City Scars

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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10 Responses

  1. DRS says:

    Lowertown has to hope for the salvation of other poorer neighbourhoods in other North American cities: gentrification. It will mean the current inhabitants won’t be able to afford to live there anymore but Lowertown will have more clout.Report

    • Jonathan McLeod in reply to DRS says:

      This is, of course, a reasonable fear. Development and prosperity might hurt some people, but it might help some people as well.

      Even if King Edward is ever tamed, I don’t think the gentrification that’s going on in the Market will totally over-run Lowertown. I think it might turn out more like Hintonburg, where there is a lot of development and some gentrification, but still some pockets that have remained fairly unchanged (the streets just south of Scott St. and just west of Bayview, I think it’s Bayview, come to mind). Similarly, much of Little Italy has kept its original character despite a lot of recent development.Report

  2. Christopher Carr says:

    Nice post Jon.

    Is “lowertown” kind of like “unobtainium”? If you’re going to pretend that class disparities don’t affect the political process at least give the disenfranchised neighborhood a name like “importantburg” or “center-of-the-universe-bury”, amirite?Report

    • DRS in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      It’s called Lowertown because in the original settlement of what became the city of Ottawa, the area that is now Parliament Hill was the higher ground with a cliff that had a clear view both up and down the river and thus was taken over for a military fort and other sundry military outbuildings. Lowertown was the area at the foot of the cliff and thus the name.

      It’s still an impressive cliff and the views are still great, with a superb fireworks display every July 1.Report

    • DRS in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      See river photos about mid-way down the page:

    • Thanks, Chris.

      DRS is correct that Lowertown’s name is based on simple geography and not some class system (sort of like how Ontario was Upper Canada and Quebec was Lower Canada). Still, it’s always struck me as sadly ironic that such a poor area had the name Lowertown.

      When Mechanicsville started with the gentrification, you never heard that name anymore. First it was Wellington West (Wellington being the name of a prominent street), and now Hintonburg (which is the historical name of a community, but the name has kind of expanded to cover more communities).Report

    • Christopher Carr in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      I definitely figured it was the case that “lowertown” came from geography. It is strange coincidence though.Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    Bridges have a way of being built, obstreperous administrations notwithstanding. It just takes more time. The NIMBYs can only stay on top of a given issue for so long. Eventually, good sense will triumph.

    I’ve looked at the problem in Google Earth. The most sensible approach would be to route the traffic over to the Vanier Parkway or better yet, to elevate the 5 roadway all the way to the 417, as was done through New Orleans, Louisiana with Interstate 10. If King Edward Street had been properly done, back when they were screwing with Urban Renewal, it would have been elevated right through. The intersection at Rideau is a colossal botch: I’ll bet traffic hangs up there all during daylight hours and is the scene of many accidents.Report

    • I don’t know what the accidents stats are, Blaise, but it is most definitely a mess for traffic.

      You say bridges have a way of being built, but it’s been decades that Ottawa has been trying to get a new bridge built, and this is the closest we’ve gotten. I think all the political will has been used up, and I doubt the Quebec gov’t will want to work with Ontario any time soon, considering that Ontario had worked on and agreed to the plan, then within about a week of the announcement, reneged. All that being said, I hope you’re right.

      IIRC, the issue with the Vanier Parkway was the environmental impact. It was one of the top three (I think) locations considered in the recent study.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        I don’t know how well-connected you are to the Movers and Shakers on this issue, but the example to follow would be New Orleans at Canal and Claiborne. Note how I-10 is elevated over Canal Street and Claiborne serves it as a parallel feeder.

        Were the same approach taken with King Edward Avenue, all the way through to the onramp and interchange at the 417, no bridge need be built. New Orleans managed to preserve Canal Street and Claiborne both. Granted, the traffic thunders overhead on I-10 but there’s business all along Claiborne, the old cemeteries, too.

        The political realities being what they are, KE is already slagged with traffic and nobody seems to care. But elevating the 5 could follow several different routes: coming across Pont Macdonald Cartier, the elevated route could follow Dalhousie through to Nicholas, leaving a KE offramp for local traffic.Report