chapel St by creating a cut-through will significantly raise tensions between cyclist/pedestrians and car traffic on this already busy route in the heart of the residential neighbourhood. Bear in mind that during the upcoming LRT work at the Campus station more buses will be routed to King Edward which will create a further burden on Chapel St as it stands.

A discussion needs to share what other solutions have been examined and whether the one proposed, without consulting the residents, is indeed the most appropriate.  This website received many alternate ideas however it is our Councillor that must establish an open house discussion on solutions to ensure true responsive and well documented transparency.

At this point, with the news received unofficially less than 24-hours ago, there are very few answers to any questions.

An on-site meeting is set for tomorrow (at Rideau & Chapel 8am Friday 20 Dec) and SHS hopes to share further information and establish if the Cllr office plans to explore alternate approaches and/or modifications to the proposed solution before a decision is made. Hopefully the Councillor will provide a proactive plan including a contact name, timeline for discussions and deadline for decision making.

Eye Spy: Rideau Street ReVitalised & ReDiscovered

Yowzers!  There’s a flurry of activity on Rideau Street today.

RibbonCuttingDSCN7439Djembe players lent beats to the proceedings as the Mayor, Councillor Fleury, local businesses and the Downtown Rideau BIA came together for the ribbon cutting ceremony & BBQ to mark the official re-opening – if not completion (Friel through Wurtemburg & Rideau River bridge still in progress) of the Rideau Street redevelopment project.

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson & his beautiful light art was displayed – on a smaller scale – while awaiting road work completion. The 4 LED visual art installations will be situated between Waller & Coburg streets and stand 9 feet tall sparkling in the daylight whilst shimmering at night. I seriously can’t wait for these beauties.

DSCN7452Rideau Bakery outdid themselves; their cake decorated with historic pictures from the streets elegant past. Businesses up and down Rideau set up sidewalk displays offering discounts, gifts and taking the time to get to know their neighbours.

I picked up some lovely reflector straps and bike lights outside the EnviroCentre.  I love this organisation they are so involved with Ottawa happenings and they’re offering discounts of 25-50% off today at the Rideau Street location where we chatted with the lovely Sheila & Melissa.

DSCN7454Later we discovered the Rideau Homeopathy wellness centre with physiotherapist & homeopath Mokhtar Akbari and massage therapist & acupuncturist Lori Mackay – 418 Rideau.

So many businesses were set up it’s a hard to name them all from Loblaw’s with a free BBQ to jamaican patties at the DJ Market  by the African Heritage Centre, the local Library, Cony’s Nail Spa, Bytowne Cinema, Riccioli – such a fun time.

DSCN7455A final highlight was meeting Indigo who not only set up the most beautiful table but filled us in on the monthly Sandy Hill Good Food Market at 731 Chapel St.  September’s market is tomorrow Saturday the 28th from 11am-3pm and they are hosting a community harvest BBQ from 1pm.  Come for the market and stay for the great eats!! Future market dates will definitely be posted on the SandyHillSeen website from now on.