Friday, November 26, 2010

November Report

Dalhousie Report, November 2010


The Dalhousie Community Association met on 2 November, 2010, at the Dalhousie Community Centre at the corner of Empress and Somerset. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of most months, everyone is welcome. NOTE: Dec. meeting will be held Dec 8th at 6pm. Call for details: 613.238.1030 or email EricDarwin1@gmail.com

Cathedral lands: First up was a presentation by Scott Demark. Christ Church (Anglican) Cathedral is located on Sparks Street near Bronson. The church owns the west half of the block between Sparks and Queen. Big stone cathedrals are expensive to maintain. The Church wants to develop much of the block with a new condo tower, an office tower, and some smaller structures. The idea is that the revenue from the development will be enough to pay for the maintenance of the church and some of its programs for two hundred years.

Readers with a sense of history will recall that it was traditional for churches and other institutions to be given large land grants in early settlement days. Sometimes entire neighborhoods (eg, The Glebe) grew up on church endowment lands. The Cathedral site in downtown Ottawa is on a prominent bit of high ground with gorgeous river views. The cathedral itself, and the Hall on the Queen Street side, and the old mansion facing Bronson, will all be preserved. The “new” hall facing Sparks will be demolished. One of the new buildings is residential, the other commercial. The commercial one is needed both for future cash flow and because the church can then use its parking garage on weekends for parishioners.

The exact design of the building exteriors is still under development. Right now, the developers are working with the city on building sizes and orientation. They are trying to preserve the views of adjacent condos and create a pleasant street for pedestrians. While we have no doubt that owners of adjacent condos would wish this whole project canned, the Association board members were generally pleased with the care and sensitivity being used to site the buildings. If given the go ahead, construction would start in 2012 or 2013.



346 Bronson: This building on Bronson has been used for medical offices for some years. After a fire earlier this year, the city noticed it was not a permitted use for that location, and there is insufficient parking. The Association feels that the medical use was acceptable, and should be permitted. However, the rezoning should only permit the number of square feet of medical space as is now in use. This is to prevent someone from later replacing the building with a much larger medical building, or drastically increasing the size of the clinic.



Primrose Stairs: Our west side neighborhood is pretty unique. One of the things that keeps it that way is the staircase streets on Primrose and Empress, going over the escarpment (“Nanny Goat Hill”). Pedestrian-only access routes open up the neighborhood to movements not available to car traffic. At the Primrose stair, a developer has purchased the adjacent lot right on the escarpment, and a residence is underway there. The house begins two floors down, at the bottom of the cliff. The garage will be on the third floor of the four storey house, facing Upper Lorne Place. Bizarrely, the house is about five feet out from the cliff, so when finished there will be a “hole” along the front of the house two stories deep. It turns out this separation from the cliff face is there due to city request. Mind the gap!



Plant Now for Springtime Blooms: working in cooperation with the City and the two neighborhood Business Improvement Associations (Chinatown, and Little Italy), the Association planted 525 daffodils and tulips along Preston Street. The Association also planted 150 more bulbs in its community garden beds along Somerset near Upper Lorne and Empress Streets. Councilor Holmes and a local resident also donated some bulbs to the cause. This gives us something to look forward to, all winter. Somewhere beneath the salty slush and frozen snows, life is hibernating and will pop up bright and colourful early next spring. If the plantings work well, we hope to augment the plantings with more bulbs next year. This is truly an example of the city, business groups, and the community association working hand in hand to accomplish more than any one party could otherwise hope to do.

Western LRT: The Association has a representative on the city study of LRT route options west of Bayview Station. We recently heard of a rather alarming option the City is considering for the O-Train corridor alignment. We are pursuing inquiries right now to determine how much of a threat that option is, and will make our voices heard on behalf of the community if it turns out the city is at all serious about this elevated track option. We do understand the city dreams up many options for addressing particular problems, which is good, and that some of these options prove to be unattractive or dysfunctional and get dropped. We will be watching carefully to ensure the elevated track option is discarded.

Rescue Bronson: Working with fellow community associations and sympathetic local corporations and landlords, we have set up a web site www.RescueBronson.ca. We also printed thousands of two sided full colour flyers and delivered them to almost every house for two blocks on each side of Bronson. These are designed to alert residents to the proposed changes to Bronson (including road widening, and some sidewalk narrowings, and for artificial – yes, fake! -- trees instead of real ones…). We feel the city can do much better, and can make the intersection at Bronson/Albert/Slater work better for cars and pedestrians and cyclists. For the section between Laurier and Gladstone, we propose the city put Bronson on a road diet. There are several options for improving traffic flow along Bronson. We prefer measures whereby the current four lanes –none of which are through lanes as they all function as turn lanes—would be replaced by two through lanes and a two-way left-turn lane in the middle. Once you get rid of the stopped cars trying to turn left, two lanes of through traffic will flow much smoother and safer. The remaining leftover space could be used for on-street parking all day, or medians and trees, or both. Please go the above website and sign the Petition for a Better Bronson.

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