Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Update: next steps on Pontiac closure

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Over the past couple of months, we’ve heard a lot of feedback on whether to press ahead with a proposal I originally heard from community members to close a portion of Pontiac in order to join Champlain Park with the NCC property to the north. That idea captured my and others' imagination, and we've had a rich consultation on it.

As we go into the Champlain Park Community Association annual general meeting next week, I’m preparing to let folks know I’ve decided to proceed with next steps toward achieving that. There’s no guarantee we can accomplish it, but I’ve had enough discussions with the City to be confident that the plan is achievable.

Clearly, it would have pros and cons. Our consultation has raised a number of separate but notionally-related issues on which we’ll also have to work. But, I’ve heard the overwhelming support, counted the traffic, listened to the concerns, and am feeling very comfortable that this step would be to the overall benefit of the quality of life year-round in Champlain Park.

Below, I’ve attached a document very helpfully collated by Fiona in my office summarizing the comments and quantifying the support for and against the proposal. There is no question in my mind that a big majority of residents consider that closing Pontiac will:

  • add new greenspace in our ward (something that’s in short supply)
  • make the park more useful for year-round activities, expanding its potential uses
  • make the area safer for cycling, walking and playing for residents of all ages
  • address a gravel eyesore in a beautiful neighbourhood

Many interested in following the progress of this proposal may recall the traffic counts I did this fall (posted here). As I’ve talked more about those with residents, and heard feedback on that post, I’ve become quite comfortable that they weren’t anomalous. For a short period each peak, a few cars will have to find a new route, but I cannot imagine a scenario in which that would have any meaningful impact on neighbourhood quality of life. I’ve also spoken with the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, responsible for school buses, and they have expressed no objection. Clearly, if this is to proceed, we will also have to ensure the maintenance of cycling access through this corridor.

I have heard questions I can’t answer today. There is a strong desire by the community to know what the timeframes would be for blocking access, de-paving, removing the NCC fence and more. I will be meeting with staff soon to discuss the precise mechanism we’ll need to use – which will drive some of the timeframes if this is to proceed.

I have also heard concerns about the expense, particularly the potential use of tax dollars to pay for this. This is a good opportunity to clarify that no one is proposing to use tax dollars to accomplish any of this. The money for a simple de-paving and restoration would come from our ward parks fund. And, I’ve been in discussion with an NGO that specializes in this kind of work; there are grants available to communities.

As noted above, this consultation has raised several issues that clearly need to be addressed related to Tunney’s Pasture parking. I’ve given it a lot of thought and am finally comfortable bifurcating this discussion into two distinct courses of action. The first is to see if we can close the road and expand our park. The second will be to solicit your ideas for how to deal with Tunney’s parking, including how we might adjust parking limits, re-focus enforcement or find other creative tools to address the cars coming into our community to escape the cost of parking.

I’ll put out a separate call within a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, if you’d like to make your suggestions for addressing Tunney's parking, please send them to me at

I want to thank some very creative residents in Champlain Park for the initial idea, and the CPCA for their support in pursuing this consultation. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the CPCA AGM where I can do my best to answer your questions in advance of meeting with the City. As always, I’m available by email or at a pop-up if you want to discuss anything that’s on your mind.

Posted November 19, 2016