West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part iii – NRCan

There is yet a third segment of Booth Street to consider. That’s the portion running from the Queensway south to Carling Avenue.

That segment is not residential, it is mostly government offices, ranging from heritage Mineral and Mines brick buildings through 1960’s campus-style mid-rises, to a 1970’s black tower.

looking south on Booth towards Carling

Booth Street, and its parallel spouse Rochester Street, are both notable for their extraordinary width. This, coupled with far-set-back buildings on Booth, reflects the urban-clearance-bulldozer school beloved by planners in the 50’s and 60’s.

Both Rochester and Booth Streets are wide

Canada Lands Corp, a federal agency, now owns the blocks shown below, and intends to redevelop the site…

CLC tells us they aren’t going to just plan, rezone, and sell off the block, but intend to oversee and build out the site by itself in its entirety. This means the plan, when approved by all levels of government, shouldn’t be subject to repeated trips to the rezoning-trough by developers seeking ever-more development privileges.

CLC is keeping 5 of the heritage buildings and inserting tall towers between them. They intend to demolish the largest of red brick buildings, the one closest to Norman Street.

the largest brick building, seen here from Norman, is to be demolished

 

Above: one of three possible tower configurations CLC has suggested

 

The developer land-rush of early 2010-13 is now resulting in construction, such as this 20-storey Domicile rental building, or the Claridge 45-storey ICON just beyond it:

The CLC planning process included everyone and their dog. School boards, city heritage folks, city transportation planners, neighbours, etc.

Note in particular the enhanced ped and cycling connections:

At the first public meetings, the CLC consultants repeatedly noted the over-wide street allowances, and suggested cycle lanes. The community pushed back with a demand for cycle tracks, in the complete-street format approved by the city. Some folks wanted a bidirectional track on Booth, some wanted a southbound track on Booth and a northbound track on Rochester. But most folks saw value in more than paint on asphalt, in a complete street format.

I did not hear anyone gainsaying the value of cycle tracks. This would also implement the neighbourhood plan that was a sort of consolation prize for the unhappy experience when the City boffins parachuted in the Lansdowne Park design team to create an “amenity plan” (lansdowne lite) for the neighbourhood.

That neighbourhood plan called for neighbourhood connector cycle facility along Rochester from the intensifying residential area on the north side of the Queensway to get through the intensely intensifying blocks south of the Queensway, to Commissioners Park and Dows Lake, including a ped/cycle crossing at Rochester and Carling like the one on the Trillium pathway at Carling.

As the outgoing Councillor retired at the last election, I was under the impression the City agreed to the plan, for implementation “later”, including the crossing at Carling. Alas, since then the City consistently denies ever having heard of it, and I haven’t been able to interest the new councillor.

Knowing that “later” has a habit of being “never seen again” when bureaucrats crat,  when the Domicile project was going for site approval, community groups pushed for the first block of the cycle track to be installed. Alas, the city said no way, it’s too dangerous to implement a cycling plan block-by-block, even though several buildings are going ahead. Much better, they said, to wait until they were all constructed, then come back and remove the street parking etc etc and install it at one go.

Earlier this year (May?) when CLC  came forward with their draft plans for their blocks, I was surprised to see no cycle track for their multi-block site. No cycle lane. No sharrows. Nadda.

I asked why not, when they had been so enthused before. And recall city planners were sitting at those tables, so I suspected the city had kyboshed the cycling facilities, perhaps because they want fast road access for the new hospital to new all-direction Queensway ramps.

The good folks at CLC were too polite to point fingers, they just hemmed and hawed and gave no reason why the complete streets they had enthused about so much had now disappeared.

Funny enough, earlier this month I mentioned the disappearance of the complete streets and the reluctance to incrementally build new facilities while whole blocks were under development, to a senior transportation manager who assured me that their policy now permits block-by-block development of complete streets (see, for eg, Beechwood Avenue) and she hadn’t a clue why CLC no longer mentioned complete streets.

Since CLC is revealing the next phase of their proposal later this fall,  you might want to press them, and especially the city planners who show up, to civilize these streets. Paint on pavement isn’t enough. Hold out for complete streets with cycle tracks.

And to find out where the pedestrian crossing at Rochester/Carling disappeared to.

If some complete street features appear on Booth south of the Queensway, it doesn’t fix the cycling difficulties north of the Queensway, outlined in the previous story.

But if the cycle tracks appeared on Booth and Rochester, or just Rochester, then possibly we could have Rochester as a cycle boulevard (a street with local-only car traffic but encouraging local and commuter cycle traffic).

Rochester is quiet enough and well enough connected to be a safe and attractive cycle boulevard

At the north end of Rochester, there are some easy partial connections to Albert Street and a very short jog (also on a cycle track after 2019) to Booth going north to Pimisi and Gatineau.

Rochester looking north to Albert. The connection to Albert at the end is closed to cars, but could be opened to cyclists.

Next: wither Holland Avenue at Tunney’s Pasture?

2 thoughts on “West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part iii – NRCan

  1. All in all, a redevelopment is preferable to demolish and build. We need more mixed housing. Think of the 300,000 immigrants planned for Canada for next year. The older structures might make very attractive unusually spaced condos (a la New York, or Winnipeg or Vancouver – so why not here).
    The fact that control will be maintained will give you and other activists plenty of time to rightfully request (demand?) complete street design a la Main. (Main seems to be working well, at least in the no-snow months). The devil will be in the details, but this forlorn area cries out for some imaginative architecture and landscaping. And what, pray tell, will be the transit solution, which is left without a word. Will the future residents want to walk to the Trillium line future Gladstone station? I sure hope so. That will be a big selling point. And bus connections? What this development will also do, is put tremendous pressure for densification along Preston. Is that good?

Thank you for reading. So what do you think?