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View Poll Results: What should be prioritized on Elgin? (You can choose more than one option)
Driving 7 10.94%
Transit 26 40.63%
Cycling 18 28.13%
Pedestrians 53 82.81%
Patios 32 50.00%
On-street Parking 4 6.25%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 64. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2016, 11:46 PM
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Elgin Street Makeover

The upcoming battle for Elgin Street — and yes, it involves parking

David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: October 6, 2016 | Last Updated: October 6, 2016 5:39 PM EDT


A battle is on for the soul of Elgin Street, between the people who run the businesses that line it and the customers who patronize them.

Elgin is due for a major reconstruction and the city’s trying to work out how best to divide it among all the people who want to use it — pedestrians, drivers and cyclists, merchants and residents and customers and people just passing through. They’ve had public consultations, surveys, write-in questionnaires, the results of which are difficult.

The No. 1 comment from everyone, all thrown into a big pile: Widen the sidewalks. No. 2: Add bike lanes or tracks. No. 3: Plant street trees. No. 4: More patios.

Lovely to imagine, but how could this work?

Except at its north and south ends where it’s wider, Elgin is four narrow lanes across, with street parking taking up two of those lanes. Short of slicing off the fronts of buildings, any changes will be zero-sum: anything added for cyclists or pedestrians has to come out of the road, with the lanes primarily used for parking being the first to go. Could be one lane, could be both. Each side has about 50 spaces between Lisgar Street and the 417 overpass, by the city’s count. About 70 of the total are on the super-tight commercial strip, where they’ve been carefully protected.

The city’s tried adding patio space by shoehorning tiny terraces into the west-side sidewalk, but at best this only sort of works. In some spots it makes for a slalom course around patio corners and the poles and hydrants that stud the street. If you use a wheelchair or push a stroller or are trying to have a conversation with someone you’re walking with or someone is coming in the opposite direction or people are waiting for a bus or having a cigarette or someone’s locked up a bike or a pub with a patio has a sandwich board out, forget it. People step out on the road to avoid the mess, which is dangerous.

None of the things most people want on Elgin can happen without narrowing Elgin Street itself, which means taking away parking.

The people who do business on Elgin do not like this idea one bit. There’s no merchants’ association that speaks for the merchants on Elgin, but business owners’ views are broken out in one section of the consultation report. Their No. 1 priority: “Parking on the street is essential to the success of businesses on Elgin Street.”

The thing is, it’s not at all clear this is true. Yes, anyone who drives likes abundant cheap parking, just like anyone who walks likes wider sidewalks. But we’ve fretted about parking on and around Elgin forever, done basically nothing about it, and been fine. The city formally studied the situation back in 1989 because “the number of residents, employees and commercial/retail/restaurant patrons within the area has grown with an associated increase in pedestrian and in automobile activity and in the demand for parking.”

That study found daytime parking was adequate but evening parking was bad. The consultants kicked around the ideas of banning new restaurants and bars on Elgin because they bring people in at night beyond the area’s parking capacity, fiddling with a handful of no-parking zones to add some spots here and there, and — the big one — tearing up Jack Purcell Park for a new 150-space city garage.

The garage was probably best, the consultants concluded, even though it would cost millions and need subsidies because people will pay for parking when they’re going to work but resist it when they’re going out to enjoy themselves. I’ll say that again. People want parking but not enough to pay what it costs to provide, even when it’s scarce.

So we did not build the idiotic garage. We’ve taken up some existing parking lots with new buildings. Thirty years later, with less parking than ever, our problem with Elgin is still that it’s so successful we don’t know how to squeeze in all the people who want to be there at once.

The new consultation effort didn’t require people to consider trade-offs, just invited them to say what they wanted, independent of anything else. Would you rather have 10 blocks of Elgin Street with more patios, shade trees and room to walk, or a couple of dozen street-parking spots? If you had to choose, I mean. Because, in fact, you do.

dreevely@postmedia.com
twitter.com/davidreevely

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-...volves-parking
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  #2  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 1:15 PM
acottawa acottawa is offline
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To me wide sidewalks should be the priority for Elgin, at least north of the museum. There are plenty of good parallel cycling options (O'Connor, Cartier, the canal pathway, maybe Metcalfe at some point) and ridiculous amounts of parking nearby (including the city hall parking lot which is dirt cheap at night). Elgin is however the only part of centretown/downtown that doesn't turn into a wasteland at 5:00 pm and would benefit from a better pedestrian environment and space for proper terraces.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 1:46 PM
lrt's friend lrt's friend is offline
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Originally Posted by acottawa View Post
To me wide sidewalks should be the priority for Elgin, at least north of the museum. There are plenty of good parallel cycling options (O'Connor, Cartier, the canal pathway, maybe Metcalfe at some point) and ridiculous amounts of parking nearby (including the city hall parking lot which is dirt cheap at night). Elgin is however the only part of centretown/downtown that doesn't turn into a wasteland at 5:00 pm and would benefit from a better pedestrian environment and space for proper terraces.
A reasonably lively part of downtown, yet not that well served by transit. With a major development going into Ottawa East on the same bus route, we should be including this as part of the frequent transit network including on Friday and Saturday evenings. Buses every 30 minutes in off peak hours is not going to get people to leave their cars at home. It wasn't that long ago when both Route 5 and 6 ran on Elgin, both every 10 minutes during mid day and on Saturdays.

I also want to see any hydro wires buried. I look at all the work done on Bank Street in the Glebe and just shake my head that those ugly overhead wires are still there. It makes Ottawa look like some sad frontier town that hasn't got past the late 19th century when hydro poles were super cheap.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 2:49 PM
passwordisnt123 passwordisnt123 is offline
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For me, I'd say my two top priorities would be wider sidewalks and more patios, though burying hydro lines would also be very nice.

When I was in London (the one in the UK, not Ontario), they had really gorgeous patios with lots of fire heating features and heat lamps and nice comfy wollen blankets that made it really nice and cozy to be out on a patio even well into Autumn or very early Spring. I think more patios combined with that sort of an approach would be quite nice.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 3:52 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I also want to see any hydro wires buried. I look at all the work done on Bank Street in the Glebe and just shake my head that those ugly overhead wires are still there. It makes Ottawa look like some sad frontier town that hasn't got past the late 19th century when hydro poles were super cheap.
Even worse than the aesthetics is the physical space the poles and wires take up. They're a big part of the reason we can't have wider sidewalks, integrated cycle tracks, and real street trees with kissing canopies.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 3:56 PM
acottawa acottawa is offline
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A reasonably lively part of downtown, yet not that well served by transit. With a major development going into Ottawa East on the same bus route, we should be including this as part of the frequent transit network including on Friday and Saturday evenings. Buses every 30 minutes in off peak hours is not going to get people to leave their cars at home. It wasn't that long ago when both Route 5 and 6 ran on Elgin, both every 10 minutes during mid day and on Saturdays.
Downtown isn't very congested during evenings and weekends and free or cheap parking is plentiful, so I'm not sure many people would take the bus to elgin if it ran at a higher frequency. Plus, a lot of people will walk from the LRT (about 800m from any of the 3 closest stations) rather than deal with the local buses.

Totally agree on the overhead wires.
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Old Posted Oct 7, 2016, 4:13 PM
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Downtown isn't very congested during evenings and weekends and free or cheap parking is plentiful, so I'm not sure many people would take the bus to elgin if it ran at a higher frequency. Plus, a lot of people will walk from the LRT (about 800m from any of the 3 closest stations) rather than deal with the local buses.

Totally agree on the overhead wires.
What you say is true, however, if we want to make more people less car dependant, we need to start improving transit service, particularly for those living in the central part of the city. LRT being a long walk away is going to be attractive to only a limited number of possible visitors and those coming in from the suburbs. Also, Elgin Street is a drinking area, so should we not be encouraging the use of alternate transportation? 30 minute frequency is not going to do it.

I will disagree about congestion on weekends. Traffic in Ottawa can be almost as bad on weekends as during rush hours, the only difference is that it lasts all day and it can be bidirectional.
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Old Posted Oct 8, 2016, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I also want to see any hydro wires buried. I look at all the work done on Bank Street in the Glebe and just shake my head that those ugly overhead wires are still there. It makes Ottawa look like some sad frontier town that hasn't got past the late 19th century when hydro poles were super cheap.
Aww... come on you're being too harsh... took this about 6 months ago.. this is Churchill looking North (stop sign is Scott St). "Heart of Westboro".

I think all they need to do is cut down the remaining trees and we can have a lovely full canopy of wires.... in fact, put enough transformers on the poles and we create nice shady spots



All that money on fancy brick sidewalks, and we have to look at this crap all day long.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:05 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Originally Posted by acottawa View Post
To me wide sidewalks should be the priority for Elgin, at least north of the museum. There are plenty of good parallel cycling options (O'Connor, Cartier, the canal pathway, maybe Metcalfe at some point) and ridiculous amounts of parking nearby (including the city hall parking lot which is dirt cheap at night). Elgin is however the only part of centretown/downtown that doesn't turn into a wasteland at 5:00 pm and would benefit from a better pedestrian environment and space for proper terraces.
Yes, please!

And the corollary - GET RID OF IMPROPER PATIOS. Some of the ones they installed in the past couple of years impinge way too much on the sideWALK. The primary purpose of a sideWALK is suggested by the second syllable.

The space is simply not there on Elgin for some of these things.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:06 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Agreed on your analysis of the root cause. Likely one of them was parked on Emond and that is how they ended up there. Blocking the street would make it less convenient to use the street for parking.

They put a little street-blockage thingy on Bradley to protect the loading dock of the Wabano Centre after it was built. Now the stub-ends of Bradley on either side of the blockage are frequently used for... parking.

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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:08 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
A reasonably lively part of downtown, yet not that well served by transit. With a major development going into Ottawa East on the same bus route, we should be including this as part of the frequent transit network including on Friday and Saturday evenings. Buses every 30 minutes in off peak hours is not going to get people to leave their cars at home. It wasn't that long ago when both Route 5 and 6 ran on Elgin, both every 10 minutes during mid day and on Saturdays.
The 5 and 14 still run fairly frequently, BUT TOGETHER. Which is made of so much dumb.

Quote:
I also want to see any hydro wires buried. I look at all the work done on Bank Street in the Glebe and just shake my head that those ugly overhead wires are still there. It makes Ottawa look like some sad frontier town that hasn't got past the late 19th century when hydro poles were super cheap.
On the top 100 urban planning and design issues in Ottawa, overhead wires ranks about 956th.

I do not understand, and will never understand, the fixation people here have with wires.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:14 PM
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The 5 and 14 still run fairly frequently, BUT TOGETHER. Which is made of so much dumb.



On the top 100 urban planning and design issues in Ottawa, overhead wires ranks about 956th.

I do not understand, and will never understand, the fixation people here have with wires.
Toronto is a disastrous mess of wires thanks to both streetcars and telephone and electricity wiring but no one would call Toronto a frontier town. I agree they are annoying and unsightly but, labelling Ottawa's overhead wires as some throwback to another era is really just our insecurities at play. Cities all over the world have this jungled mess of wires. But, for the record, yes, they are ugly.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:34 PM
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I do not understand, and will never understand, the fixation people here have with wires.
What's so hard to understand about aesthetics? About a quarter of the economy is in fashion, cosmetics and furnishing — the business of looking good. It probably accounts for a good half the retail sector, the establishments that line our main streets. These spaces are the city's living rooms, and making them more attractive should have more priority than say widening the suburban arterials that seem to be freed of wires.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 3:50 PM
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What's so hard to understand about aesthetics? About a quarter of the economy is in fashion, cosmetics and furnishing — the business of looking good. It probably accounts for a good half the retail sector, the establishments that line our main streets. These spaces are the city's living rooms, and making them more attractive should have more priority than say widening the suburban arterials that seem to be freed of wires.
Its not just aesthetics, though that is a factor. In many places the poles are in the middle of the sidewalk, making walking down a busy street even more of a slalom. On top of that, freezing rain can cause issues for overhead wires.

The problem with converting a street to underground wiring is who pays for the buildings to switch to an underground feed.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 5:20 PM
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Funny how people demand more sidewalk room and then it turns out they want it NOT instead of the deadly car lanes and inefficient parking spaces but at the expense of pedestrian-friendly patios and cycling facilities.
There is plenty of room for sidewalks. Just ditch a car lane.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 7:28 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Funny how people demand more sidewalk room and then it turns out they want it NOT instead of the deadly car lanes and inefficient parking spaces but at the expense of pedestrian-friendly patios and cycling facilities.
There is plenty of room for sidewalks. Just ditch a car lane.
Elgin, especially the good part of Elgin, has no more car lanes to ditch.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 7:30 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Toronto is a disastrous mess of wires thanks to both streetcars and telephone and electricity wiring but no one would call Toronto a frontier town. I agree they are annoying and unsightly but, labelling Ottawa's overhead wires as some throwback to another era is really just our insecurities at play. Cities all over the world have this jungled mess of wires. But, for the record, yes, they are ugly.
I don't even agree that they are annoying, and they are barely unsightly. There are a hundred uglier things I'd deal with first before the expense of burying wires, solely because they offend someone's sense of aesthetics, would even merit a second look.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 7:33 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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What's so hard to understand about aesthetics?
Nothing. I just don't understand how and why overhead wires, in Ottawa, have come to be the ultimate emblem of ugliness.

Because they are not.

And Ottawa is NOT atypical in Canada in having lots of overhead wires. It simply is not. I have no idea where Ottawans get this cockamamie idea from.

Quote:
About a quarter of the economy is in fashion, cosmetics and furnishing — the business of looking good. It probably accounts for a good half the retail sector, the establishments that line our main streets. These spaces are the city's living rooms, and making them more attractive should have more priority than say widening the suburban arterials that seem to be freed of wires.
And yet, the suburban arterials are ass-ugly compared to "wire-blighted" main street downtown. Give me Elgin Street south over Kanata Centrum any day.

#baffled #utterlybaffled
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 7:36 PM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Its not just aesthetics, though that is a factor. In many places the poles are in the middle of the sidewalk
That's an argument for better pole placement.

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making walking down a busy street even more of a slalom. On top of that, freezing rain can cause issues for overhead wires.
Freezing rain can cause issues for all kinds of stuff.

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The problem with converting a street to underground wiring is who pays for the buildings to switch to an underground feed.
Indeed. And the cost is yet another reason why we should worry about - and spend money on - the things that really matter from an aesthetic and functional perspective, not the imaginary blight of wires.

Every. Single. One. Of Ottawa's. Visually. Best. Neighbourhoods. Has. Overhead. Wires.

All of them.
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Old Posted Oct 11, 2016, 7:38 PM
zzptichka zzptichka is offline
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Elgin, especially the good part of Elgin, has no more car lanes to ditch.
2 moving lanes and one parking lane is enough.
If you regularly get stuck there because you choose to drive from Orleans (and Kanata?) into Downtown during peak hours then you are doing it wrong and the city shouldn't cater to your selfish last century habits.
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