See what matters most to Kitchissippi’s community associations

Not only are our local community associations an effective sounding board for neighbourhood concerns, but they also provide a much-needed bridge between residents and City Hall. So what are Kitchissippi’s community associations’ biggest concerns leading up to the election? Are they the same across the ward, or are there differences? We decided to find out.

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Wellington Village Community Association

“Traffic, pedestrian safety and infill are three main issues residents bring to our attention,” says Wellington Village Community Association (WVCA) president Catherine James-McGuinty.

Last June, WVCA worked with the City’s Safer Roads Ottawa (SRO) initiative and installed “Slow Down For Us” signs encouraging motorists driving around the residential streets to be mindful of child and senior pedestrians. She hopes whoever is elected will help WVCA continue this program.

“This is a walking area,” says James-McGuinty. James-McGuinty also says excessive bus and car traffic running from Tunney’s Pasture via Scott Street into WVCA’s catchment could be addressed through a proper traffic redesign.

“Many residents consider Scott Street dangerous for pedestrians,” says James-McGuinty.

New development is welcome but James-McGuinty says the City should pay more attention to monitoring Community Design Plan (CDP) requirements to ensure originally requested variances match the final product.

“Buildings often end up being put too close beside existing houses. New buildings often have very small or no backyards at all,” says James-McGuinty.

Hampton Iona Community Group

Hampton Iona Community Group (HICG) president Lorne Cutler says communication between the councillor and residents could be improved. For example, residents want to know how the Cash-In-Lieu of parklands funds are spent.

“We would like to see a public consultation process across the ward when deciding priorities for Cash-in-Lieu parklands and Section 37 funds, rather than the ‘squeaky wheel getting the grease’ approach,” says Cutler.

Cutler also says recent developments do not live up to the City’s official plans. For example, neighbours oppose the rezoning of a site at Hilson and Clare. Instead of going forward with existing zoning for six semi-detached homes, developers want to build seven townhouses and two semi-detached houses.

“People are fine with semi-detached homes. We object to rezoning the site for townhouses. We want a councillor that represents the concerns of the public to City Hall,” says Cutler.

 Champlain Park Community Association

“We need a traffic light at the corner of Clearview Avenue and Island Park Drive,” says Champlain Park Community Association (CPCA) co-chair Heather Pearl.

Bluntly put, Pearl calls Island Park a “traffic sewer.” Traffic jams frustrate drivers, which makes it unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children walking to and from St. George’s Elementary School.

“It’s unsafe [at the corner of Clearview and Island Park]. Children and cyclists are having a hard time,” says Pearl.

The CPCA wants developers to be held accountable for creating buildings in a sustainable fashion, and to follow the plans on file at the Committee of Adjustment (COA). But mostly, the CPCA just wants the City of Ottawa to enforce its own bylaws. For example, one bylaw requires developers to install single car driveways for the semis that they build, yet some are not obeying the rules regarding driveway width.

“It should not be the job of communities to try to get the City to enforce its own bylaws, but this is what ends up happening,” says Pearl.

The CPCA attends COA hearings on all infill development applications for their neighbourhood. Pearl says the community association’s role is to negotiate with builders for more compatible development.

“What we find in certain cases we go there to support a developer’s application and they do what they want. There are good developers, but there are some who abuse the privilege of having our support,” says Pearl.

Westboro Beach Community Association

“We hope any new development at 250 Lanark doesn’t end up sticking out like a phallic symbol,” says Westboro Beach Community Association (WCBA) president Mari Wellman.

Wellman says barbed wire fence around the vacant lot makes the former CBC property look like a “jail.” WCBA hopes affordable recreational facilities, such as a swimming pool and exercise area, will be included in any new developments.

“We want the government to sell the property. That’s our concern. We have a vision for the property. We don’t want another high rise like the Metropole,” says Wellman.

Next year, a fieldhouse will be built within WBCA’s catchment. Wellman hopes it will mainly be used to deliver social programs to lower-income residents who cannot afford Dovercourt’s fees, particularly Van Lang tenants.

“Van Lang tenants would really like to have a homework program, English as a Second Language classes, and something for stay-at-home moms and children,” says Wellman.

Hintonburg Community Association

“We need clearer communication between major city projects and the councillor’s office,” says Hamilton Avenue North resident and Hintonburg Community Association (HCA) president Matt Whitehead.

Whitehead says sufficient communication with HCA should be the overarching theme for the next elected councillor. People want to be updated about LRT construction, bus detours and intensification.

“We had a lot of trouble being updated about the LRT file and the bus detour. This led to some frustration. We’d like to see a concrete timeline as to what can be expected for Scott Street,” says Whitehead.

Whether it’s infill, or new developments on Somerset (1050 and 1040), Whitehead says zoning is HCA’s most active issue.

“Most emails I get are about this build or that build. But we want to maintain what people did in the past and ensure 20 years later the community fabric doesn’t change too much and that it’s still a good area to live,” says Whitehead.

Mechanicsville Community Association

Mechanicsville Community Association (MCA) president Blair Simser says he is happy that some of Mechanicsville’s Section 37 money is being used inside the area. For example, Laroche Park was chosen as a location for a Sens RINK (Recreational Investments in Neighbourhood for Kids) in 2015. It will provide a social hub and access to recreational programs for hundreds of children and youth.

“With the rink the park is always going be the focal part of the neighbourhood,” says Simser.

In the last five years, Simser notes that developers have shown immense interest in Mechanicsville and that many neighbours welcome it.

“You can see down the road what a nice little area it will be,” says Simser.

“Representing this area has always been challenging for any councillor. The community is very active. There are a lot of citizens who voice their views,” says Westboro Community Association (WCA) longtime board member Terence Nelligan.

Nelligan says most WCA discussion is about development and traffic control.

“New development and traffic are connected. In Hintonburg, buses go down Scott Street towards here. Development in Quebec means more traffic crossing Island Park Bridge. So proper traffic planning should be engaged across the region,” says Nelligan.

Nelligan notes that older residents are frustrated Ottawa’s 2020 intensification plan hasn’t been followed as well as they would have hoped. For example, it is common to see small homes on large lots torn down and be replaced with two houses on smaller lots.

“I still wonder why there’s a four-storey building on Scott Street across from the Westboro bus station. Across the street there’s a 16-storey building in a residential area. We need better controls on planning,” says Nelligan.

Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association

Development, transportation and traffic are the big issues for the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood Association (CHNA).

President Karen Wright says she is concerned about how City Hall lacks urban voices and how in recent years CHNA residents have been affected by intensification, but she is pleased a Community Design Plan (CDP) was completed for the Preston/Carling area.

“We’re looking for developments that make sense with zoning and guidelines in place,” says Wright, adding the City can still intensify with low-rise buildings.

Wright says she is concerned about pedestrian safety on Scott Street during LRT construction, and worries the area will not be able to withstand the increased load of buses.

“We need to properly spread around the LRT traffic pain. We want to know how our community will be protected from cut-through traffic that endangers the integrity and safety of our neighbourhood. We want to know how they’ll protect our local roads from unacceptable levels of traffic resulting from developments,” says Wright.

Island Park Community Association

“The City seems to have difficulty managing the adverse impacts of growth,” says Island Park Community Association (IPCA) president Daniel Koepke.

Koepke says the growth of Gatineau and the number of drivers crossing Island Park Bridge exacerbates the traffic volume problem in IPCA’s area.

“To be really blunt, the National Capital Region needs a proper master transportation plan to determine how public transit in Gatineau coordinates with Ottawa,” says Koepke. Koepke says reckless drivers across Island Park Bridge cause about 90 collisions annually. Residents feel that is unacceptable.

“The wall of traffic splits the community in two. It’s not uncommon to see people driving 20 to 30 km/h or more over the limit. This has an isolating effect for aged residents who have a hard time crossing the street,” says Koepke.

Koepke says the leisure element could also be improved on Island Park Drive, particularly for cyclists. While the street has bike lanes, many cyclists choose the sidewalks instead.

“I’d like to see some type of physical segregation for cyclists and pedestrians,” says Koepke.

McKellar Park Community Association

Maintaining greenspace, traffic calming, and how the western LRT route has been selected concern McKellar Park Community Association (MPCA) president Seema Lamba.

Lamba says McKellar Park is not a suburb and it works with the greenspace it has. Parks need regular maintenance and improvement. She notes the high number of dead trees that need to be replaced and require care.

Lamba also says that previous traffic calming study recommendations were never implemented, and that the studies should be reviewed and updated.

“I would like for someone who wants to hear from the community, take our input very seriously and respond accordingly,” says Lamba.

Lamba says the MPCA is still monitoring how the western LRT route is unfolding. Whether it ends up being above or below ground, she wants more meaningful public consultation and transparency around the whole decision-making processes.

“We feel the decisions were already made about where it was going,” says Lamba.

What are your biggest issues coming into this election? We’d love to hear from you. Send your feedback to editor@kitchissippi.com or leave it in the comment box below. 

Inform yourself! Other content in the 2014 election series includes:

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