Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ash to ashes...

The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is continuing its destruction of a significant portion of Ottawa's urban canopy, and Centretown isn't escaping it either.

On Percy Street, at the CCOC's housing development at the former Percy Street School, a row of ash trees are marked for removal. Someone has added cloth signs to the tree trunks, including this one that says "That ash is boring me to death!"


From the ground, these mature Ash trees don't look too bad. Lots of leaves left...


But from across the street it's clear that the trees' days are numbered.


The City has some useful information about the EAB on its website at ottawa.ca/eab

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3D Thursday: Lewis blossoms

Spring is finally here, and with it the trees are blossoming. Across from Minto Park* on Lewis Street, this tree makes for quite the 3D experience:


Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Also within the Golden Triangle, a couple blocks east on Lewis, at MacDonald, is another blooming bush whose lotus-like flowers look like they're floating in the air when you look at them with 3D glasses on:


Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Let's hope the nice weather lasts!

*On the topic of Minto Park, the CCCA is hosting its annual BBQ, plant sale, and e-waste drop-off at the annual Minto Park Sale, on Saturday, June 14, 2014. These fundraisers will be important for the CCCA as we will need funds for expert assistance as we prepare for our OMB appeal of the Centretown Community Design Plan this fall. If you'd like to volunteer for the CCCA's Minto Park Sale activities or for the OMB appeal effort, please contact the CCCA (ccca@centretowncitizens.ca).

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tulips & tower cranes sprouting up

In the first weekend of May, the tower crane for Broccolini's hotel/condo at 199 Slater went up. This is right across the street from the BMO building at 280 Laurier, at the Slater Street "Bank" Transitway station. The BMO building had some nice flowers by its windows to go along with the view.



[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peds on Weds: Condo access fail

Suppose you're going to spend $18.5 million on a 12-storey (later 16-storey) condo building. You might build it with exclusively one-bedroom apartments that cater to young, single individuals. Such apartments aren't big enough to raise children, so you wouldn't need to worry about your residents getting in with a stroller. And your target market is decades away from using a wheelchair.

So despite legislation that gradually encourages more and more compliance to provide equal access to people with disabilities, you install a step at the front door:


If a resident loses a limb or is paid a visit by a wheelchair-using relative, there's a second-class entrance at the side of the building. When they're dropped off at the front of the building (as is customary), someone who is unable to walk up a step would of course have no difficulty walking 60 feet or so out of their way on a snowy sidewalk:


To add insult to (hopefully no) injury, the entrance was initially built with a direct ramp from the sidewalk. The step was added after the fact:


According to the Condo project website, a new development in "contemporary Canadian cities" has the following requirements: "a sharp and creative Development Team with a solid track record of success ... design innovation, marketing savvy, systematic project management, financial prowess and political acumen." (I won't go into the "partnership with...neighbours" bit where the first the community association heard of this development was the day before it went to the Committee of Adjustment)


But as the CCCA's Seniors Committee regularly writes in their column in the Centretown Buzz, our ageing population means that we also need to ensure that new buildings are built with accessibility and visitability in mind. These qualities are essential in ensuring that ageing individuals can continue to live in their homes, ensuring a healthy diversity of the community.

There's only so much you can do for older buildings that were constructed before universal accessibility was a consideration, but for new buildings there's no excuse a person with a mobility restriction can't enter the building with as much dignity as an able-bodied person from the first time they visit.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jane's Walk Ottawa 2014 this weekend

This weekend (May 3-4, 2014) is the annual Jane's Walk Ottawa series of free urbanist walking tours, and as with last year, I'm publishing a list of walks in Somerset Ward.

I mentioned two of the walks I went on last year in my blog posts The Lonely Elm (Dennis van Staalduinen's walk on Wellington Street, who this year is giving a walk in Champlain Park) and The stones don't fall far from the hill (Quentin Gall's talk on Ottawa's Building and Monument Stones), both of which seem to have been one-offs.

Here's the rundown of Jane's Walks in Centretown for this year:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Onramp houses on O'Connor

Christopher Ryan had a timely post on Ottawa Start about Connor Court, describing one of the low-rise apartment buildings built in the first half of the 20th Century. As he mentions, O'Connor Street is little more than an onramp to the 417 freeway all the way from the office buildings at the north end through the apartment/commercial district through Centretown.

South of a certain point, O'Connor is mostly mid-rise residential or low-rise commercial, there are a couple of exceptions. I noticed this house for the first time just earlier this month. It's 231 O'Connor, between Cooper and Somerset on the east side:


231 O'Connor is on the 1958 aerials on GeoOttawa, but it isn't on the 1902 (1912 revision) fire insurance maps (unsurprisingly, given the architecture). (Er, on closer look, it appears to also be commercial)

The same day I noticed the house above for the first time, I also took an appreciation for these two houses at numbers 312 and 314, on the west side of O'Connor just north of Frank Street:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peds on Weds: Delivery door design

Is this delivery truck at the Delta Ottawa City Centre too big, or is the delivery entrance too small?


Either way, it results in the truck blocking the sidewalk completely, and even this short truck diverts pedestrians not just into the roadway, but into the travel lane, to get past. Not the only pedestrian issue at this '60s-built hotel and conference centre.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]
[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Thursday, April 3, 2014

3D Thursday: Super Men's barbershop

On March 12, 2014, I learned via Twitter that 504 Gladstone was on fire. I didn't get there until around 10pm, after it had been successfully defeated. The fire damage appeared relatively contained to the end unit, and the street had reopened to traffic. I took a 3D photo, which is actually a bit chilling because you can see right into the damaged unit through the window opening:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

I learned about the fire shortly after a neighbour across the street tweeted a couple photos around 6:30 p.m.:


By the next day, the units on the west end of the row had been boarded up. The fire appeared to have been most severe in the commercial ground-floor unit at the west end, which contained an antique store, and previously a "Teleologist" (which a few years ago sparked a discussion, of which I can't find any record any more):


This wasn't the first close call for this building. In January 2007, a rather nasty (though, I understand, non-fatal) collision at this corner tore a traffic signal pole right off its footing and just missed smashing the windows of the art classes.


At the east end of the row are an art class place and the Super Men's Hair Stylist & Barber Shop. I started going there a few years ago after my previous barber on Bank Street kept jacking his prices up with decreasing customer service. These talented Iraqi men do it for much less, seven days a week (though the price has increased slightly since this photo was taken in November 2011):


Due to the smoke damage, the barbershop decided to move across the street, next to Fil's Furniture. It's a much larger space which will allow one of the barbers to move his art studio into the back:


His website is www.FirebySaba.com; an unfortunate name given the circumstances, but arising from his technique. His thickly-covered canvasses are a "controlled riot of colour" (according to the website description), and I'd say some of them are even astral. The first time I met Sabah, he had been in Canada for just two months and had never experienced a real winter. He's easily one of the most interesting and passionate people I've met.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]