OECA: Progress and priorities

The past year in Old Ottawa East was marked by major accomplishments. But this coming year poses challenges that will require renewed efforts by the community association, its sister organizations and their many members.

In 2013, achievements included: having the ‘complete street’ design for Main Street approved by city council; completing the environmental assessment for the proposed Clegg-Fifth canal footbridge and having this included in the city’s transportation master plan; removing the full Alta Vista transportation corridor (AVTC) roadway from the list of affordable roads to 2026; and killing the proposal for a massive parking lot in the green space between the Lees apartment buildings and Springhurst park.

These successes and others were the result of efforts by many community members, our councillor and city staff.

And yet, the demand to follow up is immediate. For instance, Councillors Hume and Deans are already lobbying to have the AVTC roadway re-inserted into the affordable roadway priorities when the transportation master plan is reviewed in five years. Although the ‘complete street’ plan for Main has been approved, there are lots of details to be worked out, not the least of which will be minimizing the impacts of construction in 2015 and 2016 on residents and businesses.

Another key follow-up item is the proposed footbridge and its scheduling. It could be another decade before the footbridge is built. Tied to its construction are safe pedestrian crossings at Clegg-Colonel By and Fifth-Queen Elizabeth Drive. Anybody who has tried to get across these intersections at rush hour does not want to wait another 10 years for the creation of safe crossings.

In 2013, planning for the development of the institutional lands began in earnest with the sale of half of the Sisters’ lands (Springhurst and Main) and the tentative sale of the much larger Oblate property. There is an approved community design plan and a secondary plan that provide critical restrictions on what can be built. But vigilance is required to ensure the detailed development proposals actually conform to approved plans and that there isn’t excessive or inappropriate intensification.

Furthermore, the research work being led by Sustainable Living Ottawa East will provide key ideas on how to ensure development is indeed sustainable, fits with precious and delicate river frontage, and is well-integrated and supportive of the larger Old Ottawa East community.

A key issue will be improving the adequacy of community services and facilities, given the growing population. The Community Activities Group has surveyed residents to determine program and facility needs and has found a keen interest in having more river-related programs and facilities, an outdoor area with activities geared to youth 10 and up, and a bigger community centre similar to Old Ottawa South’s Firehall.

As the recently released 2011 census figures showed, Old Ottawa East with its approximately 7,000 residents has distinct demographic differences. The people living in the area dominated by the five apartment towers on Lees are much younger and with fewer children than the rest of the community, reflecting the type of housing and also the large number of students near the Lees campus of the University of Ottawa. Although the community association has a remarkable 655households that are members, few of these are in the Lees apartments.

Along these lines, it was suggested we should better leverage existing assets such as the field house, community garden and nature trail, to increase community engagement and sustainability. And then there was the suggestion for more parties and celebrations – another good idea.

Please contact info@Ottawaeast.ca with your thoughts on community priorities and what you’d like to do to make them become realities.

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