Friday, April 16, 2010

President's remarks at AGM

President’s remarks

DCA AGM 13 April 2010
by Eric Darwin.

Hi, one short year ago a new board was elected to the DCA and I was elected president.

What a year!

The DCA went electronic, creating a web presence to which we post our agendas, minutes, and copies of some of our correspondence, so that members can get information faster and the larger community can also participate through the internet. We had some learning curves and adjustments, but the web presence seems totally natural now. Unexpectedly, the media monitor the site and it became the springboard for increased attention to our neighborhood and its issues, particularly with CBC, Carleton Journalism, and Centretown News. We are no longer called Centretown West, nor is “Dalhousie” heard with “wherz-dat?” Dalhousie is on the map again.

The past and next few years are most decidedly the years of infrastructure and transportation projects. In 2009 we had many meetings with the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel planning team. Our letters and input to them were lengthy and detailed. We pushed for, and got, the ability of the new LRT transit system to offer no-transfer single-car service to the airport. When we might actually see that service is another matter, but the system is being built to allow for that type of service. We also had tons of comments on the station locations especially at LeBreton and Bayview. We didn’t just complain either, we praised what we liked and identified what we didn’t, and think the DOTT team has listened to many of concerns, and the system as now proposed is much improved over the initial proposals. Now if the city would just built it!

2009 also saw the final year of construction along Preston Street. We can all be proud of that streetscape, with its wider sidewalks, friendly lighting, and hundreds of trees and shrubs. I think the rest of the city has sat up and taken notice of how well it turned out. It has received lots of media coverage, all positive, and we now see other neighborhoods citing Preston Street, in Dalhousie, as their model to emulate. What an incredible turnaround from a few years ago. We have ongoing dialogue with the Preston BIA now.

We took many of the lessons of Preston and applied them to the reconstruction of Somerset Street. Construction begins next month on the OTrain to Preston section. This will not just be a continuation of the street pattern done in Hintonburg. I think it is significantly better, emphasizing there is only two lanes of traffic with distinct parking bays off to the side.

In 2011, Somerset reconstruction continues up the hill to Booth street, and the new Chinatown look will be implemented. Also in Chinatown, the Gateway Arch, a royal arch, will be built at Cambridge Street. Thirty three feet high, all concrete, painted in gold and other colours, it will be an attraction to be proud of. I am pleased with the cooperative work ethos we have made with the CBIA, it is becoming a stronger partnership which builds stronger communities.

There were other issues too. Do I need remind everyone that the parole board tried to locate its regional parole centre at 1010 Somerset? After years of complaining and encouragement, the city finally restarted the Bayview Carling CDP, although many of the “horses are out of the barn” there, it is better late than never. There were infill issues, committee of adjustment applications, parking lot issues. We had guest presentation from The Door and from Rochester Heights and the PPRA partnership continued. We lobbied hard for the Dominican Gardens on Empress to become parkland rather than a condo. There is lots to do.

A look ahead at the issues in 2010-11

• Getting the bike paths built north-south along the Otrain corridor; and east-west along Albert or the new LRT line (BikeWest);

• Bronson reconstruction will be a major major time consumer as we are starting out with very different objectives than the “more-traffic” planners that currently control the study;

• condo infills will be a bigger issues as condo mania now raging in Centretown to the east and Hintonburg-Wellington to the west spreads into Dalhousie;

• we have to remain vigilant to push problem properties to clean up and to prevent the proliferation of non-permitted ugly parking lots.

• We have to keep close tabs on the DOTT process and LRT conversion issues, especially what happens to the buses now using the transitway – where do they go while the transitway is being laid with rails?

• We have to be vigilant to keep LeBreton Flats for a mixed use mixed income urban city and not a busway terminus for the STO.

• We need some creative infill projects of affordable housing, whether as condos, rentals, and by whatever provider we can get. We have identified two locations and want to work to bring these projects to the “shovel ready” stage pending funding

There is no shortage of issues where our input is valuable and more importantly, listened to. It is gratifying to see we have a real impact on what happens in our neighborhood. Our board for 2010-11 will be selected here tonight, and I encourage anyone who wants to be involved, to have an influence, to have fun doing that… put forward your name and join us in building a better Dalhousie.

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