Discussions continue on Yasir Naqvi’s controversial Colonel By Drive closure proposal

John Dance 

The campaign for a year-long pilot closure of Colonel By Drive continues as the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OOECA) has raised the potential negative consequences while others laud its potential benefits.

During the federal election campaign last year, Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi proposed as part of his local climate change plan a full-year closure of Colonel By Drive as a pilot project to promote more active transportation and to “give our community the necessary data and comprehensive details to measure the quantitative success of this important project.”

Since the issue was reported in the December 2021 issue of The Mainstreeter, OOECA has met with Naqvi who was the initial proponent of the idea, an on-line discussion was held by the Parkways for People group, and an editorial column was published in Old Ottawa South’s OSCAR extolling the benefits of the closure. OOECA has now responded to the editorial, noting that a pilot and a permanent closure of Colonel By to motorized traffic would have a number of serious adverse impacts on Old Ottawa East.

 

John Dance photo  The Old Ottawa East Community Association believes that rather than closing Colonel By Drive to motorists, active transportation should be encouraged by widening the pathway and adding bike lanes to the roadway.

John Dance photo
The Old Ottawa East Community Association believes that rather than closing Colonel By Drive to motorists, active transportation should be encouraged
by widening the pathway and adding bike lanes to the roadway.

Naqvi, in his meeting with OOECA president Bob Gordon, advised that he looks forward to working with the community on this issue and will be meeting with the National Capital Commission (NCC) to discuss it, given that the NCC would be making any related decisions.

As Gordon wrote to the Parkways for People group, OOECA strongly supports more active transportation but recommends that the NCC encourage active use of Colonel By Drive by reclaiming space from the existing vehicle lanes in order to create bike lanes on the parkway that would serve faster cyclists, e-cyclists, and e-scooters.

Secondly, OOECA recommends construction of a pedestrian-only pathway expansion over the Rideau Canal on the stretch from Clegg Street to Bank Street, in order to widen the pathway and make it safe for all users.

“Yasir Naqvi’s proposed closure of Colonel By Drive should not be considered until the above-noted improvements are made and until there is a thorough examination of existing data and travel patterns to clarify the impacts of the closure of either Queen Elizabeth Drive or Colonel By Drive,” says Gordon.

OOECA is also concerned that the closure of Colonel By would result in strengthened calls for the construction of the four-lane Alta Vista Transportation Corridor.

In her OSCAR editorial column, Erin Maher, the co-lead of Parkways for People, notes, “With the parkways closed to vehicles, the canal pathways could be retained exclusively for pedestrians, enabling an inclusive experience for those with disabilities and families with small children. A car-free Colonel By Drive offers possibilities for great spaces beyond the bike. The stunning greenspace between Bronson and Bank could be enhanced with pollinator gardens and would be safer and more enjoyable for play and picnics without a front row seat to vehicular traffic.”

In January, during the Omicron wave of the pandemic, the NCC decided to close Queen Elizabeth Driveway (QED) from Fifth Avenue to Somerset Street to motorized use during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. Meanwhile, the Bike Ottawa advocacy group has called for the permanent closure of QED to motorized vehicles, noting its use by cyclists and pedestrians (25,000/week) is “a level well beyond other parkways.”

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