Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Scott Street LRT Working Group Meeting, Dec. 10/19 - a recap

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With Stage 2 LRT construction now in its early days, we have reassembled two working groups to address residents’ issues. Our office has also committed to publishing summaries of each meeting so the wider community is up to speed on the project as it continues.

Throughout the Stage 2 planning period the Workman/Dominion Working Group was very active and had a constructive role to play in planning of the Workman Detour. This group has been rebranded as the Scott Street Working Group for the construction period, covering the area from Tunney’s Pasture to just west of Dominion Station.

This group met last on June 12 at the very beginning of the construction period. The following are the minutes from the most recent meeting, held December 10 in the meeting room at the Taiga building, 2100 Scott Street.

Attendance – Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper, Councillor’s Assistant Tom Pechloff, LRT Stakeholder Relations Damon Berlin, Rail Traffic Management Program Manager Campbell Inwood, Roland Dorsay from the Champlain Park Community Association, Wellington Village Community Association president Kimberley Patriquin, Island Park Towers Residents' Association president Kathryn Holman, Taiga resident Peter Beeftink, Taiga property manager Tanya Spirak, Sylvie Blouin from the Taiga residents’ association, Westboro Beach Community Association president Mari Wellman, Steven Sandford from the Westboro Community Association and Jeannie Dempster from the Taiga Board of Directors.

Tanya Spirak expressed severe concerns about the Scott Street detour which will extend Scott street past Churchill near the Taiga building on its way to the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. She predicted buses would be backed up and also had concerns where ParaTranspo would pick up and drop off its customers. With Taiga being a high needs building she believes the detour will cause accidents and potential deaths due to its proximity to the building.

Damon Berlin said each lane of the extension would be 4m wide and said there would be a concrete barrier separating pedestrians from the transitway.

Spirak asked how many buses would go past her building per hour.

Campbell Inwood said it would be 2000 per day. He said the busiest hour during peak periods (6am to 9am, 3pm to 6pm) would see between 160 and 180 buses per hour.

Spirak remained convinced there would be buses backed up with the current design.

Jeff Leiper talked about his history fighting the first Scott Street bus detour before he became city councillor, and says he has had to admit several times since then that the first detour worked great. Given that experience, he said he is confident the detour will be better than people expect and that we won’t see a long lineup of buses.

Kathryn Holman asked whether there were any loading/unloading issues with the first detour.

Leiper said there was a carpenter based on Scott who had deliveries to his location. Whenever there was loading or unloading going on, the buses went around without incident.

Holman asked whether there would be a divider between the east and west lanes.

Berlin said no, so that the buses can go around. He added that the picture presented here at the meeting is a concept and not a final design.

Spirak asked where pedestrians could safely cross at the corner of Scott and Churchill.

Inwood said there will be a fully-signalized intersection at this location.

Berlin added that it will be the contractor’s responsibility to come up with a safe pedestrian plan and they will do so.

Spirak asked what would happen to the parking spots by the restaurant on the corner.

Berlin said safety would be top priority in all decisions.

Leiper asked how people will walk between the Taiga building and the Churchill/Scott intersection.

Berlin said there will be a pathway on the south side of the Scott Street extension, painted green, through the roundabout in front of the Taiga building.

Leiper asked whether the intersection of Scott and Churchill will get a ‘protected intersection’ treatment which would enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Berlin said yes.

Holman wanted more of a definition of what a protected intersection is.

Inwood said the intersection will have features such as distinct signalized crossings for cyclists and pedestrians, removing them from traffic. At each corner, radii are built no larger than necessary to accommodate vehicles. It gives space to have crossings set back more, providing more space for pedestrians and cyclists and puts stopped biked and pedestrians in front of cars so drivers can always see them.

Jeannie Dempster asked whether the intersection will have traffic lights.

Berlin said yes and that these lights will stay post-detour.

Dempster asked where the bus stops will be as their locations could affect potential backups.

Berlin said this would be a temporary transitway, with no milk runs along the stretch, so the stops would be at Dominion and Westboro Stations.

Inwood added the point of the detour along Scott and the extension to the parkway is to replicate the service we are taking away during the LRT construction. If we don’t replicate the service, he said we would need even more buses.

Dempster said hypothetically speaking it is possible that buses could run reds, speed through, accelerating through peak hours to meet their schedules, adding she was not trying to inflate the negative.

Leiper again mentioned how he lived through it in Stage 1 and was happy with the temporary pedestrian crossing at Merton and how any kind of driver behaviour with potential for negative outcomes was quickly addressed. OC drivers have simulations of what their runs will be like and know what to watch for in advance. While it’s important to raise these concerns now, it is also important to look back at the past detour’s success.

Berlin agreed, adding that is the point of holding meetings like these.

Kimberley Patriquin agreed with Leiper about the success of Stage 1, but added this is a different scenario and said she would be worried if she lived in this building with her kids. She wondered if there were any other pedestrian options.

Leiper said the key right now is to identify the concerns.

Inwood said what is specified in the project is specific to ensuring safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Dempster said it will be necessary to change behaviour. Just because you build a path doesn’t mean people will use it. With the concentration of children, seniors and high-risk tenants we have to take a sober second look at this because of the community.

Inwood said one successful technique is to railings or fencing wherever possible to make the intent of the design clear and making it inconvenient and highly ineffective to do something else.

Berlin noted how there used to be chronic jay-walking over the Albert Street bridge near Bayview Station but that has stopped now that the fencing is in the median.

Spirak suggests to move the meeting outside to visualize her concerns.

Sylvie Blouin asked how come there wasn’t a more updated version of the renderings.

Berlin explained the design/build process and how city staff build 30% of the plan. Then the contractors bid based on that plan. The successful proponent takes it from there.

Inwood reminds all that the detour will not be operational until 2022 so there is time if there needs to be some adjustments along the way.

Dempster asked whether this plan is the only option?

Leiper said this plan was put together after several years of consultation and is the safest option that affects the fewest number of people.

Spirak took issue with that and asked whether the detour just couldn’t run up the parkway.

Leiper said he didn’t want to run through it again as it was a couple years worth of discussions and public open houses. He said he wanted to focus on the concerns expressed at this meeting so staff can take it away and focus on any mitigation.

Inwood again said since the detour will likely not be operation until Q2 2022, construction won’t begin until mid-2021 and we’re not likely to see final designs for a while. We’re expecting the first designs toward the end of 2020.

Dempster said if people would use it properly before the buses, that would be a good test, but Inwood said everything specified in the contract needs to be in place before OC Transpo will allow the transitway to be closed.

Roland Dorsay asked if someone could speak to the relationship between cars and buses from Churchill to Tunney’s Pasture station.

Berlin said he may be able to speak to that by mid-2020.

Dorsay is particularly interested in how they will interact at intersections. He said he expects a bus every 20 seconds during peak and that the local buses will stop.

Berlin said other buses will be able to go around them.

Dorsay asked if there are three buses stopped at Island Park Drive, wouldn’t that be enough to back up traffic?

Inwood said if we simply look at existing traffic and whether that volume would remain, he would look to our experience from stage 1 and say no. We saw a marked decrease in traffic use of the roadway, as cars distributed to other routes. He said people chose different modes, adding that whenever you have a fundamental change in traffic patterns, it is easy to make judgements based on existing traffic, but adjustments naturally occurs when you change a variable.

Dorsay didn’t disagree with that but said his concern is what that adjustment would be, suggesting it would be cut-through traffic on residential streets and is concerned there is no Plan B.

Inwood said of course we can come up with a plan B and Dorsay asked whether staff will do so.

Inwood said that’s what the design process is doing right now and these conversations are happening right now.  There is always a plan B,C,D,E,F etc. Plan B is what I think about when I go home at night and wake up in the morning. We have other plans but don’t want to release them all to indicate lack of faith in Plan A.

Dempster said Westboro right now is experiencing an influx of population, heavily populated with cars and pedestrians, influx of cars and speeds, we need to discuss reducing speeds.

Inwood said more cars will certainly reduce speed, but Dorsay added that congestion builds frustration.

Steven Sandford asked how this will all be coordinated with all the developments along Scott Street.

Leiper said the city can delay these projects.

Mari Wellman asked whether the Multi-Use-Path (MUP) from Roosevelt will be preserved.

Berlin said not only will it be preserved, but it will be enhanced.

Wellman also wondered whether the chainlink fence between Taiga and the restaurant can be replaced by a sound barrier.

Berlin said a sound barrier on north side to mitigate bus noise for Workman is part of the project specifications.

Leiper said residents on Wilmont don’t want to see fences.

Berlin said privacy fences were installed as part of the Stage 1 detour and could be installed here. These are not sound barriers.

Spirak asked who clears the paths and Berlin said this was a city responsibility.

Spirak wondered what will happen to the trees and Berlin said the survey was not yet complete.

Wellman had other questions such as whether there would be bird free glass at the stations, whether there would be wayfaring signs to beach, whether stairs would be more clearly defined. She expressed desire for a 30km/h speed limit, slip-resistant material at stations and less light pollution for beach area. Can the lights be aimed downwards? She had always had concerns about security from Dominion Station to Westboro Beach, the ramp from Westboro Station to Van Lang parking lot, offset doors to prevent windtunnel, and whether the public can we have input in public art?

Berlin noted Wellman’s concerns and said the city’s public art group deals with the art.

Wellman said she hoped the art at Dominion Station would reflect the area’s history.

Patriquin suggested it could be a contest like the Name the Train contest in stage 1.

Holman asked whether pedestrian access would remain over the Transitway bridges (like on Churchill).

Inwood said yes.

Dorsay wondered whether air rights over the stations would be sold.

Leiper said maybe one day, but the focus right now is to build the train.

Wellman said she hoped Workman would not be the drop-off point for the station.

Berlin assured her it wouldn’t be.

Wellman asked about the washroom she saw included for Westboro Station at the Info Session held the night before.

Berlin said unfortunately, that was a typo. There will be no public washroom at Westboro Station.

Patriquin talked about the increased vehicle volume on Huron and Scott around Huron from people picking up and dropping off at Tunney’s. She wondered how that would be handled at Dominion and Westboro.

Berlin said this was one of the lessons learned from Stage 1 and there will be pick-up/drop-off areas at the stations. Inwood added the issues on Huron will lessen when Stage 2 opens and Tunney’s is no longer a terminus station.

Wellman suggested that all schedules and maps be typed with larger fonts and at an eye level that is more acceptable for shorter people.

Leiper mentioned the addition of a 95 stop along Scott through the Stage 1 detour and wondered whether a 75 stop could be added for this detour.

Inwood said the decision to add a 95 in Stage 1 was specific to pedestrian walking distances along that stretch of Scott and the same circumstances don’t exist here.

Leiper said it didn’t interfere with traffic and Inwood agreed, noting there were four lanes of traffic there.

Leiper said he would like a 75 stop in the area.

Inwood said he would take that to OC Transpo for their consideration.

The meeting then ended outside as Spirak led the discussion into her concerns of designing the detour near the Taiga building and parking lot.

Posted January 22, 2020