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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > Canada > Ontario > SSP: Local Ottawa-Gatineau > Urban, Urban Design & Heritage Issues

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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2012, 6:03 PM
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For me, the big thing with locating the casino downtown (which is a different issue from the issues associated with having a casino anywhere, Reid) is that I cannot think of any examples of a successful downtown casino, from an urban design perspective, i.e. one that contributes life to the urban area, rather than sucking it in.

Consider the way people complain about Rideau Centre being inward-looking and ruining the downtown shopping experience on Rideau Street, well the examples of Casinos that I know are much, much worse for their closed-off inward-orientation.

Does that mean that a downtown casino HAS to be another bad, anti-urban, life-sucker? no. But the fact that the only examples i can think of (e.g. Windsor) are exactly that, is a very bad sign for Ottawa. Why? Because if a downtown Ottawa Casino is going to have better results than the average experience elsewhere, then it would have to be EXCEPTIONALLY-well designed. Ottawa does do a lot of things well, but bucking trends and delivering exceptionally-well-designed anythings on the first try is not one of them. When Ottawa is doing something new, AVERAGE is usually the best we can hope for. (big note, that does not mean that AVERAGE is all we can EVER hope for, look at new/contemporary downtown condos, the level of design and competition among developers is increasing at a nice clip, but the early ones? yeesh! "average" might be paying them a compliment!).

So I don't think we can expect our first downtown casino to be an exceptional design, and chances are there will only be one casino, and that it will be big; therefore, if it is a failure from an urban design / downtown life perspective, it will be a BIG failure. Ottawa's downtown isn't so large, dense and vibrant that it can support many big failures (and we already have many to overcome: west end of Sparks Street and the generally sub-par mega-block developments to the south of it, LeBreton Flats, closed-off NAC, cut-off waterfronts, and some would ague that lifeless federal buildings on Confederation Boul, Federal parks/squares and the Rideau Centre belong on this list too... etc.)
Caesars casino has actually been good for downtown Windsor, maybe not everything they hoped it would be, but it has helped with bringing in more foot traffic to the core. It has a huge convention centre, one of the largest in Canada, and the Colosseum has attracted many large shows and concerts, which has a spillover effect in the downtown.

It's true that most casino's are designed to keep people shut out of the surrounding area, but if there are attractions in the area, some folks will check out what's around. The casino has been very good for our city, and hopefully the one in Ottawa will be a great asset as well.
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  #22  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2012, 6:55 PM
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well local politicians, are most of the time crumbling under the pressure of even just two or three people/NIMBY's. Not sure about the Senate politicians though (yes there are useless BTW).
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  #23  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2012, 8:57 PM
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How many local streets (i.e. not collector or arterial roads) have 15 minute bus service most of the day though (not just during peak periods)? Not many. Even many arterial roads don't, for that matter. There aren't even sidewalks on the west side of Clementine. A street like that is not designed for high-level bus service (it used to always be every 30 minutes or less). Significant improvements are necessary, including full sidewalks, to maintain such frequent service.

One solution for nighttime when frequency is not as much of an issue: only use the hybrid buses as much as possible after 9 pm. Those buses are significantly quieter.
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  #24  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 2:06 AM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I was reading the latest EMC newspaper last night and came across two articles that left me disturbed.

The first complaining about "too much" bus service in Heron Park. I cannot believe this. Talk about whining. Get rid of the buses.
This is the same city where the Glebeites - without any consultation of any other neighbourhood served by the routes - got artics pulled from the 1 and 7 because they didn't want them.

Cheap, self-entitled douchebags. That's what's wrong with Ottawans, in a nutshell. A city that simultaneously exists through government, then bitches about taxes.

Cheap, self-entitled, douchebags. It should be the motto on the signs as you drive in.

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The second related to the video board proposed for the convention centre, several blocks from the closest residence. Now, we have several community associations passing motions and submitting letters that the visual pollution will ruin people's lives.
Again: Glebe. It will kill their children or something.

Cheap, self-entitled douchebags.

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I am starting to think that sole purpose of community associations is to obstruct everything.
I hope that's not a new revelation.
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  #25  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 2:09 AM
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Originally Posted by jitterbug View Post
we prefer to keep our waterfronts undeveloped
Au contraire: the waterfronts were quite developed - industrial, the cottage area that would have become Ottawa's "Beaches" if it hadn't been razed to make a car path - until the government got a bad case of Prettyism.

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and our buildings functional rather than fancy.
Then why are there so many "functional" buildings where you can't find the goddamn door?
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  #26  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 2:11 AM
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Nothing really except too many damn politicians and useless senators (and I don't mean hockey) :-(
I don't think the senate really has very much to do with the cheap, self-entitled douchebaggery of Ottawa.
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  #27  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 2:13 AM
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Which is why I'd move to town in the drop of a hat if I found it fit to do so

- A Hamiltonian...we know all too well about keeping a low-profile
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  #28  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 9:49 PM
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There was a funny-if-it-wasn't-all-too-real column written by Mark Sutcliffe a couple months back regarding the digital sign and it's nearest neighbour, who, of course, got a page of coverage in which to complain in The Citizen

Sutcliffe was clearly exasperated at the fact that only one window of the complaining woman's apartment looked out onto the Convention Centre, which was over half a kilometre away. The woman's quotes were the typical sky-is-falling-armageddon-is-nigh BS we're used to hearing.

In his words (not verbatim), "her life, she says, is over - a life that apparently consisted on looking at a blank wall over half a kilometre away"
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  #29  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2012, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by S-Man View Post
There was a funny-if-it-wasn't-all-too-real column written by Mark Sutcliffe a couple months back regarding the digital sign and it's nearest neighbour, who, of course, got a page of coverage in which to complain in The Citizen

Sutcliffe was clearly exasperated at the fact that only one window of the complaining woman's apartment looked out onto the Convention Centre, which was over half a kilometre away. The woman's quotes were the typical sky-is-falling-armageddon-is-nigh BS we're used to hearing.

In his words (not verbatim), "her life, she says, is over - a life that apparently consisted on looking at a blank wall over half a kilometre away"
Last year when the city said were going to test digital billboards the panic by some was unreal from some comments such as there are going to be large amounts of accidents then the its going to ruin the landscape.
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  #30  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 1:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jitterbug View Post
OK, as a resident of Ottawa for 44 of my 47 years, I'll bite.

I would say 3 main factors are at play:

1. Ottawa is a relatively young city (in global terms). Only about 150 years ago (that's like yesterday in the "old world") Ottawa was a small, isolated lumber town. We can still see remnants of these early years even today. Other than the Greber plan of the 1950s, Ottawa's development has been evolutionary, not revolutionary. So when someone has a big plan today, residents are suspicious and usually opposed.
Vancouver is a lot younger than us - we date variously to the 1790s (Hull) or the 1820s (Bytown) - and they have far less of this problem than we do.

We were never that isolated: it's a pretty easy trip up the Ottawa River from Montreal to get here. It was harder to get to Kingston and Toronto than it was to get to Ottawa, and since the Rideau Canal has been with us for most of our history, it hasn't really been that difficult to get here from Toronto and Kingston, either. We were probably more mentally isolated than physically isolated.

It's not like an evolutionary history is particularly unique to Ottawa. If anything, it's been more revolutionary than average: few places go from being the unoccupied shore opposite another town to the lynchpin of a major canal system in five years and then go on to becoming a capital city just a generation later. During the war we had a whole pile of temporary mediocrity forced upon the landscape, and then after the war the NCC did its bit by plonking down brutalist office blocks all over the place. All of this is far more revolutionary than evolutionary and there aren't a lot of cities with a history like it.

It's possible that a reactionary mindset took hold in response to this.

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2. Ottawa's modern-day raison d'etre is as the seat of the federal government. Much of the rest of Canada dislikes Ottawa for that very reason, and Ottawans know it. This inferiority complex manifests itself in many ways, such as through a low-key approach to city building. If we don't make too many waves, maybe they'll start to like us a bit more.
I think this point has far more to it than your previous point.

If you think about it, not a lot of capitals have a history like ours. We suddenly become the capital without a lot of real planning or preparation. Washington and Canberra were planned as capitals in a 'blank slate' kind of way. No one could be jealous of a town that "lucked out" because nothing at all existed there and everyone else could feel some kind of ownership of it. By contrast, most European capitals grew into the job organically due to being existing centres of commercial activity. But Ottawa was a small town that became the capital, so everyone else had an axe to grind. In some ways, it's too bad the decision to make Ottawa the capital wasn't taken at the same time construction of the Rideau Canal began.

Still, the fact that the rest of the country doesn't much like Ottawa doesn't entirely explain things, either. I don't think that Ottawans base any judgements on city building on the basis of what the rest of the country would think of us, especially since the same inferiority complex would tend to suggest that the rest of the country couldn't care less.

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3. Ottawans themselves like the status quo. Ottawa's natural surroundings are still pretty wild (especially west and north of the city), and there's a certain pride in being a "quiet, backwoods capital" as Dan Rather once described our town. Tall towers, innovative architecture, electronic billboards, and subways may be great for really big cities like New York or even Toronto, but we're Ottawans and we prefer to keep our waterfronts undeveloped and our buildings functional rather than fancy.
We have a good number of fancy buildings - they just happen to be federal museums and the like. The "functional" office buildings have all been imposed on us by the federal government and private developers whose only concerns are keeping building construction costs down. I don't think there's much evidence to suggest that Ottawans themselves prefer functional to fancy.

As for waterfront development, well frankly until our developers learn to build real urban places from scratch, we're probably better off leaving them undeveloped. The most likely result of opening up the waterfront to development would be a whole slew of Metropoles that exist just for the views of the residents and don't give a damn about what it looks like at ground level.

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Of course, things are changing but it will take many more years to shake off Ottawa's small-town mentality. In the meantime, it's fun to look into the future as many do on this board, all the while trying to reconcile our humble beginnings of only a few generations.
Except we don't even have a small-town mentality. The average small town has far more of a 'can-do' attitude than we do in Ottawa. Take the infamous Royal Swans incident: it is absolutely inconceivable that the average Canadian small town would seriously contemplate getting rid of a gift of swans from the Queen for lack of will to build a new place to house them. The mayor (or reeve) would be on the phone with his second-cousin's brother-in-law who owns a duck raising concern to ask if he could build a place for the swans, and chances are he'd do it for a nominal charge. I've seen small town officials and politicians working their asses off to scrounge up every conceivable source of funds for certain projects and exploiting every conceivable short-cut to get the project done.
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Last edited by Dado; Mar 22, 2012 at 2:14 AM.
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  #31  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 2:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Dado View Post
I've seen small town officials and politicians working their asses off to scrounge up every conceivable source of funds for certain projects and exploiting every conceivable short-cut to get the project done.
The problem is that the NIMBY's in the Glebe would then put up all sorts of lawsuits charging that the bid wasn't competitively sourced and then worries about potential noise by-law violations due to the quacking etc...

Ottawans have a can-do attitude, just in the wrong way.
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  #32  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 2:31 AM
Uhuniau Uhuniau is offline
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Originally Posted by jeremy_haak View Post
The problem is that the NIMBY's in the Glebe would then put up all sorts of lawsuits charging that the bid wasn't competitively sourced and then worries about potential noise by-law violations due to the quacking etc...

Ottawans have a can-do attitude, just in the wrong way.
On the other hand, few can do Satiricial Puns quite like Ottawa. "Swantanamo Bay" was an instant classic.
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  #33  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2012, 2:22 PM
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On the other hand, few can do Satiricial Puns quite like Ottawa. "Swantanamo Bay" was an instant classic.
I still get a chuckle from it.
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  #34  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 5:09 PM
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The more I look at it, the more I realize the planning/social situation in Halifax is identical to Ottawa's, only one third the size. Our limit here seems to be 28 stories, theirs is 12.

Just a look at this page from the Halifax forum shows absolutely everything you see in Ottawa, from "save the viewplane" people, to the muddied and confused use of the word 'heritage', to the "no-height-at-all-costs" mindset. It's actually jarring.

Reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode with Roddy McDowell titled 'People are the Same Everywhere'.

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/show...=194226&page=3
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  #35  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 6:00 PM
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Originally Posted by S-Man View Post
'People are the Same Everywhere'
begging the question why would you expect them to be much different?
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  #36  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 6:29 PM
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And that is a good question.

The probable answer is that I had made myself believe that the mindset that fuels opposition to urban development in Ottawa was somehow isolated to this city. Granted, it doesn't seem to exist in Montreal or Toronto to the same degree, but those places aside, I should have expected that the psychology of the populace would be similar.
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  #37  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2012, 6:57 PM
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Montreal shouldn't be compared directly, the planning/zoning rules there are set in stone so the terms of debate are completely different (if you haven't already, check out that 3-part interview with the guys Urban Capital in urbantoronto.ca, they discuss the similarities and differences for developers working in Ottawa, TO and MTL). Here, a lot of the fight happens in the big open spaces between what the zoning says, what the (often various) plan(s) say(s), what the developer wants and what neighbours want -- lots of room for debate. But where the plan and zoning are consistent and consistently enforced, then any developer proposals that differ widely are rejected out of hand and the public has little to argue against in a normal course of events. So where big debate happens in MTL, in most cases, is around new plans, e.g., the redevelopment of Griffintown, the megahospitals, or the UdeM expansion at the old Outremont rail yards; because once the plan is done, it's pretty much set. In that model, you don't get the 'constant drip' of fights over every new development proposal, you get sporadic spikes of fighting whenever a new plan is under development and then a lull where people go about their business, but the points of view and interests presented in the debates are similar. Hell, people fight about building heights in Manhattan sometimes for reasons that would sound familiar to Citizen readers, too.

Last edited by McC; Apr 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM.
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