on May 25, 2017 by test_editor in Archive_2017, May, Print Articles, Comments Off on May 25, 2017: A Safe Street for Ellie; Involved citizens and an engaged Councillor get results.

May 25, 2017: A Safe Street for Ellie; Involved citizens and an engaged Councillor get results.

May 25, 2017: A Safe Street for Ellie;
Involved citizens and an engaged Councillor get results.

By Kathy Kennedy.

As Bayswater Avenue residents continue to work to slow down traffic on their street, their inspiration for a safer and calmer neighbourhood is Ellie Paciga, perhaps the street’s youngest, and certainly one of its cutest, residents.

Their latest initiative involves alternating the street’s parking from block to block. Sometimes called staggered parking, this strategy prevents streets from looking like an unimpeded straightaway, encouraging some drivers to speed. Relatively long and straight, Bayswater Avenue is a perfect candidate for staggered parking. The effectiveness of this strategy is expected to improve with the anticipated increase in demand for parking when the Civic Hospital moves to the Sir John Carling site.

Securing alternate side parking requires “vision and persistence”, according to George Laing. Laing created the parking plan for Bayswater, which City of Ottawa officials endorsed. To stagger the parking, the City requires 66% resident approval. On the block between Hickory and Beech Streets, where the parking will change from the east to the west side, over 80% of residents signed the petition. Eileen Scully says that her door-to-door experience was “overwhelmingly positive. Residents are feeling empowered. They realize that they have an important role in safeguarding and improving their street’s well-being.”

Bayswater residents have been working for years to prevent their street from traffic overload, starting in 2013 when the City of Ottawa floated the idea of re-designating Bayswater South from a residential street to a collector. Residents knew that this move would threaten their street’s livability, so they mounted a successful opposition campaign.  Ed Religa recalls working with neighbours to install hundreds of “Community not Collector” lawn signs overnight. He remembers the night as “a lot of fun and the beginning of our sense of Bayswater as a community.” Rhonda Birenbaum added: “We not only work together, but we also play together. We close our street regularly for social events which are fun for all, but especially fun for children.”

Residents of Bayswater Avenue have worked together to prevent a road through Queen Juliana Park with the potential to divert additional traffic on their street. Their street now has speed humps, which have helped calm traffic tremendously. Residents also recently lobbied to prevent hundreds of buses from being diverted down their street for over a year while the O-train is closed for construction. Laing underscored another important ingredient to Bayswater’s success: support from Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper. As Laing says, “Jeff has been very supportive in helping improve the safety of our street and other streets in Kitchissippi.”

For Rosalind Paciga, Ellie’s mom, “slower traffic means that Ellie and her 4-year old brother, Nathan, can grow up, learn to walk and bike on a safer residential street.” She adds: “We’re improving the livability of our street for the many children who currently live on the street. But we also maintain a focus on the future as we think about the generations of children who will live on this lovely downtown avenue in the years to come.”

4 adults and a baby on a sidewalk of a tree-lined residential street, car approaching

The Safer Community.

Photo Caption: Bayswater petitioners (Left to Right); Ed Religa, Eileen Scully, Rosalind Paciga (holding Ellie in the photo), George Laing and Rhonda Birenbaum. Photo by Kathy Kennedy.

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