Letter from the WCA to Councillor Christine Leadman re: Golden closure

14 12 2007

Christine Leadman
Councillor, Kitchissipi Ward
City of Ottawa
111 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1P 1J1

By e-mail: Christine.Leadman@ottawa.ca

Re: Golden Avenue closure

Dear Ms Leadman:

Thank you for organizing the public information session on December 5, 2007 regarding the proposal to close a portion of Golden Avenue between Byron and Richmond Road. Several members of the Westboro Community Association Board of Directors were in attendance. Based on our observations, feedback we have been receiving directly from residents, and further discussion as a board, we wish to raise the following points:

1. The large turnout and number of speakers are a clear indication of the high degree of interest in and concern about this issue among residents of Westboro. Based on the opinions that were expressed as well as the show-of-hands exercise conducted towards the end of the meeting, it appears to us that a majority of those in attendance were opposed to the proposed closure based on the information that has been provided to date.

2. The Westboro Community Association (WCA) has a number of specific concerns regarding the proposal itself as well as the process employed to date, including:

a. the potential negative impact of diverted traffic onto adjacent residential streets and intersections (ex. Roosevelt, Broadview and their respective intersections at Byron);

b. disruption to Westboro’s existing traditional grid street pattern;

c. increased traffic volume and congestion on Richmond Road due to the relocation of the entrance to the Westboro Station development from Byron Avenue. This could also worsen existing problems at the Berkley/Richmond intersection that have already been raised by residents at the WCA community forum you attended a few weeks ago;

d. the preliminary findings of the Westboro/Highland Park/McKellar Park Traffic Management Plan do not support or recommend closure of Golden (or any other major traffic management measures) as volumes do not warrant it;

e. closure of Golden is not part of the Richmond Road Community Design Plan;

f. lack of detailed information: the two conceptual drawings presented at the meeting did not provide sufficient detail on the full scope of the proposal and city staff were not present to answer questions from residents.

3. We are concerned that this proposal appears to have been initiated by a relatively small number of residents of Golden Avenue and that the timeline for its consideration by the broader community is being driven primarily by the approaching start of construction on the Westboro Station development. It also concerns us that it is being treated in isolation rather than in conjunction with the broader traffic planning challenges that we are presently facing within Westboro. If this proposal is to be considered further, we request that it be examined within the context of the ongoing Traffic Management Plan process. That process already includes provisions for future public open houses to solicit community feedback.

Members of our Board are available to speak with you or representatives of the City about this matter further. We understand that you are planning another community meeting in the New Year regarding Golden Avenue. We look forward to hearing from you with respect to details of that session.

Sincerely,

Wallace Beaton, Chair, Westboro Community Association
Cherolyn Knapp, Vice-Chair, Westboro Community Association

cc. WCA Board Members
Nancy Schepers, Planning, Transit & Environment Department, City of Ottawa,
Douglas James, Planning Branch, City of Ottawa
Suzanne Woo, Traffic & Parking Operations Branch, City of Ottawa

[end of letter]

As always, we at the WCA welcome your feedback. Please use the “comments” function (below) and share your thoughts, questions, and comments.

Were you at the December 5 meeting? What are your thoughts about the proposed street closure? What, if any, are your concerns?

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15 responses

14 12 2007
Chloe M. Boucher

I don’t live in Westboro, but am currently looking into purchasing a home within the community and know the area we speak of well. Recently, we had dinner at the new MHK Sushi Restaurant across from the proposed new Westboro Station Condominiums. There was a discussion about the request for street closure at our table. I think Westboro is such an interesting and beautiful neighborhood, but does need upgrading to take it to the next level. As I spent the next two hours enjoying dinner with friends, we barely noticed any vehicles using Golden Avenue. In fact, the street itself was so short we thought it might have been a private road.

From the plans that I’ve seen, and what I know of this new building, it’s to be very nice and a boost for Westboro architecture. It’s almost sold-out last time I went into the showroom (November), and prices are not cheap! This means increased municipal taxes into the community, and a boost in the retail sector within the neighborhood.

People are always against change for some reason, even if it makes sense, or the fact that barely anyone noticed this small street before, and that it’s rarely used in the present. The Bourk family has owned that block for a very long time, and I don’t believe they are trying to damage their own community after decades of being a part of it. In fact, they are trying to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform an un-used, small, ugly street, and turn it into a grand west entrance into Westboro… How dare they!?!?

1. Most of the people who will take time out of their busy day to attend the community forum will be against the idea. Otherwise, why waste valuable time during holiday season…?

2. (re:2.a) “The potential negative impact of diverted traffic onto adjacent residential streets and intersections”. If you mean diversion of existing traffic, then yes, closure of a street will do that. Although, I’m not sure why this deserves to be labeled “negative” unless further issues have been discussed. People barely use this street anyways, and the only traffic utilizing it is residents that ultimately travel throughout the entire neighborhood on a regular basis. So it’s not so much increased traffic in terms of new cars, but diverted traffic from residents.

3. (re:2.b) “Disruption to Westboro’s existing traditional grid street pattern”… Who said the current grid street pattern was so great to begin with? Perhaps it is time for a change. That’s like saying we should never change anything, to avoid “disruption”.

4. (re:2.e) “Closure of Golden is not part of the Richmond Road Community Design Plan”. I’m sure Westboro becoming the hottest real estate market in Ottawa wasn’t part of the RRCD Plan either, but no one seems to be complaining about all the money that everyone’s making or the hype that’s associated.

Let’s face it, there’s an opportunity here to do something really nice with Westboro. Something that people who drive through this community will now say, “WOW! Pretty nice additions”. And I know, just like anyone who’s ever approached a police officer blocking a road for our own safety, we think, “HOW DARE THEY!! I HAVE TO GO THAT WAY.” But in the end, it’s for the greater good of our community, and ultimately our city.

Certainly, if the community feels that more details are required to make an educated decision, then let there be more details presented. It is the responsibility of the developers to provide that to Councillor Christine Leadman. And ultimately her decision to do what she feels is best for everyone.

15 12 2007
b. smart

Ms. Boucher seems to think she knows all about Westboro issues after sitting in one of the neighbourhood restaurants for a couple of hours.

People should realize this is not a simple proposal to close a street. It is about letting a developer encroach into public property to build and entrance to an underground garage. The proposed pedestrian walkway is a meaningless space between the building and a ramp – it has no relationship to the rest of the village. What are we going to do on it, walk back and forth pretending to have fun?

15 12 2007
K. McCall

I find the traffic situation in Westboro is currently unmanageable and needs improvements, not more complications. Since the Loblaws, Liquor Store, etc. have been built, I cannot get out of my street onto Richmond Road without either blocking the crossing of pedestrians or sticking myself out in traffic hoping that the cars on Richmond will stop for me. Also, the street parking makes it so that I cannot see the traffic when pulling out onto Richmond. It is faster and safer for me to go several blocks out of my way to get onto Richmond.
Our infrastructure in Westboro can’t take any more development intensity as it currently stands. Residents just can’t get around anymore. K. McCall

16 12 2007
Anonymous

I just heard a conversation between a CBC host and the former Mayor of Bogota Colombia, in South America. They transformed their car fumed city into a pedestrian friendly one, closing off several streets throughout the city. Now if we can all find a location for a multy storied parking garage for all those outside shoppers, say off Scott perhaps, we could enertain the notion of closing off Richmnd, from Churhill to Golden. No more chocking traffic going to MEC. ……………..comments?

16 12 2007
Anonymous

I also attended the meeting regarding the closure of Golden Ave and I don’t blame the residents for their efforts to have their street closed off. Who wouldn’t want to have their street closed off? I know I would. I live on Broadview Ave where a car goes by every twenty seconds, often at very high speeds, and I need to keep my 4 and 6 year old boys in the back yard. The reality is that Westboro is growing rapidly, which means more traffic for all of us to deal with. I walk my dog and drive up Golden everyday and maybe I am missing something but this is not in my opinion a busy street. I found it offensive to those of us who actually live on very busy streets like Broadview, Roosevelt, and Byron for some of the residents of Golden Ave to claim that their street should be closed due to concerns about volume of traffic and the safety of their children. We have serious saftey concerns for are children every minute of the day on our busy streets which will only increase if Golden Ave is closed. We all want to keep our children safe. It hardly seems fair to anyone living in Westboro that only residents of Golden Ave should be sheltered from increased traffic and all the concerns that go with it. In fact, I am shocked that the proposal is still being discussed after the overwhelming opposition to it.

David Aston

17 12 2007
Khoa

I think that’s an amazing idea David, but probably too bold for residents to accept. However, if it were to ever happen, I would support it if done right. Just think how unique that would be. I suppose Sparks Street does it, but it doesn’t flow because of traffic streets in between.

17 12 2007
Anonymous

closings sparks street to traffic was a disaster, why do the same to westboro? sparks street is dead after 5pm, all shops of interest have left, whats stores/restaurants on SS are worth going to…

20 12 2007
Anonymous

I cannot believe that someone who does not live in westboro would take so much time to advocate the Councillor’s views so exactly. Do you work for the Councillor Chloe?

31 12 2007
Paul Mason

We are very concerned about the closure of the end of Golden for the new condo development. Of particular concern is the potential for increased traffic on Roosevelt Ave, which we feel already gets too much traffic, including what appears to be commercial traffic at times.

6 01 2008
DJ Landry

Reference: Rosalyn Stevens. Golden Avenue closure debated. The News EMC: Ottawa West Edition, 3 January 2008.

In the referenced article, Kitchissippi Ward councillor Christine Leadman was quoted, “I always find it ironic that the biggest complainers are the new people that come into the community.” This quote is a small window of insight into Councillor Leadman’s thinking.

My family and I moved to Westboro in June 2007. By association as a newcomer, my municipal representative considers me a complainer. This is unsettling.

New residents of Westboro do not choose to live here because they do not like how things are. In the Kitchissippi Ward and Westboro I see wonderful urban renewal, good neighbourhood streets and excellent transit services to downtown, among many other positives. With my fresh pair of community eyes working for me on my walks, I suspect I might see things that longer time residents have grown accustomed to. I see city parks in need of a good scrub down, a little more attention required for the care and upkeep of the Westboro transit station and some incorrectly spelled city street signs that should be replaced immediately. These are observations, not complaints. Perhaps it is civic pride.

On the matter of the Golden Avenue between Byron Avenue and Richmond Roads – my newcomer observation is that Byron is an excellent controlled access neighbourhood road between Kirkwood and Golden. It is a useful bypass for the congested Richmond business district. The small section of Golden Avenue at Richmond is perfectly aligned to allow travellers from the east a west entrance into the business district or for commuters to continue travelling east or west after avoiding the business district. I really don’t think it should be closed.

Finally, I expect my Ward representative, Christine Leadman, to clearly articulate a vision for the Ward and listen to residents with an unbiased ear. Kitchissippi and Westboro residents need leadership on area development matters. The Richmond Road business corridor has traffic and parking troubles. It would be inspiring to see a development approved by Ottawa that alleviates parking shortages for Richmond Road and enhances traffic flow in and around the area. I hope Christine was quoted out of context.

Dan Landry
Westboro

19 01 2008
Happy-in-Westboro

Dear nieghbours,

I think the observations of people living in this area carry more wieght than someone who comes here for one sushi meal! Further, even the people who live here may not have all the best data from their observations… the point being …. Everytime there is a new development, there is another “traffic study”!

THE SOLUTION? How about one comprehensive traffic study – then we can make plans on how to develop the Westboro!!

I can’t wait to read the report!

Thank you.

Happy to be living in Westboto!

4 03 2008
Update on Golden closure « Hello Westboro

[…] of Adjustment Mar 5, 2008 Update on Golden closure March 4, 2008 As a follow-up to our December letter regarding the possible closure of Golden Avenue between Richmond and Byron, I and WCA vice-chair […]

12 04 2008
Margaret Thomson

I have lived just east of Island Park near Richmond road for over twenty-five years. The idea of closing Golden to traffic was/is a bad one for the reasons cited by the writer who said that this road is really well aligned for the many people who wish to bypass the busines district of Westboro which is so overwhelmed with traffic. I have used that little Golden segment in this way for years and am grateful for it. There is an enormous problem with traffic through Westboro clear over to Somerset, covering Westboro, Wellington West and Hintonburg along Wellington and Richmond roads. I wish there were a large public parking spot on each end, and a trial of some kind of trolley could be started on the weekends, from nine to five, to transport the shoppers and sightseers. I take a note from Tuscon, where trolley afficionadoes (it does not have to be electric) operate trolleys free, which allows for a hugely popular shopping experience on some streets near the University. University students operate it I believe, and it is a group restoring trolleys is involved. So that is just an example of one city doing something about polluting traffic.

However, I have not heard of anyone wishing to do something along these lines to help with the huge traffic problem we now have in the area,which is just approaching ridiculous levels, and making life quite noisy, and unhealthful.

Golden should be kept open so that when we are off our bikes and into our cars, coming and going east and west, we can keep that business district freer of vehicles. However, I hope that any plans for Golden Avenue’s future will always take into consideration other busy neighbourhood streets in the area, which could well deserve a break.

15 04 2008
David

I can’t figure out why it occurred to no one (the WCA, the Councillor, the City, residents for and against closing Golden) to simply move that short segment of Golden and its intersection a few dozen metres to the west to align it with the access road to the apartments (and Rogers) on the north side of Richmond Rd. If this were done, “Golden” (it would really need a new name) would hit Byron halfway between Golden and Brierwood. That would solve just about everything – 1) allow better access to the apartments/Rogers; 2) provide more roadspace on Richmond east of the relocated lights for cars to wait at the lights, allowing better access for people trying to get in/out of Berkley; 3) a bypass would remain for access to Byron; 4) discourage cut-through traffic on Golden proper; and 5) provide an area for a pedestrian square out of Golden and the old bus loop that could be used for things like Westfest and if we were to be so lucky, a farmers’ market.

Seriously, where is the imagination around here?

17 04 2008
Stu

Good call David!!! I think that is about the best suggestion I have heard yet for the portion of Golden. I have not voiced my opinion as of yet simply because I had not heard an option that I liked…however I am now in full support of your idea as it seems to make the most sense!

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