From time to time our community members propose ideas and solutions to problems. Xavier Bradbury-Jost is from Alta Vista and is currently a planning student at the University of Waterloo. He is proposing a pedestrian connection between our neighbourhood and the Billings Bridge Transitway station and Mall. Please give his proposal a look, and we can discuss it at our next community association meeting (whenever we’re allowed to have one). This isn’t a city initiative, just an idea from an engaged neighbour who is learning about city planning.
Proposal – Pedestrian Bridge and Pathway
By Xavier Bradbury-Jost
What is being proposed?
This proposal advocates a pedestrian bridge crossing Sawmill Creek, with pathways connecting Billings Bridge Station directly to Talback Place and Brûlé Avenue via the bridge. This would include an entrance to the bus station’s hallway under the Transitway.
What are the benefits?
A new bridge and pathway connecting Billings Bridge Station to Heron Park North would make over 800 dwelling units accessible to the station by foot within 500 metres or less. This would benefit all transit users of Heron Park North by simplifying access to cross-city rapid transit, while potentially benefiting OC Transpo with increased ridership.
With an existing hallway connecting Billings Bridge Station to the mall next door, this project would give residents of Heron Park North similarly easy access to the various amenities of Billings Bridge Plaza (without needing to park the car).
As well, property owners in Heron Park North are very likely to benefit from this change through increased property values. This is because properties closer to transit stations are higher in demand, and thus have a higher value. According to a report on the LRT’s economic impact prepared for the City of Ottawa, properties up to 1.2 kilometres away from a station can have a raised value. Improved access to the city-wide Transitway should have a similar result, and with a new pedestrian link, this distance radius would include most dwellings in Heron Park North.
A less tangible benefit would be easy access to overhead views of Sawmill Creek. The bridge, along with the existing Jackson’s Trail, would enhance the community’s ability to appreciate the natural features and surroundings of the creek.
What are the challenges?
Since the site in question has a large ravine to cross, it is written in the Bank Street Community Design Plan that it potentially would be a costly project for its magnitude. Another, more technical challenge would be to bypass the rails, which seems to require a tunnel directly under them to join the bus station which is lower in altitude. Just as with the Hospital Link project, this might require a temporary realignment of the rails while this short tunnel is being constructed.
What are potential trade-offs?
The Bank Street Community Design Plan raises concerns over potential environmental disturbance from this project. It didn’t specify whether there could be permanent environmental damage or only disturbance during construction.
Another trade-off might be that the Heron Park North will be open more easily to non-residents, who in this case would come from Billings Bridge Plaza or the neighbouring bus station. Your concerns raised about robberies on the HPCA Facebook page were heard, and if some people entering Heron Park North via a new pathway from Billings Bridge Station are not welcome, then reduced community safety could be an indirect trade-off to building this new pedestrian connection. This might need to be addressed by increased police coverage in the area.
Finally, if this new pedestrian link raises the property values of nearby dwellings, then this also means that the owners might have to pay higher property taxes. Thus, raised taxes would be a shorter-term burden rewarded by an increased resale value of the property in the longer term.
How would the project be funded?
According to City of Ottawa officials, this project can be funded as part of LRT Stage 2, since it is transit-related.
Have similar projects been undertaken elsewhere in Ottawa?
Absolutely. Below is a list of pedestrian access infrastructure built throughout the city:
- Brookfield Pathway – Brookfield Road to Brookfield Road East: Gives residents of Heron Park South nearby access to Brookfield High School, government office buildings in Confederation Heights and Mooney’s Bay Station, with an added section that allows residents to avoid crossing the train tracks.
- Corktown Footbridge (and tunnel under Nicholas Street) – Somerset Street West to uOttawa Station: Gives residents of the Golden Triangle easy and direct pedestrian and bicycle access to the O-Train (LRT) and the University of Ottawa.
- Flora Footbridge – Clegg Street to Fifth Avenue: Gives residents of Old Ottawa East direct pedestrian and bicycle access to the various amenities of Lansdowne, as well as residents of the Glebe nearby access to St. Paul’s University.
- Juno Beach Memorial Bridge (Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge) – Cahill Drive West to Sawmill Creek Pathway: Gives residents of the Hunt Club community pedestrian and bicycle access to South Keys Station and Shopping Centre.
- Max Keeping Bridge – Coventry Road to Tremblay Road: Gives easy and direct access from Tremblay Station and the Ottawa Train Station to the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre and the RCGT Park baseball stadium.
- Pathway tunnel under Queensway at St-Laurent – Tremblay Road to St-Laurent Station: Gives residents of Eastway Gardens, known locally as Alphabetville, easy and direct access to St-Laurent Station and Shopping Centre.
- Sheltered bridge over Queensway at Blair – Blair Station to Telesat Court: Gives easy and direct pedestrian access from Blair Station to government and other institutional buildings to the South, also giving workers in those buildings easy access to Gloucester Shopping Centre.
So if we’re in favour of this project, what can we do from here?
The Heron Park Community Association (HPCA) has the power to gather residents, generate discussion about community issues and create momentum on various matters. If you support this proposal, and if most residents of the community are in favour of it, you can help the HPCA lobby the City of Ottawa to put it into further consideration and bring it closer to reality. Above all, the City appears to seek active community interest and engagement when evaluating small-scale project proposals like this one.
Who is proposing this, and why?
My name is Xavier Bradbury-Jost, and I am an undergraduate student in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Waterloo. I have been passionate about community improvement, urban development and all aspects of city planning since middle school. I grew up in Ottawa, in the nearby neighbourhood of Alta Vista, and I want to do my part in advancing projects that I believe can improve the quality of life of residents, and the vibrance of the city. I believe that this specific project would improve the quality of life of all residents in Heron Park North by improving walkability and allowing residents to run small errands, like picking up prescriptions or small groceries, by foot rather than by bus or by car. I acknowledge that large errands such as weekly groceries require a car to carry several full bags. As mentioned above, this project would also improve residents’ access to rapid transit at Billings Bridge Station by removing the need to either wait for a local bus or walk around the ravine towards the station.
As residents of this community, it is up to you to deem this proposal worthy or not of advancing.
A map of public entrances to Billings Bridge Plaza (not including the entrance from the staff parking lot to the South).
A map illustrating a comparison between the current walking route to Billings Bridge Station (notwithstanding local bus routes 46, 140 and 141 along Cl) to a new route via the proposed pedestrian bridge. The current walking route is about 800 metres long, or a 10-minute walk.