Ottawa Citizen

Residents upset over bid to swap parking for bike lanes


The potential removal of nearly 100 on-street parking spots so a councillor can blaze a trail for safe cycling in the city has some Wellington West residents asking for help from the mayor and demanding more consultati­on.

The drama centres on a 600-metre stretch of Spencer Street, between Western and Holland avenues. The residentia­l street is one block north of the Wellington Street West commercial strip.

The city has upgraded the undergroun­d pipes and sewers and it’s time to finish the road reconstruc­tion and landscapin­g.

Spencer Street is suggested as connector route for cyclists in the official Ottawa-Gatineau cycling map. Kitchissip­pi Coun. Jeff Leiper is promoting a new road design that would paint bike lanes on both sides of the street, resulting in the loss of 97 on-street parking spaces.

Incensed residents and business owners have been signing petitions and writing to Mayor Jim Watson, demanding the retention of on-street parking.

“I was shocked,” Ron Elliott said. “The street had just been narrowed in order to expand the width of the sidewalk. I thought, what the hell kind of sense does this make?”

Elliott, whose house is at the corner of Spencer Street and Ross Avenue, said homeowners caught wind of the plan last year and those who oppose the design are pushing Leiper to change it.

“I think the guy works really hard for the community, but I don’t like the fact that he’s pushing his vision for what he thinks is best for the neighbourh­ood,” said Connor Grimes, whose lives across from Elliott. “It should be for the businesses and the community to decide.”

According to Leiper, city staff aren’t opposed to the bike lanes, so it’s pretty much up to him to provide a final direction before the road work begins.

Leiper said cycling on Spencer Street is a good way to avoid Wellington Street and a more efficient route than pedalling to the bike path on Scott Street. The city should be making it easier for people to cycle in neighbourh­oods and make the streets safer for everyone, Leiper said.

But Elliott and Grimes, who both bike, don’t believe there’s a danger for cyclists on Spencer Street. Homeowners like the on-street parking for visitors and service providers, they said.

Parking controvers­ies tend to consume the Wellington West community. The city had to remove a bike corral from Wellington Street in 2014 after receiving complaints about the structure taking up parking for cars.

Earlier this year, a city study suggested paid parking is warranted on Wellington Street and Richmond Road to encourage vehicle turnover. There was pushback from the BIAs and community associatio­ns, so the city stuck with the status quo.

The analysis by the city shows mostly low demand for parking on Spencer Street during peak times, but on-street parking demand on Wellington Street West west of Parkdale Avenue is among the highest in Ottawa.

The Wellington West BIA doesn’t have a position on the potential loss of parking on Spencer Street, especially since the street is in the residentia­l area on the BIA boundary.

“The heart of this issue is around consultati­on,” BIA executive director Zachary Dayler said.

Some individual businesses owners are annoyed, though.

Linda Greenberg of Capital City Luggage said losing parking is a “big concern” for merchants, since ultimately there will be less parking for customers.

But cycling advocates think it’s an opportunit­y for the city to make a statement on cycling. Gareth Davies of Citizens for Safe Cycling said Wellington Street isn’t a safe route for cyclists, which makes Spencer Street a good alternativ­e.

Leiper said he’ll be listening to both sides during an open house Tuesday at the Ottawa Mosque’s Hall of Peace at 241 Northweste­rn Ave. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 ?? ERROL McGIHON ?? Resident Ron Elliott is concerned about a proposal to eliminate 97 street parking spots along Spencer Street and put in painted bike lanes. “What the hell kind of sense does this make?” Elliott says.
ERROL McGIHON Resident Ron Elliott is concerned about a proposal to eliminate 97 street parking spots along Spencer Street and put in painted bike lanes. “What the hell kind of sense does this make?” Elliott says.

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