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Building a Better Street, an example from Milan

Let’s go back to Milan. As part of their transformation project towards a Green City, they have recently reconstructed a multi-block street to make it more urban, less car-dominated. They got mostly good results, but with a number of caveats. … Continue reading Building a Better Street, an example from Milan

Pop-Up Convenience Store in Chinatown

Yesterday, in a matter of a few hours, Chinatown got a new convenience store. Located at the corner of Somerset and Bronson, the arrival of the new retail outlet reflects an innovation in Ottawa planning. Normally, gas stations have the pumps out near the intersection, and the store/paypoint at the back. In urban planning terms, this leaves a big gap in the urban fabric. At this location, the store is being located in prime space at the intersection corner, and the pumps are behind it, less visible. (See previous story on the planning:  http://www.westsideaction.com/rescue-bronson-part-v-gas-station-flip-flop/  ). The foundation for the new … Continue reading Pop-Up Convenience Store in Chinatown

New developments on Bronson

Two new developments are coming forward on Bronson Avenue. One very big; one very small. One by a big Toronto developer; the other by a local. The small one is for a demolition and infill on the west side of Bronson between Christie and Gladstone. The proponent has tentative plans for a three storey infill, consisting of a ground level business, with two floors of apartments above. Both apartments are three bedrooms and the layout is conducive to family living. There is also a proposed basement apartment. The building is snuggled up to the north side of the lot, with … Continue reading New developments on Bronson

Chinatown shown the door

Or maybe, Chinatown shows the door. Because the Chinatown BIA has embarked on an ambitious scheme to improve the physical look of the properties along the street by painting the doors and façades of various buildings. Not the whole buildings, but the parts closest up to pedestrians on the walkways. They have commissioned the concepts from the Ottawa School of Art. These were on display to the public and merchants last week. Now the schemes will be revised to reflect the comments of viewers, and painting the doors and some windows will commence later this month. The CBIA focussed on some of … Continue reading Chinatown shown the door

A little rain for the Urban Food desert

Much of the west side of downtown Ottawa is a food desert. Consolidation has been happening in the grocery business for a long time. Individual vegetable mongers and butchers gave way to the one-stop shopping convenience of the groceteria, then the larger grocery store, and most recently the Superstore, whether in big-box malls or spread across the urban fabric. The resulting decline and disappearance of the smaller stores inevitably leaves some greater distance between the remaining or new grocery outlets. This space is sometimes called a food desert. Like any ecosystem, it also offers a niche for the nimble and specialized. Walking … Continue reading A little rain for the Urban Food desert

The shadow knows …

  The city can talk all it wants about how walking, cycling and transit are high on its list of priorities, but the real test is where the feet hit the ground, the wheel hits the pavement, etc. An attractive, safe-feeling pedestrian environment welcomes walking, so that it becomes a desirable thing to do, rather than a “have to” or “should do”. Goodness knows, we have been very successful in making motor car travel the default choice. This bias in the public realm won’t be undone overnight. But sometimes there are very little measures that really help. The benches along … Continue reading The shadow knows …

Main street’s modal split

Annie Hillis of the West Wellington BIA (WWBIA) sent me the following data. They conducted a four-day survey in June, asking 830 people found along their typical older-city main street how they came to the street, their post code, and their shopping habits. The WWBIA main street runs roughly from Bayswater westwards along Somerset & West Wellington to Island Park. The modal split numbers surprised me.  Forty six percent of those found along the street got there by walking; 26% by car; 13% by bike; twelve percent by bus (numbers throughout this story are rounded off). Only 26% by car? That’s pretty low. And … Continue reading Main street’s modal split