Manotick residents say confusing street addresses cause for concern

Stephen Bakalian, who lives at 614 Ribbon St. in Manotick, said he's disappointed and concerned after the City of Ottawa backtracked on a plan to reassign duplicate house numbers at the end of his suburban road. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC - image credit)

Stephen Bakalian has had it with the errant parcel deliveries, no-show contractors and lost visitors, and says it's time to fix the confusing street addresses in his Manotick subdivision before they result in a more serious incident during an emergency.

The problem, Bakalian says, is that no one seems to be able to tell where addresses on nearby Bridgeport Avenue end and those on his street begin.

He moved into 614 Ribbon St. last year, and soon became aware of the problem when a cleaning service mistakenly went to 614 Bridgeport Ave., a home on a corner lot down the street, instead of his.

"They said they went to the corner house. They couldn't find our third bathroom upstairs," Bakalian said. "That's kind of when we decided ... there's a real, major problem here."

The problem here isn't that the GPS was ever inaccurate or accurate, it's that it's human error. - Stephen Bakalian, Ribbon Street resident

The company, Top 2 Bottom, confirmed to CBC that it appears the workers had been directed to the wrong home by GPS, and said a note has been added to Bakalian's file to avoid similar confusion in the future.

The mix-up happened shortly after the neighbourhood was built, but Bakalian said the problem has persisted, sometimes when builders send in sub-contractors to complete a job.

While these incidents have been inconvenient, Bakalian said he's more concerned about what could happen during an emergency when the stakes — and the potential for human error — are higher.

"This can be anything [like] someone needing an ambulance, waiting for those paramedics to arrive, but they show up at the wrong house," he said.

"We could call ... police officers to say that there's ... someone potentially intruding on the house, and they show up to the wrong house."

In such a situation, police could easily mistake the homeowners for the intruders, Bakalian said, while the real criminals are robbing a different house.

Why the confusion?

When Bakalian flagged the issue to the city in February, Ottawa's building code services department responded with an email agreeing with his assessment, and said the two Bridgeport Avenue addresses — 614 and 618 — would become Ribbon Street addresses instead. But the city has since backtracked.

Bridgeport Avenue runs west from Rideau Valley Drive for about a kilometre before intersecting with Ribbon Street. The front doors of the houses at that corner and several others face Bridgeport, but their driveways and footpaths lead to Ribbon and the other intersecting streets.

To further confuse matters, the Bridgeport addresses at the end of Ribbon are 614 and 618, while the homes along the rest of Ribbon are also numbered in the 600s — including Bakalian's at 614 and another home at 618.

(Bridgeport extends past Ribbon, but there are currently no finished homes past that corner.)

Like Bakalian, his neighbour at 618 Ribbon St. said he's also worried about the possibility of human error during an emergency response.

The city told CBC its emergency and protective services department has been consulted, and said their GPS clearly and accurately differentiates between the Bridgeport and Ribbon addresses. But Bakalian said that's missing the point.

"The problem here isn't that the GPS was ever inaccurate or accurate, it's that it's human error," he said.

File closed

Bakalian got a more detailed explanation through Coun. David Brown's office. It said staff met with the owners of the Bridgeport addresses who said they haven't had significant issues.

Staff also worked with developer Minto to install signs on the corner homes that include "Bridgeport" with their civic address number.

The owners of the Bridgeport addresses declined to participate in the story.

The councillor said he's satisfied the city had resolved the issue, but Bakalian has continued to file complaints with the city despite being told that the decision is final.

In a statement to CBC, the city explained that in 2019 when the development was planned, the standard for assigning addresses was to base them on the orientation of the home's primary entrance. For those two corner lots, that's toward Bridgeport Avenue.

The standard changed in 2022: Now, when the door and the driveway of a home on a corner lot face different directions, and where there's no direct pedestrian path from the door to the street, addresses are assigned based on vehicular access, so 614 and 618 Bridgeport Ave. would now be on Ribbon because that's where their driveways lead.

According to the city, the addresses on Bridgeport were supposed to end at 594, but a late revision by the developer "resulted in the continuation of the existing addressing sequence, which now extended into the 600 series."

When asked why a short residential street like Ribbon also has addresses in the 600s, the city said civic numbering is at the discretion of the municipal addressing officer.

Minto has not responded to CBC's request for comment.