Respecting Heritage

I’m certainly no purist on Heritage, and I can have a pretty utilitarian view of preserving heritage when convenient, by changing it up when I think it can be made more useful.

I was puzzled a few years ago when the City decided the best place to run a giant water main was down the centre of the Heritage-designated aqueduct through LeBreton Flats. Historic stuff, that, Thomas Keefer and all.

Still, the pipe isn’t exactly intrusive when the water is in the aqueduct. It’s just that it’s deceiving, since what you see (water, historic aqueduct) isn’t really what is there (its a convenient utility corridor).

The aqueduct has been drained for some months now, while the city “maintains” the water main. They are also installing new wiring to the control gates at the aqueduct inlet on the western part of the Flats. And where did they run the new wiring?

I must confess to some mixed feelings here. After all, I am a proponent of using waterways as currently untapped transportation corridors. Not the freeway-above-the-river type, or the bury-Pinecrest-Creek-and-then-name-the-parkway-after-it sort of thing.

I have been known to suggest that maybe the best way to get a N/S rapid transit line to the Glebe, Ottawa South, and Carleton U might be to either return the Colonel By Drive right of way to rail (for streetcars — and run them over the Alexandra bridge too). That already irritates people who think the current road is now a cultural heritage thing that must be protected.

 At the risk of upsetting more people, I have suggested we might   bury the trains in a tunnel just a foot or so under the canal bed. Cut and cover. Underground stations would connect to neighborhoods on both sides of the canal, plus provide handy crossings for peds and cyclists without having to kow tow to UN World Heritage bureaucrats. If football fans get too rowdy when leaving Lansdowne Park, let a foot or so of water into the stations to cool their heels.

But if it is so wrong to bury a subway under the Rideau Canal, why is is acceptable to use the LeBreton aqueduct for a utility trench?


About westsideaction

Eric Darwin is a community activist involved in planning, transportation, streetscaping, and cycling issues in Ottawa, Canada.
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