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All In Hand

Grant St Duplex

Miss Vicky Tue May 2, 2006

This is for Liss76 and amckay, primarily.... I attended the Hintonburg Community Association's meeting with the architect proposing a new development on Grant St. It's hard to tell from the signs posted there, but what is being proposed is a duplex (they call it a linked detached, but basically what that means it a duplex that is not side-by-side) - two units, one set further back. Three stories but not much higher than the existing house 2 doors to the east, and well within current height restrictions. Contrary to the info Liss got, there is space between the proposed structure and the surrounding properties - a few metres in the back (there will be a fenced backyard), and some space on each side as well. Not too much between the house to the west - about 4 feet, as that other house is only a few inches off the property line. Parking is in the front - one space for each home - but will be offset by a raised veranda which will extend partially over one of the spaces. First floor will be mostly glass which will also make it more approachable, according to the architect.

The drawings looked OK. They did a shadow study and the homes around do not seem to be adversely affected, except one house on Armstrong which will lose some spring morning sun. The design is quite modern; the architect argued that there is a lot of diversity in the neighbourhood architecture as it stands. The units are being built for his daughter and one of his colleagues, by the way. This is the same guy who did the much-hated triangle house on Fairmont and Sherwood. Now, I think that house is kind of funky but it doesn't quite fit with the surrounding properties, that's for sure. And I do have a thing for interesting design. This Grant St structure might actually add an interesting dimension to the 'hood. Certainly the fellow on the other end with the various front yard ornaments and the van covered with reflectors is more of a conversation piece!

The neighbours who attended the meeting seemed fine - there was some concern about the parking but that seemed to be allayed somewhat. So it doesn't look like the association will oppose the variance.

muddled transit

Miss Vicky Tue May 2, 2006

A reader writes:Just wondering if you could guide me/other on who could explain why the light rail transport plan in Ottawa presents as utterly confused and getting worse over time. I understand a complex creature, but I am beginning to wonder if we are not better off sticking with the bus system.

It simply looks that there is not enough critical mass of people to use such a system effectively. We have a perfectly good - west, to centretown at least, bus transitway. At least that is how it looks, to many of us.

Well, you'll be happy to know that your confusion is shared by many, including Miss Vicky. My understanding is that the LRT is not meant to replace the transitway or buses in general, but rather supplement it by creating rapid transit options for north-south commuters and areas identified as carrying potential for long-term residential growth or employment centres outside the downtown. This way you'd increase the numbers of folks using transit instead of cars. Whether the current plan would accomplish that is, I suppose, up for debate. But the LRT, at least in theory, would allow the system to get more folks to destinations faster than other modes of transportation, since the capacity of the train would be greater than that of buses.

If you're up for wading through some policy, the principles are set out in the city's Transportation Master Plan, which is part of the whole 2020 growth management strategy. But the execution.... that's where the city has done a poor job. They need to better inform citizens about the strategy, the short and long term implications, the bidding process, the logic of projected route decisions and so on. Will the election shed some light on the matter? One would hope, but considering the only discussion in the Mayoral race thus far has been Alex Munter's call for an audit on LRT expenditures, I'm not holding my breath.

The transitway is great, to be sure. But it doesn't work if you don't live and/or work close to it, or if your commute is to somewhere other than downtown. We have neglected to pay attention for the need for feeder routes from neighbourhoods to the transitway, and instead have a bizarre network of "milk run" routes that traverse the city for reasons that I just do not understand. I have yet, for example, to have someone explain to me the logic of the number 2's route from Bayshore to Blair. But I have written about this before. In fact we're about due for another good Miss Vicky's discussion about Ottawa's transit system. So have at it, folks!

Jane Jacobs memorial blog

Miss Vicky Mon May 1, 2006

A fellow Annex resident has set up a memorial blog for Jane Jacobs. It's got a wide range of links to articles and websites, so if you are interested in her work and her legacy, please check it out.

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