Tag Archives: comment

COMMENT: A tale of two traffic lights

#1 Carp at Hazeldean. Residents have been calling for safety fixes at this intersection for years.  City staff says that traffic isn’t heavy enough to justify any configuration changes. Of course, the city’s data doesn’t capture the frustration and near misses that happen all the time at the intersection. A real fix probably won’t come until sometime between 2020-2025, when Carp Road is tentatively scheduled to be widened to four lanes – if there’s money available. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Johnwoods closure comes too soon

Closing Johnwoods might make sense years from now when more of Stittsville’s planned road and transit infrastructure is in place, but it doesn’t make sense now.

I made this video in May 2016 ahead of a public information meeting hosted by the City to explain what’s going on.  Watch this: Continue reading


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COMMENT: Committee should have deferred Maple Grove decision

A shout out to CBC for continuing to focus on Stittsville development issues this week. Here’s an excerpt (in red) from an article by Laura Osman published today, along with my comments.  I’ve added some additional context based on my work with the Fairwinds Community Association.

Bottom line: If councillors and city staff really believe in the importance of public engagement, this case illustrates how far they still have to go to ensure transparency and trust in the development process.

***

Residents not allowed to weigh in on big subdivision, councillor says
Councillors approve application to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road after decade of holdups
by Laura Osman, CBC Ottawa

A large new subdivision in Stittsville has been approved, despite the fact the last public consultation meeting happened more than a decade ago.

As far as I can tell, the last public consultation for this zoning bylaw amendment was in December 2004, when most of the area was still farmland.

The planning committee approved the rezoning for Richcraft to build 945 residential units on Maple Grove Road.

The last update we heard about the project was in December 2013, when a plan of subdivision was submitted for around 800 residential units.

The development has been in the works since early 2004 but was held up by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Richcraft then filed an appeal against the city because it’s taken so long for the city to make a decision.

Coun. Shad Qadri asked the committee to hold off on the decision on behalf of the neighbouring Fairwinds community, which didn’t exist when the initial public consultations were done.

“The area now didn’t really have the opportunity to put their comments in,” Qadri said, adding that planning documents were also not posted online.

Qadri lost the vote seven to one.

Usually when there’s a zoning bylaw amendment in front of Planning Committee, it’s easy to search the city’s web site to find background documents like planning rationale, transportation plans, environmental studies, etc.  We couldn’t find anything on the city’s DevApp web site, or on the councillor’s web site, or even on alternate sources like ottwatch.ca.

The Fairwinds Community Association asked Councillor Qadri to put forward a motion to defer a decision on the file until next month’s planning committee, to at least give residents time to access and review the documents.

Planning committee chair Jan Harder said the public had the opportunity to be heard at Tuesday’s meeting.

The committee received two written statements responding to the report that was tabled last week.

They would have received more than two written statements if there was a more proactive effort to alert residents about it. I stumbled upon it last week when I was reading the agenda. I doubt that many of my neighbours make a routine of reading the weekly agenda updates!  Besides that, how can we provide proper comments without the full information to work from?

(I would have loved to attend today’s meeting, but work commitments kept me from taking the morning off work to trek downtown.)

If the committee held off on making a decision, the developer would simply withdraw the zoning application and go through the OMB instead, Harder said.

“And then we’ll have a made-in-Toronto decision that may not be that great,” said Coun. Rick Chiarreli.

Chiarelli didn’t want the decision to be made by the OMB because there’s no way to appeal it, he said.

The developer has been working toward this subdivision for 13 years, and the city should not be holding up the process any longer, he added, comparing the application to a criminal trial. Serious charges would be dismissed after such a long period without a decision, he said.

I don’t know how accurate this is.  If the threat of an OMB decision is so significant, why did the report from planning staff attached to the agenda not call this out as a potential legal risk?  The document refers to previous OMB hearings but it doesn’t explain the relevant background or approval timelines for this application.  After 13+ years, what’s the rush to get this zoning approval through?  Shovels can’t hit the ground until next year at the earliest.

The proposal includes townhomes, detached houses and low-rise apartment buildings. It also includes some commercial development along the south side of Maple Grove Road, which is currently entirely residential.

During the initial public meeting in 2004 the city received six responses, including concerns about the Carp River restoration project and the timing of the development.

Back in 2004, the Stittsville Village Association did submit comments about transportation impacts. Current president Tanya Hein says that they did receive advance notice of the meeting, but just barely: “By chance, I found out late yesterday that a paper notice dated October 13th was mailed to David Jenkins (a former SVA member). I think he was on record from the original application, before email was the standard means of circulation. That, in itself, might suggest a more modern public consultation is warranted.”

Part of the development is expected to be built on the former floodplain of the Carp River, which is currently under construction to alleviate flood concerns.

The development must still be approved by city council.

The Carp River restoration … commercial development on Hazeldean Road … residential development in Fairwinds and Fernbank … an evolving mass transit plan … pending departure of the Senators… These are just a few examples of major changes in our area since 2004, and reason enough in my view to treat this zoning application with more scrutiny.

***

Another person who sent comments to councillors about the zoning bylaw amendment was Faith Blacquiere, a retired research librarian who reviews planning documents as a hobby.

She submitted nine pages of detailed technical notes to the committee, which are included below. She really gets down in the weeds of the planning process. I haven’t fact-checked the document, nor are all of her concerns necessarily within the scope of this zoning amendment. Still, I believe she’s identified enough inconsistencies and concerns with the published staff report to justify a deferral. Or at the very least, more scrutiny from on the Planning Committee today.


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NOTEBOOK: Carp-Hazeldean collision stats, 2011-2015

(ABOVE: Collision at Carp and Hazeldean on September 25, 2017. Photo via Wendy Wright / @wrightofwayCFRA)

Stittsville Councillor Shad Qadri says he’s asked the city’s traffic department to review resident concerns about the Carp-Hazeldean intersection.  But if you read between the lines, it doesn’t look like this intersection is dangerous enough to warrant any immediate changes.

In his weekly newsletter published on Thursday, Qadri shared the most recent collision data available from 2015.  The Carp-Hazeldean intersection had 10 reported collisions, ranking it 167th on the list of intersections with the most reported incidents. (By comparison, the intersection of Hunt Club and Riverside was the worst in the city with 60 collisions.) Continue reading


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COMMENT: Fix the Carp-Hazeldean intersection

(ABOVE: Photo via Wendy Wright / @wrightofwayCFRA)

Yet another collision at the intersection of Carp Road and Hazeldean Road, and residents are again calling for safety fixes at the intersection.

Is there any reason to believe the City will respond any differently this time?

Continue reading


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COMMENT: Welcome to Stittsville, Amazon

(PHOTO: Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle include three “biospheres” filled with plants and endangered species. Photo by brewbooks, used under a Creative Commons license.)

You may have heard this week: Amazon is looking for a major North American city where they can establish a second world headquarters.

Their original campus is in Seattle, where 40,000 people walk to work every day. They’ve launched an RFP process, inviting cities across North America to make a pitch to become a new home for Amazon. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Safety before shortsighted politics

I just read “Sidewalk scuttled in south Kanata, an article by Jessica Cunha in the Kanata Kourier-Standard and I am incredulous.

The article is about how a sidewalk project for Chimo Drive in Kanata South has been cancelled because some homeowners complained to their councillor Allan Hubley about it.

I am absolutely appalled that politics is getting in the way of pedestrian safety. There are residents on several streets in Stittsville that are clamouring for sidewalks, and I really can’t understand the mindset of these Kanata residents who complained. The councillor’s justifications for cancelling the project just don’t make sense.

Let’s break down the article and arguments:
(Text in italics is from the original Kanata Kourier-Standard article.)

Of the 28 affected homes that would see a sidewalk take up a portion of the city’s right-of-way at the foot of their front yards, 18 homeowners contacted Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley’s office to oppose it. Only three said they were in favour.

“I’m not going to build something to satisfy three people,” said the councillor in a phone interview. “I was not pro or against the sidewalk. I was going to do what the majority of them wanted.”

I appreciate a councillor wanting to appear like he’s listening and reacting to residents.  A better response might have been: “Politicians need to do the right thing, which may not always be the most popular thing. Let’s talk about why we need this sidewalk on your street.”

(Also: Opposition from 18 of 28 homes is a slim majority of just 64%. Not exactly a strong consensus.)

Moore’s eldest child Annaka, 12, walks to Katimavik Elementary School and delivers the Kourier-Standard to her neighbours. “

In summer it’s not really that bad because you can go onto the grass a few neighbours down. But in winter, the snow piles up and you can either walk in the snow … (or) walk beside it,” on the road, she said.

Moore said she’s seen plenty of fender-benders and near misses on Chimo, which has a bend on a hill and a stop sign that some drivers ignore. Flex stakes in the middle of the road, used to reduce speeds, cause drivers to crowd the side of the road.

“I think, at some point, a child is going to get hit and killed,” she said.

Pedestrian safety, she said, should trump losing a portion of driveway.

Jen Moore is absolutely right. I wonder how many of the dissenting homeowners have kids, or are seniors, or have mobility issues?  The City should be prioritizing equitable options for everyone, whether they have a car or not.

Another thing: The portion of driveway that homeowners are losing is part of a municipal right-of-way.  The City has every right to build a sidewalk, even if a few homeowners object.

Chimo Drive is classified by the city as a collector road, yet has no sidewalk on either side.

According to the city’s website, “Collector roads require a sidewalk on both sides of the roadway. The requirement becomes increasingly important when the corridor is a public transit route, leads directly to public transit, fronts onto schools, parks, community facilities and/or leads directly to these amenities.”

The Katimavik transit corridor, Katimavik elementary school, as well as at least five parks, are all accessed from Chimo. The road also leads directly to a number of other parks and the Kanata Leisure Centre.

Not every street needs a sidewalk, but clearly sidewalks on Chimo would benefit residents who live on the road and the surrounding streets. It should have had sidewalks when it was built in the 80’s. This project is a chance to fix that blunder.

Hubley acknowledged in his letter that pedestrian safety is an issue and people should instead be using the pathway system that runs near Cattail Creek Park.

“Safety concerns are still very real for pedestrians along Chimo Drive,” he wrote. “Please continue to encourage others to use the pathway network and we will work with you to try to address the speeding along Chimo with you.”

The pathway is a big reason many residents opposed the sidewalk.

“The feedback from the majority of residents was that they did not want that sidewalk there because they have a pathway,” said Hubley. “They saw this as a waste of tax dollars, duplicating the pathway. You can actually see the pathway from the street. It’s very close.”

The councillor’s argument really falls apart when he suggests that the recreation pathways are a good alternative to sidewalks. The walking distance is longer, the lighting is poor, and people still have to walk on the road to reach the paths!

The paths also offer safer walking conditions, particularly in inclement weather, said the councillor.

“When the roads are slippery, for example, cars can slide up on the sidewalks,” he said. “It’s not the safest place to have people walk, certainly not like the pathway. The pathway is as safe as it gets.”

Yes, you read that correctly. Sidewalks are not safe for pedestrians. I guess it’s best if we all stay inside, unless we’re safely enclosed by a car.


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COMMENT: Traffic calming needs a little creativity

(FILE PHOTO: Speed sign on Hobin Street, near A. Lorne Cassidy school. Photo by Barry Gray.)

Eric Darwin writes a must-read local blog called West Side Action.  It’s focused on urban issues near his home in central Ottawa, but a lot of what he writes about can be applied to neighbourhoods all over the city.

Case in point: A recent post about some creative ideas for traffic calming.  A lot of Stittsville streets  have a problem with vehicles drivers travelling too fast, especially West Ridge, Fringewood, Kittiwake, Alon, Maple Grove, Rosehill, Hobin, Liard, Stittsville Main, Iber, Amberwood… I could go on and on.

We’ve seen some limited attempts at traffic calming in Stittsville, mostly those flex posts in the centre of the street, or “SLOW DOWN” painted in white on the roadway.  There’s a $40,000 yearly budget in each ward for this kind of thing, but that doesn’t go very far at all.

Darwin says we need to get creative: “If our city traffic committee had any guts, instead of just ‘considering’ stuff that filters up from the bureaucrats, they’d pre-approve a menu of simple paint and portable measures to be supplied and  installed anywhere the community can convince the councillor to authorize them. If they don’t calm the traffic, nothing ventured nothing gained. Try something else.”

A few of his ideas:

  1. Paint the road narrower. City policy requires a 10-foot minimum lane width, but a lot of our neighbourhood roads are much wider than that. A simple line of paint creates the impression of a narrower road, and does slow traffic.
  2. Temporary “bulb-outs”. That’s where the road gets narrower at the intersection, giving pedestrians a shorter width to cross, and forcing cars to slow down. Permanent bulb-outs can be expensive, but Darwin suggests temporary cones or planters in the meantime.
  3. Add a median. Those ubiquitous flex posts are ok, but you could do even better with something less flexible!  Maybe a row of planters with trees down the middle, or again, just some simple paint.  “Nothing like the fear of denting some sheet metal to encourage compliance,” he writes.

For decades, cities and developers built neighbourhood roads with the goal of moving cars as fast as possible in and out of the subdivision. We need to shift the balance to focus on pedestrian safety first. Implementing a few simple ideas like these ones will start accellerate that shift.

You can read his full post here:

Non-stop traffic calming


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COMMENT: Let’s start saying light rail to Stittsville

(ABOVE: Artist’s rendering of the Rideau LRT station downtown. Via City of Ottawa.)

It was great to see City Council approve plans for Phase 2 of light rail transit (LRT) today. The $3-billion project includes an extension of the rail line west from Bayshore to Moodie Drive by 2023. That’s good for all west end commuters.

But there’s one thing that’s bugging me: I keep hearing councillors and other officials use the phase “bringing light rail closer to Kanata”. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Opportunity, momentum and passion for a revitalized Stittsville Main

About 45 people packed into Quitters on Monday night to take part in a panel discussion called Re-Inventing Stittsville Main.
I organized the event along with the Stittsville Village Association, the West Ottawa Board of Trade and Rick Tremblay from Quitters, with a goal of starting a conversation about the future of Stittsville Main. Continue reading


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COMMENT: The good and the bad of Ottawa’s proposed new water rates

(Construction is underway for the Kanata West Pump Station on Maple Grove Road, part of a $60-million sewer infrastructure project in Kanata-Stittsville. This photo is from last April.)

Four things stand out after Ottawa’s Environment Committee recently unanimously approved a new water, wastewater and stormwater fee structure. (Council will consider this issue on October 26.) Continue reading


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COMMENT: Five places to enjoy the great outdoors on Thanksgiving Monday

(PHOTO: Lookout over the marsh at the head of Poole Creek, along the Trans Canada Trail just west of Stittsville.  Photo by Glen Gower.)

As I sit down to write this it’s a very crisp (1°C) but bright Thanksgiving Monday. I hope you can take some time today to get outside for a run, a walk or a bike ride and enjoy one of the many trails we have close to us in Stittsville. (Bring your camera too – the fall colours are incredible.) Here are five of my favourite paths nearby. Continue reading


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NOTEBOOK: Landfill proposal could mean even more downtown trucks

A number of people have asked me this summer about the status of the Carp Road landfill expansion, or as Waste Management (WM) would prefer us to call it, the West Carleton Environmental Centre (WCEC).  

The only development is that last month, Waste Management asked the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for permission to import construction and demolition waste (known as “C&D”) from Gatineau to the current Carp Road facility.  You can read the application here…

The idea is to take the waste material and recover any recyclable materials before shipping the rest to a landfill.  Ross Wallace, a spokesperson for Waste Management, tells me that they want to be on a level playing field with other waste and recycling businesses that are allowed to take C&D waste from Western Quebec.

This brings to mind two concerns:

1) Truck traffic.  Every load of garbage coming from Gatineau to Carp Road will be crossing bridges over the Ottawa River and using downtown streets. The timing of this proposal is ironic given that City Councillors are currently reviewing a $2-billion tunnel plan to reduce the number of trucks that cut through the core and choke up King Edward Avenue.

2) Waste transfer and jurisdictions. When WM first applied to expand the current landfill, it committed to serve Ottawa and close western neighbours like Lanark County.  Opening the door – even slightly – to garbage from Quebec is worrisome.  It contradicts the business model proposed by WM in the approved Environmental Assessment and Environmental Compliance Approval, where only Ontario waste was considered.

Environmentalists and waste industry watchers have been saying for a while now that increasing capacity at Ontario landfills (like the one on Carp Road) would lead to importing waste from farther and farther away. Do we really want our City to be the destination for garbage from other provinces or even the United States?

As Lando said in the Empire Strikes Back, “This deal is getting worse all the time!” The expanded landfill is going to look way different from what WM first described when they started the approval process: we’re hearing there’s no recreational land until the landfill is closed, recycling capability will be drastically reduced, and now they’re asking to expand the collection boundaries.

Residents can comment on WM’s application until October 3, either online or by mail.  Here’s how to get in touch.

***

The next update to watch for is what’s happening with the Host Municipal Responsibility Agreement (HMRA). That’s the legal agreement between WM and the City that sets terms and conditions for the landfill’s operation. The company has been negotiating with the City’s lawyers, and at some point the agreement will need council approval. It’s not clear how (or even if) the public will be able to give any input.


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COMMENT: Marijuana shop may be illegal, but risk to community is low

(PHOTO: If it wasn’t for all the media coverage you might never know this was a marijuana dispensary.)

I stopped in at Magna Terra’s open house over lunch today. Owner Franco Vigile was there along with one of his staff (a registered nurse) serving finger sandwiches and bottled water to visitors.

Magna Terra is the new medical marijuana dispensary on Iber Road that’s scheduled to open later this month. The facility, and others like it, are operating illegally — at least until the Liberal government finalizes new legislation for the sale and use of marijuana. Continue reading


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COMMENT: New street names should honour community leaders

(PHOTO: Warner-Colpitts Lane is named after Sterling Warner and Ian Colpitts, two Stittsville volunteers who were instrumental in building the Johnny Leroux Arena. We should recognize more of our community leaders – past and present – with commemorative street names.)

You have just under two weeks to submit your street name ideas to the City of Ottawa. Back in June, city staff gave residents an extended deadline of August 12 to send in their suggestions for five local streets. That was after staff received a lot of negative input about the original suggestions.

The city was right to re-open the suggestion process. Stittsville ended up with un-inspiring names like “Foilage”, “Plaintain” and “Boxty” (the Irish Pancake) in the first round. Continue reading


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COMMENT: Marijuana benefits are real, but so are the risks

(PHOTO: Lemon kush / photo by Mark via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.)

(Editor’s note: A medical marijuana dispensary called Magna Terra will be opening soon on Iber Road. Most of the public reaction we’ve seen online has been overwhelmingly positive, but there has been some concern as well. Here’s some context from Kanata resident Liz Hall, who works in the health care field.)
Continue reading


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COMMENT: Ice those plans for changes to minimum snowplow standards

(Snow removal in Fairwinds. Photo by Hien Hoang.)

Forgive me for being cynical, but when you schedule a presentation about snowplow service during the first week of July, and only tell the public about it two days before the long weekend, my first thought is that you’re trying to bury some bad news.

That’s exactly what it looks like the City has done with a KPMG report scheduled to be tabled at a Transportation Committee meeting on Wednesday.   Continue reading


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COMMENT: Public high school is about giving parents a real choice

A public high school for Stittsville has finally hit #1 on the public school board’s priority list.

At tonight’s Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) meeting, parents, trustees, the local councillor and even a representative from Jack Maclaren’s office were all singing from the same songbook. Now we’ll see if the Ministry of Education joins in. Continue reading


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