Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lewis Street potholes fixed after 18 months

Do you remember back in March 2011 when I complained about the potholes on Lewis Street between O'Connor and Bank?

As a refresher, this is what the potholes looked like in March of the previous year after a cold patch was applied:

And this is what they looked like in March of 2011. The water had flushed the patches clean out of the holes, which were back and bigger than before.

Well, good news! I'd forwarded a link to that blog entry to some folks at City Hall, and though I didn't get any reply to those e-mails, we've finally gotten some results. As I had suggested, the City scraped off a chunk of asphalt and laid a good solid strip down where these potholes were.

This method worked at the Bank Street end of the block (as I had suggested they do when putting the final layer of asphalt on the Somerset to Arlington stretch of the Bank Street reconstruction in 2010), and has survived seamlessly through the winter since.

Now I don't have to worry so much when I lean my bike to turn onto Lewis from O'Connor! O'Connor-Lewis-Bank-James-Lyon is a very convenient bike route for going south-west through Centretown, because it has low traffic and few red lights.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Andrew S. Haydon Hall

City Council hasn't met for a couple of months, as City Hall for the most part goes on summer holidays. It'll be back in September, which is just around the corner!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kent Street Quadruplets

I generally avoid Kent Street, as it's not a very people-friendly place ever since they widened it and cut down the trees for the introduction of trolley-buses.

The downside of this is that I miss little gems like this foursome of old houses between Somerset and Cooper. It looks like they were all built as exact duplicates of each other, and many of the original features have survived, despite each house taking on its own unique identity.

The Centretown Traffic Calming Plan (an electronic copy of which apparently does not exist) has made Kent a bit more hospitable to use, the little bulbouts and dying trees aren't enough to make it actually look nice.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Downstairs coupling

Seen back in April, under the Plaza Bridge, on the stairs connecting the canal level by the Union Station to the upper level by Major's Hill Park.

The channel running down the middle of the stairs is to make it easier for people to walk their bikes up and down stairs. Being in the middle of the stairs allows you to choose to push your bike from the right or left, acccording to your preference.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Percy Street pleasure for pedestrians

If you walk up or down Percy Street, you probably recognize this house at the corner of MacLaren. It has addresses at 607 MacLaren and 141A Percy. It's notable by the turret coming out of the corner of the second floor, which is one of those features that makes Centretown so interesting to walk and bike around in.

It was renovated in the last year or so. Between the photo above, from April 2010, and the one below, from July 2011, you can see that the turret has been renovated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ladder 11

Ladder 11 is a fire truck from Fire Station #11 on Preston at Eccles (one block south of Somerset West). It's in Little Italy and just around the corner from Chinatown. They've therefore decorated the ladder with an Italian flag design with a Chinese dragon.

Here, Ladder 11 and a number of other fire trucks were responding to an alley fire at Lyon and Cooper on Canada Day 2011. I don't think there was significant damage or injury, as the fire didn't make it to any of the papers. I also tweeted a couple of photos at the time from my Twitter account, @Centretowner

Some, but not all, other stations decorate their ladders as well. A couple more were on hand for the opening of the Ottawa Firefighters Memorial back in 2009.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fall Down Bike Jam

Here is 286-288 Bank Street, containing The Source (i.e. Radio Shack), Fall Down Gallery, and Tae E Lee Taekwondo. When I took the picture, there were an awful lot of people tyring to walk their bicycle along the sidewalk looking to park or unpark it. The two Bank Street decorative bike racks are not nearly enough to handle the capacity, it would seem.

For a few years, this space was occupied by the gallery of artist Daniel Richards. This closed in February:

Previously, it was an internet cafe that was shut down in 2007 by the police after it was revealed to be habitually used for illegal activities.

The building sits at one of the most active intersections in Centretown, just a few metres away from Bank and Somerset. The intersection has had a lot thrown at it in the last few years, including two seasons of road reconstruction (since the sections were divided at Somerset), two fires in the building across the street in 2008, and the collapse at Somerset House kitty-corner to it, which remains unresolved.

The bicycle congestion at 288 Bank, and at the much higher-capacity bike racks in front of Hartman's, is a good sign. It suggests businesses have a lot of customers who like to shop locally within Centretown.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Studio Argyle sidewalk repair

As I was walking around 255 Argyle earlier this summer to get a different view of the demolition of the Medical Building at 340 McLeod, I stumbled on this bad patch of sidewalk:

255 Argyle, by the way, is called "Studio Argyle". It's just east of Bank Street. The website (which refers to Centretown as "Center Town") says it was built in 2000 by Domicile and has 40 units.

I e-mailed 311 about the sidewalks (though looking at the first photo, the white arrows suggest it was already on the replacement list). Someone from the City called me to tell me it was on the list, and they just needed to coordinate with the condo so they can repair the sidewalk without disrupting the only parking entrance.

It was repaired by the end of July:

I'm glad they did. I'm pretty sure-footed, and even I tripped on that sidewalk!

Friday, August 12, 2011

City of Ottawa steps forward

Car ads on buses are a bugaboo of mine, so back in May it was a nice surprise to be stuck behind a bus to see this ad for the campaign by the City of Ottawa and Province of Ontario:

It reads "Reason #74 - a social time on the way to class". This ad at a bus stop on Gladstone has the same message:

It's a refreshing change from the days just a couple of years ago where the City allocated barely enough money for barebones staff for ped/bike initiatives, with no money to implement any of the initiatives to be carried out.

I first realized the absence of pro walking/biking ads in Ottawa when I was in London, Ontario a few years ago and saw this giant billboard ad paid for by the local government promoting carpooling.

This is no replacement for safety campaigns, but I nevertheless hope they keep up this program beyond the warm months.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Refreshing Piazza Dante

Across from St. Anthony's Church at Gladstone and Booth is Piazza Dante, one of those public spaces that can be hidden in plain sight, even from those who reside in and frequent Little Italy. The name is derived from Dante Alighieri via St. Anthony's School, kitty-corner from the piazza, which was originally called Dante Academy (as described in this blog entry about a nearby school).

A November 2000 article in Il Postino explains that Piazza Dante was built in 1967 and was "funded and constructed by the provincial and municipal governments together with the Italian Canadian Business and Professional Men’s Association led by Mr. Italo Tiezzi. It was one of the projects dedicated to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend Photo Binge

This past weekend, I made a list of all the current and future construction sites in and near Centretown, and visited almost all of them to take photos. In addition to the photos that I took, my camera decided to take a couple on its own while I was parking my bike on Somerset Street West.

This one shows 989 Somerset Street West, which has had a few iterations of similar stores, currently an antique store.

My list had over 30 sites to visit, and there were others I snapped along the way, about 800 inall. This blurry image nicely represents how lately I've been spending more time in the bike saddle taking photos than actually reviewing and sorting, compiling and posting them.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Friday, August 5, 2011

Accessible Upgrades at City Hall

Over at OpenFile, there's a thread on accessibility; specifically, spaces that aren't designed with all users in mind. This comment reminded me of a recent renovation to Ottawa City Hall's information desk in the rotunda, seen here during an art exhibit in mid-June:

For reference, here's a December 2009 file photo showing what the info desk used to look like:

In May, I saw workers installing a countertop. Once I clued in to the gap cut into the counter, I realized it was to allow wheelchair users to communicate with the person behind the desk.

Since I'm a tall person (I took some of these photos from the second floor--I'm not that tall!), this accessibility obstacle hadn't occurred to me until I saw them fixing it.

It's good to see it occurred to someone. And it didn't require a whole new desk, either. Just some small modifications.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wooden inuksuit on Flora

A couple months ago, I snapped these two sidewalk dwellers on Flora. A cute and creative way to get rid of scrap wood!

This isn't the first time. Back in 2008, someone had made an inuksuk from displaced paving stones.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Monday, August 1, 2011

Colonel By Day in Ottawa

Here's a photo from April of the Rideau Canal locks at the Ottawa River. In the background are the Bytown Museum (housed in the oldest building in Ottawa), the Canadian Museum of Civilization behind it on the other side of the river, and the Alexandra Bridge connecting Ottawa and Gatineau. Walking across the uppermost lock is a wedding party.

You can celebrate too today: in Ottawa, the first Monday in August is Colonel By Day. There are events going on at the Bytown Museum, and at Confederation Park. It's named for Coloney John By, who was the engineer in charge of the construction of the canal in the 1820s-1830s. Bytown, later renamed Ottawa, was named after him.

Not visible in this photo, but at the bottom of the locks, is a stone Celtic Cross monument honouring the (mostly Irish) workers and their families (as many as a thousand) who died in the construction of the Rideau Canal.

The Corktown Footbridge is also named to honour the many Irish immigrants who built the bridge. They lived in an encampment along the canal which they called "Corktown," named for County Cork in Ireland, where many of them were from. I was on the naming committee for the bridge, and one of the striking aspects of the name is that it isn't named for a single powerful individual, but the everyday people who were just as instrumental for the accomplishment of great projects (it also balances the nationalities of the Laurier and Mackenzie-King bridges crossing the canal in downtown Ottawa). The Corktown Bridge restored some of this balance that was lost when the Sappers and Miners Bridges were merged and renamed the Plaza Bridge.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]