Old Ottawa East Community Association – December 2014

Tempered Progress and Looking Forward

This past year saw the beginning of major change for Old Ottawa East. And while much was positive, there were also a number of setbacks, where the community wasn’t successful in convincing the municipal government to go the extra step.

The pending reconstruction of Main Street has involved much discussion by the city-community-business working group. While the overall design will be, in the view of the five OOECA members who sit on the working group, a vast improvement for businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and those residing on or near Main, two goals of many community members will not be fulfilled: the undergrounding of hydro wires and the extension of the cycle track along the full length of Main.

Despite an enormous amount of community research and lobbying, the city refuses to underground the electrical wires unless residents pay for the work through a special levy. Previous city commitments in the approved OOE community design plan, recognized there may be economic benefits that exceed the cost of undergrounding. The city is burying cables along the same stretch to service Greystone Village,  the Oblate development, and the new Light Rapid Transit line.

On a very positive note, McIlraith (Smyth) bridge will have cycling lanes. On Main Street, these lanes will turn into dedicated cycle tracks, complete with extra space so cyclists won’t be hit by parked motorists opening their doors. These tracks won’t quite reach the Echo Drive-Colonel By Drive interscetion because, according to city engineers, there isn’t room to have them at the northern end.

Another example of limited gain is the expansion of Springhurst Park. Some of the lands previously reserved for the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor have been transferred to  the park, more than doubling its size. However, the transfer is substantially less than what was previously shown in a map provided to the community association.

The city’s recent completion of the functional plan for the Rideau River Western Pathway through Old Ottawa East and South proposes a number of features that eliminate barriers (notably the hills at both ends of Brantwood Park and under the Transitway bridge). Also, for a number of environmentally sensitive stretches such as Brighton Beach and behind Rideau Gardens Drive homes, fast cyclists will be diverted onto parallel roadways. However, the plan calls for a hard-surfaced pathway along the river through the Brantwood Park stretch. Sustainable Living Ottawa East has recommended this stretch should be constructed of stone dust or the hard-surfaced pathway be moved adjacent to Onslow Drive.

There is now the distinct possibility that construction of a safe pedestrian-cyclist crossing at Clegg Street and Colonel By will be accelerated, thanks to the cooperation of the National Capital Commission and the city. Several months ago, the NCC spoke of building the crossing in the fall of 2015, but it could be done as early as the spring.

The Lees Avenue reconstruction went relatively smoothly, aside from speeding traffic on side streets. Wider sidewalks, fewer vibrations in the adjacent properties and improved cycling facilities are appreciated by residents. However, several residents found that the rebuilt retaining walls are inferior to the former ones. Changes are being sought and it will be important that Main Street residents and the community association ensure that restoration work on Main is done as has been agreed to.

By virtue of the enormous work done by community members in the past, the community is now realizing benefits. May we continue.

For more details check out the OOECA website at: http://www.ottawaeast.ca/


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