Naureen Aqueel

Archive for the ‘Centretown News’ Category

Published in Centretown News, Ottawa, Canada, Nov 9, 2012.

A proposal for the construction of barrier-free routes between two pathways along the Rideau Canal in Centretown has moved a step ahead after the city’s accessibility advisory committee recently endorsed the plan.

The barrier-free ramps have been proposed to provide accessible links between the paths on the west side of the canal near Laurier Avenue and south of the Corktown Bridge to Waverley Street.

Elizabeth Murphy, an engineer with the city’s infrastructure services department, was part of the team that presented the proposal and says the aim was to have a network of pathways on both the east and west sides of the canal with more accessibility.

“We are trying to provide a choice,” she says. “We are trying to make it easy for people with disabilities to move about.”

Currently there are two pathway systems between the canal and Queen Elizabeth Drive. The pathway parallel to the Rideau Canal is a 1.5-metre asphalt pathway that runs from the National Arts Centre to the Queensway. The pathway adjacent to Queen Elizabeth Drive is a four-metre multi-use pathway that extends from the Ottawa River Parkway westward and to Dow’s Lake and Preston Street to the south. The pathways are separated by a vegetated embankment and sets of stairs connect them at different points. But that link only works for those with full mobility.

According to the preliminary design that was presented to the accessibility advisory committee, the barrier-free connection would have a maximum slope of five per cent and would be located near an existing set of stairs to provide clear alternatives. The ramps which Murphy says meet all provincial standards are intended to provide multiple access points between the two pathways.

The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects has carried out an extensive study of the plant material in the location where the ramps are proposed for construction. The design criteria mentioned in the preliminary plan outlines the aim to minimize impact to the adjacent landscape and “to protect the existing high quality mature trees.”

Committee member Helen Lenthall says she was happy to see the plan for the barrier-free ramps. “It has been 15 years trying to put it (in), so it is a long time coming,” Lenthall says. “And they are trying to make all the effort to make it inclusionary, so we are more than pleased in that sense, too.”

But Bob Brown, another member of the committee, was not satisfied with the plan but said it is better than nothing.

“I would have liked to see something at the other side of Corktown bridge, but now you have to travel down 128 metres to be able to come back up, which is a fairly long piece,” Brown says. “It was a really good idea, but I think you need something (else) at the Corktown bridge location as well.”

According to Murphy and her team, the ramps should improve the network of the multi-use pathways on the west side of the canal.

The infrastructure services department is now working on a detailed design to bring back to council for approval.

The city will also have to make an application to the NCC for federal design and land use approval.

Murphy says that if all goes well, the accessibility ramps could be in place next spring.


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