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Green Meets Asphalt: Design Workshop Creates Rural Road Corridor Guidelines


A Design Workshop this spring provided a unique opportunity to help plan a rural road corridor in the Kemptville area.
County Road 43 runs through the middle of the amalgamated municipality of North Grenville and is the main east-west road through much of Eastern Ontario, running 150 km from Alexandria on the east Perth on the west. The 5 km stretch of County Road 43 that borders the north edge of Kemptville is facing a potential 200 percent increase in commercial development over the next 20 years.

The goal of the workshop?

To provide corridor design guidelines that would showcase North Grenville as a high quality, green community, and a good place to live and do business.

The study built on the pioneering efforts of the [former] Region of Ottawa-Carleton in the development of their Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines (July 2000).

The results

The result is a set of practical guidelines for the planning of the corridor as a public space, with an implementation strategy and suggested initial projects. The Township and County are already implementing some recommendations, and using the report in their budget planning for next year.

Several unique features of the project are of interest.
The workshop team was multi-disciplinary: architects, engineers, landscape architects, and planners, plus students from both planning and architecture created a synergy that yielded speedy and creative results. All volunteered their time for the workshop weekend and for advance preparation.

The project was enthusiastically supported from the beginning by both planning and engineering staff at the Township and County, and by both Councils. This augurs well for implementation.

The team was able to move from problem to analysis to implementation in a very short time, thanks to the sense of urgency and focus on practicality provided by the municipalities, and to lead time and preparation that allowed ideas to simmer before the workshop.

Communications Strategy

The communications strategy focussed on the invisibility of the road corridor, using the tag line, "Worth a Second Look." Overlapping communications tools were tailored to the different stakeholders and an hour was set aside for a special briefing for councillors, which virtually all council members attended. Although Township staff warned that the public rarely came to municipal consultations, over 50 people attended a Friday evening Drop In, many staying more than an hour to talk with team members, examine displays, and write down their comments.


One of the challenges for the Regional Road Guidelines was to make them useful for the broad range of regional road types in Ottawa-Carleton. However, a reverse thinking process was necessary for County Road 43: the guidelines had to move from broad and general to focused and specific. This may well be the process for other adaptations of the Ottawa-Carleton work.
CIP Conference attendees ranked capital projects for the corridor, rating rebuilding of the County Road 43/44 Crossroads, planting of trees, and opening up of the Kemptville Creek Bridge as top priorities.

The Design Workshop approach

The Design Workshop approach, according to Leeds and Grenville County planner Sandy Hay, provided a rapid response to growth pressures, joined County capital works planning and Township land use planning in an integrated effort, encouraged community involvement, and brought design and vision to the process. A balance was achieved between green planning and road corridor development. Both Councils have a basis for budget deliberations and infrastructure investment that is forward-looking and publicly supported.

And a good time was had by all!

Vision of the Future: The Crossroads of Leeds and Grenville County Roads 43 and 44 of the future will provide a town square effect, connect Uptown and Downtown, and draw people into the traditional downtown.

- Nancy Smith was project manger for the County Road 43 Design Workshop. The final report and guidelines are available on CD from the Township of North Grenville 613-258-7612.


"If we can develop roads that are attractive public spaces, community-building places, then we will have successfully designed one third of the city and will have an immense effect on the rest."

- Allan Jacobs
Great Streets (1995)

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