Councillor’s Column, April 2015: Getting greenspace right

davidchernushenkoBy David Chernushenko

With all the attention paid to road maintenance, waste management and other municipal priorities, it’s easy to overlook the importance of urban trees, parks and greenspace. And yet they are crucial to maintaining our mental and physical well-being and to strengthening the social fabric of a thriving city.

Studies have shown that encounters with the natural world are beneficial, whether you’re relaxing under a big tree or taking your children to watch ducks on the river. Parks and public spaces provide opportunities to rest, play, exercise and socialize, all of which are good for you, regardless of your age or economic or social status.

So it’s unfortunate that parks and natural areas are thought of by many as good but not essential; nice, but perhaps less important than filling potholes — especially if that pothole is on your street.

Concerns about the viability of street trees, the loss of greenspace and park maintenance budgets are all part of the discussion around two major projects: the renewal of Main Street and the development of Greystone Village.

Ensuring that new trees are not just planted but thrive on Main will be a challenge in a dense, compacted area exposed to road salt. Landscape architects using the latest techniques are aiming for a better success rate than we’ve seen on Bank.

Greystone Village offers an opportunity to establish attractive and well-conceived parks, plazas and tree-lined boulevards, a riverfront park and trail worthy of this special location. I am working with parks planners and city managers to ensure we have expertise and funding available at an early stage, so we can invest in creating world-class public spaces and preserving the natural shoreline.

Along similar lines, I have been bringing together city staff, the developer and community groups to ensure two other essential elements at Greystone: community centre space and affordable housing — including for seniors and residents with special needs. We have had productive discussions and I will continue to move these issues along. I am working closely on this with MPP Yasir Naqvi, as there is significant overlap of our mandates.

Main update
The importance of communication emerged as a key lesson from the 2011-13 reconstruction of Bank Street in the Glebe. Inconveniences for local residents and businesses become more manageable when you know what’s coming, when you have ways to ask questions and share concerns and when you know efforts are being made to reduce the impact.

The reconstruction starting in late May-early June will be noisy, dusty and disruptive. It will last two years. Some traffic will detour onto residential streets (there are no other options), and more cars will inevitably cut through using other routes.

But, these challenges will be balanced by increased police surveillance, more crossing guards at strategic locations and noise and dust abatement. Your input will help determine when and how to apply these measures.

The city will appoint a designated person on the ground, accessible by phone, email and Twitter. The coming months will bring more public meetings, and working groups of citizen representatives and local businesses will meet regularly throughout the project.

Subscribe to my newsletter at capitalward.ca/subscribe to ensure that you receive updates.

And about the potholes: Please do report them to ottawa.ca/serviceottawa.

Councillor David Chernushenko
613-580-2487 | David.Chernushenko@Ottawa.ca | capitalward.ca

 

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