modern ottawa metro map 
This is how I picture the first metro map in Ottawa. Imagine how pleasant it would be to go see a concert at the Scotia Bank Place from your home in Orleans without having to drive in traffic, or how enjoyable it would be to leave your home in Kanata in the winter for a night out in the market without having to find parking. 

A proper metro system should connect all the universities and colleges to downtown as well as important locations such as the Scotia Bank Place, the airport, the train station and the Casino. Having an underground metro system in Ottawa would greatly increase the mobility of people and connectivity between places. It would most likely boost the economy as well, since it would be easier, faster and cheaper for people to move around the city without needing a car.

If I was to design a metro map for Ottawa, I would start with 7 lines. Here's what I envision :

The Red Line
Modern Ottawa Metro map
There would be a main line going from Kanata to Orleans. This would greatly alleviate the traffic on the 417 and allow the many people who live in the suburbs and work downtown to commute a lot faster and easier. (No more cursing at the bus driver who didn't stop for you). This line would connect the Scotia Bank Place, the Kanata Centrum, the Bayshore Mall, Tunney's Pasture, the University of Ottawa, La Cite Collegiale, Place d'Orleans Mall and the Shenkman Art Centre. The Red Line would also be connected to five other lines running North-South.

The Orange Line
  Modern Ottawa Metro map
The Orange Line would run parallel to the red line but a little more to the North. It would connect the War Museum, Spark Street Mall (a nicer one), the Parliament, the Rideau Center and Beechwood. The Orange Line would also be connected to three other lines running North-South.

The Purple Line
Modern Ottawa Metro map
The purple line would go from Bells Corner, pass through IKEA, Algonquin College, Carleton University, Spark Street all the way to the Casino in Gatineau : very practical for people living in Gatineau and working in Ottawa. 

The Yellow Line

Modern Ottawa Metro map The Yellow Line would be the main North-South line, connecting the airport to downtown and a portion of Gatineau as well. This would considerably alleviate traffic specially considering the fact that there's only one main road from downtown to the new CE Centre. This line would run along Bank Street and would would most likely boost the businesses in the area and help with traffic along Lansdowne.

The Teal Line
Modern Ottawa Metro map
The Teal line would connect the Byward Market to the metro system as well as St-Paul University. It could eventually expand further south to include areas such as Greenboro and Leitrim. 

The Blue Line
Modern Ottawa Metro map
The main purpose of the Blue Line would be to connect the train station to the subway system. This line could also be expanded depending on the need for it.

The Green Line
Modern Ottawa Metro map
The Green line would mostly run along St-Laurent, giving better access to a lot of the retailers along the street, including the St-Laurent Mall and also connect tourist attractions such as the RCMP musical ride and the Ottawa Science Museum. 

So there you have it! Metro's have been around since 1863 (in London). There are now over 183 metros around the world. The largest one (423 km) is in Shanghai (China) and the smallest one (1.8 km) is in Haifa (Israel). However the one with the most station is in New York (468 stations, 368 km)

The current proposed metro system for Ottawa (76 stations, 63 km) would be comparable to the one in Montreal  built in 1966 (73 stations, 69 km). Given that we're in the 21st century however, the system would have to be a lot more technologically advanced. 

Reference : World Metro Database 



modern traffic light designed by Li Ming Hsing

Designer Li Ming Hsing came up with a really interesting concept to keep pedestrians occupied while waiting for their light to turn green. Instead of a boring red hand and a countdown, you see an animated figure instructing pedestrian to do various stretches and watching on both sides before crossing.

Wouldn't that be neat to have something like this somewhere in the city? Imagine the smile on people's faces when they see a group of people on the corner of the street performing yoga poses, tai chi poses or dance moves. There's so much that could be done do with this! Check out the whole sequence in the video below. 



Ottawa metro underground subway system A modern city needs a proper transportation system and Ottawa does not have it yet. Although the Ottawa Light Rails project is a step in the right direction, I don't believe the current proposed design will solve many of the issues we're currently facing in the city.  So I'm proposing a better solution : Ottawa Metro, a larger underground subway system.

Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system The main "issue" with the streets downtown Ottawa is that most are very narrow. They were not built for buses, on top of cars, on top of bicycles, on top of pedestrians. The population is increasing but the available space has not changed. It just gets more crowded. And with the green belt, we can't really expand either.

There has been various attempts to "solve" the problem,  such as adding more OC Transpo buses on the roads, adding a bike lane on Laurier, widening streets on Kent, narrowing the street on Bank, etc. These are all Band-Aid solutions that don't really address the issue: There isn't enough space. Therefore pleasing one group is always going to be at the expense of another. Let's take a closer look at the "solutions".

1. Widening the roads
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
One of the current "solutions" has been to widen the roads like Kent Street (previously mentioned on Urbsite) so that more cars could come to the city. But widening the roads, eliminates the green space and eventually the sidewalks. Most buildings lose their curb appeal, it becomes less inviting or safe to walk there and the city ends up becoming uglier. Not to mention that it increases pollution. So that's not the right solution.

2. Adding more OC Transpo buses
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
Adding more buses doesn't do much to improve the situation either. Although buses help reduce the amount of cars in the city, they come with their share of issues. It might have worked at first but we now have ridiculous conga lines of buses on streets like Wellington St. and Albert St. during rush hours. More often then none, it's now faster to walk (and sometime's drive) which defeats their purpose in the first place. Also, on small two-way streets like Bank St., where there is only one lane in each direction, the buses become the cause of much of the traffic during rush hour as well. They have to stop often and cars or trucks can't pass around them. Furthermore most buses also pollute. They are also the subject of many complaints (ex. Public Transit in Ottawa blog) about not being there on time, not showing up at all or bus drivers not picking up people. So that's not the right solution either. 

3. Adding more bike lanes 
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system Adding more bike lanes may sound like a good idea at first, but since they just end up taking space where there already isn't enough, this ends up making things worst. The number of limited parking spaces and stopping zones is reduced and we found ourselves in situations where delivery trucks, for example, have to block the bike lanes and/or traffic. It's just a mess.

And sharing the road with cyclists is even worse! (Who thought of that one?) The average speed of a cyclist is 15 to 30 km/h. The average speed in the city is 30 to 60 km/hr. Most cyclists will never go as fast as a car or a bus for a long period of time. So they more often end up slowing down traffic when they share the road in area where traffic should go faster. So definitely not the right solution, not to mention that it's dangerous to cyclists.

4. Adding an underground metro system
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
The best solution would be to add a modern metro system underground. This is the only solution where we actually create more space to accommodate for the population increase instead of moving things around hoping that we'll find more space. This would release a good amount of the pressure above ground. With a proper metro system in place, there would be less cars, less busses and less bicycles on the road, which in turn would make more space for more trees, benches, patios in front of restaurants. The city would then be a much nicer place to live in. This would make the city more inviting to both locals and tourists alike. We would even be able to turn a couple more streets into pedestrian streets. How nice would that be? 

Photo : via Reddit


What if Ottawa was a business ?

Modern Ottawa city business Ottawa inc.
Over the past three years that I’ve been living in Ottawa, I witnessed some successful and not so successful developments in the city, a lot of stagnation as well as a couple unfortunate declines. And although the nation’s capital has a couple good things going for it, I believe it is still (very much so) a diamond in the rough. It could be so much better if only more people were willing to put the required effort and work allowing it to flourish. 

This got me thinking : What if the city of Ottawa was run like a business? Imagine it was your business. How would you manage it? What would you change? What would you keep? How would you make it more competitive on the international level? What would be the its brand or signature product(s)? What would make Ottawa a better city for its citizens and its tourists? 

I’ve been a big fan of shows like Bar Rescue where business owners of poorly performing establishments are offered the services of an expert consultant and his team to turn their fortune around. After they evaluate the business, significant changes are implemented in order to turn it into a more profitable and successful establishment. I often feel like Ottawa could benefit from something like this, and of course I’ve got some ideas I’d like to share with you. So stay tuned for City Rescue - MOOT Edition. I’m also looking forward to read your thoughts on this.

Modern Ottawa city business Ottawa City Rescue.

Photos : MOOT | City of Ottawa


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