Tuesday, November 29, 2011

City envisions Ottawa as major metropolis

On Sunday I went to Almonte to play some street hockey for the first time in years and to watch the Grey Cup game. I have to say I love the small town, community feel of that area; it's a good escape from the city.

In watching the Grey Cup and seeing shots of the Vancouver skyline I asked my friends from Saskatchewan whether they would ever live in that city. They responded it was too big and that Ottawa was just the right size for them. Being from Toronto I didn't really understand because I'm used to and love big cities.

The conversation eventually switched to life in the country. My friend's father told us stories of walking down the street and being yards away from a group of deer, elk, and some other animal with antlers. If I were that close to them I would've wet my pants. I could never imagine being so comfortable.

When I left Almonte just after halftime I was told to watch out for deer and wild turkey on the roads. What?! One of my phobias is critters on the roads. I drove at 40km per hour until I left Almonte and was leaning forward in my seat, hugging the wheel. It was then that I realized that the same discomfort I have with being in the country is the same discomfort that some people have with being in big cities. Rural folks are used to deer and wild turkey like I'm used to tall buildings and suspect behaviour.

Looking at the Vancouver skyline on the TV that night, dense buildings shining and glimmering in the night, I couldn't help but want more for Ottawa as an urban centre. I asked myself, "Why can't Ottawa be a dense metropolis? Or does it even need to be one? Perhaps I'm wrong for wanting Ottawa to be something it's not?"

Today I got some answers looking over the staff report for the proposed development at 335 Roosevelt Avenue in Westboro. This project was recommended for approval by City staff along with Lamb Development's SoBa project.

In the report they were talking about Section 2.5.1 which outlines "six design objectives relating to how built environment should be addressed as the City matures and evolves."

Buildings in Ottawa must "Support the overall image of Ottawa as the Nation’s capital", "Recognize and reflect on the history of the city or community", and "Promote quality consistent with a major metropolis, and a prime business and tourist destination."

The report goes on to say:

"The proposed development will meet these design policies by incorporating a quality of architecture that will enhance and improve upon the image of the City as well as promote Ottawa as a major metropolis."

Move over Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver! Right there in plain English a City report envisioning Ottawa as a major metropolis (It's a vision. Whether it will be executed is yet to be seen). This isn't a vision that we hear about often, if ever, and I think we need to.

Personally, this is music to my ears. It means when I want to get away from the city I can find refuge in rural places like Almonte, and this metropolis-in-waiting can be my refuge to get away from the deer and wild turkey. In the Capital Region we get the best of both worlds!

Kevin Bourne

No comments:

Post a Comment