Bank Street and Somerset Street West weekend open streets

Somerset Street West from Bank Street to O’Connor Street (Somerset Village) will be open for pedestrians and cyclists and patios:

  • Fridays 5pm to 11pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 12 noon to 11pm

Bank Street from Queen Street to Catherine Street will be open for pedestrians and cyclists and patios:

  • Saturdays from 9am to midnight

The Saturday walking street will remain in place from July 11th – August 8th [2020], at which time we will reevaluate the program to ensure that our businesses and community are well served. – Bank Street B.I.A.

Open Bank Street and Somerset Street
Green line showing Bank Street open from Queen Street to Catherine Street, and Somerset Street West open from Bank Street to O’Connor Street. Map data ©2020 Google.

So I guess it is possible to open streets in the arterial city.

Opening Streets in the Arterial City

This is the city that was

Greber Plan 1945 Population Ottawa-Hull plate_3
1945 Population, Ottawa-Hull and vicinity, from the 1950 Plan for the National Capital (Gréber Plan) – Plate III. Distribution of Population – captioned: “1945 Population, 1 dot represents 20 persons”

And this is the city they made

DSC07529 - edit - crop

Every red line.  Every red line is an arterial highway.  An arterial highway whose wide, high-speed road surface has a status near sacred.  Want cars to go slower?  Sorry that’s not possible, that’s an Arterial.  In the heart of the downtown.  Effectively, once the “Queensway” highway was built (replacing the rail line that had been there), the entire downtown became an on/off ramp for the highway.

Wikipedia – Ontario Highway 417Queensway

Within Ottawa, the Queensway was built as part of a grand plan for the city [the 1950 Gréber Plan] between 1957 and 1966

This 1960s era highway planning was based on many assumptions, but the foremost amongst them was that city cores were blank slates that should be restructured with highways as the primary design element.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Here’s a screenshot from Form, Design and the City (1962):

Form Design and the City

You see all that blank space?  That’s where people actually lived.  But in this worldview, those people don’t exist.

The detour it would take to describe this “urban renewal” planning would be long, but basically the vision was that all the wealthy people would move to the suburbs, and the city core would be nothing but poor people and office towers for the wealthy men who would commute to work every workday.  And the priority would thus obviously be to make the commute as fast as possible for the commuters.  The local residents, as is evident from the image above, basically might as well not exist.

Think this doesn’t apply to Ottawa?  Here’s the great man Gréber himself pointing from the sky at a resident-free Ottawa.


This was never a good idea.

By 1988, as William H. Whyte documents extensively with evidence in City: Rediscovering the Center, it was already obvious that this didn’t work and didn’t make any sense.  32 years later, with residential towers rising in city centres all over the world, it is even more evident it doesn’t make any sense.  In 2020, with remote working virtually eliminating the commute for almost anyone who can work with a computer and a telephone, it makes even less sense.

And yet we still prioritize the car commuters, going much much faster than the 30km/h that should apply anywhere downtown, or the 10km/h that should apply for residential streets.  And driving on every street, rather than having some streets reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists.

And this prioritization of car commuters is embedded in decisionmaking which locks in this priority at multiple levels.  Not least of which, wards don’t control their own roads.  Why don’t wards (and their residents) get to control the roads where they live?  Well, no reason from a democratic perspective.  But mostly so that wards don’t get to make roads slower.

The evidence about speeding is abundant.

Excess speed and inappropriate speed are very common

Speed limits provide information to the drivers about the safe speed to travel in average conditions. Exceeding the speed limits is very common. Typically, 40 to 50% of the drivers travel faster than the speed limit. Typically, 10 to 20% exceed the speed limit by more than 10 km/h. In addition, drivers adapt their speed insufficiently to local and temporary conditions related to traffic and weather. They often choose a speed that is inappropriate for the prevailing conditions. Speed choice is related to the drivers’ motives, attitudes, risk perception and risk acceptance. Furthermore, speed choice is affected by characteristics of the road and the road environment and by characteristics of the vehicle.

The above quote is from 11 years ago, from 2009 SafetyNet Speeding (PDF).  If you prefer a more recent version, see European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO) Speed and Speed Management 2018 (PDF).

Or for that matter, read Ottawa’s own 2013 Transportation Master Plan, which says all the right things, not that that seems to make much difference in how some of the staff plans or the majority of Councillors vote.

2013 Transportation Master Plan – Chapter 3 – Create a Supportive Built Environment (PDF)

Section 3.1 Use planning processes to support sustainable choices

  • Action 3-1 Enable walking, cycling and transit through community design plans and development review
  • Action 3-2 Reduce the impacts of surface parking

If you want to know why our actions don’t match our words, I recommend Jeffrey Tumlin speaking on What has prevented Walkable Urbanism, and how to fix our cities and in particular his observation that most cities have great plans that describe a walkable city, but budgets for a car commuter city.

UPDATE 2020-07-10: The problem with this kind of red line vital arteries depiction of the city’s streets is it makes it feel like those arterials are the literal lifeblood of the city, and opening them to other uses would kill the downtown.  In reality it is quite the opposite.  Those red lines are not life.  Those red lines are emptiness and cars and danger.  END UPDATE

Bank Street BIA Street Opening Proposal 2020

The Bank Street BIA has proposed

1/3 Downtown Bank has put together a proposal to close Bank Street (Queen – Flora) to motor vehicles to provide greater access for cyclists and pedestrians. This would take place Saturdays (9am – 11:59pm) from July – September [2020]

2/3 Following feedback that insufficient time to vote was provided, the closure of Bank Street (Queen – Flora) has been postponed for one week to allow for more time for businesses to submit their vote

3/3 The City of Ottawa requires a 2/3 approval from businesses for each block impacted by the closure.
We hope to update everyone on the status of this vote by Wednesday, July 8th. We welcome feedback from our community on social media, or via email at

If you’re wondering why it requires a 2/3 approval from businesses for each block impacted by the [opening to pedestrians and cyclists], it’s because the Mayor just conjured this requirement up out of thin air, in an unannounced motion that crushed a planned Glebe Bank Street opening.

(One might also ask a larger question of why the BIA members get a larger voice than the actual residents, but anyway.)

UPDATE 2020-07-10: The Bank Street BIA has been successful and thanks to extra work with the city, the street will be opened from Queen Street to Catherine Street.  END UPDATE

geoOttawa beta

geoOttawa is a mapping site from the City of Ottawa that has an incredible wealth of info and overlays about Ottawa.  The main version requires Flash, but Flash technology has basically become obsolete and is disabled on many computers.  The beta works in any browser.

Two items of note are the Ottawa LRT layers, and the aerial layers.

To access the Ottawa LRT layers, select Layer List

geoOttawa beta - Layer List

and then scroll down to (or search for) Rail Implementation Office. There are layers for the completed Stage 1 and the under-construction Stage 2.

geoOttawa beta - Rail Implementation Office

Here’s a view showing Ottawa LRT Line 1 (Confederation Line) Stage 1 with pale green overlay for the Greenbelt (visible to the east).

geoOttawa beta - Ottawa LRT Line 1 Stage 1

Here’s a view adding on to Line 1 Stage 1 (in red) with Line 1 and Line 2 Stage 2 in blue, extending to the east, west and south.  Greenbelt overlay in pale green.

geoOttawa beta - Ottawa LRT Lines 1 and 2 Stage 2

You can see that Line 1 Stage 2 crosses the Greenbelt in the east, and is basically inside the Greenbelt on the west.  Line 2 Stage 2 also crosses the Greenbelt to the south.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199

There have been two anime versions of Space Battleship Yamato.

Star Blazers (released in 1974)

The first in 1974 was called Space Battleship Yamato 宇宙戦艦ヤマト in Japanese and Star Blazers in the US and Canada.

It was the first Japanese anime of its type to make its way to Canadian television, with a complex multi-part story, each episode following on from the last.  It was light-years beyond the usual American and Canadian animated kids shows that were available.

You can get it e.g. on iTunes as six episodes of about 1.5 hours each.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (released in 2012)

There was a remake in 2012 called Space Battleship Yamato 2199 宇宙戦艦ヤマト2199 or Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

The remake has dramatically higher quality animation and although it starts out almost identically to the original, it begins to diverge episode by episode from the original story.  It is much better from basically every perspective.

You can get it e.g. on iTunes, in two different versions: the Japanese version with subtitles, or a dubbed version.  I’ve only watched the Japanese subtitled one.  Season 1 is split into two parts of 13 episodes each.  You want either Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 (Original Japanese) or the dubbed Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 (they are all separate purchases).

Also, in the Japanese version of the new series at least and I would expect in the dubbed version as well, aspects of the 1974 series that were bowdlerized for the US and Canadian audience, such as Dr. Sakezo Sado’s fondness for drinking sake, are now shown in full.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is very good.  I would skip episode 1×07 Farewell to the Solar System as it has a drunken party including Makoto Harada (the chief nurse) in an inappropriate outfit.  All the other episodes are good.

Particularly notable is episode 1×09 Clockwork Prisoner, which I think is the best episode of season 1 and is the first episode where you can really see they are making a very different show than the original.

Space Battleship Yamato 2202 (released in 2017)

Season 2 of the new series is called Space Battleship Yamato 2202: Warriors of Love 宇宙戦艦ヤマト2202 愛の戦士たち. I haven’t watched it.


There are accompanying books that are very confusingly named.

The book of the 1974 series is inexplicably called Space Battleship Yamato: The Classic Collection (it really should be called Star Blazers). ISBN13: 9781626929128.

There are four books for the 2012 series, all with the title Star Blazers 2199 (they really should be called Space Battleship Yamato 2199).

  • Star Blazers 2199 Omnibus Volume 1.  ISBN13: 9781506712208.
  • Star Blazers 2199 Omnibus Volume 2.  ISBN13: 9781506712215.
  • Star Blazers 2199 Omnibus Volume 3.  Not yet released.  Estimated date December 28, 2021. Provisional ISBN13: 9781506712222.
  • Star Blazers 2199 Omnibus Volume 4.  Not yet released.  Estimated date December 28, 2021.  Provisional ISBN13: 9781506712239.

STO presentation to NCC on Gatineau west-end rail June 2020

STO presented to the NCC Public Board of Directors Meeting on June 25, 2020.

The NCC has replied with staff analysis:

including a recommendation that the entire segment in Ottawa, including the crossing of the Portage Bridge and any segment on Wellington, use battery power:

The tramway will have to be battery operated on the bridge to avoid any equipment that diminishes the aesthetic quality of this section of Confederation Boulevard.

In [the Wellington Street] section, the tram would operate on batteries only and no overhead wires or structures would be necessary, in keeping with the aesthetic requirements along Confederation Boulevard.

which would not have been my choice.  Much better to have overhead wires than to introduce more complexity into what is already a very complex transit planning problem.

Plus which, let’s be super generous and say Confederation Boulevard is 35 years old (“Planning began in 1982 and construction in 1985.”)  Ottawa had streetcars with overhead wires from approx. 1891 to 1959.  That’s 68 years.  Overhead wires are way more a part of Ottawa’s built heritage aesthetic history than Confederation Boulevard.

NCC summary:

A presentation was made to the Board of Directors on the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) study for a transit system linking Gatineau’s west end with downtown Gatineau and Ottawa.

The study

  • will help to determine the mode (or modes) that would be implemented
  • refine the corridors in the west end of Gatineau (Allumettières and Taché)
  • define the alignment of the future tram / light rail system (which will take the Portage Bridge) into downtown Ottawa (via a tunnel under Sparks Street or a surface route along Wellington Street).

The NCC is in favour of public and active transportation initiatives in the National Capital Region. In evaluating this project, the NCC will have to ensure that the proposed solutions comply with plans governing the use of federal lands.

The sections of the alignment that affect federal lands will be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval in October 2020 or January 2021.


The STO has launched a consultation on how the proposed tramway should arrive on the Ottawa side.  Should it go on the surface on Wellington or in a tunnel under Sparks?


For more information about STO’s proposed transit system, you can see my previous blog post proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end – May 2020 update to City of Ottawa.

STO consultation on options for integrating proposed Gatineau west-end rail transit into Ottawa

STO is proposing a rapid transit system in the west end of Gatineau that would connect to Ottawa by a tramway over the Portage Bridge.

They are consulting on the options for integrating this tram on the Ottawa side.  The options they propose are surface rail on Wellington or a tunnel under Sparks.  The consultation closes July 19, 2020.

There is a really extensive (as in, very long web page) background overview presenting the analysis and options:


The consultation closes July 19, 2020.

For more information, you can see my previous blog post proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end – May 2020 update to City of Ottawa.

finding BBC Radio audiobooks

The short answer to finding BBC Radio audiobooks that you can listen to outside the UK, is use BBC – Programmes – Categories: Audiobooks – Available now and then look for only the books that say “BBC Radio” after them.  Books that say “BBC Sounds” are not available outside the UK.

This doesn’t cover all of the things you may consider to be audiobooks, as BBC categorizes many of them as “Drama”.  The BBC website doesn’t provide any way to filter out just drama based on books.  It also doesn’t have any way to filter just drama presented on BBC Radio 4 Extra (which is mostly books).

Dramas are also not consistently named.  Sometimes it’s by author.  Sometimes it’s by author and book title.  Sometimes it’s by character name.  e.g.

  • BBC Radio 4 Extra: Dick Francis (author) – “Adaptations of the popular thrillers by the British steeplechase jockey turned crime writer.”
  • BBC Radio 4 Extra: Jack London – The Sea Wolf (author and title)
  • BBC Radio 4 Extra: Miss Marple (character) – “June Whitfield stars as the iconic sleuth created by the queen of the whodunit, Agatha Christie.”
  • BBC Radio 4 Extra: Sherlock Holmes (character)

The two main audiobook programs are Book of the Week and Book at Bedtime.

  • Book of the Week – BBC Radio 4 – audiobooks, usually in 5 or 10 episodes
    • Note books are only available for a limited time; only books with a speaker icon are actually available online
  • Book at Bedtime – BBC Radio 4 – audiobooks, usually in 5 or 10 episodes

It used to be the case that the multipart BBC Radio 4 audiobooks would be made available on BBC Radio 4 Extra in combined omnibus episodes at the end of the week (on Sundays I think), usually one omnibus for every 5 episodes.  However once the current pandemic crisis got underway, BBC Radio 4 Extra stopped posting omnibus editions, so you will have to listen to the individual episodes for now.

SIDEBAR: Don’t use the very similar BBC Sounds – Category – Audiobooks page as it doesn’t show which books are BBC Radio and which ones are BBC Sounds.  END SIDEBAR

The 2021 Unicode Delay and coloured shape sequences for Emoji 13.1

Emojipedia reports

The Unicode Consortium is delaying Unicode 14.0 by six months due to COVID-19.  This means that emojis that would have arrived on phones in 2021 will instead roll out in 2022.


Alternatively, Unicode has suggested a Emoji 13.1 release which could fill the gap in 2021. This wouldn’t be able to include new Unicode characters (which need a full Unicode release), but could include sequences.

What is a sequence?  A sequence is a way of creating new emojis by combining existing ones (combining existing code points), rather than creating a new code point.

For example, Polar Bear, planned for 2020, is not a new code point, it is

a ZWJ sequence combining 🐻 Bear, Zero Width Joiner and Snowflake


An obvious use for sequences would be to fix the weird codepoint allocation that has gone to making coloured hearts, circles and squares, and some coloured “diamonds”, but no other coloured shapes.

  • heart: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • circle: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • square: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, brown
  • diamond: small orange, small blue, large orange, large blue (the diamond is really more of a rotated square)

That’s 27 codepoints just to make colours for three different shapes, and another four codepoints to make colours and sizes for another shape.  (I don’t know why there are orange and blue diamonds; I assume they have some cultural meaning.)

It actually is even more complicated than that, because there are multiple codepoints for black and white squares, and it’s not clear whether black and white mean, well, black and white, or more likely mean filled and unfilled, which was the earlier meaning for black and white in pre-emoji Unicode.

  • black small square, black medium-small square, black medium square, black large square
  • white small square, white medium-small square, white medium square, white large square

There are also separate playing card shapes:

So a very simple proposal would be to make more colours by using sequences.  Just pick one of the coloured shapes to use as an additional indicator of colour.  Probably the circles, because the squares are complicated.

e.g. make a small yellow diamond with small orange diamond + zero width joiner + yellow circle

What I would really like them to do is make an actual diamond-shaped black diamond, with diamond suit + zero-width joiner + black circle

This would create the black diamond I recommend as the liquorice emoji.


NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013

NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013

Since everything that goes around comes around, having eliminated all of the interprovincial rail, the NCC circa 2009-2013 tried to conjure up some ideas about bringing it back, as a light rail loop.

There was no money and no plan so the whole thing is moot. This is a historical document only.

In usual NCC fashion, almost all of the documentation has vanished from the web, including the website

www interprovincial-transit-strategy ca

and the archive website

archives ncc-ccn ca/planning/transportation-strategies/interprovincial-transit-strategy

In fact the only thing remaining on the web is the summary hosted by Quebec’s STO – Connecting Communities: An Interprovincial Transit Strategy (PDF).

Some other sites have preserved the report: Action Sandy Hill has the full report in a Google Doc, and City Centre Coalition has all of the annexes/detailed reports as Google Docs.

I saved the presentation deck, and here is the key slide with their imaginary LRT loop.

NCC Interprovincial Transit - Infrastructure

That diagram is pretty small, basically the idea was that Bayview Station would be the hub with connections across Prince of Wales Bridge, and that rail would also come across the Alexandra Bridge, making a loop.

Here is a a clearer version, from page 52 of Interprovincial Transit Strategy for Canada’s Capital Region: Connecting Communities (January 2013).  From the Action Sandy Hill copy.  I have also put a copy in the Internet Archive.

Figure 12 NCC Recommended Long Term Rapid Transit Infrastructure post-2031

This post adapted from the NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013 section of my post Ottawa – Gatineau interprovincial rail.

What is actually being built instead

Ottawa Stage 1 LRT is complete.

Ottawa Stage 2 LRT is under construction, with a further Stage 3 proposed.

Gatineau has proposed a west-end rapid transit system including trams, crossing the Portage Bridge to connect with Ottawa LRT in the downtown core.

The future of the Prince of Wales Bridge

[photo of the Prince of Wales Bridge]

The Prince of Wales Bridge is currently closed.  Wikipedia tells me that it was built in 1880 and last used in 2001.

The disused line runs between Ottawa’s OC Transpo Bayview Station (the Line 1 – Line 2 interchange station), and Gatineau’s STO Rapibus terminus at Station Taché-UQO.

Google Maps Bayview Station to Station Taché-UQO
Above Imagery ©2019 Google

STO and OC Transpo

Although it was initially considered for a proposed rail transit connection to Ottawa from Gatineau, it has now been removed from consideration by STO in favour of the Portage Bridge.  The reasons cited for removing it from consideration included that OC Transpo’s Bayview Station wouldn’t have enough capacity, and that Portage delivers passengers more directly to the Ottawa Central Business District.

It does remain on Ottawa’s proposed Stage 3 rail transit map (look for the short purple line in the centre of the map below, connected to Bayview) but without any indication of how it would be used and how it would connect into the existing rail lines.

Stage 3 purple from Light-Rail-Transit-Project_Tech-Briefing_20190222_EN
from slide 109 of the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit Project: Technical Briefing – February 22, 2019 (PDF, Internet Archive) – Stage 3 extensions to Kanata, Barrhaven and across the Prince of Wales Bridge in purple

The only other faint possibility of it ever being used for rail is an STO speculation that it could be a “Potential future link for a west-south route” (following the completion of the proposed Gatineau west-end transit project).  Note that I have changed the colours in the map below to align with more common Ottawa usage.

STO - 15 May 2020 - Analysis of Current Crossings - slide 11 - colour adjust
From slide 11 in STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.

So for any possible rail use of the Prince of Wales Bridge you’re into the 2030s timeframe, a decade or more from now.

Current Plans

The current plan is to adapt it for pedestrians and cycling, but there doesn’t seem to be any money allocated for that purpose.

Joanne Chianello writes for CBC Ottawa:

The city of Ottawa bought the Prince of Wales Bridge for $400,000 from Canadian Pacific Railway about 15 years ago for the express purpose of running trains across it one day, and that’s still in the city’s current Transportation Master Plan.

But last fall, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau announced that plans for rail over the bridge were off.

“It would congest … Bayview station, and secondly, Gatineau has been pursuing their LRT project and they too have ruled it out as a bridge that would be used for transit,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said last September.

Both Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime-Pedneaud Jobin are hoping to use the bridge instead as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

from CBC Ottawa – Gatineau wants to run light rail over Portage Bridge

Also see the Mayors’ joint announcement from September 2019 as reported in CBC Ottawa – Mayors rule out Prince of Wales Bridge for transit link.

UPDATE 2020-05-19: Also see Analysis: Rejection of Prince of Wales Bridge illustrates difficulty of planning Ottawa-Gatineau rail link by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen.

For historical completeness, there was an NCC Interprovincial Transit “Strategy” in 2013 that had trains going from Bayview Station across the Prince of Wales Bridge to connect with STO transit, and also had a rail connection across Alexandra Bridge.  But it was totally unfunded so it is moot.