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Proposal to limit access to Byron Avenue at Woodroffe Avenue gets mixed reviews

Limiting access to Byron is just one of the options the city is reviewing.

A map shows the study area for the complete street plan for Richmond Road. Study area 1 will be completed as part of the Stage 2 LRT project.

Courtesy City of Ottawa

A map shows the study area for the complete street plan for Richmond Road. Study area 1 will be completed as part of the Stage 2 LRT project.

A proposal to limit access to Byron Avenue at Woodroffe Avenue is getting mixed reviews after it was floated at a recent public meeting.

The Nov. 15 meeting was about the plan for the "complete street" for Richmond Road between the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Berkley Avenue, and the plans for the Byron Linear Park between Cleary and McEwen, where the LRT will run underground. Complete streets accommodate the needs of all street users and include elements like wider sidewalks, crosswalks, pathways and cycling facilities.

Limiting access to Byron is just one of the options the city is reviewing, according to Chris Swail, who heads the Stage 2 LRT project. The city has also looked at creating a protected intersection or a roundabout – that option was deemed not operationally or geometrically possible.

“The city will continue to engage with the public to finalize plans for the Byron Linear Park renewal and the Richmond Road complete street projects as they advance,” Swail said in an email.

About 200 people attended the meeting at the Ukranian Orthodox Church on Byron Avenue. And while the president of the McKellar Park Community Association is applauding the city’s efforts to meet with the community and consult, Sybil Powell said in an emailed statement they have concerns.

“(We) want to make sure there is an opportunity to think through the traffic implications of any road closures and how we can make sure pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can navigate the Richmond-Byron corridor safely.”

That should take into account the many seniors and young families in the neighbourhood, she said.

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said the Woodroffe Avenue and Richmond Road area, including limiting access to Byron Avenue, is one of the most contentious aspects of the complete street project and the linear park renewal.

“Nothing was solved, but we heard a lot of opinions about the advisability of that and the city is taking that away to work with,” he said. “There’s nothing there set in stone and I think the pros and cons (city staff) heard is helpful.”

Leiper said the proposal could help make the intersection safer, while reducing the number of traffic lanes at the intersection.

Bay Coun. Mark Taylor, who is the area councillor for the project, echoed some of Leiper’s comments.

Taylor said one of the largest concerns is connectivity, not only for pedestrians to get to local shops, but for cyclists as well.

He said there has been talk about relocating all cycling to Byron, but Taylor thinks it’s crucial to have bike lanes on Richmond as well, because without designated bike lanes, there will still be cyclists using the corridor.

“We need to plan for what will be the reality,” he said.

Randy Kemp, who sits on the advisory working group for Citizens for Safe Cycling has a wish list for the complete street project, including a fully functional and safe intersection at Woodroffe and Richmond.

“Your experience now along Richmond Road is not a good experience, whether you’re a pedestrian or a cyclist,” he said.

He said city staff and consultants have been bold in their suggestions, especially in restricting access at Byron and Woodroffe. But he added many at the meeting were open to the idea.

In terms of cycling on Byron, that’s a corridor that shouldn’t be overlooked, he said. He also wants to make sure the cycling paths link to Westboro and the greenspace along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.

“The objective of any cycling infrastructure is to identify the scary spots and make them feel comfortable so people will get on their bikes. At Woodroffe and Richmond, connectivity to the cycling infrastructure – that’s where it has its shortcomings,” he said.

The complete street for Richmond Road is still a while away. The complete street project would be completed during the same time as Stage 2 of LRT, projected for 2023.

Next steps include reviewing input from the meeting, finalizing the design and documentation, concept development for the Byron Linear park and inputting the plans into a Stage 2 update to council before it's integrated into the procurement process.

This story originally appeared in Metroland Media.

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