Old Ottawa East Community Updates

John Dance

In addition to his role as The Mainstreeter’s chief reporter, John Dance is the Chair of the Old Ottawa East Community Association’s Planning Committee. From his unique vantage point, he keeps our readers informed of a wide range of community developments.

HIGHWAY 417 BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: WHAT’S HAPPENING?

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) still has not released its final transportation environmental study report (TESR) for the replacement of the deteriorated Highway 417 Canal bridge.

A year ago, after five years of some information sharing and little actual community consultation, MTO proposed a plan that would require 90-week detours of the pathways and roadways under both sides of the Highway 417 Canal bridge. Although this plan had been endorsed by City staff and federal agencies, it was radically different from the information that had been previously shared with the communities that use the two Canal parkways and their pathways. Consequently, the Old Ottawa East Community Association and others have pushed back.

Last November, MTO said the final TESR would be released in the spring. Then this was revised to the summer. When asked about the delay, MTO’s media department responded, “The Ministry is working to secure all the necessary approvals required prior to publishing of the draft TESR for 30 day public review and comment. The TESR will be posted once all the reports are completed and necessary approvals are in hand.”

MTO specifically noted, “The Cultural Heritage Assessment and Evaluation Reports are being finalized to comply with the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism requirements before submission of the TESR to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks as part of the approval process.” However, the need for these reports was known by the Ministry when it originally said the report would be available in the spring, so it’s not clear why this requirement is now being cited as a reason for the delay.

“The Ministry recognizes the impact associated with replacing its infrastructure within an urban environment,” MTO responded to The Mainstreeter. Last November’s proposal would eliminate all active and motorized transportation through the construction zone for 90 weeks. Now the Ministry says that it “[C]ommits to mitigating construction impact to the greatest extent possible and, where feasible, will provide active transportation through the construction site.” “While the need to replace these bridges is necessary as each is at the end of its service life, MTO is aware of — and making efforts to accommodate — community interests based on community and stakeholder input,” MTO responded. Residents remain very concerned about the extent of such “accommodation.”

AU COEUR D’OTTAWA – STALLED

Work on the new location of the French-Catholic school, Au Coeur d’Ottawa, in the Deschâtelets Building remains stalled.

“There have been no Ministry [of Education] approvals since our last response in May,” the media department of the Conseil des Ecoles du Centre-Est reports. “We have received and responded to numerous questions from the Ministry over the course of the summer. No additional work has been done since we are not authorized to do so without Ministerial approval.”

Meanwhile, the school continues to operate using the old De Mazenod School on Main Street and a portion of the Old Town Hall.

GMH PROJECT ON TRACK

The massive reconstruction of north-end streets, including Main, Hawthorne and Greenfield, is progressing on schedule and still should be finished by the fall of 2025, reports Bruce Kenney, the City’s manager of design and construction.

“The contractor is still on track to deliver the project on time, but the recent Hydro Ottawa Strike has delayed some pole and duct relocations, as well as the installation of new hydro equipment for the undergrounding of overhead facilities,” says Kenney. “This delay has added some pressure to the construction schedule and the project team is currently assessing options to mitigate these impacts.”

At the end of September, the Main-Hawthorne intersection was a mass of construction vehicles as Hawthorne was repaved. Photo by John Dance

At the end of September, the Main-Hawthorne intersection was a mass of construction vehicles as Hawthorne was repaved. Photo by John Dance

“Construction for this year is expected to wrap up by early December as the contractor reinstates roadways and sidewalks to hard surface conditions to help facilitate winter maintenance,” says Kenny. “Work is expected to resume in March of 2024.”

The significant accomplishments this year will include: the installation of a new sanitary sewer on Main Street underneath the Highway 417 bridge, which sets up the new outlet required to separate sanitary sewage flows from the existing combined sewer system in this section of Old Ottawa East; new watermains, storm and sanitary sewers on Hawthorne Avenue (from Colonel By Drive to Main Street), and on Colonel By Drive and Echo Drive (south of Hawthorne Avenue to Immaculata High School); Echo Drive between Main Street and Concord Street North will have the existing combined sewer replaced with new sanitary and storm sewers, while also featuring theinstallation of a new watermain that will allow looping of the watermain to improve water quality as well as fire flows to the community; and Greenfield Avenue (from Old-Greenfield Avenue to King Edward Avenue and Mann Avenue) has new watermains, and sanitary and storm sewers that have been realigned to the existing road alignment.

One part of the project has been advanced says Kenny: “The Lees Avenue multi-use pathway was moved up in the construction schedule and will be completed by the end of the year, providing improved cycling access to the University of Ottawa from the LRT pathway.”

NCC: LIGHTING, SKATEWAY AND WALL

At long last, work on the broken street and pathway lights along Colonel By Drive will begin this fall. The first step will be to replace the “underground infrastructure” for the lights, and this will be completed in the spring. Installation of the new lighting fixtures will be completed by winter 2025.

Parts of the crumbling retaining wall between Colonel By Drive and Echo will be rehabilitated next summer. Photo by John Dance

Parts of the crumbling retaining wall between Colonel By Drive and Echo will be rehabilitated next summer. Photo by John Dance

The NCC also reports that all of the Old Ottawa East access stairways to the Rideau Canal will be installed this fall. Some years ago, there were plans to eliminate at least one of them. So all that is needed is a lengthy stretch of cold weather so that, unlike last year, the Skateway opens

Next summer, the rehabilitation of the retaining wall between Echo Drive and Colonel By will resume. A massive project two years ago saw the rebuilding of the Mount Pleasant to Avenue Road/Riverdale section. The upcoming work will be a smaller project, involving the crumbling portion of the wall near the Bank Street bridge.
                                                               

MINOR VARIANCES CHALLENGED

Several recent requests for minor variances have been successfully challenged by the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OOECA), but if the related decisions of the Committee of Adjustment are appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal the OOECA efforts may be for naught.

As explained in The Mainstreeter a year ago, an application for a minor variance may be made by a property owner when a proposed building change doesn’t conform exactly to the zoning by-law.

In the case of 435 Echo Drive, the applicant requested a minor variance to seek an extra metre of height for the new single unit building that was proposed as a replacement for an existing two and a half story dwelling. The applicant argued that groundwater issues and ability to connect to the City sewer system meant that the building could not have a deeper foundation.

OOECA acknowledged that the zoning by-law would allow an additional metre if the new building had multiple dwelling units. It also argued that there were means of dealing with groundwater and sewer connections so that the floor of the basement did not have to be raised.

Even though the City of Ottawa had no objections to the requested variance, the Committee of Adjustment did not approve it. Now the applicant is appealing the decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).

At the OLT hearing, neither the City of Ottawa nor the Committee of Adjustment will speak to defend the decision. The City won’t because it supported the variance. And the Committee of Adjustment won’t because it leaves the defence to those who objected to the variance. Even if OOECA speaks at the OLT hearing, its likelihood of successfully defending the decision is low because OOECA does not have the resources or professional capacity to mount a defence.

Given the imbalance in resources and finances between developers and community associations such as OOECA, the current appeal process is likely to become increasingly problematic as developers apply for more minor variances. OOECA has recently seen numerous applications that would result in reduced rear yards and less room for large trees and soft landscaped areas for residents.

THE MAYOR COMES A-CALLING

Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe paid an "information gathering" visit to Old Ottawa East this past August. Photo Supplied

Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard, Ottawa Mayor Mark
Sutcliffe paid an “information gathering” visit to Old Ottawa East this past August. Photo Supplied


Accompanied by Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe paid an “information gathering” visit to Old Ottawa East this past August. Top of mind for a number of local residents was the Alta Vista Transportation Corridor (AVTC), which the community roundly opposes.

At Springhurst Park, former OOECA President Phyllis Odenbach Sutton reminded Mayor Sutcliffe that constructing a 4-lane highway through scarce inner core parkland was bad public policy, citing as well the proximity to the newly built Lees Avenue LRT Station. The Mayor was noncommittal, indicating only that no decision on the controversial AVTC would be taken before a full consultative process was completed.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – MAURIZIO’S
HOMEMADE AIRPLANE TAKES FLIGHT!

As featured in the October 2021 issue of The Mainstreeter, Mason Terrace resident Maurizio Penna and his home-built airplane recently took to the skies! For Penna, the maiden flight of his hand-crafted airplane on September 29th was a total success, marking the end of more than four years of construction. The partially assembled Van’s Aircraft Corp. RV-12, 2-seat aircraft, which travels at over 200 km/hr for up to 5 hours, left Mason Terrace on a trailer in June (see photo).

As we went to print, Penna had logged eight hours of flight time from his airport base in Smith’s Falls. For the initial 25 hour test period, no passengers are allowed on board and the plane can only be flown 25 miles from its takeoff point. Prior to the first flight, Penna attended pilot training courses at the U.S. headquarters of the Van’s Aircraft Corp., practising his technique on identical plane models to his own.

Penna is still aiming to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in July 2024. The event is the world’s largest aviation conclave with over 10,000 aircraft coming from all over the world.

 Maurizio Penna's partially constructed full-sized aluminum aircraft was rolled out of his Mason Terrace garage in July, just a few months before it was completed. Photo Supplied

Maurizio Penna’s partially constructed full-sized aluminum aircraft was rolled out of his Mason Terrace garage in July, just a few months before it was completed. Photo Supplied


Penna is pictured at the helm high above the Smith's Falls staging and training area where he will be finishing his test flights of the DIY aircraft. Photo Supplied

Penna is pictured at the helm high above the Smith’s Falls staging and training area where he will be finishing his test flights of the DIY aircraft. Photo Supplied

Filed in: Community Links, Front Page

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