Active transportation on Bank Street, helping businesses and improving the Bank Street Bridge
As we enter into the summer months during the pandemic, I’m sure more people will be heading outdoors to enjoy some sunshine. The city has recently reopened parks, though not the equipment in them, and the NCC has expanded the road space it has opened to active transportation – the Ottawa River Parkways will be opened to cyclists, rollerbladers and the like on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Queen Elizabeth Drive will continue to be free of vehicles from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day from Fifth Avenue to Laurier.
Physical Distancing on Bank Street
Following the guidance of Ottawa Public Health and city council, city staff developed a plan to convert the southbound curb lane on Bank Street between Third Avenue and Glebe Avenue to give pedestrians more room to practise physical distancing in the busiest section of Bank.
This came about after many people contacted our office asking for this public health measure. After multiple conversations with the BIA and businesses along the stretch, we were prepared to move forward with this temporary project.
Just as it was about to be implemented, a last-minute motion by the mayor suggested that 100 per cent of the businesses would have to agree to the measure. After councillors objected, the approval threshold was reduced to two-thirds of businesses.
We are continuing to work with businesses to support them while also looking for a compromise to allow expanded pedestrian space for residents shopping at their stores. I am hopeful we’ll be able to find a solution and that we can all come together.
Bank Street Canal Bridge
This summer, the city plans to do some construction work on the Bank Street Bridge between the Glebe and Old Ottawa South. The work is long overdue, having been delayed for the past seven years, and the underside of the bridge poses some safety hazards because of falling concrete. It’s good this will finally be fixed.
But we also know that the top of the bridge poses challenges, as there is insufficient space and protection for pedestrians and active transportation users. Part of this project will involve work on the surface, including re-paving.
For the last year, we have been talking with city staff about making safety improvements to the bridge. As the city began posting updates about the upcoming work, many of you have written in to ask that the city finally fix the traffic problems with the bridge.
Staff were going to implement the bridge as is or with bus/bike lanes on the exterior. We are looking at ways to improve the situation, including the possibility of three traffic lanes instead of four with more space and protection for cyclists and pedestrians There will be more information to share over the summer.
Public Consultation During a Pandemic
In May, our office hosted our first public consultation on 24-30 Pretoria Avenue using Zoom.
After multiple meetings and public consultations with the developer, several concessions have been made, including changes to preserve trees on the property, recess balconies and increase setbacks. Community members continue to ask, however, that zoning be respected, namely that height limits be adhered to or at least a compromise on height be reached. Our office is continuing to press this matter with the developer.
Since we are not through the pandemic yet, it is likely that we will be doing more of these virtual public consultations. If you have the chance to participate in one, please provide us with your feedback, and let us know if this is something that should be continued after the pandemic has passed.
Shawn Menard is City Councillor for Capital Ward. He can be reached directly at Shawn.Menard@ottawa.ca.