Summertime and the living is…well, if not easy at least getting a bit better. With-19 COVID cases dropping, over 80% of adults vaccinated (45% with both doses) and the easing of some restrictions, it’s a great time to take advantage of the warm weather.
And so many of you are! In the week between June 14 and June 20, the NCC report that 17,900 people enjoyed the Queen Elizabeth Parkway opening, which was put in place to allow residents more physical distancing while walking, running, and biking. You can see how many people are using our area parkways in the graph below.
If there’s a positive shift to come out of the pandemic, it’s that residents are demanding that we take the streets back for public space. And it’s happening through lower speed limits, some closed roads and lanes for active transportation and restaurant patio use, and some improved designs.
I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful city this summer.
Stay safe and well,
Reducing vehicle speeds
In 2018, provincial legislation was adopted that allows municipalities to reduce speeds in qualifying neighbourhoods to 30 km/hour. These “Gateway” communities receive special signage indicating their lower speed.
Beginning in 2019, the City has worked with Ward Councillors to prioritize residential areas that qualify as Gateway area, reducing motorized vehicle speeds to 40 or 30 km/h.
In Somerset Ward, I have worked with staff to reduce speeds and we now have approximately 60 per cent of our neighbourhoods qualified as Gateways. Through the Transportation Department’s commitments and the Ward Temporary Traffic Calming Budget, signage has been installed to indicated 30 km/h speed limits in these areas. This August, we will see reduced speed limits throughout the Golden Triangle as it joins our Gateway neighbourhoods.
However, the remaining 40 per cent is made up of individual residential blocks that are separated by collectors, entirely within Centretown. They do not qualify for the Gateway program due to being wedged between collectors.
The speed limit on these blocks is 50 km/h. This presents a danger to residents living on these dense residential streets and other pedestrians who travel though Centretown and I have heard from many residents that we need to reduce speeds on these blocks, too.
Currently, I am working with staff on a plan to reduce the speed limits on Centretown’s individual blocks. I am hoping it can be done at the bureaucratic level. If not, I will bring a report to Transportation Committee in the fall that recommends to Council that we lower the legal limits for our remaining neighbourhoods.
Change LTC Now
Last month, I brought hundreds of Ottawa residents together with long-term care experts to discuss how we can improve our system.
You can keep up to date on this important issue by following https://www.changeltcnow.ca/, a campaign to make long-term care better for everyone.
The pandemic has made for a tough couple of years for our local businesses and restaurants.
Several of our favourite neighbourhood venues have closed permanently and all have suffered to some extent. For Elgin Street bars and restaurants, 2 years of construction followed by 2 years of COVID closures has had a tremendous impact.
Those of us who live downtown appreciate the variety, the liveliness, and the multiculturalism of our independently-owned small businesses. They are an important part of the fabric of our community and they contribute in many ways: by employing workers, offering local goods, and supporting many of our causes and charities.
That’s why it’s important that we find ways of supporting them. I did support the plan put forward to help restaurants expand their patios this season. Since they still aren’t allowed any indoor dining, patios are the best way to ensure they get needed income.
However, there are still rules. There must be a minimum of 2 metres maintained for pedestrians and those using assistive devices like wheelchairs. Staff are checking each patio to make sure they respect this.
Some business communities, such as the Somerset BIA between Bank and O’Connor; the Bank St BIA; and the Preston St BIA have also decided to close lengths of their street for days or weekends to provide more space for pedestrians and for patio dining.
I am often out on the mainstreets on the weekends with my family (including Jellybean) and hope to see you sometime soon!
Last summer, the City of Ottawa allowed a pilot for electric scooter rental companies to operate here. Almost immediately – and continuing throughout the season – there were problems.
I heard from many of you that the program was making our sidewalks feel unsafe when scooters were ridden on them or left in the path of pedestrians. I also heard from disability groups that the e-scooters are a particular risk for them – they can’t hear them coming, can’t see them if they are left in their path on the sidewalks.
That’s why I voted against bringing e-scooters back this year. I wanted to send a strong message to the companies operating them that they must come up with solutions or risk losing their right to operate on our streets.
If you see e-scooters being ridden on the sidewalk or illegally parked, please contact the companies directly using the information below. If you e-mail your complaint, please include [email protected] so our staff can track your complaint and add it to their statistics for study at the end of the season.
Copy: [email protected]
Bird Canada: 1-866-205-2442 or Bird Canada: [email protected] (Black e-scooters)
Lime: 1-888-546-3345 or [email protected] (Green e-scooters)
Neuron: [email protected] (Orange e-scooters)
You can also call 311 or email [email protected] who will call the e-scooter company on your behalf.
The Ottawa Hospital recently submitted the Master Plan for the new hospital campus adjacent to the Experimental Farm, the Dominion Arboretum, and Dow's Lake and the Rideau Canal. The master plan includes a 4-storey above ground parkade and the removal of over 600 mature trees and does not provide adequate details on an efficient connection to the Dow’s Lake LRT station.
The site selection process was not handled well, and this site was not the first option for residents across the City. However, this is the site that the Federal Government, the NCC, and the Ottawa Hospital eventually chose, and I will work with residents, fellow Councillors, and all stakeholders to mitigate the more harmful aspects of the plan.
The above ground parking structure is an inappropriate use of the current Queen Juliana Park. Relocating this open space to the top of a parking structure will greatly decrease the general accessibility of the park and make it more difficult for residents, hospital visitors, and tourists to use. The proposed tree removal is unacceptable, especially given the current climate emergency, and does not respect the importance of preserving and growing our urban tree canopy. We must also ensure that active and public transit are viable transportation methods for reaching the new hospital. An integrated, protected, and efficient transit link to LRT is vital to ensure both visitors and staff can access the site via our LRT system.
I cannot support the project without a commitment to bury the parking garage and return the publicly accessible greenspace on the eastern portion of the site, a major review of the site's layout to ensure the retention of as many trees as possible, and a detailed plan on linking the Dow's Lake LRT station to the hospital site.
Remembering and Commemorating the Life of Donnell Taylor
Donnell Taylor was an Oji Cree street artist from Constance Lake First Nation in northern Ontario. He was a fixture in front of Scrim's Florists on Elgin Street for many years where he turned a downtown sidewalk into a gallery to display his artwork.
Tragically, Donnell died suddenly at the age of 59 last February, and he is sorely missed by the Elgin Street business community and neighbours.
In his memory, and in response to the community's call for a commemoration, the Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada is commissioning an artwork in Donnell's memory that will be on display in a storefront window on Somerset Street at Elgin.
If you wish to provide a financial donation for this project, contributions can be sent to:
Indigenous Arts Collective of Canada
1249 Dozois Road,
Ottawa, ON K4M 0E2
Thank you! Meegwetch!
The Buzz Online
The Centretown Buzz has been our community newspaper since 1995. It’s free to receive and free to view online. This month, you’ll find stories about the New Official Plan; a profile of outgoing Chinatown BIA Executive Director (and my friend!) Grace Xin; and reports from our area community associations.