Lebreton Flats Development Comments


Submitted to landowner of the Flats, the National Capital Commission:

February 8, 2016

I am a 71-year-old resident of Ottawa since 1969, living mostly in the greater central area (now in Sandy Hill).  My wife and I were married in the chapel at the Dominican College on the escarpment at the end of Empress, and my first and second job in Ottawa were located in an NCC-owned row-house on Primrose.  I was a public consultation specialist with the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton for 22 years, worked in three positions in the automobile industry, and have been involved in community issues (mostly housing and transportation) for many years.  BTW, I attended the recent NCC “Lab” on the benefits and techniques of third-party blogging on urban issues.

Essentially, I find the process flawed.  You ask now for input on the submissions, even though I don’t remember being asked for input on the terms of reference that invited the corporate participants.  Also, there is no information on the reasons that two of the four consortia you selected did not follow through with a submission.  That leaves the variety for choosing a bit thin.  Finally, the public is being shown the physical elements of the submissions, but not the full submission, including the business case for their respective elements.  As land and transportation planning is a municipal/provincial responsibility, you are, here, acting more as a land-owner than as a public agency, one that is in the process of selling land to a private concern.

Lebreton Flats represents that last chance to add to the city/regional core elements that are missing, either because they were lost at a previous time (I remember the O’Keefe Brewery, one of the few buildings left in Lebreton Flats when I arrived in early 1969) or because their necessity has arisen only recently.

One of the things I have noted over the years is that Ottawa, like most cities, has lost many city-centre unique businesses and land-uses to the suburbs.  A very important one is active-care hospitals (I am aware of the presence of the General and Protestant hospitals in the eastern section of downtown in the early part of the twentieth century, gained through research for my Jane’s Walk, “Uptown Rideau: Main Street Interrupted).  The location of the hockey arena to Kanata, which partially replaces the older rink on O’Connor, is another example (which ironically occurred just as the suburbanizing trend in American cities was going into reverse).

In the RFP document, you should be commended for thorough consideration of seasonal variations, movement by foot (walking and cycling), and animation of public areas, indoor and outdoor.

Transportation in this document is too brief and the points to be earned too small.  And parking is not even mentioned, or at least its diminution in light of criterion: “maximizing leverage of the public transit investment.”

Urban Fabric: The Flats still are a bit of an island, cut off from Centretown by the escarpment, Gatineau by the parkway and river, Hintonburg by the rail line, and even Dalhousie to the south by Albert, which blogger Eric Darwin correctly refers to as nothing more than a “transportation sewer.”  Since the strongest elements are the radiating of traffic from the city centre, east-west, some thought should be given to reconnecting Wellington over the rail line through the flats. (The old Regional government tore down a viaduct that existed before).  Albert Street is not slated for rehabilitation: with active street-facing uses flanking both sides.

The residential component, I feel, is better handled by the Devcore proposal.  They put all the major attractions to the north, leaving the residential and local commercial development to by together – although this would further isolate Zibi from the Ontario side.

Ottawa Public Library: I don’t like LF as a site for this; rather something close to its current location.

Hospital: Ottawa’s hospitals are now spread out into suburbia.  I worked for several years with the Council on Aging Transportation Committee and its Hospital Parking subcommittee. Except for the Riverside – which has no patients staying over nights and weekends (and thus no demand for parking at those times) – the other hospitals have little transit service (1.5 routes to the TOH’s General campus and CHEO, 1.5 routes to the Montfort, 3 routes to the TOH’s Civic campus, and
2 to the Queensway-Carleton) – and coincidentally shamelessly charge city-centre parking rates, while neighbouring residential areas lobby for highly restrictive parking.  Having an active-care hospital, presumably a relocated Civic Campus, on the O-Train, would be ideal.  And it would provide parking demand that would complement the demand of the “attractions” (which are more oriented to evenings and weekends).

Parking: Another project our COA committee developed was to have a park’n’ride at Hurdman for non-commuters: tourists and others visiting the city centre and seniors needed parking to hospitals to avoid the parking charges.  The proposal called for parking charges to include a 4-5-hour transit pass, as a package.  This could also work in planned parking structures in Lebreton Flats.

Automobile Museum: This is almost amusing, it is so strange.  As a person who has lived without a car for 21 years and who co-founded Vrtucar, I tend to consider cars are being devices that belong only in museums.  But seriously, I was contacted by a man this summer who curated an auto museum in the Toronto area for “microcars” until the collection was sold to someone who moved it to North Carolina.  I still have his contact info.


How Will the Various Forms of “Green Energy” – Wind, Solar, Geo-thermal, and Wave – Affect the Earth as Each is Scaled Upwards?


I am no expert on energy; this is my first post or paper on it.  And, as a result it is a short one, really one that asks a question I am surprised I have not seen asked or answered in print before.

Each of these four forms have one thing in common: they tap a source of energy that is part of the earth’s natural system.  Because we all know that energy is never destroyed, it is only degraded and therefore less concentrated and usable.  That is bad.  Even though ‘harvesting’ each concentrates it a bit, when it is used it is degraded again, perhaps adding heat to the earth’s surface.

Right now, we all think of how each of these “renewable” forms of energy avoid generating greenhouse gases, but they also reduce the energy floating around on the earth, possibly reducing the earth’s temperature.  This would be a silver-lining secondary effect that I have never seen discussed with the general public.

1. Wind energy consists of sticking wind rotors into the air, with the effect of reducing wind speeds.

2. Solar energy means intercepting solar rays on their way to the earth’s surface, reducing its temperature.

3. Geo-thermal energy siphons off the heat trapped below the earth’s crust by circulating water deep into the ground, a kind of earth ‘radiator.’

4. Wave energy reduces the surface movements of the larger bodies of water.  (Tidal energy is a form of hydroelectricity, which I suspect is not a growth industry, at least in the fresh-water ecology).

And there may be other forms of energy we will yet ‘invent’ that will also tap another form of natural energy that is just ‘out there’ in a low-density format that can be ‘concentrated’ through a system of ‘harvesting’ it.

Right now, the amount of such energy being ‘harvested’ is so small its impacts on our thermal ecology is probably not able to be measured, but in scaling each process upwards to replace the planet’s prodigious appetite for energy, it probably will.

So, what is the answer?

Resentment and the 2015 Canadian Election


Christopher Hume’s column in the Toronto Star on Friday joined the plethora of pundit-led assessments of why Stephen Harper and his Conservatives fell out of government last Monday.

He spent most of his ink on the need of large municipalities to have federal dollars for infrastructure, but ended with the following about voter feelings: “The message of the federal election, we are told, was that Canadians are hungry — starved — for change. They’ve had it with the politics of resentment.” This is the first reference to resentment and to the idea that resentment deserves recognition as an important part of politics I have ever seen, despite Hume attributing it to unnamed others.  He concluded with a hint about what causes resentment: “They want the public’s business conducted in good faith, not bad blood.”

Yes, the Conservative Party under Harper is  mean.  Even though its basic tenets are still popular — more money left in taxpayers’ pockets, defend your friends from terrorists — the public has noticed how mean-spirited he is, starting with the ads mocking youngish Liberal leader Trudeau as being “not ready.”  There has also been the canceling of the Census’ mandatory long-form, so necessary to social scientists, policy analysts, and even marketers, along with muzzling government scientists across the board.  His niqab ban was spuriously based on an assumption that the few Muslim women that wore them were needing protection from demanding husbands and fathers.   His muzzling didn’t stop at government staff, but extended to his own backbenchers and, according to many reports, his ministers

Resentment is one of the emotions, but one that is different.  While it is confused with anger, the word contains an important clue as to its power — and its significance to politics.  “Resent” means to re-feel something.  It is an anger against how one is treated by another person or institution — or how others one cares about are treated.  And because the treatment is doled out by  a person or organization that has more power, it cannot be reversed simply by fighting back, because the treatment is probably simply get worse.  So it goes on and on.

Harper wasn’t this bad in how he treated others during his first two mandates; he had minority governments and restrained himself for what he really wanted: a majority.  Once he had that, the way he treated others turned darker, enough so that he became enemy-number-one at the first time sanctions could be considered: a federal election.

In news examples of resentment, I have come to realize that those who mistreat others often are, themselves, resentful of real or imagined mistreatments throughout their lives.  In Harper’s case, it is liberals and progressives, but also justices, media, and criminals.  It is seen as a matter of justice — an idea from the “old West” — that when one has, finally, the chance, one corrects injustice.  For the last four years, Harper was wearing a white hat, correcting age-old injustices he and fellow conservatives are resentful about.

He could, perhaps, have saved himself and the power he had amassed by utilizing the wisdom of PR people who suggest one can save one’s reputation by  saying you’re sorry and promising to change.  But that would have required self-awareness that Harper never evinced.  Instead, he is muttering, “enough with all you knaves” — including his own colleagues in government — and exiting abruptly and without allowing the media any question (or gloating, as his mind probably sees it).  Perhaps part of his blindness to this resentment — which, after all, most of us don’t identify as such in our lives — is his economics background: he so believes that voters want to maximize their economic well-being that he can’t see any role for emotion, especially for the most important one for voters: resentment.



Flight plans for driving?


The flurry of predictions about the rosy future for self-driving cars has missed an important feature: the car needs to be told the driver’s destination before starting out, just as pilots of airplanes have had to do pretty much from the beginning. How will this change ground transportation?  And how soon with drivers (or their self-driving cars) be required to ‘file’ this plan with the local traffic planners?  Airlines do that now with a federal agency.  My experience with carsharing showed how even the scant commitment users had to make — for when they would leave and when they would return (and the $25 fine for returning the car late) — had the effect of injecting rigor into trip planning.

The drivers of most buses and larger trucks already do that, even though there is no government agency requiring it. That is because their vehicles are owned by — or are contracted to — large concerns which have made commitments to third parties about what/who will be delivered where by when.  It’s called “logistics” and is now a science.  Even though the federal aviation authorities use the mass of schedule information to “manage traffic” in the air, this is not pooled by ground-transportation authorities to allow for congestion-avoidance strategies, leading to, at least, greater efficiency.

If each vehicle — self-driving or human-piloted — sent their users’ plans to a central website that could do on-the-fly projections of the amount of traffic at each pre-identified “pinch-point” in its system, some very beneficial steps could be taken:

– fewer driver last-second maneuvers would occur, some of them causing collisions or near-collisions; and no drivers would get lost;

– traffic planners could ‘see’ congestion before it would occur, allowing time to advise drivers or on-board computers to alter their plans according to scientific suggested alternative routes.

– drivers with empty seats — sensors in the cars to detected the status of each seat, as they now can sense whether a seatbelt should be deployed — could function as a provider of “trans-seat” for people on foot needing a time-saving lift as part of their own trip, a kind of “Uber-ization” of transit — or the automation of hitchhiking to make it work on an intra-urban basis — all linked by our smart-phone system.

Already, proponents of self-driving cars are suggesting that they will significantly reduce road collisions and car-ownership (thus a city’s car ‘population’) by eliminating both driver error and vehicle down-time (it would drive itself from one user’s trip-destination to next user’s trip-origin) eliminating the between-trips parking requirement associated with private car-ownership.  The plans of users will be known before a shared-smartcar company even assigns the trip, further improving vehicle efficiencies.

Would we, today, consider travel by air, train, or bus if such a system didn’t exist for each?  We even insist that it is not enough to now a vehicle’s schedule, but its current status, too (since plans can be adhered to flawlessly).  And if the road system planners, knowing the plans of all vehicles on the road and those about to enter the roads, are able to predict congestion, and share its findings with all users, wouldn’t that allow people to make — and change — their plans as traffic status report became available, including delaying or dropping their upcoming plans to drive, at least for the next few hours? Might, finally, we shape travel demand to road capacity, rather than expecting government to eternally expand it to our whims-of-travel?

My Antique Raleigh Twenty Gets Media Treatment

  • 1 Aug 2015, p. W2
  • Toronto Star (Ottawa Public Library and its Press Display service)



The vehicle: 1978 Raleigh Twenty

The owner: Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa

The story: I bought this Raleigh folding bike last summer on Kijiji, having looked for one since my first was stolen, circa 1994.

Chris Bradshaw of Sandy Hill in Ottawa with his 1978 Raleigh Twenty folding bike that he purchased on Kijiji.I pined for that bike for weeks; I walked the neighbourhood hoping it was stolen as a lark by a young person and abandoned nearby. I walked along the Rideau Canal when the National Capital Commission drains it in preparation for winter and skating, hoping it would “rise” from the depths.

The bike the thief stole was manufactured in England by Raleigh for Canadian Tire, and sold under its Supercycle brand. I had bought it new in 1972, and used it to commute to my job. It cost $80, a considerable savings over the Raleigh version at an independent bike shop.

But when I saw a Raleigh, I regretted not having the white sidewalls, frame-matching dark-brown fenders and Raleigh’s trademark on the white tail section.

When the Kijiji seller showed up with this bike I was amazed that it had the original tires, brakes, Sturmey-Archer shifter, Brooks seat, handgrips and rear carrier. I asked how much it was used and where it was stored over its life (which, from the serial numbers, showed it to have been assembled in 1978, and the hub manufactured in 1977). He shrugged, having acquired it only recently. But I knew folding and small-wheeled bikes are bought primarily for RVs and boats, and used for short-distance, in-town trips. So I didn’t even try to dicker him down from his asking, $150.

With the nice condition, I’m keeping my bike mostly stock, though I have adorned it with a vintage mirror and bell, and ride it as my neighbourhood bike, wearing a 1970s Norco helmet.

I have other bikes. They all have internal-hub gearing, which is making a comeback. I find derailleur gears awkward, as they don’t allow shifting while stopped. They become dangerous when toting other people (we had a tandem).

Bikes are infinitely “trickable.” There is no one second-guessing what you do to adapt it to your needs or desires. The world goes by at a more human pace, while you save money and get your heart and muscles working. Show us your candy: Do you have beautiful original, restored or customized wheels? Send us your words and pictures, which are especially welcome if you or yours are in them. Email wheels@thestar.ca and be sure to use “Eye Candy” in the subject line.

Rover shared-parking app makes better use of private parking

Your editorial (“Bringing Rover to Heel,” July 28th reproduced below) on this new app that facilitates home-owners to rent out their parking spaces when they don’t need them suggests a compromise.  It should cause a deeper reevaluation by the city.

Very little parking is zoned as such, and only this parking can be rented; otherwise parking spots are deemed “ancillary” to the main land-use, usually residential, commercial, or industrial, and it can be occupied only by the vehicles used to transport the driver to do business — as customer, seller, or employee — at that address.  Downtown such parking spaces are a market commodity and usually charged for, while those further out are usually free.

In lower-density residential areas, the parking supply is fractured, usually with each parking spot requiring its own “curb cut” for access.  Unfortunately, this curb cut does two deliterious things:  a) it requires the sidewalk geometry to be compromised such that the level surface that makes walking pleasant is sacrificed to avoid the property-owner needing to slow down to almost a standstill to avoid a big bump.  This feature causes pedestrians to shift their hips to allow one foot to be higher than the other, and it causes strollers to want to roll into the street without strong-arming by the adult pusher.  It is also unfair, as the sidewalks are publicly provided and movement along them is much greater than that using the curb-cut to gain egress to the private driveway.

The second effect is b) the street loses one or, more often, two, street parking spots.  This not only reduces the number of parking spaces on the street, but the off-street spaces that replace them are all private — thus unshared.  Even though the average car is driven only 1.5 to 2 hours a day, they are parked during the day more often at other parking spaces, such as an employer’s lot.

What Rover does can actually help the residents on a street, by providing an opportunity for a visitor to park in a private spot, thus reducing the use of on-street spaces.  The former would be used by someone parking longer than street parking allows, and the latter by those parking for shorter periods.

A couple years ago, a seniors centre and long-term-care home in Ottawa lost parking for employees, volunteers, and visitors to the residents when chronically underused Lansdowne Park, across the street, was redeveloped and greatly intensified, at least the adjacent portion.  I proposed the center approach owners in the residential area to set up a Rover-like program, with the centre allotting the spaces and enforcing adherence, so visitors’ vehicles would not be blocking owners when they got home from their jobs.  But the idea had to be rejected when it was realized that most parking was in garages off a rear lane and, without a private driveway in front, would be too fraught with security issues.  But at least this parking arrangement, which dates back over 75-100 years, has provide many more shared street parking spaces than the suburbs do today, where car-ownership is even higher.

Another place where it could work is at hospitals which charge very high rates for the parking they provide, primarily justified by their need for funding to cover gaps in provincial financial support.  But seniors, who are the most frequent users of such parking — as patients, visitors of patients, and clinic clients — are also more likely to need a car to overcome accessibility limitations and have difficulty paying the rates that exceed what the municipality charges in its downtown.  Rover would help them.

Chris Bradshaw

Active senior, Ottawa

= = = = =

28 Jul 2015, Toronto Star [editorial]

Bringing Rover to heel

Consider it the next logical step in the app-based “sharing economy.” Uber, the popular California-based ride-sharing service, came to Toronto in 2012, to the dismay of the taxi industry. Now Rover is here — doing for parking spots what Uber did for car rides.

Both offer a mobile app-based approach to putting buyers of a service in touch with sellers, and both are in conflict with longstanding city regulations. In both cases, the solution is to draft fresh standards, protecting the public from possible excesses while answering consumer desire for participation in the new economy.

Rover operates by connecting drivers to people with available parking space. Often, it’s an unused driveway. Participating motorists download an app, provide credit card information and are sent a map showing the location of Rover parking spots. The company takes 30 per cent from each transaction, with the parking fee capped at $2 an hour.

Here’s the problem: r,enting out private parking in Toronto constitutes running a commercial parking lot. And there are hefty fines for doing so without meeting regulatory requirements and obtaining necessary approvals.

These rules serve a purpose. It’s in a neighbourhood’s interest to block residents from turning their property into permanent, busy parking lots. That should still be banned. But there should also be a place for Rover.

The law governing this area was written before the existence of app-based sharing services, and it should be better synchronized with what’s happening in the marketplace.

As Toronto Mayor John Tory put it, this app-based technology is “here to stay, it’s not going anywhere and we’d better find a way to make sure regulations catch up with it.”

A possible way to do that might be to cap the number of parked cars a property owner is allowed to accept. If this cap was set relatively low, say one or two vehicles a day, it would go a long way to alleviate concern that Rover would result in something akin to a bustling parking lot.

It should be possible to reach some middle ground. Indeed, given the tenor of the times, maybe someone will find an app for that.


Gears and Gaps


Gears and Gaps: An Important Safety Message from Older Drivers to Cyclists

Three years ago, I started a group on “older drivers” at the Ottawa Seniors Transportation Committee, a project of the Council on Aging of Ottawa (COA).  Seniors face the serious issue of knowing when their mental functions and other declines dictate that they need to stop driving and get rid of their car.  One of the signs of aging is described by the 64-dollar word proprioception.  It describes, according to Wikipedia, “ the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.”

What!!!?  Most people don’t need to worry about experiencing it very often until they get older, but those few times could be lethal if it occurs while riding a bike.  And the likelihood of it happening is when one is trying to enter traffic without the aid of a traffic signal that controls the cross traffic.

The proprioception issue for cyclists is the derailleur gearing, which prevents the cyclists from shifting gears when stopped, since shifting requires the rear wheel to be turned while the crank is simultaneously turned forward (back pedalling won’t work).  That requires remembering to down-shift each time one stops, hard to do when done quickly, and harder to always remember to do.

A few years ago, I found this out as a 66-year-old riding a tandem with my wife, a non-cyclist and for some time, a non-driver.  A few months after getting her to agree to me buying the tandem, I had ridden with her to the Rideau Centre, a large downtown shopping mall near our downtown home (having a garage but no car provided us with a solution to where a tandem can be stored securely, along with two other bikes).  I dropped her off for a session at the Goodlife Health Club.  I had just come back to pick her up after her session, and had forgotten to downshift to low on the 12-speed derailleur gears.

She mounted the bike, and got herself situated with her feet on the pedals, with me holding the bike erect.  I pushed off while pointed to the wall where the parking garage and the centre wall met at a right angle.  I needed to turn quickly, which would have been easy if I was starting out in the low gear.  But I got a big surprise when it found out I was in my top gear and could not accelerate enough to handle the turn in the space available, I brought my left foot down while my wife, as per my instructions, kept her feet on the pedals.  I probably shouted “I got it” (like Mel Brooks in High Anxiety) while I was losing the balance battle in slow motion.  I avoided being under the bike when it toppled, but her leg was under it, and it got bruised and scraped, requiring us to seek first aid (at least health clubs have kits handy), and she never rode the tandem again (although we hung onto it for two more seasons before she admitted she wasn’t going to ever engage in being my stoker again).

My proprioception problem was partly the result of the fact that my other bikes – and prior bikes for many decades – had a design peculiarity in common: they had internal gears.  That means they could be shifted while stopped.  If I started up while in a gear too high for what I needed and expected, I could quickly remedy it.  Sometimes it was a balance issue, but more likely it was when I was trying to get into and/or through moving traffic, such as exiting a driveway and simultaneously making a left-turn to merger with traffic on the far side of the road (approaching from my right).

This manoeuvre, requires the skill of watching oncoming traffic in both directions, quickly turning one’s head and handling the calculations of the when gaps approaching from the two 180-degree opposing direction (or higher angle if inside a curve in the road) would coincide in front of me, and calculating when it was propitious to push off.  Sometimes, after a longer-than-average wait, I would do a “pedestrian turn,” crossing to a safe spot on the opposite side (often requiring me to come to a complete stop| again), and then, as a second manoeuvre, merging with traffic when a second suitable gap approached.  Going through this process and finding at the last moment that one’s gears are not going to deliver quick acceleration is a shock and disappointment, a potentially lethal one.

Being a newbie to derailleur bikes meant that I was more likely to make the mental error – just as seniors, as depicted by media when they drive into a drive-in restaurant after forgetting to  first put their transmission into reverse get into a heap of trouble, imperil innocents inside the restaurant or store.

The other time when humans are likely to make proprioception errors is when they are young.  Yet as parents, we make the double error of buying our kids bikes with terribly over-designed derailleur gears and giving in to their desire to have and ride their own bike on streets – probably emulating adult behaviour and status.  The design peculiarity of needing to remember to downshift before coming to a stop is something they will not always remember – until it is too late.

So for your sake and that of  your kids (or grandkids) buy them single-speed or hub-geared bikes.  And do the same as you extend, wisely, your cycling into your later years.

Thankfully, one of the bike designs that appeal to seniors is folding bikes.  They have the low crossbar that makes mounting and dismounting easier and safer, which – if you choose the more expensive models – have hub gears (Dahons and Bromptons).

But if the bumpier ride of small-wheeled bikes bothers you (or the lack of a suspension system that is hard to include in such a bike), internal-hub gearing is making a comeback with a vengeance: hub gears have been redesigned to have more than was offered by the venerable Sturmey-Archer company: 4- to 14-speed (Shimano and Roloff), but at a premium.  They are common on the so-called European models that are appearing in smaller bike shops in the older neighbourhoods, especially on “Amsterdam” bikes or cargo bikes (e.g., “bakfiets”), both adorned with something that derailleur bikes made obsolete: chain guards that isolate dirty chains from our hands and clothes.  Carrying cargo, by the way, is a good capability for seniors who realize that having a car in their post-commuter, fixed-income period makes little financial sense, especially when keeping fit and healthy is so important.

Or there is the option of getting an “antique” with a Sturmey-Archer 3-speed.  I bought a mint-condition Raleigh Twenty fold-up with one a year ago to replace my Brompton.  But the casual cyclist could turn to Right Bike rentals that have expanded to cover pretty much the same older neighbourhoods as Vrtucar (disclaimer: I co-founded the company in 2000 and co-managed it until late-2006), and offer only vintage “girl’s” bikes (complete with low crossbars) all of which have three-speed shifters.

Happy – and safe – cycling!  And watch both your gaps in traffic, along with your gears.


Better Way to Vote


20 Jun 2015
Ottawa Citizen

A better voting system
Re: Alternative voting systems not created equal, June 19.

I agree with Mark Sutcliffe that an alternative electoral system that eliminates the relationship between voters and a local MP is to be avoided. That eliminates party-list/proportional systems (which Ontario had on their recent referendum) and single-transferable votes (which British Columbia voted on).

But to assert that a vote for candidate A is a vote against all the other choices is, I believe, wrong. The rank-order ballot, though, is not the only way to overcome that. The other is “approval voting,” in which the voter can put a check by as many choices as he or she approves of, without any rank-ordering. The focus is not on determining which choice is best, but the one(s) that the voter is willing to be represented by.

With computer assistance (which we use for Ottawa municipal elections) we could easily combine rank-order and approval voting, by allowing each voter to put any number by each name, even if they signify a tie by putting the same number.

This would be closer to the kinds of decision we make at stores; we can buy as many items of a choice as we want, and we can buy one each of several competing products. Retailers pore over this rich behaviour, via their “reward systems” that track purchases for each participant. Parties and candidates would learn so much more than they do now.

And we would still get our local representatives. And voters could do something they can’t do now: register a negative vote (by putting no mark by a choice).

Chris Bradshaw, Sandy Hill

Calgary Council approves new downtown tower with no parking for residents or visitors

This shows the changes ahead in adjusting to lower interest by young people in driving or having a personal car, and in seniors who, with more time on their hands and less money in their pockets, would rather live close to ameneties than live in a bungalow in the suburbs.

[14 May 2015, Calgary Herald, Jason Markusoff, p. A4]

“Council OKs ‘ visionary’ parking- free tower”

The same council that frets over the suburban parking burden created by a secondary suite or two has made Calgary history, unanimously approving a tower in East Village with 167 condos and not a single stall for tenants’ or visitors’ automobiles?

Calgary’s first parking- free condo project will be one of the only of its kind in Canada. There’s so much demand among young buyers and seniors for this option that 650 people have registered interest in the project before pre- sales begin this fall, the developer said.

The N3 Condos’ promoters were fearing council would reject it, and Mayor Naheed Nenshi was surprised it passed through council 13-0 Wednesday.

He said it’s a sign council believes in Calgary’s official smart- growth plan for a city less reliant on the automobile — “a new kind of city than what had been built before,” he explained.

“I think it really says that council has gone through an evolution matching the evolution of the city,” the mayor told reporters.

The 15- storey tower will rise next to the former St. Louis Hotel on 8th Avenue S. E. and 4th Street, a block from the City Hall LRT station. Its basement will offer ample bicycle parking, and each new unit will come with a new bike and credit for the Car2Go car- sharing service.

Several councillors who routinely fret about parking shortage on projects — basement suites or otherwise — showered this project with praise.

Andre Chabot called it “visionary.” Sean Chu, who was earlier skeptical about this project, said it’s a fair option to offer if younger Albertans are less likely to drive or own cars than they used to.

“It’s looking outside the box. We have to try something new,” said Chu. He also expressed confidence that the owner is taking all the risk on this project — if it doesn’t sell, developer Joe Starkman can return to change the zoning back to allow parking.

Under normal rules, a tower of that size would require about 100 parking stalls. Planners believe that nearby curbside spaces and parkades will serve visitor parking demand.

Nenshi said when he visits friends’ condos in downtown or the Beltline, “I never even think: do you have a visitor in your parkade. I just find parking on the street or in a nearby parkade.”

The two- bedroom units planned in the suite are as small as 460 square feet, and start at $ 199,900 — an unusually low price for a downtown condo. Starkman has said it would cost extra per unit to dig an underground car parkade.

Councillors agreed the no- parking concept isn’t for everyone, or even most people. But if it can work anywhere in Calgary, the East Village development is likely ideal, they said.

“This is probably the most perfect place in the entire city to introduce this to the marketplace,” said Coun. Gian- Carlo Carra.

Notes from my fourth Jane’s Walk: “Uptown Rideau: Main Street Interrupted”


Details: Sunday, May 3rd, 2015, 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon
Start: Rideau Branch of the Ottawa Public Library;  End at Besserer Park, overlooking the Rideau River and Cummings Bridge

Welcome!  This is a 90-minute tour of one of Ottawa “traditional main streets.”  Why do I say it has been “interrupted”?  I mainly mean that its line of cheek-by-jowl small stores development started breaking up in the 1950s.  This is also when the automobile, which for four decades had been welcomed into our lives, either in reality or as an aspirational dream.  To have a store with only one parking spot for customers – that curb directly in front – soon was deemed insufficient.  The healthier businesses bought a neighbouring business to replace it with off-street parking.  The suburban merchants were now providing their residents with free parking, and downtown merchants had to compete.  Besides, zoning rules now existed, and any change in land use or building form brought into play these new rules (banks pretty much the same thing).

But Rideau Street also has another factor that hurt its ability to become a full-fledged main street: it was not a central focus of a neighbourhood; rather it was the boundary between two very different ones: Lowertown which by the 1950s became a guinea pig for urban renewal – subsidized housing and community services such as Ste-Anne Public School, Academie de la Salle and Le Patro, all establishing the “French fact” (when neighbouring French-speaking Vanier/Eastview was still a separate municipality).  Sandy Hill, to the north, was the traditional home to the city’s elite, business people and senior bureaucrats, with tram service along not just Rideau but Laurier Avenue E.  This created an “upstairs, downstairs” situation.  This has been exacerbated by the area being adjacent to the east part of the central area, which is home to our city’s homeless – with several drop-in centres – two along Uptown Rideau – operating as satellites.  And then there is the University of Ottawa, to the South along the Rideau Canal, bringing young adults with dreams of success and accomplishment, but also with very little money.  its student population is exploding so much– with Sandy Hill’s community association pressuring the University to take more responsibility for good and integrated housing – that two seniors homes and one hotel have recently been converted for housing freshmen, the only students the university has taken responsibility to accommodate.  Exacerbating the divide is the fact that Rideau Street is the widest of Ottawa streets, perhaps because it provided, until the building of the Queensway in the 1950s, the link to the closest of our country’s truly large cities, Montreal.

There was a third factor.  At the east end of Uptown Rideau was Ottawa’s first “heath campus” (or at least that is  what we would now call it).  It probably located here, on what was the eastern edge of the city proper, because four graveyards existed just north of the street.  A hundred years ago, the graves were (mostly) removed, and the four cemeteries – between Cobourg and Wurtemburg, owned by the Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopalian – were transformed into Macdonald Gardens park, by the famous landscape architect, Frederick G. Todd, arguably Canada’s first (who first did a park plan for the predecessor of our National Capital Commission, in 1903). The “hub” was the County of Carleton Protestant Hospital [the Catholic one – for the French-speaking and the Irish and other early immigrant groups from Europe – was north of the Market on Bruyere].  As they were phased out and relocated, they left a gaping hole at the east end, which has still not been filled, except by several newer Ottawa Community Housing buildings for seniors, and the former hospital, which was somehow not demolished, even after a couple decades as a recruiting centre for Canada Forces, became a condominium under the preservation eye of Ottawa icon Sandy Smallwood, now known as Wallis House.

The details that I worked from was the “business directories” that listed occupants of all structures in the city.  Remember, it predated phone books (which, themselves, are probably living on borrowed time), and they still exist.  The early ones I pored over at the new City Archives (in Centrepointe) didn’t even have street numbers, since buildings didn’t have, then, need them).  I have recorded the information on a spreadsheet that I can share, which has the years – every five years from 1872 to the present – on the X axis, and addresses on the Y axis.  It is too big to printout.

Here are some other interesting facts about the street:

1.    The Jewish community first settled here.  Although they aspired to have businesses in the central area – and many succeeded – many opened businesses along Uptown Rideau.  Its cultural life locus was at Chapel, but it was recently sold to developers, and the procession, by foot, to the new synagogue in the west end, occurred just weeks ago.  Its community centre and Torah Talmud school were relocated to the west end years earlier.  All tThe main Jewish presence left is Rideau Bakery (across from the Rideau Library branch) and the small synagogue, the Orthodox Community of Ohev Yisroel, near Cobourg.

2.    Uptown Rideau is undergoing its second effort to define its “design.”  The initial 2005 “community design plan,” like others done across the city, was deemed lacking, as community groups kept asking why the City tended to ignore them as land-development occurred.  The existence of buildings taller than the 3-6-storey height is limited only, ironically, to the Lowertown side of the street, with most of them being built for “social housing” plus one for National Defence.  The height on the south side is mostly below the ideal heights, but the two taller structures – four storeys and five storeys – are both office buildings, giving the street some employment independent of the people working in retail, restaurants, and in their nearby homes. The street doesn’t have a coffee shop.  As the National Defence building is vacated for pending redevelopment, the businesses at the west end have really noticed the drop in trade.

3.    The oddest height-breaker is the tallest, 160 Chapel.  It is now a tony rental community, with nice shops on the ground floor.  But it started out as a students’ residence known as Pestalozzi College, planned as a clone to the notorious Rochdale College in Toronto.  While Pestaozzi, its retail space was never rented.

4.    The street is undergoing its first reconstruction in 75 years.  Work will be completed by July at a cost of $22 million.  Note the distinctive lighting, but also the fact that all wiring is buried.  Watch for four art installations.

Specific properties and features:

Lists of interesting facts at each of 10 stops along the way.

✰    Rideau OPL Branch:
–    I want to thank the short-lived Uptown Rideau Business Association (URBA) and its successor group, Friends of Uptown Rideau (FUR) for their support for this work.  It started out as simply a list of current businesses, religiously kept up-to-date, that grew to have an historic angle.  My interest was to get people together to champion the ideas of Jane Jacobs for street vitality based on understanding the business that function along main streets.  I  include a quote (below) from a little known talk she gave in 2000 in Washington DC, when she received the Vincent Skully Award — and which I transcribed from a video tape and included elswhere on this site.
–    I have used primarily “municipal directories” which are stored at City Archives: and have a spreadsheet A-Z and 1-300 to share. I “sampled” every five years: 02-03 and 07-08 every decade
–     Importance of King Edward Avenue as boundary, as route.
–     Rideau Bakery and Jewish business that supported Jewish immigrants
–     Heritage building – how few we have (only Ottawa Public Library branch, 373, and Wallis House, 589).
–     Interruption #1: Rebuilding the street (paving stone inscriptions possible, as Lowertown Community Association is proposing?)
–    Blocks cut the long-dimension on south, but the short-dimension on the North (the blocks on north are much bigger, longer)
–    Most business don’t last five yrs.  And so many relocate as part of the process of trying to survive.  To last in one location is rare.
–    LeDroit bldg on Loblaw’s lot started in 1958.  Might redevelop again, with much more height.
–    Rideau Bakery (owned by Abraham Kardish) started across street  (2 addresses) from  Littman Kardash, furrier); Sugarman’s Fine Foods from 1948-63.
–    Tasse Sporting goods (1917-1973, started out as music teacher)
–    Public Library branch, now “heritage,” started in late 1930s;
–    Fred Lallemand, yeast manufacturer, (1943-58), followed by hardware
–    The Smoke Bar (1938-63) was tobacconist, then deli.
–    Sandy Hill Cmty. Health Ctr. Was previously LaPaloma restaurant. (1953-1984), then Juliano’s.  Before that it was six different groceries, none lasting long than 5 yrs.
–    Rideau Pharmacy, also our Canada Post outlet, was previously O’Sullivan’s drugs  (1948-78) and before that John Brown Drugs (1902-1943).
–    Miss Alvira Lockhart, “artist” was a fixture from 1892-1917, then moved next door (from 386 to 384)
–    Before Rideau Gardens was built in about 1985, the last short-lived business was Grassroots Stained Glass Studio (before that, a string of groceries and cleaners and shoemakers/shoe repair)
–    Ezra Haist, physician, was at 362 from 1912 to 1938 (remember, Ottawa General Hospital was nearby and County of Carleton Protestant Hospital now at the other end of Uptown Rideau, MORE LATER)

✰    Shoppers Drug Mart:
–    [Note that there were, in 1882 40-some addresses with business in this block]
–     Nelson/ByTowne Cinema
–    Bourque/Constitution building [DND and other gov’t dep’ts.: Manpower & Training(across street at Steve’s);
–    Hugh Hinds (tinsmith & junk); Max Altman (real estate); Dundas Battery & Ignition (#300, 1928-48); Jos Zelkovitz, Furs (1938-58); Shell Oil & Bannerman Service Sta. (#333, over 50 yrs.); Abraham Friedman (shoemaker); [One time Bannerman’s was listed as owned by “Ogilvy” Bannerman, but Francis Bannerman the next year]
–    Star Cleaners started on one side, and then moved to last 25-plus years more.  Also Rideau Tailors/Cleaners, did well, too (1938-58 @ #334)
–    Nelson Theatre appeared in 1948; Bytowne succeeded because downtown cinemas problematic (note that all downtown cinemas now gone; only Lansdowne – Alain Miguelez’s book chronicles them: Rialto, Somerset, Elgin, another on Rideau, Centre)
–    Nate’s Deli (and Nate’s Steak House and “The Place Next Door”) lasted until four years ago, replaced by this two-story bldg, but it is reserved for 15 storeys) 1978-2008.
–    Interruption #2: “urban renewal” and the concentration of low-income housing (at least they buried the services).

✰    TD Bank (prior Brewer’s Retail, )
–    This property on corner was several buildings with lower numbers, but most dominant was a transportation theme: Alfred Carboneau “cab owner” was followed by Pierre Cardinal “riding studio,” then Star Garage and Graham & Lillico Garage until 1963, when it became the Brewer’s Retail, which left after 2003, leaving TD Bank to move from the Constitution building to here (two blocks east).
–    #393 new number for Bell Canada.
–    #417 United Brothers Jewish Synagogue, 1902-1953, then Beth Shalom at Chapel, Torah Talmud school also relocated to former public school on site of Beth Shalom.
–    Rideau Upholstery (1933-53 @#424)
–    Maria L. Sarazin, “picture framing” then “art director), 1917-1938, followed by Henri Morissette “art store” and then Double-A Auto Supply 1952-63)
–    #428 “Donalda Apartments” in 1917, then Commodore Apartments from 1933 on. In 1953, they were mostly used for businesses. [T.E. Sherbinin, lamp manu.; 101 Aluminum goods ltd; 102 Lucien Leblanc, arch.; 103 Isabel Miller, millinery ; 106 Andre J. Lenieux, surg.; 300a Famous Sewing Mach; 301 Monogram Specialities; 304 Austin Music Studio; 304a Commercial Collection Agency (with numbering system of “offices” it is hard to tell whether there was a taller building then, or if #s didn’t follow convention)
–    In 1970s, 160 Chapel was built as one of the “colleges” of the Ontario government, with Toronto’s Rochdale being the most notorious.  It was totally reposition in the residential market, redoing the room configurations by Regional Realty, and converted to high-end rental housing.  The ground-floor commercial never was rented until this conversion.
–    Historic note: #434: “Charles Drinkwater, private secy of Sir. J.A. Macdonald” on corner where 160 Chapel is now.
✰    Trinity development site:
–    This was a public school before Beth Shalom bought it.  They used the school building for a while and then built new building on the corner for the Jewish Community Centre.
–    Beth Shalom, deconsecrated just last month.  But Heartwood House relocated a year earlier, after buying a former Giant Tiger at 400 MacArthur, with a Unitarian congregation looking for a building to convert (Beth Shalom moved to a temporary home in the new Jewish Community Centre on Nadolny Sachs in west end at Carling/Broadview).  All of the non-profit groups moved with them except Capital City Mission, which went up a block and a half to a storefront like it used at the beginning of its existence.  Hebrew Benevolent Society was located across street (#351) (1948-53)
–    Trinity is planning on two floors of commercial over the full site, on top of a parking garage, and up to 20 floors of apartments. (Peter Ferguson).
–    The Econolodge Motel, #475 which now takes up the rest of the north side of the block, started life as the Parkway Motel.  I remember it as the site of an important meeting in tenants affairs: a tenants association of a notorious slum landlord negotiated the end to a rent strike I had organized in early 1970, that made the news nationally.  It is now owned by a man and his mother, as an Econolodge franchise.  They bought and removed the Pioneer gas bar, which had been operated by different franchises for many decades, leaving the street with only one source of gasoline now.
–    #470: a series of auto-sales lots, the Korea Gardens was built there in about 1985.  This restaurant moved down the street near Rideau Bakery only a year ago, changing its name.  The Korean grocery, Green Grocers, closed soon afterwards (although the real-estate signs are down, the premises sits dormant, full of what looks like personal effects).
–    #478: used car lot (1923) and then Molot’s Drug Store, before it moved to Charlotte and into a building with its name on it; then in 1973, the home for Hobby House, now in Vanier, where you can see a display of their many-location history.
–    On opposite corner: It was a grocer’s space for many decades, first a franchise for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&Ps), then Simpson’s Food Market, which interestingly became Simpson’s Hardware, before becoming, for 20 years a video-rental place, for Marmaduke and then the Adult Video Warehouse, which moved kitty-corner to its present place in the next block.

✰    Parking Lot at Shawarma King
–    The third “interruption” is poverty, mental illness, and drug use.  We stand between our two drop-in centres, one of which recently lost its funding, and can’t offer meals anymore, as the City is emphasizing housing now.  This is the most visible mark in Uptown Rideau of the more visible signs of it to the west of King Edward Avenue.  But poverty is not always so visible: the Ottawa Community Housing buildings visible from here represent “housed” poverty, mostly of seniors living on only their OAS and GIS cheques.  There are those with mental illness who live at MacDonald Manor at Cobourg and Beausoleil, who are trying, somewhat successfully, to stake a claim to the August turnaround for their outdoor space (which is now part of the draft Uptown Rideau Community Design Plan.  And there are the bulk of OCH buildings, including the tower at Angelsea Square on Murray and the two slightly newer towers on Friel behind the Bell building and th, mostly for low-income familes.  There is also the converted retirement residence now used for Ottawa U. first-year students. These units are filled mostly now – quite different from 45 years ago when I was involved with the Canadian Association of Public Housing Tenants (1971-1974), organizing rent-geared-to-income tenants at the city, provincial, and national levels – by new immigrants, many refugees fleeing persecution.  These immigrants are luckier than the ones living in our suburbs, where not having a car is a real problem.  Not only do we have two supermarkets and seven pharmacies, but Rideau Street has at least four bus routes, with extra ones at the ends (plus, the #5 crosses at Charlotte and the #1 and #9 at the west end).  Another “immigrant” community are the 50,000 students attending the U. Of Ottawa.  Several of our businesses now have 10%-off days for them (no such treatment for the others who are poor).
–    #530 Shawarma King, like the Quickie store at the other end of the block, shows the influx of the fourth “Interruption” the car.  Both have off-street parking provided, which the city zoning pretty much requires, although that is changing a bit.  The Quickie was a Seven-Eleven before, and this restaurant was a Tommy’s Doughnuts shop. In between the latter two, there were two directories that listed no business in the premises.
–    #516 was a series of business that stayed longer than one directory listing: a shoemaker, and a couple grocers.  Then in 1933 the Sandy Hill Fruit Market stayed for four editions, and then the Vienna Restaurant for nine listings.  Now the Orthodox Community of Ohev Yisroel, our only remaining Jewish synagogue and vestige of the Jewish immigration wave of early in the last century, remains.  They have recently done exterior improvements.
–    The building to its west of it is owned by a Polish man, and housed a travel agency, Nelson Travel and the Polish Travel agency.  This closed down only in the last years, along with a web-design business, converting the space back to apartments.  The only business now, is ZURT, a another Polish immigrant, Richard Rat, who opens only in the early evening after he finishes a day job.  Another Polish immigrant owns – and lives in – one of the Domicile live-work units across the street – where he once operated a shoe-repair shops, and the drop-in centre at the corner, where he once operated a café.
–    This block has seen its share of redevelopment lately.  The buildings across from us were part of John Doran’s Domicile Development’s project in the late ‘90s.  Mostly made up of smaller townhomes, he thankfully reserved the Rideau Street frontage – and little more – for “live-work” units that are even smaller.  The nice apartment building in their midst was saved and converted to a condominium.  Note that the “back yards” of the north-facing row units sit on the stores’ roofs.  These units, Doran said during a Human Library session I had with him two years ago, were sold for $79k.  The unit at the west end, for a long time our only furniture store, the Watermelon Seed, was listed for $450k.  The Regine hair stylist storefront beside it, is a nice repurposing of an older building, and is still the nicest property on the street.  The post-amaglamation zoning allows up to three units to be converted to residential uses only (no storefronts on ground floor).
–    The former Culinary Conspiracy café and catering business is in a building that spent most of its life as as Landmarck Apartments.  It was not used for commercial purposes until the 1970s, as a real-estate office.  But before that, tenants’ business interests would be mentioned in the directories, one being Wm. Heal, undertaker, (1923) and Francis H. Ennis, “public works.”  Another interesting thing is there must have been three buildings between it and Cobourg, as I have directory listings for them (Cobourg was widened during road work for the urban renewal).  The current owner of the building, Robert Jutras, has sold the business to an employee and is now trying to sell the building and land for redevelopment – to boutique builder, Akash Sinha, of Darma Developments.
–    #538 (1933, first structure, Nellie Sack confy.  After: Augustin Proulx, confy; Centurion & Nathan’s Deli (1884), and finally Angelo’s Pizza since mid-1980s.
–    #544 (Passage to India next door).  Yakatoria House rest.
–    #560 Richcraft site (former Don Mann Motors, McKenzie Motors, and Rideau Street Garage, vacant since about 1980)  [Peter Ferguson]

✰    Wurtemburg & Lady Stanley
–    (Corner) #582 (Progosh, Harris – Samual and Ben, Nazrallah grocers) and Famous Falafels, at end
–    590 Barbara Ann Salon (1973-84)  [Barbara Ann Scott spent part of childhood in house demolished for road “improvements” at west end of Cummings Bridge.
–    Ottawa Transit Commission transfer point
–    #596 Focus Scientific (1984-88), then beauty depot, and now Hasty Mart
–    Richcraft “temporary” park and OMB-approved development [Peter Ferguson]
–    Wallis House and the “hub” of Ottawa first “health campus”
–    #600 Service stations, then plaza built in 1970s


✰    Wurtemburg in front of Watergate Apartments
–    Watergate [PETER]
–    Borden House [PETER]
–    McDonald Gardens [PETER]
–     #633-655 (east side of Wurtemburg) Children’s Hospital and then Children’s Aid Society, then a garage, before this OCH building, one of the first for seniors, was built.

✰    Pretoria Park
–    Prince Charles Court and Whitehall apts. on north side, where the Romania Embassy is now located [PETER, re development]
–    The bridges and island (view to east shows the former path of older bridge, which charged tolls when privately owned.
–    the boardwalk along the river on west side (largest section in Strathcona Park and Bordeleau Park).
–    There were nine houses that once sat here, but were in the way of “safety” and speed.
–    Changing the park’s characteristics.  Rather than cutting down the flow to stifle “street people”, I have chosen to open it up, enhance its views, make it a more direct route for “active modes.”
–    (wrap up)  Read quote (see below)

= = = = Jane Jacob’s 2000 Washington Talk upon Receiving the Vincent Skully Award = = = = (found on this site: https://hearthhealth.wordpress.com/about/previously-published-works/odds-and-sods/jane-jacobs-talk-when-receiving-the-vincent-scully-prize-2000/)

“My second suggestion has to do with communities’ needs for hearth, or centres, and with related problems.  Damage done to neighbourhoods by commercial incursion where they are inappropriate. The desirability of community hearths is well recognized nowadays.  Much thought goes into designing them for new communities and inserting them into neighbourhoods that have lost community hearths or never had them.  The object is to nurture locales where people, on foot, will naturally encounter one another in the course of shopping, doing other errands, promoting their causes, airing their grievances, catching up on gossip, and perhaps enjoying a cookie or beer under many-coloured umbrellas.”