The Passing of Amy Steele (Kempster)

On the night of January 16, Amy Steele (Kempster) passed away at the Colonel By Retirement Home, where she had been residing since mid-2021. Amy, who lived at 118 Clearview Ave. for many years, had been a stalwart leader, whose goal was to help (frequently nudge in the right direction!) Champlain Park and all of Ottawa to become the best places to make a home. During her long lifetime of community engagement, her volunteer positions included President of the CPCA, Co-president of the FCA, and Co-chair of the Greenspace Alliance. Among her many awards were the Mayor’s Award for Volunteer Service in 1999 and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement award from the FCA. In 2014 the CPCA presented Amy with an Award for her 30 years of volunteer service with our community. The Amy’s corner web page is here: https://champlainpark.org/amys-corner/

Amy has always been an inspiration and a passionate defender of neighbourhoods and the environment.

Amy touched many lives. We will miss her.

[Amy Steel (Kempster) in 2012]

Book Club Inaugural Meeting – September 19

Amy Steele Kempster is setting up a book club. An inaugural meeting is set for Tuesday September 19th at 2pm, to decide on how to run the club and to find out how much interest there is.

They need to decide on things like:

  • When should the meetings be (likely on Tuesdays at 2pm since that’s available) and how often (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly)?
  • What sort of books should they read? Fiction, non-fiction, or specific genres. Or have the members choose books on a rotation basis.
  • Should they take turns reading and discussing a book, particularly if multiple copies aren’t available, or wait for everyone to have read it before discussing?

Please show your interest by coming to the inaugural meeting.

Amy’s Corner Column – NCC Forest, Walking Road Side

Subject: Re: Amy’s corner column
Date: Fri, 1 May 2015 18:50:31 -0400
From: Amy Steele <amykempster@bell.net>

It’s been a long time since I wrote a column. With age one slows down a bit and getting married again also results in a busier life. However since I cannot go on May 7 to the lab re the Parkway I thought I would urge some of you to go and speak up for our “bush”. I understand that Adrian and Dennis have already been speaking to the NCC. It would be ideal if the NCC could preserve the well treed parts but also get rid of some of the invasive species such as buckthorn and I believe they have included that idea in their discussions. Another suggestion is perhaps a community garden in the open parts. Right now the woods are in bloom in some sections – there is a lovely patch of trout lilies near the north end of Patricia and there are also violets in various parts. I suggest we have a local meeting soon so all interested can discuss what we feel should happen to the area before the chance to decide about our own wishes is lost to others’ ideas. Also perhaps we could consider acting as stewards of the area and over time try to improve it by perhaps doing a one day project every year, such as getting rid of one small patch of buckthorn bushes. If any of you have any specific information about areas of the bush such as nesting birds perhaps they could ensure that the NCC and the local community has the information as well.

I have another bee in my bonnet. When I was in school we were taught that in Canada we should walk on the left side of the road. As this quote from a safety site says “Use the sidewalk, or, if there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.” So why do I see the many of the people (from I believe Tunney’s Pasture) who like to walk in our neighbourhood at noon, using the right side? This also occurs in other neighbourhoods since I have noticed it elsewhere even when they have young children with them. As the number of bicycles on the streets has increased they need to watch for them as well as cars. I have seen a mother and a child using the right side on a street where speeding is a problem. I can understand it to some point in our relatively quiet neighbourhood but on busier streets it seems rather foolhardy. Has the practice of teaching children this excellent rule fallen by the wayside? The rationale is evident – you see what is coming. As a visitor to England you quickly learn that the rule must be changed to keep to the right so that you can see the traffic. Perhaps some newcomers to Canada may not yet have managed to change their habits and that is why I am noticing it more than I can remember seeing.

Re-Imagining the John A. Macdonald Parkway

Subject: Fw: [GA List] Re-Imagining the John A. Macdonald Parkway
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 2014 23:45:35 -0400
From: Amy Kempster <amykempster@bell.net>

Thought this study might be of interest to our community. I suggest you post a notice that it is going on and suggest if anyone would like to respond they can contact the persons named in the letter of information


From: Erwin Dreessen
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 11:52 AM
To: Amy Kempster ; […]
Subject: FW: [GA List] Re-Imagining the John A. Macdonald Parkway

Would you prefer to provide a collective answer o.b.o. the Greenspace Alliance, or leave it to our individual initiatives? The original request was to the group. Erwin


From: green-news-request@greenspace-alliance.ca On Behalf Of Erwin Dreessen
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 5:06 PM
To: GA List
Cc: Alia Tulloch
Subject: [GA List] Re-Imagining the John A. Macdonald Parkway

A group of nine students in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University are completing a project course that focuses on re-imagining the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (SJAM) as a linear park along the Ottawa River from LeBreton Flats to Mud Lake.

They would like to ask some questions about the SJAM Parkway, as well as to receive input on things you enjoy or value about the park, any challenges it currently presents, and any changes you’d like to see occur. Attached are:

You can send your answers (the PDF has fillable fields) and the consent form to Alia Tulloch <alia.tulloch@queensu.ca> (copied). Or you can fax the signed consent form to the School of Urban and Regional Planning (attn. Parkway Project Group) at 1-613-533-6905.

The supervisor of this project, by the way, is David Gordon. Some of you may remember him as one of the speakers at the NCC’s Greenbelt Visioning Workshop in November 2009, where he reportedly said that “some” development could be ok, while also advocating extending the GB to areas further out. (Neither of these ideas went anywhere as the Greenbelt Master Plan review proceeded: a very “green” vision of the Greenbelt was maintained but, except for reincorporating Leitrim Wetland, no major extensions were adopted.)

Hope some of you will wish to participate. I can find no deadline but imagine they want your answers pronto.

Erwin

=========================

Have a friend who should subscribe to this List? Have him/her visit

http://www.greenspace-alliance.ca/mailing_list_signup !

=========================

Amy Kempster Receives Award

Following up on the Annual General Meeting, here’s a photo of Amy receiving recognition for her work at the CPCA.

Amy Steele Kempster is awarded a plaque on October 16th 2014 by the Champlain Park Community Association for 30 years as a community volunteer with achievements in negotiations with NCC, as our contact with the Federation of Community Associations, and in keeping us updated on current issues through her column "Amy's Corner" in our neighbourhood newsletter. Way to go, Amy! Presenters are Carol Arnason and Dennis Van Staalduinen.  Photo by John Arnason.
Amy Steele Kempster is awarded a plaque on October 16th 2014 by the Champlain Park Community Association for 30 years as a community volunteer with achievements in negotiations with NCC, as our contact with the Federation of Community Associations, and in keeping us updated on current issues through her column “Amy’s Corner” in our neighbourhood newsletter. Way to go, Amy! Presenters are Carol Arnason and Dennis Van Staalduinen. Photo by John Arnason.

National Capital Commission’s Capital Urban Lands Master Plan and the Sir John A. McDonald Parkway

NCC-CapitalUrbanLandsMasterPlanCoverThe draft version of the first three chapters of this plan plus seven appendices is now available online on the NCC’s (National Capital Commission) web site. Public consultation is planned for early October so watch for NCC ads. The urban lands covered in this plan include green and blue areas (valued ecosystems areas e.g. Mud Lake); Capital parks (e,g, Major’s Hill Park) and shorelines (along the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers and the Rideau Canal plus a few creek areas); Parkway and Pathway networks (e. g. SJAM (Sir John A. McDonald) Parkway); Employment sectors and other Federal facilities (e.g. Tunney’s Pasture); Cultural and Historical Institutions sites and facilities (e.g. Central Experimental Farm) and other NCC lands without an established use related to capital functions. Note that non NCC lands (mostly other federal lands) may be included except in this last category. I have given a few highlights of the plan with more details re Parkways in general. Finally from an Appendix “Summary of Ottawa River Shoreline Initiative” more specific possible plans for SJAM Parkway which may form part of a later sector plan are noted.

The draft vision states: “An aesthetic, viable and dynamic enhancement of the Capital Urban Lands, combining nature and culture, today and tomorrow.” A reference to heritage might be included perhaps by changing the last clause to “yesterday, today and tomorrow”

The Plan will include sub-plans called sector plans – one for the Western area, one for the Rideau Canal area and one for the Eastern area and the already completed Core Area Plan. Also a “Parkway Policy Review” will guide plans for the parkways. The three roles of the urban lands suggested by the draft plan are: “Contact with Natural, Green and Blue spaces”: “Provide pleasant, welcoming and animated places that offer a rich and varied expression and experience”; “Contribute to regional viability through the federal presence and its interaction with the overall context and encourage sustainable and active mobility”. The goals of each role are also of interest.

For the contact with nature role the two goals are: “Protect, restore and maintain valued ecosystems and habitats and reinforce them in view of sustaining biodiversity in the Capital Region” and “Promote contact with green and blue spaces, the natural environment and valued ecosystems for the benefit of all as a priceless resource and a vital space for the future of an increasingly urbanized region”. In connection with these goals shorelines are noted as important and guidelines include “Renaturalize shorelines and wetlands”; “Develop conservation plans and waterfowl and invasive alien species management plans” and “Reduce pollution levels in watercourses”. As well improved access to shorelines is suggested along with more visitor services. In particular for the Parkways Network it is expected that the Policy review will “maintain and enhance their contribution to the green spaces system and encourage contact with nature”

For the pleasant, welcoming and animated places role the goals are: “Embellishment-Promote design excellence and embellishment as a foundation for Capital expression and experience“; “Sense of Place – Protect and enhance the quality of various settings, links, views. Heritage sites natural and cultural landscapes”; and “Welcome – Propose sites and routes in the Capital that enrich, enliven and animate urban living, complement the Capital Core Area and offer the possibility to host a range of activities (from quiet contemplation to festive vibrancy” Among the guidelines for the first goal are: “Develop a view protection policy for valued cultural landscapes…” and “Identify and preserve the visual perspectives to and from both sides of the Ottawa River and integrate the accompanying green spaces as key components of these visual improvements”

In the case of the second goal (Sense of Place) there is an additional specific Parkway network goal as follows: “Maintain, protect and enhance the Capital’s distinctive, beautiful, verdant and picturesque parkway network.” and the following guideline “Provide landscape treatment for subject sites that is consistent with the local parkway character and maintain a landscape framework consistant with the parkway environment (partial vegetation filter or solid screen effect)”

Finally the third goal (Welcome) for this role (Expression and Experience) mentions Discovery Routes which may focus on museums and perhaps other attractions using where appropriate the Parkway network. As well one orientation suggests developing sites according to their potential in keeping with their capacity, character and vocation (Spirit of Place). Notable also is the orientation “Reinforce the role of parkways as ‘places’ and destinations as opposed to throughways.” Guidelines of which the following seem important for the parkway network: “As a priority, consolidate sites that are already developed and accessible by various means of transportation”; “Offer activities which are compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood”; “provide basic services to ‘Capital Discovery Route’ users” and finally “Support the creation of leisure areas, recreation areas, gathering places and picnic areas along the parkways, and provide access to these sites.”

The third role of “Viability and urban integration”’s first goal is given as “Contribute to regional viability through the development and consolidation of federal lands and Capital functions and encourage their integration into the broader urban context.” While the NCC seems to have conceded the planning of campuses such as Tunney’s Pasture to the Department of Public Works it still has approval authority of such plans. For that reason the three orientations re this goal are of interest and speak to distributing such federal facilities throughout the region; improving their interaction with surrounding land uses and promoting environmentally sustainable development. Note as well that one of the guidelines talks about “develop the edges of existing and planned employment campuses to improve the interface with their surroundings…” As well priority is to be given to existing serviced sites in the urban area and for those on or planned along public transit system routes intensification and mixed-use urban development is to be encouraged. For actual NCC lands the orientation is to: “Specify the prescribed uses and management direction for various NCC lands” and the guidelines are “to evaluate the highest and best land uses and management practises that supports the NCC mandate….” and “review existing land uses based on applicable municipal and federal land use plans” In other words what is the market for them if they do not fit the roles identified by this draft plan.

The other goal for this role is “Plan the distribution of federal activities, employment areas and facilities as well as recreation spaces to improve accessibility and promote sustainable and active mobility.” The orientations and guidelines speak of connections and links to enable easy links between modes such as between pathways and transit.

The specific orientation for the Parkway network is “consider the parkways first and foremost as a linear network with a primarily recreational vocation and providing access to Capital sites not as extensions of the municipal and regional road networks”

While this was being written Chapter 4 was posted to the web site. This details what the land uses will be for most of these lands. As one might expect there are some lands designated as special study areas (e.g. Rockcliffe Airbase lands and area near Bayview), some with no designation (not part of the Realm Land) (e.g. portions of the Southern Corridor). However as far as I can gather from the maps all parts of the SJAM Parkway from Britannia to Bayview are either designated as Valued natural Habitat or Capital Urban Greenspace (including I believe Rochester Field although the map detail is hard to read). It seems likely that very few green areas other than the Southern Corridor will be at risk, which is good news, although the loss of the latter is not welcome.

Now for the more interesting part of the Master plan report found in Appendix 6 “Summary of Ottawa River Shorelines Initiative”. The goal of this study was to suggest projects or actions that respect the natural environment and site capacity of the shorelines involved but also improve accessibility and activity along the riverfront. While the study included the Core Area, Voyageurs Corridor, Lac Leamy and the Rockcliffe Parkway I will confine my report to the SJAM Parkway. The following sites were selected: Mud Lake area; parking area near Woodroffe; Westboro beach area; Bate Island, Champlain Bridge area and Remic Rapids area. I will cover the last four.

For Westboro Beach a more official launch area for non-motorized small craft at west end of beach is suggested. Also support of water activities such as regattas, kayak/canoe lessons cross-river excursions to Voyageurs Corridor. Explore potential for a more permanent restaurant and building which might house more washrooms, rentals of boats etc. and possibly a trailhead. Encourage winter recreation: cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and community events and activities.

At Bate Island increased levels of activity are suggested including seasonal presence of educational/environmental programs and activities such as River stewardship; potential for mobile seasonal food concession (portable toilets, bike racks, waste receptacles, seating, picnic tables if not already there) and if needed improved path or road access; also interpretation, public art, community based performing arts, recreational rental. Given the use of the areas by kayakers the suggestion of community and interest group partneships seems a good idea.

At the Champlain bridge parking area the suggestions include: RivBox3 in the parking lot or Building 3 set back from the river. RivBox3 includes seating, picnic tables, portable toilets, waste receptacles, bike racks, improved path or road access (RivBox1) plus interpretation, public art, floral vision element (RivBox2) plus programs, events and commercial elements (to scale) such as mobile food concession, recreational rental, community based performing arts (RivBox3). Building 3 is a permanent structure on a foundation with full services (all season, bathrooms). As well this area should have the existing parking lot and ramp rationalized, encourage fishing from shore, act a tour bus stop, and perhaps be used for commemorations (my suggestion – loggers with pole with log jam; voyageurs). To improve Pathway under the bridge add lighting, possibly public art. Efforts should include highlighting views.

Finally at Remic Rapids there is again a suggestion to expand the range of events and activities with thematic focus, including guides, enactments, information, provincial programs, fishing activities. (Perhaps the use of the river water to cool the air for buildings in Tunney’s Pasture is behind some of these suggestions) The location with an existing parking lot and proximity to Tunney’s Pasture & Transit makes this location more attractive. Again we have a suggestion of RivBox3 or Building3 (possible restaurant or interpretation centre). Bathrooms need improvement; potential commemoration site; public art and performances support creation of destination (existing river artist has already done this to a fair extent). Thus another tour bus stop. Winter recreation might be encouraged by rental of snoeshoes, volunteers setting cross-country trails.

You will notice that in all this there is no mention of Carleton Avenue and its access to the river. Perhaps some of you might like to suggest some improvements there (more seating?) and activities which our community could foster there. Or perhaps we could participate in activities at either the Champlain or Remic Rapids sites. If you have any ideas please plan to participate in the sector plans where these ideas will be discussed further.

Tunney’s Pasture Plans

Monday evening Sept 17 saw the underwhelming revelation of two options for the future of Tunney’s Pasture. This so-called public consultation consisted of display panels with one or two consultants available to explain them. A Show but no tell, with no presentation with an opportunity for comments and questions in an audience situation (where one question or comment can spark another). In addition the public was presumably supposed to choose between the marginally different two options. The web site gives the following as the goals, objectives and principles:

Goals and Objectives of the Master Plan

  • Create a leading-edge employment community
  • Achieve high standards in urban design, planning and sustainable design
  • Be a connected, transit-oriented development
  • Guide long-term investment
  • Complement the NCC and City of Ottawa long-term plans
  • Contribute to the federal image in the National Capital Region

Guiding Principles:

  1. Be a landmark environmentally sustainable employment site.
  2. Be an integrated and valued part of a larger community.
  3. Be an attractive, safe, and complete employment site.
  4. Be a connected and public transit-oriented development.
  5. Provide a diverse mix of uses and arrangement of buildings.
  6. The Master Plan should be flexible in its application to the site.
  7. Maximize federal government values and new opportunities.

These seem not to include the goal of creating a mixed use community and to emphasize the role of Tunney’s Pasture as an employment site.

Both options are discussed below with their minor differences pointed out. Firstly we will give the broad picture of both options. Both option show any housing in the near future placed along the Parkdale face of the Pasture. (Both options have some segments for future development designated as either housing or office). Both options have a hub of service retail placed opposite the transit station. Both options have the same amount and placement of Labs and designation of some existing buildings as heritage (Brooke Claxton; Health Protection, and Statistics Canada Main buildings plus the Central Heating and Cooling Plant). Other than some minor retail the rest of the Pasture would be assigned as Office or Lab, with slightly different amounts and placements of these and greenspace. A path through to our Champlain Park is shown and both options include a thick green buffer on the western border of the site.

This interpretation of mixed use with blocks of office /labs taking up most of the space in the area west of Parkdale frontage and north of the immediate vicinity of the transit area, i.e. with retail and housing mainly on the periphery seems somewhat out of kilter, Why not have made one of the interior streets a residential one mixed with office and retail? Or placed more of the retail along the western half of Tunney’s Pasture Parkway (the boulevard area)? Perhaps even planning a few high rises to take advantage of the river and hills views at the northern end of the Pasture?

To go into the differences between the two options I will cite some numbers first as follows:

Item Option 1 Option 2
Housing: 800 1000
Office total: 726,000 m2 GFA 641,000 m2 GFA
(gross floor area)
Labs total 42,000 m2 GFA 42,000 m2 GFA
Office new: 453,000 m2 GFA 368,000 m2 GFA
Retail total 52,000 m2 GFA 49,000 m2 GFA
Retail Hub 49,000 m2 GFA 38,000 m2 GFA
Future dev. 110,000 m2 GFA 100,000 m2 GFA
Total: 930,000 m2 GFA
800 units
832,000 m2 GFA
1000 units

As the Option with the most housing and I believe greenspace Option 2 seems preferable. However as suggested earlier neither option seems to be truly mixed use and the concept plan lacks imagination and more detailed principles related to ensuring sunshine on the street, avoidance of wind tunnels and other design factor related to encouragement of pedestrian use. A hint of a possible water feature in the boulevard area of Option 2 is one of the few suggestions of a plus factor.

Residents are encouraged to make comments before Oct. 9.

By Post: Tunney’s Pasture Master Plan Project, Real Property Branch, Public Works and Government Services Canada, 191 Promenade du Portage Gatineau, QC, K1A 0S5 Canada or

By Email tunneyspastureplan.planpretunney@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca

Western Parkway and the LRT

LRT

However given the prospect of someone persuading the National Capital Commission (NCC) to let the City of Ottawa put Light Rail Transit (LRT) on the Western Parkway I thought it time to say something.   This is my take on that follows.

Contributor: Amy Kempster:  An Amy’s Corner article – September-2012. 

The Western Parkway and the LRT:  The question is should the desire for fast transit for Kanata trump the idea of using the Transit stations for nodes of intensification.  Any route except Carling is aimed to some extent at fast transit for Kanata.  There are very valid reasons why the emphasis should be on intensification.  While communities are often  not fond of intensification it is necessary if we want to avoid more urban sprawl.  One can argue if the needed intensification can be achieved without skyscrapers or other tall buildings but it is clear that intensification is the best way to accommodate much of the inevitable growth.  This is because the costs of providing services to far-flung suburbs often exceed the increase in taxes stemming from their  construction.  The Western Parkway being to a large extend bounded on its non-river side by low-rise successful communities is obviously not a place where one would wish to intensify (nor is the Byron strip).  The lower cost of the Western Parkway route might be negated in the long run by the costs of the urban sprawl which would result from the lesser intensification possible on that route.  Note that the supply of urban land has been significantly increased by the recent  Ontario Municipal Board (OMB)  and  Council decisions.  We do not need in further increase.

The Region when it set up the satellite communities beyond the Greenbelt (Kanata, Orleans/Stittsville, Barrhaven and Leitrim) intended them to be complete, i.e. to include employment for much of their labour force.  Kanata is the one which has come closest to this intention and there is considerable employment in the Kanata  area.  Thus my suggestion: forget LRT as a really fast system for the west end and  use it instead to ensure good transit for west-end residents inside the Greenbelt to downtown  and for intensification along Carling.  LRT will work well for Orleans and using the O-train for Leitrim and Barrhaven.  So what about Kanata commuters?  For the next several years the plan was to have them change at Tunney’s Pasture from the buses into the LRT.  I see no reason why this service could not continue and the route for the LRT use Carling but on a schedule which builds a portion at a time so that the costs can be managed.

Many people have talked about the current lack of access to the river and the lack of animation along our waterways.  For the canal downtown and the Ottawa from Chaudiere Falls this is probably merited.  In the western portion of the Ottawa I think this is somewhat exaggerated by people who have not walked or biked along the river.  Access is available at Remic Rapids, from Champlain Park, at Island Park Drive, at Westboro Beach and Woodroffe either with lights or under highway passes.  Parking lots exist at Remic Rapids, Champlain Bridge, Westboro Beach and Woodroffe.  It is also possible to cross the parkway by foot at other spots outside the rush hours.  Adding the LRT would make this last type of access almost impossible especially if the LRT was fenced off.  If one lane of the Parkway was used for it this might as well have an effect on the bicycle use of the road.

In connection with animation a seasonal café exists at Westboro Beach.  Possibly a drink stand might be viable at Woodroffe and/or Island Park Drive.  Memories of the restaurant on Bate Island just off Champlain Bridge suggest that it may not be easy to succeed in such locations.  Great changes to the bordering communities might be required to have the population for such animation as I think is daydream.  Such changes would not be welcomed  by the communities involved so I doubt that much animation can be added.

The Western Parkway can provide a soothing drive and I suspect it helps many people de-stress as they wend their way home or to work.  The aesthetic and natural values it provides would be sullied by the LRT, and for no benefit for most inside the Greenbelt residents of western Ottawa.  It also provides a lovely entrance to Ottawa for tourists who come from the south and west, if they find its entrance near Pinecrest.  Visitors I have asked about the addition of rail to it are always surprised that anyone would suggest such a thing.  Therefor I fully support the opposition of the NCC to its use for LRT.