By Kathleen Wilker
Nearly 100 Hintonburg residents and business owners came together for an early-morning “walk- about” on April 9, to voice their objections to the proposed idea of rerouting Transitway buses onto Scott Street for the next few years.
The gathering was spearheaded by Cheryl Parrott of the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee and the Hilda/ O’Meara/Bayview Neighbours’ Association.
When Parrott heard that Scott Street was under consideration as an alternate route for express Transitway buses for three to five years – while the Transitway is converted into a Light Rapid Transit Tunnel – she felt it was important to spread the news to her neighbours in the area who would be most affected by the decision.
“This would mean up to three buses a minute during peak hours and bus traffic 24 hours a day for the next five years,” says Parrott, who lives close to Bayview and Scott. “The idea of putting all or even a part of the buses onto Scott is ludicrous – some houses on Scott are just a few feet from the sidewalk.”
To address concerns over the potentially increased bus traffic, Parrot extended a public invitation for an early morning neighbourhood walkabout, along with politicians MP Paul Dewar, MPP Yasir Naqvi, Kitchissippi Councillor Christine Leadman and OCDSB Trustee Jennifer McKenzie.
Naqvi, who serves as MPP for Ottawa Centre, says that while he is eager for the Light Rapid Transit plan to be implemented, he does not believe that Scott Street is the best choice for rerouting during construction. “We need to keep Scott Street a residential street,” agrees Naqvi. Other proposed routes include the Queensway, the Ottawa River Parkway and Carling Avenue.
Councillor Christine Leadman is also well aware of the issue and intends to hold a community meeting to make sure evervone is informed.
“At Council in the fall, there was a proposal to reroute Transitway buses from the west onto Scott after the LRT was constructed,” she says. “When I saw how that would negatively impact the neighbourhood, I addressed it.”
Lorrie Marlow, who lives at Parkdale and Scott, is concerned for the safety of children from Mechanicsville who attend Connaught Public School or Fisher Park Public School, and need to cross Scott Street to get to school.
She also doesn’t want to see her neighbourhood stick with noisy, dangerous and unpleasant problem that will be hard for residents to reverse, especially if the new LRT project takes longer than expected.
Other Kitchissippi residents pointed out further problems with rerouting onto Scott Street, including the traffic lights that will slow express buses and the traffic congestion that will impact streets north and south of Scott.
“I’m here to represent the ‘walkers’ who live at the seniors building at 1041 Wellington,” says Joanne Lovett, who enjoys walking along Scott with her friends. “It’s already dangerous to cross Scott Street.”
New to the issue, John Stewart of Spruce Street came out to the meeting to see how the proposal would affect cyclists who use Scott Street as a major route to get downtown.
“If you keep the bike lanes clear, you need less cars and less buses,” says Stewart.
While she was pleased with the turnout on a chilly morning, Parrot says she knows there is work ahead for the neighbourhood.
“When the current Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel Environmental Assessment is released, we won’t have long to respond with our concerns.”
The assessment is expected to be released in May.