Light Rail Transit (LRT) Update

On May 4th, the final piece of LRT “track” was laid near the UOttawa station.  In reality, the final piece of track was a strong clip that holds the rail to the concrete. I was lucky enough to be able to take a test ride on the LRT after witnessing the completion of the track.  After several years of construction impacts, it’s wonderful to have the end of construction in sight, and to see the trains in action.

Our LRT trains are very similar to the Canada Line in Vancouver. They are open concept with seats facing each direction. It feels a lot more spacious than the bus and it travels very smoothly.  Typical speeds will be around 60 km; however, the trains have been tested to go over 80 km/ hour. Overall, my ride was an exhilarating experience.  During the test run it was thrilling to see how fast the train was going; we were easily surpassing the speed of vehicles along the Nicholas off ramp. One of the most interesting features of converting our Bus Rapid Transit areas to rail is that there are no cross streets – this ensures the travel timing.  The structures at the platforms are generally all built, and the construction team is moving towards the final look and feel.

Fun fact: you will be able to use your cell phone while in the LRT tunnels. The advance stages of construction work continue with elevators and escalators, PA speakers, passenger signage, ticket machines and security cameras all being installed. 

We are anticipating some exciting infrastructure opportunities stemming from LRT investments. For instance, we will be connecting Laurier Ave East and Hurdman Station via a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. 

See you on the rails!

Thank you Gee-Gees

Twice a year, with the help of the University of Ottawa’s Sports Services Department, we send 20 low-income kids from our community to participate in a week-long camp free of charge. 

The Summer Gee-Gees Camp provides kids with an opportunity to gain basic athletic/artistic skills and use university level facilities as part of the experience. There is increasing evidence that allowing kids to participate in organized sports leads, not only to better physical health, but better mental health, improved concentration and grades.

We’d like to thank the University of Ottawa for their outstanding generosity in giving kids from our community the chance to participate in these camps.

To learn more about the camps offered by the Gee-Gees, visit: www.geegees.ca/en/rec/camps.

Vittoria Trattoria – A Taste of Italy

Vittoria Trattoria opened in the heart of the ByWard Market in March of 1996 and has been a main stay in our community ever since. Having spent 22 years in the second biggest tourist attraction in our capital city, this restaurant has become a draw for tourists and locals alike.

Offering a traditional Italian experience with rustic stone walls, a wood-burning pizza oven, white linens and recipes that have been passed down as a family tradition. When the brothers decided to embark on this business adventure it really became a family affair. So much so that from the age of 80 to 90 years old, Nonna Santaguida, came out of retirement to ensure that the kitchen operations were well organized and the recipes were authentic. 

After opening their first restaurant, Vittoria Veal and Delicatessen in the Glebe, Domenico and Cesare chose to invest in the ByWard Market because they recognized the growth potential there. The draw of a location at 35 William Street, in the heart of the city wasthe catalyst and so they remain located right across from the iconic Market building. Cesare and Domenico Santaguida have a passion for business, family and community. With four of their children currently working in the restaurant – family is and will remain the heart of the business.

Youth Futures

Over the past few years I had the pleasure to work with a great group called Youth Futures. Just a few weeks ago they organized a BBQ in partnership with Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) to celebrate the accomplishments of 150 youths from Ottawa, many from our community.

Youth Futures is a 7-month program that provides skills, information, support and practical experience to succeed in college, university and the work force. For ten years, Youth Futures has been helping youth whose parents did not have the chance to go to post-secondary education. The programs connects with youth mentors, helps them feel comfortable with the university campuses and programs and helps them plan for their future. This year over 150 grades 11 and 12 students from our community participated. To find out more visit www.youth-futures.com.

Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

At long last, Ottawa has a beautiful new art gallery to support and promote our local artists. The OAG is located at 50 Mackenzie King Bridge.The new OAG is part of a $100 million mixed-use development project that includes new facilities for local artists, a large room for public functions, classroom space, as well as a hotel, condominium tower and coffee shop. The space is very impressive, and the Firestone Collection is a must see.

The most exciting part of the new OAG is that admission to the gallery’s exhibits is free! This state-of-the-art facility will surely animate Ottawa’s downtown. For more details on the art exhibits, please visit www.ottawaartgallery.ca.

McArthur Avenue Reconfiguration

For years we have been hearing about vehicle speed and safety issues along McArthur Avenue. As many of you know, two schools (Robert E. Wilson and Horizon Jeunesse) and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa all have main entrances along McArthur Avenue which brought some urgency to the review. This summer the construction phase of the McArthur complete street is finally going forward.

Three years ago, we started the process to reduce the speed of vehicles using this corridor by defining the school zones with signage, paint and speed boards and then supporting local businesses by removing the outdated on-street parking restrictions.

This summer, segregated bike lanes will be added from North River Road to St-Laurent and the road will go down from four travel lanes to two with the exception of a third lane for left turning movements at key intersections. 

Based on public consultations that began last spring, the plans were updated to include more physical separation between the bike lanes and vehicle lanes (i.e pincurbs). We are also adding 14 planters to the corridor as a way to define the parking areas while adding some much needed greenery to the main street.

The goal of this project is to address speeding concerns and increase comfort and safety of all road users. Slower speeds will make a friendlier main street for everyone. Please visit www.ottawa.ca/mcarthuravenue for more information.