Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CCOC Housing Pays Off

This 1975 issue of the Centretown News reported on the very first building purchased by what would grow to become the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, which owns nearly 50 properties worth over $80 Million, providing affordable housing to over 2000 people.

As their history page explains (though I think it's a bit out of date), the CCOC started as an offshoot of one of the two groups that later merged into the CCCA. Irving Greenberg (of Minto development fame and brother of former Ottawa mayor Lorry Greenberg) was president of the CCOC at the time that they got their first grant and loan to buy and repair the rowhouse at 530-540 McLeod (at Percy).

35 years later, that loan is now paid off and the CCOC can now use the rental income from this property to invest in more affordable housing for Ottawa. The CCOC celebrated their first "Mortgage Burning Party" yesterday:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Centretown Community Design Plan Open House this Wednesday!

Sorry, no time to post photos today. Among other things, I'm preparing for the Centretown Community Design Plan open house this Wednesday from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Museum of Nature (which, if you read the draft report, you'd think was centre of the universe). You've probably seen the yellow posters the CCCA has plastered about town.

This is an important document, especially if you live in Centretown between Kent and Bronson, or in the Golden Triangle east of Elgin. That's because this plan was conceived as the "Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan" and was to only cover Elgin to Kent. So people and groups outside of this area were not notified and were not consulted until this last open house.

Wherever you live in Centretown, this will be an important document to direct where growth is going to go. It's not just a Community Design Plan: the consultation process underway will also lead to changes to the zoning by-law, and possibly even the Centretown Secondary Plan, which is enshrined in the City's Official Plan.

It's important that Centretown residents come out to hear what is being proposed for the future of your neighbourhood. You can also read the draft plan online.

The Centretown Community Design Plan
Community Open House

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Canadian Museum of Nature, The Salon Room
240 McLeod Street
Open House: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Presentation: 6:30 p.m.

Please join us to discuss the draft Community Design Plan (CDP) for Centretown. This is your opportunity to learn more about the CDP's plans to:

  • More effectively respond to Centretown's development pressures

  • Negotiate new community benefits in exchange for allowing developments that exceed existing height and density limits

  • Upgrade existing parks, identify locations for new ones and introduce smaller open spaces

  • Introduce guidelines ensuring new development is compatible with the existing neighbourhood and to help create a positive sense of place.

Join us to share your ideas and help shape Centretown's future

Visit the City's Website and community blog to read what others are saying and share your thoughts.

For more information, contact:

Bob Spicer, Planner III
Planning and Growth Management Department
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
tel. 613-580-2424 ext. 13858
blog :

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ottawa Earthquake anniversary. Where was I?

Special Thursday post: Today is the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 5 earthquake that rocked the Ottawa area on June 23, 2010. This morning I woke to many messages about where people were during an earthquake in my Twitter feed, and since Twitter reads reverse-chronologically, I'd thought I'd slept through an earthquake this morning until I saw the original question from the Ottawa Citizen's twitter account asking people where they were last year.

I was on a private tour of the former OBE Media Centre on Bronson just south of the 417(the "Bronson Shops"). During the earthquake, we were on the lower roof. Since the building is right next to the queensway, a couple of us thought there were just some big trucks driving by. Centretown's northern skyline (beyond the lowrise zones) is visible beyond the Queensway.

But Jack Corry, the OCDSB's area supervisor was with us on the tour and told us that it was in fact an earthquake. We got to hear the live updates from schools across the city over his radio, including schools closing in the western suburbs and pleas from the head office for schools to stop asking for how to proceed while they figure out a plan.

I'd organized the tour (which consisted of Jennifer McKenzie, OCDSB trustee for Somerset and Kitchissippi and now Chair of the school board, Jack, my friend Richard Guy Briggs and me) because of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's plans to buy it and demolish it to straighten the 417 Bronson offramp (currently cars continuing straight must jog south at Bronson and wait to turn left, which backs up traffic all the way to Gladstone). When I was attending McNabb public school, every day I'd see the building as the school bus came off that ramp and turned north on Bronson, so I was always curious what was inside.

I took hundreds of photos of the inside and plan to post them in a series sometime, but I wanted to get something up for the quake anniversary. Richard posted some photos on his site, and URBSite has a post on the history of the building.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gladstone Sun

Last week as I was checking out the progress on the Centropolis condos, there was an Ottawa Sun balloon floating to the south. The red-and-white colours match the signs of Gladstone Auto Repair just underneath it!

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

The City Hall link

One of the reasons I have so many photos of Ottawa City Hall, aside from being there a lot on community association business, is that it has lots of interesting architectural features.

Take, for example, the second floor connection between the main building and the Heritage building. It looks great at night (this photo is from before they redid the floors in 2009):

It's also arched to mimic the windows on the heritage building:

But a detail I didn't notice until this year was the extra two little pieces of metal to turn this semi-circular vent grill into two pointed arches:

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Birdcage in the Village

Last night on my way home, I happened upon The Village's 4th annual film screening and street social, showing the Birdcage with Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

This was on Gilmour just West of Bank Street, near Wilde's. This is a bit of a non-profit niche: You can see the 415 MacLaren tower on the right (owned by Ottawa Community Housing), CCOC's headquarters in front of it, and on the right of the shot, the 7-storey Options Bytown building at 379 Gilmour (which this wishlist PDF says was built in 1992 and houses 50 tenants).

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

340 McLeod demolition

We've known for a long time that the former "Medical Building" at 340 McLeod (near Bank) would likely be demolished for Phase 3 of the Central condos at Bank and McLeod (Phase 1 is currently under construction, with the Metropolitan Bible Church façade). This was recently confirmed at City Hall, where the rezoning application was approved with adjustments made based on CCCA feedback.

Most people see the building from Bank Street (like at Tommy & Lefebvre), but here's another view looking across the block from Argyle, here in late May...

And again just this past weekend, where they have begun demolition. While 340 McLeod goes down for Central Phase 3, Central Phase 1 is well on its way up behind it.

I haven't been by there since the weekend so I don't know how far along the progress is on demolition. If you know, please leave a comment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

520 Bronson rooftop garden

Here's a photo of 520 Bronson, across from Flora, which is a 7-storey apartment building owned by the CCOC. (This photo was in the Images of Bronson photoset I linked to here)

The last time Google's eye in the sky took a photo of the building, 520 Bronson didn't have a rooftop garden, and I assume it still didn't until recently.

[Edit: The City of Ottawa's eMap application, which has higher-resolution aerial photos, shows that there is some greenery on the roof, though not covering it entirely.]

The building has a lot of wheelchair users, which is unfortunate because the sidewalks aren't wide enough to be cleared of snow in the winter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Conventional Stairs

While I will miss looking at the spiral staircase coming down from the Mackenzie-King Bridge, I can't say I'll miss going up or down them. When the Ottawa Congress Centre was demolished and replaced with the recently-opened Convention Centre, they installed new public stairs that are straight and more, shall we say, conventional. Nevertheless, the wide stairs are faced with an angular metal covering on the street side, echoing the glass surface of the centre.

It also looks like a public elevator was installed as well (not yet operational), and bicycle parking was located underneath, sheltered from the elements by the stairs. If you haven't been to this area, the NCC have really spruced it up. There's a really nice canalside plaza where it's very pleasant to sit on the benches and enjoy a snack while watching tourists go by. I took a bunch of photos and will post them after the work is finished.

At time of writing, this post is in a string of posts on the non-Centretown side of the Rideau Canal. If I haven't filled in Centretown-related posts in between, I hope to get back to them soon!

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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Centretown Events and Updates for June 2011

The following message was sent to the CCCA's e-mail announcement list early this morning, announcing upcoming events. Contact to be among the first to receive CCCA e-mail updates a couple times per month.

Dear CCCA members and followers,

Here are your Centretown events for the coming month. Enjoy your summer!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One Hundred Foot Line

[Somehow Blogger set this to post at 11:58pm (midnight) instead of 12:00pm (noon). Sorry about the delay.]

As promised in the post about Nepean Point, here is a photo of the controversial sculpture One Hundred Foot Line by New York artist Roxy Paine. Part of the controversy, aside from the regular complaining about the National Gallery of Canada spending money on art by non-Canadian artists, was a series of complaints by a certain Ottawa Citizen columnist that At 10 storeys, it screams and distracts from the star structures of that area, the Parliament Buildings. It is completely out of context.

However, As I mentioned in a photo in the previous post, about the only place you can see both the Paine sculpture and the Parliament buildings is from Nepean Point, and even then they're in opposite directions.

As for "out of context", nearly any photo of the Line from Nepean Point shows a number of other vertical interventions far less attractive (though admittedly less expensive) than the sculpture:

Just to give you an example of how obtrusive they are, I had to put my camera on a timer and stick it out as far as I could reach on my tripod just to get the Line and the National Art Gallery atrium in the same shot without a post or lamp in the way. You can just make out the tip of the restroom facility on the right at the base of the hill in both photos.

I think it looks pretty good, actually. It pretty much dominates the skyline but there's nothing else of visual interest in this direction from which it might distract. At any other angle (i.e. at ground level), the only thing you can see beyond it is trees and sky. And on a day like this one, it quite effectively disappears into the sky as though it went all the way up to the clouds.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Astrolabe Theatre on Nepean Point

Despite growing up in Ottawa, I realized I'd never been to Nepean Point when the Citizen reported that the NCC would be taking down the theatre there. In fact, I didn't even know there was an amphitheatre at Nepean Point. So on a half-decent Saturday last month I went up there to check it out (if you follow me on Twitter or just the photos), you'd have seen some of the photos I took with my phone at the time.

Nepean Point is characterized by the statue of Samuel de Champlain, who is portrayed holding up an astrolabe (when instead it should be suspended). The statue of the Anishinabe scout used to be on a plinth at the base of Champlain's statue, until it was removed for good taste. You can see the plinth in the photo below right under Place du Portage in the background.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Art four the record

A little artpice of four 45 rpm records hung in a mobile on a porch on Somerset Street West between Kent and Lyon.

Simple and clever!

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dundonald Glow

Here's a shot of Dundonald Park I took while riding by on MacLaren on a rare break from the cloudy and rainy days of late. Dundonald Park is maintained by a group of volunteers, mostly who live around the park, called the Friends of Dundonald Park. The Centretown Buzz has an article in its latest issue on how this group began with the initiative of Susan Kerr.

A great way to meet your neighbours and start getting involved in community activities is by delivering the Centretown Buzz newspaper, which is co-owned by the Centretown Citizens and Dalhousie community associations. We particularly need people in Lebreton Flats and south of Gladstone. The Buzz the only newspaper in Centretown that is written by and for other Centretowners (all volunteer except for the managing editor), and it is financially supported entirely by its advertisers.

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