CONGESTION PRICING BACK ON THE RADAR
Looks like the debate over “congestion pricing” might be coming to City Hall in the near future. That’s the idea of using financial incentives (or disincentives) to decrease car use and increase transit ridership, particularly from the suburbs of Ottawa into the downtown core.
The four downtown councillors – Chernushenko, Leiper, McKenney and Nussbaum – commissioned a study that was presented at a symposium last week.
The study looks at the potential effects of four pricing models: highway tolls, “cordon” charges (a toll to enter downtown), parking rate changes and a gas tax increase. The authors conclude that raising the cost of parking downtown would be the most cost-effective tool: “The report concludes that while a cordon charge to enter the Ottawa central area could be more effective at accomplishing the stated objectives, the implementation costs given today’s technology would make it impractical. Tolling the highways was evaluated to be less effective given the possibility of leakage onto parallel arterial roads and the inability to address north-south traffic. The study notes important jurisdictional and other challenges regarding the feasibility of raising the gas tax and concludes that focussing on parking charges would be more useful in addressing congestion and increasing transit ridership. Although high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes were not examined in detail, the report suggests their feasibility could increase in light of provincial highway expansion plans.
“Managing congestion using pricing tools is increasingly recognized by cities worldwide as a way to increase transit ridership, lower greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and address commuting frustration” says Chernushenko. “Our goal in commissioning this research and analysis from CPCS is to contribute to an ongoing conversation about how to best to encourage sustainable transportation and support our significant investment in LRT. This is a very important discussion for Ottawa to have.”
There are no immediate plans to move forward on any recommendations in the study, but it’s a debate that Stittsville commuters will want to keep an eye on in the months to come.
CELL TOWER PROPOSED FOR IBER
Via Councillor Qadri: “Shared Network Canada (SNC) is proposing a 50m tri-pole communication tower to be constructed at 145 Iber Rd. The tower will be used to offer space to multiple cellular carriers to enhance and support their networks. A small fenced area with a walk-in cabinet will be constructed at the base of the installation. A public meeting will be held at the Main Hall of the Goulbourn Recreational Complex (1500 Shea Rd) on Wednesday, April 12th to help answer resident questions and concerns regarding the project.” There’s more info about the meeting here…
590 HAZELDEAN ROAD ZONING
On April 11, the City’s planning committee will be considering a zoning bylaw amendment for 590 Hazeldean Road. Currently zoned as agricultural land, the proposed change would allow for a residential development with parks, a school and commercial areas. The initial consultation for the zoning change happened way back in late 2013 / early 2014, but the item is only now coming in front of councillors.
The staff report prepared for the meeting describes the land as “vacant”, but that’s not really accurate. The word suggests empty, worthless land. In this case it’s quite the opposite. Until a few years ago it was home to an active farm, and the Bradley-Craig heritage house and barn are still standing along Hazeldean Road. (The barn is supposed to be relocated soon to Saunders Farm.)
SIGNS OF SPRING