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Equality East Citizens Coalition
1612 Baie Verte Crescent
Orléans ON  KIC 3K2
(613) 837-7950

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Media Centre - News Release

Citizens groups call for compromise on St.-Joseph Revitalization
(Posted April 22, 2003)

Orléans, Ontario – The St. Joseph Boulevard Public Advisory Committee (PAC) may be ready to back down from its long-standing key demand that no revitalization proceed on Orléans’ Main Street until the overhead utility wires are buried if city officials can show a clear commitment to the eventual burial of the wires, says PAC Chair Diane Boucher.

To ensure that all options are given due consideration, the PAC has teamed up with the Equality East Citizen’s Coalition in drafting a series of questions to seek clarification from city staff on timelines, costs and a variety of implementation and technical issues. The questions were submitted to east end councillors Rainer Bloess and Herb Kreling earlier this week, following City Council’s recent decision to defer deliberations on the St. Joseph Blvd Corridor Study and City Staff Recommendations to its May 14 meeting. The deferral was made at the request of east end citizens groups.

“We understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that no short-term, comprehensive solutions exist,” says Boucher. “We want city officials to meet us half-way in finding a reasonable compromise that will clearly demonstrate the City’s commitment to addressing our community’s top concern with St. Joseph: burying the overhead utility wires, with priority given to the crossing wires.”

The PAC and Equality East advocate a compromise where the City would dig the shallow, narrow crosscut trenches and the main conduit run, and put in place the required ductwork before St.-Joseph is repaved later this year. Placing the underground conduits now would allow for the eventual burial of the wires when the utility companies are ready to come to the table.

At issue is whether or not putting in place the ductwork would require the total reconstruction of St. Joseph before the end of the roadway’s natural lifespan, as recently suggested by City of Ottawa staff. Reconstruction of St.-Joseph, currently estimated by city staff to cost $6 million, isn’t anticipated for another 20 to 30 years.

However, a previous study conducted for the City of Gloucester by engineering firm J.L. Richards and Associates estimated the cost of putting in place the ductwork, including the re-instatement of the roadbed, at just over $2.3 million (in 2001 dollars). The discrepancy in the cost estimates to lay the underground ductwork is but one example of the issues for which the citizens groups are seeking clarifications from city staff.

Meanwhile, city staff are recommending Council approve $2.5 million for streetscaping and beautification, without addressing the issue of the ductwork and overhead wires.

“From our perspective, we want to ensure that any investment made in revitalizing Orléans’ Main Street provides value for taxpayers’ money,” says Equality East Chair, J.-F. Claude. “To go ahead with streetscaping and beautification before putting in the underground ductwork is like building a house and doing the landscaping before the foundation has even been poured.”

Boucher and Claude argue that the City’s designation of St. Joseph Blvd. as Orléans’ Main Street in its 20-year Official Plan requires that full revitalization be given top priority if the City is to be true to its 2020 Vision of making Orléans a liveable community and the east end’s Town Centre. Boucher adds that all the PAC is looking for is to put St. Joseph on an even footing with other main streets designated in Ottawa’s Official Plan such as Bank Street, Merivale or Montreal Road.

Boucher and Claude say they appreciate recent efforts made by east end councillors to address the community’s concerns over the St. Joseph Revitalization project, and look forward to working with councillors on finding a middle-ground following staff clarifications on the outstanding issues.

- 30 -

Attach.: Backgrounder on Equality East; List of Questions

Source:

Diane Boucher, Chair, St.-Joseph Public Advisory Committee
(613) 830-9999

J.-F. Claude, Chair, Equality East Citizen’s Coalition
(613) 837-7950 -- http://equalityeast.tripod.com

**************

BACKGROUNDER

Equality East Citizen’s Coalition

Our Vision

Ottawa East in 2020: The Destination of Choice in our Nation’s Capital.

By the year 2020, Ottawa East and its Town Centre, Orléans, are celebrated both at home and abroad as a model, self-sustaining and adaptable community where a wide variety of world-class cultural venues, recreational facilities and economic and social activities make it the destination of choice in our Nation’s Capital for visitors, businesses and residents alike. Renowned for its exemplary balance between environmental, economic and historical concerns, Ottawa East boasts: dynamic clusters of commercial activity and visitor attractions; vibrant, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes; distinctive greenspaces and parklands linked by a network of nature trails; and a “state-of-the-art” multi-modal transportation and transit system. For all its exciting amenities, the real strength of Ottawa East / Orléans lies in its people: a bilingual, multicultural, highly educated and service-oriented workforce welcomes the world to a community we are proud to call home.

 

Our Mission

Equality East is an independent, non-partisan citizen’s coalition dedicated to encouraging public and private investment in the renewal and expansion of the Ottawa East / Orléans community’s cultural, economic, recreational and social infrastructure.

We are building a network of community leaders and concerned residents committed to enhancing the quality of life for all members of our community through concerted action in Ottawa East / Orléans’ civic affairs.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Councillor Herb Kreling (Ward 1 – Orléans)
Councillor Rainer Bloess (Ward 2 – Innes)
Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1P 1J1

Dear Councillors:

Further to City Council’s recent decision to defer, at our request, consideration of the St.-Joseph Boulevard Corridor Study and related City Staff recommendations, please find attached a series of questions and issues to be addressed by City Staff before City Council makes any decision in this regard.

As discussed with Councillor Kreling, given that City Council is expected to consider this matter at its May 14, 2003 meeting, we are requesting a written response to each of the questions raised no later than Friday, May 2, 2003. Once we have duly taken note of the responses provided, we will further request a meeting with you and appropriate senior city managers to seek further clarification on any additional points of contention.

In closing, we thank you for your attention in this matter and look forward to a prompt response and follow-up discussion on this issue.

 

Sincerely,

 

Diane Boucher, Chair
St.-Joseph Public Advisory Committee
(613) 830-9999

J.-F. Claude, Chair
Equality East Citizen’s Coalition
(613) 837-7950

Peter Levesque, Co-Chair
Southeast Innes Community Assoc.
(613) 841-9230

John J. Morgan, President
Queenswood Heights Community Assoc.
(613) 834-5478

 

c.c.: Members of signatory groups; Local east end media & City Hall reporters

attach.: Questions On St.-Joseph Blvd. Revitalization (3 pages)

 

QUESTIONS ON ST.-JOSEPH BLVD. REVITALIZATION

1. What is the exact amount of monies available from the former City of Gloucester for St.-Joseph Blvd.? Are there any restrictions, limitations or conditions - legislative or other - on how or on what these monies are to be spent, and if so, what are they? It is our understanding that the former Gloucester City Council approved $681,000 for consolidation of the overhead wires" and the minor component for cosmetic improvements. This was inherited by the City of Ottawa under Acc'ts # 993110 and 993031. How does the city plan to divert these earmarked monies to ends other than, "consolidation of the overhead wires"?

2. The consultant's report and staff's response take into account a 3.5 km stretch of St. Joseph Blvd. from Place d'Orléans to the Greenbelt. Neither the former City of Gloucester, the J.L. Richards study or the current PAC has ever advocated burying overhead wires past Jeanne d'Arc. With this in mind how much of the $17 million estimate to bury the overhead wires includes the roughly one kilometre section of St. Joseph Blvd. between the Greenbelt and Jeanne d'Arc?

3. With respect to the stretch of the St.-Joseph Blvd Corridor examined in the latest city study: when did the last reconstruction occur and when is it next scheduled for reconstruction? Can you provide us with a summary of work and expenditures undertaken on this stretch of St.-Joseph since the last reconstruction?

4. What is the usual lifespan of a roadway like St.-Joseph Blvd before complete reconstruction is recommended? On what data or criteria is the decision to reconstruct based? How and by whom were these criteria developed? Are there any examples within the City of Ottawa where scheduled road reconstruction was fast-tracked / moved ahead, and if so, what are the details and reasons given?

5. Once a roadway like St.-Joseph is resurfaced, what is the recommended timeframe before crosscuts can be done in order to place underground conduits? What is the maximum recommended number of crosscuts per kilometre before the stability/integrity of the road base is called into question, and how was this number determined?

6. It is our understanding that the ductwork required for the eventual burial of utility wires can be placed at a relatively shallow depth with little or no impact on the stability/integrity of the road base. On what data or criteria have City Staff determined that placing the underground ductwork would necessitate total road reconstruction and what are the cost estimates of $6M based on? Are there any recent examples within the City of Ottawa where underground ductwork was laid across a roadway without reconstruction, and if so, please provide details.

7. If it were to be determined by an independent expert that laying the underground ductwork for utility wires would not necessitate reconstruction of the affected stretch of St.-Joseph, what is City Staff's estimated cost for installing the required ductwork in conjunction with the proposed resurfacing of the roadway later this year? If City Staff's estimated cost is higher than the projections in the J.L. Richards and Associates study commissioned by the former City of Gloucester and Gloucester Hydro in 2000, how does City Staff explain the discrepancy?

8. Please provide an itemized breakdown of expenditures planned with the proposed $500K/year over 5 years for streetscaping. What assurances can City Staff and/or Councillors provide that these monies will be protected during future city budget deliberations?

9. Over and above the $2.5 M recommended by City Staff for streetscape improvements over the next 5 years, what other expenditures are planned for St.-Joseph Blvd. within this time frame as part of regular city road maintenance? Please specify nature of work and funding allocated/recommended for these other expenditures for each of the next 5 years (2003-2007), and indicate from which city accounts (budget "envelopes") this funding is to be allocated.

10. Notwithstanding total road reconstruction, is it more cost-effective to undertake the resurfacing and laying of underground conduits concurrently? If so, can this work be phased-in over a number of years by dividing the 3.5 km(2.5 for conduit) St.-Joseph stretch targeted for revitalization into sections?

11. Page 8 of the City staff report dated, March 10, 2003, refers to a minimum protected right-of-way of 26 metres. There are about 250 metres of boulevard from the church, eastward, that is only 20 metres in width. The roadbed is 13.6M wide and there are two two-metre wide sidewalks planned on either side of the street to provide "consistency and uniformity". This leaves one metre on either side for a "setback, raised planting bed and an allee of trees" in an attempt to hide the poles. The licence bureau(#2854), the building housing Eugene Bellemare's constituency office(#2831), the building at #2790 and the lawyer’s building at #2828 would have to be expropriated. Does staff concur with this premise and if not, how do they plan to meet the consultant's approved recommendations in this sector?

12. The consultant's drawings show that there are conflicts between the power poles and the proposed sidewalks in the two examples portrayed, namely, in the area of Maisonneuve St. (Edgar Brault St. on the consultant's drawings) and in the area of the medical centre and the Caisse Populaire. Using the sidewalk layout proposed by the consultant at least 66 of the 107 poles would conflict with a proposed sidewalk. Were the sidewalk layout to be relocated, a similar number of other poles would be affected. The line-up of the poleline would also suffer, requiring additional guys and anchors. Does staff concur with this premise and if not why not?

13. On page 13, of staff's response to the consultant's report they confirm that the proposed $500,000 outlay per year will include "new pedestrian scale lighting". This would intimate new light standards on both sides of the boulevard. How will these streetlights be powered? Will it be by aerial power loops from light standard to light standard? Will it be by underground power wires as on any other "main street" such as Merivale, Bank and Montreal Road? How will the wiring cross the boulevard to feed the streetlights on the other side? Will there be cuts in the newly laid asphalt? Any "pedestrian scale lighting" means the top of the streetlight standard is insufficient to allow a safe overhead service loop crossing. How does city staff plan to deal with this?

14. In response to a question from a councillor, staff told members of the planning and development committee that the streetscape improvement program would be implemented in a way that would not impede on future conversion of aerial hydro/telecommunication/CATV plant to underground and that the public works would not need to be re-done as a result of the future placement of the underground ductwork. On page 13 (recommendation # 5), city staff definitively confirms that, "It is important to note that these monies would be spent on the assumption that the overhead wires would not be buried in the foreseeable future. If the wires were to be buried, the majority of the work undertaken in the short and medium term would need to be redone at the time of total road reconstruction." One of these two assertions is not factual. Which is it? J.L. Richards also supplied Gloucester Hydro with two sets of plans, detailing the layout of the conduit run, the blvd. crossings, etc.. Did city planning staff use these drawings in their costing estimates and in determining the most cost-effective routing of the sidewalks, etc.?

15. In reference to page 13 (recommendation # 5) "full road reconstruction was recommended to accommodate the approximate 40+ road cuts that would be required, estimated to cost approximately $6 million." We have asked for a formal document that would confirm this $6M cost. We are now requesting a formal city document, detailing the provenance of the $6M, signed by a professional civil engineer in Transportation, Utilities and Public Works, said signature made before March 10, 2003, the date of the report by city planners to the Development committee. Only then will we be able to properly compare the estimate supplied by TUPW and the authoritative field assessment made by J.L. Richards.

16. Hydro Ottawa is a Local Distribution Company (LDC). It may not make, "unnecessary capital expenditures that will adversely affect the entire rate base..." If a conversion to underground will provide 50-60 years of service in a protected and environmentally controlled environment, why would this not be viewed as a net service improvement?

17. Would the removal of some 107 pentachlorophenol (PCP) impregnated poles not be beneficial in removing dioxins and furans from this proposed pedestrian-friendly environment? What is Dr. Cushman's formal position on 24 year old poles that were treated with PCP?

18. On page 12 of the city staff report, under Recommendation # 4, it is stated, ”Some areas along this portion of the street already meet longer term boulevard objectives such as off-set sidewalks, sections of consistent tree planting, and a boulevard that can accommodate more street planting.” Does this mean that the existing sidewalks will be retained in those areas already identified by city Dev. Services staff? If so, please identify the specific portions. We have detected numerous instances in this area where the sidewalk slabs are uneven, have buckled or have cracked, and would wish to have an avant gout of what the city has in store for us.

© J.-F. Claude, 2003