Road tripping with Toon

Road tripping with Toon
Image from Urban Edge.

On Wednesday morning I took off for Quebec City with my good friend and fellow smart urbanism enthusiast Toon Dreessen. I’ve discovered he’s the perfect road-tripping buddy and not just because he picked me up with Starbucks waiting in the cup holder. The loud rips you may have felt in the fabric of time were caused by the two of us using those hours on the highway to fix everything that’s wrong in how Ottawa organizes itself, starting with zoning and procurement.

No, but seriously. We live in a city that is good, but could soooo easily be better.

My particular bug this week, also the subject of my Ottawa Citizen column, is the 96-page beast of an impenetrable document that dropped on Monday to update zoning bylaws. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle that needs public support yet it’s presented like everyone’s an urbanist with no social skills. It’s a sea of grey and long words and no images. It’s also exceedingly boring.

I am asking, nicely, for city people to present some kind of companion document that simplifies and summarizes the changes — and to add images, pictures, videos, and other elements to help us see what the city would look like with those changes.

Do like developers do when they try to generate support or find investors for their projects. I picked a lovely new project in Pembroke to illustrate (as it were) what I’m talking about. The images above are taken from the developer's website, with permission from the CEO who was kind enough to spend some time on the phone with me talking about her vision and how she goes about realizing it.

On another note, as I briefly mentioned on socials, Quebec City has a lovely electric-assist bike-share program that looks like it's already working well, two days into the season. I didn’t have time to try it this week but I shall soon and report back. I continue to be flabbergasted that Ottawa can’t get its shit together long enough to succeed at bringing in a workable bike-share program when so many other cities are doing it and not, evidently, dying in the process.