What's new in Capital Ward?
By Steve Collins, Metro Ottawa
It will bring little joy to long-suffering neighbours, but granting construction crews at Lansdowne Park an exemption from noise bylaws, allowing work to continue around the clock when needed, fits a well-established pattern. The park's redevelopment has been a study in exceptions, advice rejected and rules bent.
The cancellation of a competitive bid process in favour of a sole-sourced deal with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group set the tone — and fuelled lawsuits from Friends of Lansdowne, a residents' group opposed to the redevelopment, and the Lansdowne Park Conservancy, whose competing proposal would have kept the park in public hands but didn't get a serious look.
Friends of Lansdowne, for their part, were threatened with a change in policy that would allow the city to go after the citizens' association for legal costs. Last year, city lawyers grew impatient with the court's deliberations in the case and wrote a rather unusual letter asking when a decision might be expected.
Time and again, city officials have pleaded the urgency of the redevelopment and looming deadlines to justify cutting the odd procedural corner. Often, those deadlines seemed largely self-inflicted.
Take the snap vote council took to authorize $400,000 for a bid on two FIFA events, the under-20 Women's World Cup in 2014 and the Women's World Cup in 2015. Impending deadlines, we were told, meant the money was needed right away, and once the bids went ahead, we'd need the new venue in which to host them, stat.
The benefits of hosting such major-league events aren't seriously in doubt, but booking them into a nonexistent stadium? Possibly a bit rash.
As events shook out, the under-20 World Cup won't take place here in 2014, so now the replacement exigency is the need to have everything in place for North American Soccer League and Canadian Football League teams next year.
Next year will also, incidentally, be an election year, which might be the best explanation for all the hustle.
Lansdowne's Horticulture Building, which will turn 100 in 2014, stood in the way of planned retail space and underground parking. So we uprooted and relocated it in a rather impressive feat of engineering that nonetheless contravened the advice of the city's heritage advisory committee and the provincial Conservation Review Board, who were of the staid opinion that the historic building should stay in its historic location. Terribly sorry, exceptional circumstances, etc.
The question, after all these exceptions, is whether we'll end up with something truly exceptional at Lansdowne Park. The city and OSEG and the sun-dappled conceptual drawings assure us we will.
By Joe Lofaro, Metro Ottawa
Some Glebe residents say the city should tackle the "annoying" parking problem in their neighbourhood by making streets more bike and pedestrian friendly rather than build a four-storey parking garage on Second Avenue.
On Wednesday the city's transportation committee will recommend council approve a request for proposals to get the garage built and have staff examine the pros and cons of increasing parking rates in high traffic areas of the city and decreasing them in areas where the demand for parking is lower.
"If the prices go up, is the Glebe a more or less accessible place to people who have less money?" asked resident Robin MacEwan, who is a public transit user. "The buses on Bank Street, they come whenever they want. They don't follow any schedule. Transit needs to be improved in general and then maybe the prices can be raised."
She and her friend Cristina Popa both agreed a proposed parking garage at 170 Second Avenue would be more of an "eye sore" than anything else.
"I just think that we should focus more on giving access to pedestrians and bicycles," said Popa, who lives in Hintonburg. "So instead of focusing on how should we increase parking by building a parking garage, they should just make bike lanes."
One Glebe business owner, Mark MacDonald, said he lost two customers this month due to parking enforcement and wishes the city would scrap paid parking altogether along Bank Street on Saturdays.
"If you've got to buy a pair of shoes for your kids and you come here, you have to pump money into the meter and you've got a green hornet chasing you around," said MacDonald. "And they stalk the Glebe looking for expired (tickets). They come by every hour."
In a report from Deputy City Manager Steve Kanellakos, one of the cited benefits for having a garage would be to boost parking availability along Bank Street, which could make the parking rate increase unnecessary. Both the Glebe Business Improvement Area and the ward councilor, David Chernushenko, are pro-garage, the report said.
If construction were to start in January 2014, the garage could be ready in time for the opening of Lansdowne Park at a price of $9.5 million, the report said.
By Erika Stark, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Introducing variable parking rates based on demand might not be the best way to combat Ottawa's parking woes, says the chair of the Glebe Business Improvement Area.
Greg Best says he thinks the city should consider offering discounted parking during off-peak hours on certain days of the week to encourage shoppers to visit areas like the Glebe or the ByWard Market during slower parts of the day. He also suggested looking at parking rates seasonally, noting that the Glebe is typically much quieter on cold winter days than it is in the warmer months.
"When its -29 (degrees) and someone's coming to an area like the Glebe, Bank Street or the Market, I think lowering the prices or offering free parking certain hours of the day, would be interesting," he said.
Citing a lack of metered parking in Westboro and a lack of "consistency" in the parking times on side streets, Best said Ottawa's entire parking policy needs to be "revisited."
"You have to turn it upside down and think about it differently," he said. "It's a resource."
The Citizen reported Saturday that the City of Ottawa's transportation committee will ask to examine the possibility of introducing variable city-wide parking rates, following a report to the committee last week. The cost of parking would increase in high-use areas and decrease where parking is not as congested, in an attempt to spread out demand.
That means the proposed construction of a parking garage just west of Bank Street on Second Avenue could be delayed, the report says.
But Best, as well as some Glebe business owners and managers, still thinks the garage will still be necessary to relieve an already frustrating parking situation.
"The BIA's been lobbying that for a long time," Best said. "It's a positive for our neighbourhood."
Ellen Harris owns Second Avenue Sweets across the street from the parking lot where the garage would be built. While she has concerns about disruptions due to construction, Harris said she thinks the garage would be beneficial in the long run.
"It's going to revitalize the area," she said. "More people will come because more people will be able to park."
Harris said she's not sure how the suggested variable pricing on street parking would impact the number of people that visited the area, but said if prices went up, it would only create more stress for her small business.
"There's some people here that will nip in and you feel badly because you're trying to serve them as quickly as possible," she said. "But they'll say, 'I didn't put money in the meter.'
"It's a lot of pressure on us to box (their order) up," she explained. "I think it would probably happen more if they raised the rates."
Sacha Estabrooks, the gallery manager at Bank Street Framing just south of First Avenue, said she already gets complaints about the price of parking.
"We get complaints often of the lack of parking," Estabrooks said. "It's a small community. There's nothing that we can do. Even side street parking you have to pay for."
Estabrooks said she'd be on board with the construction of the parking garage, on one condition.
"As long as the rates are reasonable," she said. "I think that would be a really great idea."
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Staff say variable rates would eliminate need for $8M Glebe parking garage
By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Having the price of parking on city streets somehow connected to supply and demand might be a good idea, a report to city council's transportation committee says.
It might even save millions of dollars on a Glebe garage that councillors have ordered but that city officials clearly don't think the neighbourhood needs.
The idea of using basic economics to price a scarce public resource isn't examined in any detail — it's just a subsection in a bigger report on whether the Glebe needs that new parkade — but it's still a significant break from the city's usual policy of managing parking demand by keeping the prices of street spaces the same and just varying the amount of time drivers are allowed to pay for.
The city makes id="mce_marker"5.5 million in parking revenues each year, though it's a revenue-neutral operation, costing as much to run as it brings in. The official point of charging for parking is to keep shoppers moving on busy streets so there's always a spot available somewhere for new arrivals who want to park somewhere. That means the city's policy is not to start charging for street spaces until free parking in a neighbourhood is just about full at busy times.
In the Glebe, that makes for some strange cases, according to the report: parking on Bank Street south of Glebe Avenue that's often jammed and parking north of Glebe Avenue that's nearly empty, even though it costs exactly the same anywhere on the whole shopping strip. Complicating things further, a survey by the local merchants' association found that its members overwhelmingly wish street parking were cheaper and enforcement were more slack, presumably because their customers complain about it.
Concrete pouring work also approved at former convent site
Ottawa city council has approved a motion to extend construction hours at Lansdowne Park and the site of a former convent in Westboro.
The motion will allow construction crews at Lansdowne Park to work as late as 1 a.m. for concrete pouring, three to four times a month.
It is work that must be done all at once and continuously, because of limited manpower, according to councillor Steve Desroches.
The motion also allows for work crews to work past 1 a.m. in rare cases when they need to work later, but the city's project manager for Lansdowne said any overnight work would be limited to finishing work.
Capital Ward councillor David Chernushenko, who represents residents living near the Lansdowne construction, dissented with the motion. He said he hoped work like this is a last resort, and said he hoped residents continue to get enough warning.
Chernushenko says he found out about the Lansdowne construction hour change yesterday, and said most area residents are likely learning of it today.
The motion also allows for construction at 114 Richmond Road, the site of the former Sisters of the Visitation convent, to go all night until May, then until 2 a.m. through the end of August.
By David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Massive construction projects at Lansdowne Park and at a former convent on Richmond Road just got a little worse for nearby residents: City council gave builders permission Wednesday for noisy concrete work at both sites to run late into the night.
The trouble, according to the motions councillors approved Wednesday, is that when concrete is poured in cold weather it has to be warmed with gas heaters so it sets properly. Councillors exempted both projects from the city's usual construction-noise bylaw. The exemptions are slightly different for each site, but will effectively allow heaters to run 24 hours a day until May and to let work go on till 1 a.m. several days a week.
On a couple of occasions at Lansdowne, councillors heard, concrete will have to be poured around the clock. Residents will have to be warned at least two days in advance.
The approval for the convent site at 114 Richmond Rd., where Ashcroft is building a condominium complex, was unanimous; Glebe councillor David Chernushenko was the lone vote against the approval for Lansdowne, "in solidarity" with residents.
They've been through a lot, Chernushenko said, starting with preliminary construction a year ago, digging and dust in the hot summer, and lately weeks of compaction work, in which soil is pressed down soil so it can built on.
"Which, if you haven't heard it, is short for having the fillings in your teeth shaken for hours on end," Chernushenko said.
Worse than that, nearby residents were among those most opposed to the Lansdowne redevelopment project in the first place.
Construction manager Marco Manconi said everything that can be done to minimize the effects on neighbours is being done. But the nature of the work and the intense construction schedule needed to get the site ready for football games by summer 2014 makes the inconvenience unavoidable.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
By Neco Cockburn, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — An addition at the heritage Mutchmor Public School in the Glebe was approved by council's planning committee on Tuesday.
The school needs more space to meet requirements for full-day kindergarten, and the proposed addition would contain nine new classrooms (and possibly three more in the basement), as well as a new library and office.
It would see be built on the southwest side of the building at 185 Fifth Ave., abutting the school gymnasium and connecting to the building through a glass link.
The proposal must be approved by the committee and council because it would involve the alteration of a heritage building.
The school was designated as such in 2000 for its historical and architectural value. It was one of seven elementary schools built in Ottawa in the 1890s "and is representative of a time when Ottawa's population was growing very rapidly," according to a city staff report. The school has had three additions over the years, the report states. It recommends approval of the new one.
"The exterior materials for the addition include a combination of materials that reflect the character of the original building and contemporary materials. The use of red brick for the cladding and rusticated stone for the foundation reflects the materials in the historic building," the report says.
"The large windows reflect the 19th-century goal of allowing maximum light and air into the classrooms for the health of the students."
Committee members approved the addition with no debate, and the proposal is expected to go to council on Wednesday.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Mark Brownlee, Ottawa Business Journal
Taggart Homes wants to build an 18-storey, 156-unit building close to the northwest corner of Bronson and Carling avenues.
The proposal has been held up for several months.
The councillor for the area, David Chernushenko, has long opposed the idea. The building is too high for the area and not close enough to a transit station located several city blocks away, he said in comments filed in a staff report.
The nearby group that represents residents, the Glebe Community Association, also worries there will be too many vehicles in the area if the project gets the go-ahead.
But city staff feel the proposal municipality's guidelines for new development and should be approved.
Councillors with the city's planning committee were originally supposed to vote on the motion in February. They put that off, however, so the community association and the builder could discuss the project some more.
City staff are recommending councillors adopt a clear policy when it comes to the planned construction of high-rise buildings on suburban land.
The suggestion is contained in staff's most recent report on the city's official plan review, the document that indicates where development should occur.
The city has seen a spike in applications from developers looking to build high-rise condominiums in areas such as Kanata and Barrhaven in recent years, the report said.
"These high-rise buildings cause significant concern for nearby residents and the development review process for these types of applications becomes contentious and drawn-out," the report reads.
One such application was before councillors for several years as a result of a disagreement between the developer and community members.
Developer Morley-Hoppner had originally proposed a 16-storey building, but eventually reduced that to seven storeys to appease local residents who opposed the height.
City councillors approved the building earlier this year. However residents have appealed to the provincial body that has the power to overturn city zoning decisions, the Ontario Municipal Board.
This sort of dispute appears to be one of the reasons why staff is recommending a change to the process for getting high-rise buildings in the suburbs approved.
"Stronger design policies and policies on building height will help to make sure intensification on vacant land, old shopping plazas and parking lots in suburban areas will be compatible with their surroundings," the report continues.
The report, which is to be tabled at planning committee on Tuesday, also reconfirms the position staff adopted last year regarding development land in the city.
Staff said the city doesn't need to add any more land to the urban boundary – the area in which the municipality allows high-density development to occur – to meet its legal obligations up until 2031.
The report also recommends a change to the priorities for buildings located around major interchanges on the Queensway.
Staff would like to see many of the sites located near on- and off-ramps to be reserved for employment uses rather than retail.
City of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa and Tim Hortons are pleased to announce the annual Spring Cleaning the Capital campaign, which will take place from April 15 until May 15.
Spring Cleaning the Capital is a city-wide event that brings together neighbours, communities and friends to help keep Ottawa beautiful.
Early bird registration is now open for the event. Volunteers who register their cleanup project during this period, which takes place between March 15 and April 14, have a chance to win one of many early bird prizes donated by our generous sponsors. Regular registration ends May 15th.
Registration is quick and easy. First, select a cleanup location, such as a park, ravine, shoreline, bus stop, pathway or any public area requiring tidying up. Projects can include litter pickup or graffiti removal. Then go to ottawa.ca/clean to register for the cleanup. Following the event, submit an online cleanup report by May 31 to be eligible for more prizes from our sponsors.
Cleanup starter kits for litter pickup and graffiti removal projects are available to all registered volunteers upon request. Litter pickup starter kits include: disposable vinyl gloves, garbage bags as well as leaf and yard waste bags. Graffiti removal starter kits include graffiti removal wipes and gloves. All kits come with helpful project and safety information to guide your cleanup project.
This is a great opportunity for families and friends to work together on community cleanup projects that help make Ottawa clean, green, graffiti and litter free. Cleaning the Capital is also an excellent way for high school students to earn their community volunteer hours.
Since the program's inception n 1994, over 856,000 volunteers have participated in 13,100 cleanup projects throughout the city. As a result, an estimated 1.48M kilograms of waste have been removed from public spaces by participating individuals, student groups, community associations, businesses, friends and families.
Register online at ottawa.ca/clean or by calling 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).