President’s Report Winter 2011
On November 1, the Heron Park Community Association held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Billings Manor Retirement Home. Our hosts graciously provided us with coffee and tea, and TimBits and a vegetable platter were supplied by the Community Association. The evening was enjoyed by all and it was great to meet a number of neighbours whom I haven’t seen for a while.
Our guests were David McGuinty, MP for Ottawa South, and David Chernushenko, Councilor for Capital Ward. David McGuinty spoke at length about recent events in federal politics and issues that concerned him locally. Audience members asked questions and he took the time to respond in detail. David Chernushenko discussed the upcoming 2012 Budget deliberations: the good news is there are no major cuts envisioned, but the bad news is we didn’t get the funding we were hoping for to do a detailed needs assessment for our new community centre project.
Your new Heron Park Community Association executive for the 2011-2012 year consist of: James McLaren, President (which explains why I’m still writing this!); Rodney Ryan, Vice President; Colin MacLean, Treasurer; and Rosella MacNeil, Secretary. Members-at-large are Maritala Robinson, Leo Derome, Adam Dodd, and Jason Garlough. We will continue meeting on the first Tuesday of each month at the Field House (aka the pre-Community Centre). Everyone is always welcome – as I said at the AGM, we discuss issues of importance in the neighbourhood, but with our present group of witty and intelligent participants it’s always a fun evening with friends.
The main focus of the AGM was to discuss our plans for a new Community Centre in Heron Park, as extensively discussed in the last issue of the Herald. Although we do not have funding to do a needs assessment this year, we will continue to move forward on the project. Our next step is to meet with associations in other areas of the city who have successfully obtained funding to build their own community centres and to take a look at those facilities. This is a big goal but we can make it happen if enough people want it. The key is to show the city that we want and need this facility and that it will be a useful and viable addition to the community.
As you may or may not be aware, Midway is now open. We will continue to be watchful to make sure this business does not cause problems for the neighbourhood. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t persuade them not to locate here but there are steps we can take to mitigate any possible negative effects. Particularly if you live on Kaladar or pass by the area frequently, please keep an eye open for problems and be sure to report them to myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to Councilor Chernushenko’s office (email@example.com).
The Bank Street Community Design Plan (CDP) is now more or less complete and will be going before committee and council soon. I think it will be a positive thing for the neighbourhood, especially in that it will rezone the Kaladar light industrial area to “mixed use”. This means there can be residential and retail uses but it’s possible the current industrial uses will continue for a long time. We have worked hard to ensure that no large format “big box” retail will be permitted in the area. This will be a win for us because in the long term it will reduce the amount of truck traffic on Kaladar. While there may be more car traffic, it’s better residential than commercial, and in the long run more residents should mean better bus service. The other big news from the Bank Street CDP is the intent to make a “linear park” along the old railroad right of way running from Bruce Timermans Park to Brookfield Avenue. Certainly for those of us walking from Billings Bridge Mall up Bank Street it would be a more pleasant route. However, considering that much of the railway land is now in private hands, I don’t see this happening any time soon. In any case, residents have made it clear that we expect the ongoing drainage problems behind the Blue Heron Mall to be fixed as part of this development. As for Bank Street itself, the CDP envisages wider sidewalks and limiting the ability to make left turns, but other than that no major changes. Bank Street is and will continue to be a traffic sewer and there’s little we can do to change that. New buildings will have to have their fronts much closer to the street than is presently the case, and that will help to slow traffic because the street will seem more closed in to drivers, but it will be many years before this has a real effect.
Bus service changes for Heron Park have been implemented for some time now and it doesn’t seem to be working out too well. For the north side bus frequency has actually increased, but the buses are often so packed that it’s very difficult to get on and off. Moreover, the number of buses on the street and the noise they generate have been an inconvenience for some residents. Meanwhile, the service on the south side of Heron Road, only once per hour, is so infrequent as to be almost useless. We are exploring options with the help of the councilor’s office to improve this situation, but it will be some months before any changes can be made.