High Level Vision or Whitewashing?

Those many dozens of us who attended a June 2013 visioning exercise for Douglas Fluhrer Park were repeatedly told that we were not allowed to talk about the Wellington Street Extension. Those were the orders from City Council to the consultants. Besides pushing back against this prohibition, the main things we said we valued about the part were 1) quiet; 2) wildlife; 3) only North End waterfront park; and 4) waterfront. The consultants’ report, titled the High Level Vision report, produced in May 2014, visualizes this in a word cloud:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.24.00 PM

And here are the things people said they most liked to do in the park, also from the report:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 11.28.39 PMThe October 2013 public meeting manifested more public dissatisfaction with the ban on discussion of the WSE: despite the moderators’ efforts, the report admits, “much of the discussion focussed on the potential for the proposed Wellington Street Extension.”

Ultimately, the consultants produced this vision for the park, trying to fuse community ideas and council orders:A9RGojp5r

Looks kind of pretty, doesn’t it? It is what mayoral candidate Bryan Paterson is referring to when he talks about “a great linear park that would just be spectacular.” But the drawing shows a road much narrower than the whole right of way of 26 metres; it says it would peacefully “pass along the western edge of the park.” The report is based on the premise of a two-lane road at 3.5 metres per lane, with bike lanes on each side at 1.5 m, and a sidewalk on the west side at 1.5 m, for a total of 11.5 m in width.

Who is going to decide whether this road is “the major transportation corridor into the downtown” (again in Bryan Paterson’s words), in which case it would have to be wider (in the 2006 ESR it is proposed to have a speed limit of 50 km/h), or the more modest local road the park planners imagined (which would surely have to have a speed limit of 40 km/h like Rideau Street)? What will be the decision-making process going forward? Mayoral candidate Dorothy Hector told me last night that she is committed to a more open planning process, but we certainly have not seen that so far. How will we get there? If we don’t have credible assurances of a broad, imaginative, and evidence-based process, we will just have to keep saying no to the whole idea.

— Laura Murray


One thought on “High Level Vision or Whitewashing?

  1. More than whitewashing, camouflaging comes to mind – and very expensive camouflage at that! I wonder if we know the cost of those two word clouds and the subsequent pretty picture. I was present at both 2013 meetings and recall the resentment felt by all and expressed by many when told we could not discuss the proposed extension.

    Meanwhile, those three remarks made by Mayoral candidate Paterson:-

    “Great linear park that would be just spectacular”….! A thin rasher of green beside the water, at best.

    “Peacefully pass along the west side of the park” If the projected 800 vehicles per hour in each direction at peak occurred, there would be no peaceful passing whatsoever.

    “Major transportation corridor into downtown” Not at that width it won’t be! And, if the 800 per hour into town actually happened, where would Bryan Paterson put them all?

    Finally, the conflict between the width shown on the plan – just under 12 metres – and the width of the allowance – 26 metres. By my basic math this leaves a 14 metre-wide strip of non-park. So, if this plan were approved, the strip of non-park would be there like the Sword of Damocles, waiting for the day the City decided it COULD use it after all…..and widen the road.


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