Thursday, September 27, 2012

3D Thursday: end of the Rideau Canal season

The end of boating season is rapidly approaching on the Rideau Canal, but back in August when we were having that beautiful summer weather, I took a few days off here and there, managing to take many photos around town, including many in 3D. I'm still working on the technique of taking photos with two cameras simultaneously, but the timing on this one was close enough to catch this yacht heading towards the Plaza Bridge at a pretty decent clip: (If you don't have standard red-cyan 3D glasses, I usually carry spares to give away if you see me, otherwise you can get them for $2.99 at the Comic Book Shoppe at Bank and Lisgar)

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

For many years the sculpture Balancing was on the last just to the right of the photo, between the National Arts Centre and Confederation Square. After four years away, John Hooper's 1981 artwork has been fully restored and was reinstalled ten days ago on the opposite side of the canal, just to the left of where the trees are on the left side of the photo. (Photos of the restoration are on the NCC's Flickr gallery on the linked page).

I took another couple of great 3D shots around the Plaza Bridge and elsewhere the same day I took this one, but I won't post them just yet. I'll save those for weeks like this one, where time pushes me to post a one-photo entry. I missed the last couple of 3D Thursday posts, but I'm working on a two-part blog post each with a number of 3D photos of a part of downtown you may not even know existed!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images]

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Peds on Weds: James Street

The canopy tree canopy over James Street, looking east from Lyon toward Bank. No particular reason, it just looks nice (I boosted the saturation a teensy bit). When cycling or walking, I find the side streets are much more pleasant to walk along than the major roads (with fewer lights, to boot).

I remember stopping on my bike and turning around to take a photo along this block, but I thought it was just a couple of weeks ago. The timestamp for this photo actually puts it at four months ago! Time sure flies! I honestly can't remember if I took this photo because of the trees, or because the light in that pedestrian signal on the right is out... ah, I see now: the blue car is driving the wrong way!

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lights out for the night

I recently passed by the station at night (around 10:30 p.m.) and was struck by the unusual absence of its usual blinding lights.

Once when arriving back in Ottawa on an evening flight, I noticed how brightly lit gas stations are. Looking down from over the city, gas stations stick out like sore thumbs, especially in the suburbs where gas stations are big and the streets are fairly dark.

I've since noticed it back on the ground also: every square inch of asphalt on a gas station's property is inundated with light. Normally, the MacEwen Ethanol gas station at Bank and Catherine is no exception—you risk a tan just driving by at night—but on this particular evening, it was refreshing to see them sparing the electricity.

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

Friday, September 21, 2012

342 MacLaren porch armour

The Alliance Française has its headquarters at 352 MacLaren Street, and they have an annex building at 342 MacLaren within the Centretown Heritage Conservation District (which doesn't even have a page on the City's website—go figure).

On the porch of 342 MacLaren is this little gem:

I'd say it suits the building well!

(PS: Don't forget the Beaver Barracks housewarming tomorrow. Walk, bike, or bus there, since tomorrow is also Car Free Day!)

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peds on Weds: L'Es try something different (or not)

Recently some workers have been spotted on Laurier Avenue affixing drywall to the central podium section of the l'Esplanade Laurier office tower:

Stepping back a bit, both literally and figuratively, the building is a full-block structure surrounded by Laurier, O'Connor, Gloucester and Bank streets.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beaver Barracks housewarming this Saturday

The CCOC is hosting a party this weekend to celebrate the housewarming of the 254 units in the five buildings that make up the Beaver Barracks project, next door to the YMCA. The second phase of the project is finished and people are moving in:

These two buildings are 100and 200 Victory Gardens Private, which are surrounded on three sides by the development's larger buildings along Argyle, Metcalfe and Catherine.

The party will be this Saturday, September 22 (which is also International Car Free Day*). Here are the details from the invitation e-mail (and yes, you are invited!):
One giant CCOC housewarming

Tenants, friends and neighbours are invited to join us in celebrating the completion of construction at Beaver Barracks and in welcoming 254 new households to Centretown.

Date: Saturday, September 22, 2012

Program: 1:00 pm - Welcome
1:15 - 1:45 pm - speeches
1:45 - 3:00 pm - tours, games

Place: 464 Metcalfe Street courtyard


Nos locataires, amis et voisins sont invités à se joindre à nous pour célébrer la fin de la construction de Beaver Barracks et pour accueillir les 254 nouveaux ménages au centreville.

Date: le samedi 22 septembre 2012

Programme: 13 h - Bienvenue
13 h 15 à 13 h 45 - discours
13 h 45 à 15 h - visites, jeux

Place: Cour de 464 rue Metcalfe
I've got a big stockpile of photos and information related to this project that I'd like to eventually write up, but there's only so much time. You'll have to settle for searching my blog for posts with the Beaver Barracks label.

The CCOC has a dedicated Beaver Barracks website has many photos of the construction, designs, and other information about the development.

*Aside: Ottawa's Car Free Day celebrations used to be much more prominent, but has petered out from road closure, to partial road closure, to info fair outside City Hall, to essentially nothing. The City of Ottawa's contribution this year is little more than a media event to visit a business owner who rides a bicycle. The University of Ottawa has had Car Free Day celebrations for many years (including the 2007 edition which I recently posted about), and they have led to permanent changes that turn car space over to people space.

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

Infill development: Where will all the dogs go?

Maybe you've seen these containers pop up here and there around town. They look like garbage receptacles with a plastic bag dispenser. This one's behind the new condos on LeBreton Flats, along the tailrace:

The building manager of the Gladstone Sports and Health Centre first brought this to my attention. Since the giant Bell Street Apartments are surrounded by concrete and asphalt all around, the residents of that building let their dogs go on the GSHC lawns. The owners tend to leave the dogs' leavings where the dogs left them, with disgusting results come springtime:

Confronted with this infiltration of defecation, the building manager asked how to get enforcement of the stoop-and-scoop by-laws. These regulations are posted on signs around the city, usually in public parks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Peds on Weds: Bay on the crosswalk at Bay

The next Walk Ottawa meeting actually won't be tonight, but next Monday, September 17, 2012, 7pm at Ottawa City Hall (Richmond Room). Nevertheless, it's a Wednesday, which means it's time for the weekly Peds on Weds post.

This one actually caught me by accident. At first, I thought it would be a quick post showing this crosswalk puddle along Gladstone Avenue at Bay Street last weekend. Bell did some digging at this intersection a two winters ago, so I figured I'd blame them for a lazy job of replacing the road they dug up, creating a puddle that just happens to be deepest between the crosswalk lines. But on closer investigation it might not actually be Bell's fault...

...because the puddle is concentrated in the part of the crosswalk that wasn't dug up by Bell. You can see the outline of the hole where they had worked in this photo from March 2011:

On the other hand, when that second photo was taken, the concrete section of sidewalk at the corner hadn't been torn out and re-poured yet, so it's possible they did create the puddle.

But whatever the case is with the asphalt in the crosswalk, the real boneheaded design issue here is that the curb cut, used by people with wheelchairs or strollers, is right at the corner, almost entirely outside of where the crosswalk lines are. This is very clearly not Bell's fault; their contractor simply rebuilt the sidewalk the way it had been before, installed by the City.

Here's a shot of the same corner in April 2010, as built by the City when this stretch of Gladstone was reconstructed a decade ago. Spray paint markings indicate the location of Bell's existing conduits prior to the digging:

The preferred situation here isn't to repaint the crosswalk; that wouldn't really change where most people do or don't walk, which is in a straight line exactly where the lines are painted now. Rather, the curb depression should come around the corner so that the most vulnerable users (adults in wheelchairs, elderly people with walkers and children in strollers) aren't forced into the intersection.

Better yet, raise the whole intersection to the sidewalk level. I haven't done a post yet on raised intersections, but they would slow the traffic (which would be a boon to cyclists crossing Gladstone, which has no stop signs or lights at Bay) while also avoiding the little matter of where the sidewalk meets the road surface, the crosswalk, and the water.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

Monday, September 10, 2012

Red, Red Apron

Every now and then when going by Red Apron on Gladstone Avenue, there is a confluence of red on the street out front. This time, a week and a half ago, three hanging pots with red flowers were joined by three red cars parked out front, which in unison were compelling me to take a photo:

If I recall correctly, an OC Transpo bus had just gone by too. If I'd gotten my camera out moments earlier, it could have been in the photo too!

I had a similarly red photo in the post where I documented Red Apron's opening. In that photo (toward the bottom of the post), there was a red dump truck, two red ladders, and a worker with a red vest and hard hat.

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

Friday, September 7, 2012

Respecting veterans, heritage, and current office needs

Not too many years ago, the East Veterans Memorial Building at Wellington and Lyon (built 1949-1956) was renovated, and received some upgrades. However, I only recently noticed that these renovations included a modern office extension of the building on the top floors. On the ground, you can only see the new upper floors from the west side of the Lyon Street sidewalk, all you see from Sparks Street is the original building:

An excellent demonstration that you don't need to stick a 20-storey tower on top of a heritage building to modernize it!

There is a report on the seismic rehabilitation (PDF - Google html preview here)

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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

3D Thursday: Bronson press event

A couple weeks ago, the City's Infrastructure Services Department held a press event whereby they used Bronson Avenue as an example to showcase the many things that go on beneath the surface—literally—when the city rebuilds a road. Being dug up, it was opportune to demonstrate the watermains, feedermains, hydro, sewers, Bell, Rogers, gas, and other utilities that all have to squeeze under the street. As it happens, the media briefing was scheduled for the same time as Premier McGuinty's keynote speech at the AMO conference and most of the City Hall press corps was covering that.

Still there were a handful of journalists there and some stories came out of it, including two in the EMC and the Metro.

I went along to check it out, and managed to get a 3D photo of the journalists interviewing the City's engineers. In the vests from left to right are Ziad Ghadban, manager of municipal construction projects on the east side* of the city; Wayne Newell, General Manager of Infrastructure Services for the City; and Bruce Kenny, the project manager for the Bronson Avenue reconstruction project.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

As it happens, just a few days before this media event, Ottawa Citizen columnist Kelly Egan wrote a column in which he rhetorically asked why it takes so long to build a road, given the length of time and the extent of disruption that has been caused by the Bronson Avenue construction on the street's businesses. I say "rhetorically" because he didn't bother to wait for an answer and instead assumed, without knowing the scope of the work, that the project could have been finished many times faster.

(Aside from living and working within two blocks of it, Bronson Avenue is one of the files I work on in Councillor Diane Holmes' office, and prior to working in her office I was on the Public Advisory Committee as the CCCA representative, so I'm rather familiar with the back end also. There are many legitimate complaints about ways the City or the contractors have screwed up in terms of communication, but the underlying work has many many constraints that make this a difficult job for any crew. Incidentally, nobody from the Citizen, including Egan, came to the Bronson Avenue media briefing.)

I had written back in January of 2011 about the former gas station at the southeast corner of Bronson and Gladstone, Norm Egan's Esso, and I suspect that's a clue to why Kelly Egan's attention is drawn to Bronson Avenue.

It's a pity that Egan put out that uninformed column about the construction process, because it took away from the more important story about the plight of the businesses on Bronson Avenue. He wrote such a column back in July focusing on this issue.

Bronson Avenue's businesses are at a disadvantage because they depend on passing traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) for customers, and they don't have a BIA like most of the other commercial streets in Centretown do to promote the street with advertising campaigns. They're nearly all owner-operated. Many places have had to cut staff and reduce their hours, and most business owners are squeezing by, worrying about how they'll make the next mortgage payment on their house. The Quizno's has closed and is being renovated into a new restaurant.

The Bronson construction has an impact on everyone, from the noise endured by residents and business owners, to the detoured traffic cutting through neighbourhood streets, to the occasional disruption of water or power, and of course the massive drop in customers suffered by the businesses. The appearance of the street will improve significantly when the work is all done and the new landscaping is in, but the businesses will need to make it to that point if they're going to reap the benefits of a nicer street. Whenever you can, please visit some of the many restaurants, takeout places, hair salons and car shops along Bronson Avenue.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images]

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Peds on Weds: No; more ifs, ands, or buttons

Back in May I had a lengthy blog post titled No ifs, ands or buttons which described in detail how terribly complicated pedestrian buttons are in a road environment that is designed for cars.

Since that post, I noticed a few more situations I omitted about pedestrian buttons. These examples are all at the edge of Centretown or just outside it.

Outside the fancy new Ottawa Convention Centre at Colonel By Drive and Daly on the other side of the Rideau Canal, some of the concrete pavers are lined up with grooves in the middle. This is an accessibility feature so that the visually impaired can safely direct themselves to the crosswalk safely, and stop before getting to the edge. The grooves in poured concrete sidewalks perform the same function (and most streets that have precast pavers for sidewalks will use a concrete pad at the intersection to provide these accessibility features). Can you see the problem?

The groove takes you to the centre of the crosswalk, but the buttons you need to press to activate the pedestrian signal are at the edges of the crosswalk. And this crosswalk is so wide that the button on the right side didn't even fit into the shot.

But at least at that intersection, the button is necessary for anyone to use the crosswalk—not just the visually impaired—so at least there's someone else there to activate the crossing signal. As mentioned in the May entry, this is discernible by the sign above the button on the pole. If our blind pedestrian is lucky, the sighted pedestrian will press the button for three or more seconds, activating the audible signal, instead of just the quick press required to request the crossing.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Centretown time capsule: August/September 2007

Happy Labour Day everyone!

For today's post, I want to do something a little different. I wanted to give a snapshot of what was happening in Centretown five years ago in August and September 2007. With a high proportion of renters, many Centretown residents—even those active in community affairs—weren't here five years ago (nor was this blog!). For the rest of us, it'll be a trip down memory lane.

The 2007 Labour Day parade, organized by the Ottawa and District Labour Council, ended as usual at McNabb Park for the annual festival with free hotdogs, corn on the cob, and other attractions (if you're reading this post shortly after it goes up, head out there now! They should be there from the end of the parade until 4:30pm). You might recognize this photo of the wading pool as one of the four at the bottom of the CCCA's 'promo cards':

September 2007 marked the official opening of the Corktown Footbridge on the 11th (the bridge opened to traffic the previous September). Municipal politicians and interpreters in 1830's period dress were there to cut the ribbon.