on June 15, 2011 by test_author in Archive_2011, June, Print Articles, Comments Off on June 16, 2011: Protecting Our Byron Tramway Park.

June 16, 2011: Protecting Our Byron Tramway Park.

Protecting Our Byron Tramway Park.
By Peggy Tyson, Kenora St. Resident.
The Byron Tramway Park has  emerged in the news in conjunction  with the debate over vehicle  access to the convent property  which Ashcroft Homes recently  purchased. The long strip  of well-treed land adjacent to  Byron Avenue was originally a  street car route. I have happy  memories of trips for a day of  swimming and picnicking at  Britannia. We boarded the tram  at Clarendon Avenue – my  mother sat civilly at the front  with my baby sister, but my  brother and I ran to the back,  threw open the big windows  and settled down to let the  branches of the elms reach in  and brush our shoulders as we  rattled past meadows to our day  at the beach.
The trams were withdrawn  from service in 1959 and the city  abandoned the street car line.  However, it did not go unused;  Reg Lapierre planted flowers on  it near Granville and the entire  strip was adopted by the community  as a pleasant walkway,  bike path and casual playground.  The result was a well-worn pathway  that meandered amongst the  trees and shrubs, mostly, but not  entirely, towards the north side,  away from Byron.
– – –
In 1973 plans were made to  form a neighbourhood committee  to improve the landscaping  and have the strip zoned as a  park, if possible. We decided to  survey the neighbourhood views  on the matter in the winter  months of 1974. Art Stinson, a  Carleton University professor,  designed the survey; I recall him  being meticulous about ensuring  that the true opinion of each  household was obtained.
Every third household between  Wellington and Richmond  and the Queensway and between  Holland and Island Park Drive  was interviewed. During this period  we were pleased to hear that  the community from Island Park  to Churchill decided to make a  park out of the tramway corridor  in their area. They came to us  seeking advice.
What stood out loud and clear  in the survey results was that  people wanted to continue to use  the tramway as they always had  for walking, biking and casual  recreation. A favourite pastime  was and still is to walk west to  see the sun set. Residents desired  no major changes except  for tree plantings and for the  pathway to be properly cared for.
At a meeting at City Hall,  Art Stinson presented the proposal  for zoning the tramway as  a park. Art pointed out that a  meandering path, besides its  charm, would discourage  speeding cyclists; he also provided  research demonstrating  that a park close to houses requires  little policing.
It was in 1975, I believe,  when the strip from Holland to  Island Park was officially zoned  as a park and the city proceeded  to plant trees and make the pathway.  There were no other major  changes after the park was  formed; all the currently existing  cut-throughs date from before  that time. The same zoning was  instituted on the west side of  Island Park Drive.
The Byron Tramway Park is  used by hundreds of people  every day and continues to be a  great success. Aside from being  a popular walkway, it provides a  green buffer from the increasing  traffic on Byron and the commercial  activities on Richmond/  Wellington. Neighbourhood residents  love and respect this park;  it is very clean and one occasionally  sees walkers picking up garbage  to keep it that way.
Given all this, it was a shock  to learn that the Planning  Department was considering  granting Ashcroft a southern access  to the former convent  through the park to Byron.  Though this plan has been  shelved, another proposal – to  have access to the property via  Shannon Avenue – would be just  as deleterious to the beauty of  the park. Any significant widening  of Shannon would compromise  the usefulness of the park  as a green buffer and would be  completely unacceptable, as it  would result in the cutting of  trees that the community has  nurtured for 35 years. It would  also spew more traffic onto  Byron, a road from which only  last fall the #16 bus was removed  because, according to OC  Transpo, the street cannot handle  the traffic it is getting now!
The Byron Transitway Park is  a jewel with great historic value  in Kitchissippi and must be treasured  as such. Over the years  there have been attempts to  privatize parts of this park  and others throughout Ottawa.  Given the increased need for  parkland in our inner city neighbourhoods  as residential intensification  increases, it is important  that we protect and celebrate our  parks and remember how they  came about.


No Comments

Comments are disabled.