Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peds on Weds: Rideau Spiral

I almost never use the east entrance to the Rideau Centre, but even if I did, I probably wouldn't have noticed the neat spiral pattern of the pavers. It's a great looking space on its own, but it's surrounded on three sides by cars, cars, cars!

A report released yesterday that will be going to the City's Finance and Economic Development Committee next week indicates that a primary entrance to the underground Rideau Street light rail station will be built into an expansion of the Rideau Centre on the adjacent parking lot along Rideau between the mall and the former Ogilvy's department store. The lot in question is to the left of the scene in the photo above.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Tools of the dig

Over at 90 Elgin's construction site, they've dug as far as the footings of the former Lorne Building, and are using that as a ledge while they continue digging within the boundaries of the new building's basement. A twisted I-beam and some tools are resting on the ledge. You can watch the construction on this site. Click on the still image to see a live video feed from the site.

(The following text is repeated from the September 2011 post, Centretown Flyover)

I wrote a post on the context and history of the Lorne Building in October 2009.

There are also three articles on the Lorne Building at URBSite:
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Removal on Kent

One night back in January, I happened upon a snow removal crew on Kent Street. I had a few minutes to spare, so I stuck around to watch and take photos. It's quite a feat of choreography, which happens several times each winter on Centretown's main roads, and at least once or twice per winter on our narrow side streets, too. With a decent snowstorm forecast, today seems like a good time to post these photos.

A day or so prior to the snow removal, temporary signs are stuck into the snowbanks prohibiting parking between 7pm and 7am (or 7am and 7pm). Right before the crews come by, a truck will collect most of these signs for re-use.

The process documented here, which spans about 20 minutes, starts with a loader, which moves much the snow away from the larger surfaces along the curb. All of this happens while traffic continues to flow, although since it's generally done in the middle of the night, the traffic is light.

A smaller plow goes around after the loader to get snow out of the smaller corners on the sidewalks. In the foreground, a coating of ice on the hydro pole cast a neat reflection of the light.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peds on Weds: Tight squeezes on Bank Street

Street design is a finnicky thing. The City's standard clearance is 1.8 metres, and the bare minimum for new sidewalks is 1.5m. That's still pretty tight, this guy took about a minute to gingerly squeeze through this narrow channel:

Even with 1.5m though, sometimes they can't make it through. I measured exactly 150cm exactly between the tip of the 'nose' of hydrant and edge of bike rack (hope nobody parks their bike there when the plow needs to get by!)...

...but the clearance isn't straight! The slalom of three minimum-width clearances doesn't leave enough room for larger sidewalk plows to go through.

Eventually, one of the smaller, more nimble plows without the salt spreader on the back to go through a few days later.

This kind of detail can be easily overlooked in the consultations on street design, especially when many of the consultations happen throughout the Summer. Very often there are also last-minute changes to put in an extra utility box in what ends up to be a very inconvenient location.

The 1.8m rule applies not only to sidewalks, but also to bike facilities, like the bike cutout at Bank and McLeod.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some Winter left at McNabb

It's been unusally warm, even for Ottawa's wacky winters, to the point that most of the snow has melted, leaving only the black crust visible on top.

Our last hope may be the arenas at City Hall and McNabb, both of which have zambonis.

Here's hoping we get some more snow and cold to enjoy the rest of the winter! I miss skating on the canal!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Rink of Dreams

As has been widely reported, the Rink of Dreams is now open on the Laurier side of Ottawa City Hall, on Marion Dewar Plaza. It's refrigerated, so it will still be open this weekend even if weather forces the canal to close. It's also free to use.

Mayor Watson is hosting a Family Day skating party this coming Monday from 11am to 2pm, with free hot chocolate. Details available on Jim Watson's website

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Transforming Ottawa's pedestrian landscape

Today is Wednesday, and tonight Ottawa's nascent pedestrian advocacy group will have its second meeting. Notes from the previous meeting are posted on the Ottawa Walking Problems website. The group has recycled the name "Ottawalk" with the blessing of the members of the group of the same name that expired in 2001.

I figured a pedestrian-themed photo would be fitting for Peds on Weds. Here is a pedestrian desire line at the Ottawa Police headquarters at 474 Elgin Street:

Near the corner of Elgin and Argyle, pedestrians cut through the courtyard (next to the "Transformer Site" public art installation), hop the planter bed, and continue along the much quieter street. I wouldn't be surprised if many of them continue diagonally across the Museum of Nature's parking lot as well.

As with the item I highlighted in the post announcing the previous meeting, this is more of a nuisance than an real problem. Not all pedestrian problems can be so easily dismissed, and many nuisances in a single trip can discourage people from walking. The Ottawa Walking Problems is a good place to track the longer term problems, and the City's recently released website allows you to directly report more acute issues, like icy sidewalks or malfunctioning traffic signals.

If you're interested in the walking group, contact Councillor Diane Holmes at, or feel free to come to the meeting tonight at 7pm in the Colonel By room at City Hall. (I should note that, while this is my personal blog, I also work on pedestrian issues--including the group--for Councillor Holmes)

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Stairway to Centretown

Looking up the stairs to Queen Elizabeth Driveway from the Lisgar entrance to the Rideau Canal Skateway.

There's a new unofficial website for canal enthusiasts on the go. The page includes a colour-coded map of the ice conditions, in a format more suited to mobile phone browsers than the NCC's page: Winterlude wraps up on next week's long weekend, from Friday to Family Day on Monday. The canal is always open, weather permitting. So get out there and have some fun!

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cozy Oscar

It's cold outside, but the statue of Oscar Peterson, unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on June 30, 2010, has a warm knit cozy around the prop.

Jazz music plays from speakers above the statue at the corner of Elgin and Albert, and it's popular for people to have pictures taken of themselves sitting next to Oscar on the bench. A great piece of interactive public art, right outside the National Arts Centre!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winterlude fireworks

There were some rather spectacular fireworks on Friday as part of Winterlude. The NCC promoted them as being even better than the annual Canada Day fireworks, and by all accounts, they were. While I didn't get to see those fireworks, there were more fireworks on the Rideau Canal Skateway on Saturday night at Fifth Avenue, and I happened to be there at the right time to snap some photos. I tweeted this one at the time, and it's good enough that I thought I'd share it here on the blog, too:

If, like me, you didn't get a chance to see Friday's spectacle, this amateur video, courtesy of Let's Go Ottawa, captured it really well:

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Kent Street blue trees

A nice little splash of colour to brighten up the winter, at the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre, 397 Kent Street, at Florence (formerly First United Church of Ottawa).

The centre has hosted candidates meetings in the 2011 federal and provincial elections, and celebrated the 100th anniversary of the building on December 10, 2011 with an exhibition of the history of the building.

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