Complete Streets , Councillor Jan Harder
Since the early 2000’s Complete Streets is a city planning concept that has received growing attention in North America. Ottawa has developed its own strategy for implementing Complete Streets over the last couple of years, with the work done on Churchill Avenue and Longfields Drive being two of the earliest successful projects in the City.
But what is Complete Streets, really. What does this fancy title mean to residents?
Complete Streets is a way of developing and upgrading roads that takes into account everyone who needs and uses the roads, not just cars. On Complete Streets, safe and comfortable access for pedestrians, bicycles, transit users and the mobility-impaired is not an afterthought, but an integral planning feature. To enable them to do this, Staff uses a huge number of different planning tools and documents to gather a full picture of the needs for any specific road. These can include: Land use, transportation and infrastructure policies that make up the Official Plan, Transportation Master Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan, Cycling Plan and the Pedestrian Plan, and others.
Using these tools allows staff to determine if a street needs more than just the standard lanes and paint. And the interesting thing with Complete Streets is that every different street will require different treatments and design features; no two streets are really ever exactly the same. In an Urban area, there may be fewer lanes for cars, with wider sidewalks, separated bike lanes, street-side furniture, and parklets. In a more suburban setting, the road may have sidewalks, bikelanes and trees only.
Human scale urban design provides space for people to be comfortable with the built spaces around them, and feel less like these spaces are looming over them. Complete Streets partially orients to “Human Scale” urban design of our streetscapes. This can provide opportunities for places where people gather and socialize, and more opportunities to walk and use alternative transportation. But human scale urban development is not the only benefit from Complete Streets; environmental sustainability is another significant aspect. Properly planned and incorporated into existing and future designs, Complete Streets provide flexible, intelligent options for making streets available to all.
Complete Streets is one of the ways City Staff and Council can maximize the usability and aesthetics of an area, making our City better, one street at a time.
January 15, 2015