Media Centre - News Release
Citizens groups call for compromise on St.-Joseph
(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
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
- 30 -
Attach.: Backgrounder on Equality East; List of Questions
Diane Boucher, Chair, St.-Joseph Public
J.-F. Claude, Chair, Equality East
(613) 837-7950 --
Equality East Citizen’s Coalition
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.
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
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.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Councillor Herb Kreling (Ward 1 –
Councillor Rainer Bloess (Ward 2 – Innes)
Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON K1P 1J1
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.
Diane Boucher, Chair
St.-Joseph Public Advisory Committee
J.-F. Claude, Chair
Equality East Citizen’s Coalition
Peter Levesque, Co-Chair
Southeast Innes Community Assoc.
John J. Morgan, President
Queenswood Heights Community Assoc.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.