WEB EXCLUSIVE: Carson’s Grove ACORN members’ fight to cross the road safely
The Carson’s Grove Chapter of Ottawa ACORN (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has numerous concerns around traffic and community safety in the Carson’s Grove and Manor Park areas of Ottawa. The chapter represents one of eight neighbourhood organizations within Ottawa ACORN. As a division of ACORN Canada, the organization functions by and through the collective action of low- and moderate-income people.
Throughout the late fall and early winter of 2014-2015, Carson’s Grove ACORN members gathered for a series of meetings to discuss their concerns and build a plan for action in the city. ACORN leaders Steven Rose and Richard Janke worked with fellow members to organize their neighbours and fight back to improve safety levels in their communities.
The product of the Carson’s Grove meetings was an action held on December 15 2014 at the corner of St. Laurent Boulevard and Karen Way in Ottawa. For members, the intersection provides an example of some of the key safety concerns they face. They view the intersection as a danger to pedestrians, including children and seniors, as well as pets in the neighbourhood. The lack of a crosswalk at St. Laurent and Karen, combined with excessive speeding by drivers on St. Laurent, mean that residents are concerned for their safety and the safety of their families.
Members wanted the city councillor Tobi Nussbaum to commit to a crosswalk at the busy intersection, as well as lane reductions along St. Laurent to make crossing safer for people on foot. The action received a great deal of attention from local press including Peace and Environment News, the Ottawa Citizen, CFRA, EMC Community News, the Ottawa Metro and TVO. It also attracted the attention of Tobi Nussbaum, who was contacted by ACORN leaders prior to the action regarding community safety issues. The action led Nussbaum to commit to members’ demands, including a crosswalk, lane reductions and a meeting with ACORN leaders in January 2015.
The January meeting was productive, with Nussbaum agreeing to members’ demands and renewing the commitments made in December. At the time of writing, ACORN members and leaders are still waiting for the councillor to follow through on his promises. For Carson’s Grove residents living near St Laurent and Karen, a commitment is not enough. ACORN members in the neighbourhood feel that the intersection presents a real threat to community safety and need City Council to take real action. As the summer approaches, concerned members and leaders maintain that these issues are still a matter of daily concern.
While members are pleased with the results of the December Crosswalk Action, ACORN leaders recognize that more work is to be done to ensure safety in the community. Members’ priority is to keep our issues in the eyes of Nussbaum and other city councillors to ensure our voices are heard and our campaigns are met. ACORN members will continue to gather and mobilize within Carson’s Grove and other communities until the city fulfills its commitments to low- and moderate-income people in Ottawa.
PEN Web exclusive submitted by Ottawa ACORN