Monthly Archives: May 2016

Ah, the sounds and sights of spri…swish ding ding

The budding of new leaves in the trees, the sprouting of crocuses and tulips after a winter of waiting to be encouraged to grow with warm spring sun is something I look forward to. I love the actions of nature signalling the coming of the new season and all that it means for us on two legs.

For many it means the breakout of runners, bikes, chariots, rollerblades and skateboards – all those fun activities.

It also means the breakout of runners, bikes, chariots, rollerblades and skateboards – all those activities that might scare the faint of heart pedestrians. It’s the coming of the bell rings, shouts of “on your left” and the swish of cyclists speeding by ‘owning’ the multi use paths across the city.

The NCC recently announced $57 Million for improvements in the Rideau Canal infrastructure. Outside of new paddle access points along the canal no specific improvements have been announced, I bet many pedestrians would be very happy if a portion on that would be spent on widening the paths along the canal and giving the paths a width that could make them accessible for ‘multiple use’.

In the same manner the increased year-long use of cyclists in the city has caused concern for drivers who are on the lookout for the unexpected cyclist , walkers along the pathway facilities are also on the lookout for a speeding cyclists along with increased use by e-bikes/scooters. It was not too long ago that wider urban sidewalks were part of new planning in our city and are now part of what we expect.  We should expect the same for our multiuser paths.

The City of Toronto has created wide ‘real’ multi use paths along it waterfront that provide space for cyclists, pedestrians and all would be marathoners. Such paths would be a great benefit to Ottawans and visitors that come to our great city, especially for Canada 150 next year.

Toronto Pathways

Wider paths will provide a sense of relief for cyclists who do not have to use the roads if they chose to, but the wider paths will also give a sense of calm to pedestrians that jump at sound of the bells or a cyclist whizzing by – probably in the same manner that a cyclist fears the driver who is not paying attention and sharing the road with them.

We will have to wait for the intentions of the NCC and how the $57 million will be allocated – to the canal, to summer ‘animation’ of the canal or the improvement of the aging walking/running/cycling infrastructure along the Rideau Canal.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

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They Never had a Chance

I had something completely different in mind when I was planning this week’s blog,  until I read the May 13 2016 edition of the Centertown Buzz (follow them on Twitter @CentretownBuzz) (http://www.centretownbuzz.com/2016/05/14/feature-the-omb-and-norman-street-an-inside-look/).  I got angry after reading Eric Darwin’s account of the OMB hearing for Norman Street in Little Italy.   It was at that moment I changed my mind for this week.

Norman Street

The account Eric Darwin gives of the hearing is of course, from his perspective but it was telling of the contempt that in this case the developer and City of Ottawa have towards communities and community associations.  I have watched a few OMB hearings unfold in Centretown over the years.   While victories are very small on the community side, you take them because as a Community Association you just don’t have the funds to fight the big fight.  Community Associations have to whittle down to their biggest concern in a development as the focus of their OMB appeal.

In Centretown a few years back, the Community Design Plan (CDP) for the area was a sore point for both the Community and Developers.  The Community Association and Developers met and over several weeks and hammered out a CDP as an alternative to the plan that the City (with paid consultants) wrote for Centretown.   When presented to the City, it was rejected with only minor points of the plan being deemed acceptable for inclusion in the City’s Centretown CDP.

Within the hearings for Norman Street, a couple of things that Darwin observes agitated me. First was the reaction of the OMB Judge and the legal team of the developers on the news the Community Association’s lawyer was at her first OMB hearing.  I can imagine the lawyers wringing their hands in anticipation of victory. Second was the City’s constant reference of the portion of Norman Street being fought over as being ‘vacant’ when as Darwin points out a business and a residence were on that land.  The constant denial that the land was not vacant by the City demonstrated the contempt the City holds against anyone that feels that development is a bad thing.

City dwellers and Community Associations have no illusion that development will never happen.  In most cases it is welcomed, but under the rules that have been put in place under the Official Plan of the City, the Secondary Plan of the City and the CDP for the community, nothing is clear.

I don’t think that communities want a free pass when it comes to development. Development is a positive thing for a community; good growth and what it can bring for the residents are always welcome. But when there is no acknowledgement of a community, when it has real concerns about the effects a project will have, that is where the City fails to protect its residents. It is key to remember that a developer is coming into an established community, not the other way around.

With almost every application, rules can be bent to have seemingly met the desires of the developer with little more than an acknowledgement that “oh yes, we know you live here too, but…” however it’s not very often when a major development comes along that the community wins. The rare case happened 2014 when a Westboro development on Roosevelt St. was killed at the OMB for flawed city plans.

95-norman-south-view

The Norman Street (drawing above is the south view of the planned development) OMB hearings have shown that Community Associations are still not being taken seriously by the City.

The handwringing at the anticipation of victory of a developer’s legal team at an OMB hearing has to stop. For the Dalhousie Community Association, as has happened for Centretown in the past, they never had a chance to walk away with a substantial win.

NOTE: Eric Darwin has a great blog www.westsideaction.com and can be followed on Twitter @EricDarwin1

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

Sex, Mistruths and Videotape – Ontario style

What a week it has been in politics in Ontario (so far). Lets list what people have been talking about since the start of May.

  1. The price of Hydro went up again in May 1st. Why is this political? Because Premier Wynne and Finance Minister Sousa continue to say that hydro is going down! The kicker is that the price went up because Ontarians are conserving and using less electricity. Yep – this is Liberal math.
  1. A fifth investigation has been started against the Ontario Liberl government. This time about deleted emails (yes again) surrounding a cancelled wind contract. Like the cancelled gas plants, this could cost taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars. The list the notorious five is:

5 things

  1. Premier Wynne has created a double standard when dealing with MPP’s that are accused of misogynist comments. While she calls for Patrick Brown to fire Jack MacLaren, she has hiden the similar actions by Liberal MPP’s behind the closed doors of the Premiers’ office.
  1. Premier Wynne and Child and Youth Minister Tracy MacCharles continue to defend their devastating cuts to IBI treatment for autistic children. May 5th, the Patrick Brown and the Ontario PC Party Caucus used all 12 questions in Question Period to highlight the cost of the cuts to Ontario families and more importantly to Ontario autistic children.
  1. Ontario NDP MPP Monique Taylor was kicked out of the house chambers at Queens Park for her behaviour towards the Ontario Liberals. What was it that had her so worked up? The Ontario Liberal cuts to autistic IBI treatment. I would never advocate this type of action, this is a VERY emotional issue – to everyone BUT the government. I can understand her emotion on this topic.
  1. Ottawa West Nepean Liberal MPP, and Ontario Energy Minister decided to make a comment towards NDP Leader Andrea Horwath that amounted to something about urination. He says he didn’t say it, yet he was able to get the official Hansard to ‘bleep’ out the word he said. You can hear the recording here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/queens-park-pee-comment-1.3566937. Premier Wynne was noticably silent on this. Ontario and Ottawa West Nepean deserve better.

With so much taking place in the first 5 days of May at Queens Park it makes you really wonder what the rest of the month will bring.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.