Revitalizing downtown, Doors Open Ottawa, Minto Park Sale and more!

How do we revitalize downtown Ottawa? This is a question I get asked all the time, and it was the focus of a new action plan launched by the Ottawa Board of Trade earlier this month.

We have all seen how our downtown core has changed since the beginning of the pandemic. The shift to hybrid work has meant the loss of roughly 80,000-100,000 people commuting in and out of Centretown. And we can all see the empty storefronts on Bank Street and the loss of businesses we all relied on, including coffee shops, dry cleaners and clothing stores.

This, coupled with the ever-worsening overdose and homelessness crises has transformed Ottawa’s downtown in ways that are not particularly helpful. But I still have so much hope, and I want to tell you why.

  • Residents are organizing

The Centretown and Dalhousie Community Associations are working hard on improving our public realm and advocating for better community security. People are throwing block parties and outdoor markets – like the Arlington Art Market and the Elgin Street Farmers’ Market. Volunteers organize community clean-ups and tend to the garden beds at Dundonald Park and in the traffic-calming planters throughout Centretown. Engaged citizens are advocating for better services while rolling up their sleeves to build a stronger, more welcoming community. I am so grateful.

  • Businesses are innovating

The businesses that are thriving in Centretown are the ones that cater to the needs of residents. Margo Fresh on Gladstone is a greengrocer with a deli counter and lots of delicious, prepared food. The owners of Arlington Five coffee house recently opened a new convenience store with a sandwich counter on Bank Street Called Take Five. New restaurants and businesses are blossoming on Somerset West in Chinatown, including a hand-pulled noodle spot, a vegan wine bar and a roller-skate shop. Flora Hall Beer has re-opened its street patio, and the line at MooShu Ice Cream is always down the block. The Chinatown Night Market will take over Somerset West this weekend and beloved festivals will animate Sparks Street all summer. We are so lucky.

  • The city is building

You may have heard that the city doubled our capital investment in affordable housing in 2024, while also attracting $176 million from the federal government’s Housing Accelerator Fund. We have a plan to clear our shovel-ready backlog and massively scale-up the construction of affordable housing. This includes two major Ottawa Community Housing projects on Rochester Street and at Gladstone Village.

I also had a motion passed a few months ago, to bring forward time and cost-saving measures to accelerate the conversion of office buildings to housing. There are two major projects underway in Centretown, on Laurier and on Elgin. The city is also doing a “soft conversion” on an office building on Queen Street to provide transitional housing for refugees and asylum seekers. I can’t wait to welcome these new residents to the neighbourhood.

  • Crisis supports are coming

Later this summer, we can look forward to the launch of the new, non-police crisis intervention pilot project in Centretown. I am also working hard to secure funding for the creation of a peer-led block leader program, similar to what has been working well in Sandy Hill. We are also working with community health centres and social service providers on establishing Good Neighbour Agreements to help improve the day-to-day experience and sense of safety in the downtown core. And earlier this month, our office worked with Ottawa Community Housing to deliver a workshop on bystander intervention with the incredible Julie Lalonde. I am actively looking for ways to offer this training more broadly – more info to come on that soon.

  • I am listening

I am thankful to all of you who have reached out with ideas on how to improve the quality of life in Somerset Ward. Our open office hours discussions at coffee shops have been incredibly dynamic and thought-provoking. Check out the list of upcoming conversations on my website. I would love to see you there and hear your ideas.

Over the next few months, I will be working closely with the Ottawa Board of Trade, community associations, Business Improvement Associations and the Mayor’s office on priority initiatives for downtown revitalization. Top of my list is the need to fill storefronts on Bank Street, improve community outreach and security, and animate our public realm in ways that make people want to visit. There’s no going back to 2019. Working together, we can re-imagine our core as a place where people are excited to live, work and play.

Warmly,

Ariel

--

Ariel with Councillors Laine Johnson and Jeff Leiper, at the Dalhousie Community Association AGM last weekend

THIS WEEKEND - Chinatown Night Market!

Step into a world of vibrant colors, tantalizing aromas, and lively festivities as the 2024 Ottawa Chinatown Night Market opens its doors to locals and visitors alike. This year’s night market promises to be a spectacular celebration of culture, community, and culinary delights. Get ready to immerse yourself in the heart of Ottawa’s Chinatown, where the streets come alive with an array of stalls, performances, and an unforgettable atmosphere.

Learn more online here.

 

Sharps kit pilot program

Ottawa Public Health is committed to supporting the safety of residents who are collecting needles on private property and those individuals going above and beyond by retrieving discarded drug paraphernalia in the community. In recognition of the community’s existing efforts, sharps kits are available to equip those individuals with the appropriate tools and training to reinforce personal safety while retrieving needles and drug paraphernalia.

Sharps kits contain the full set of tools required for safely retrieving discarded needles and drug paraphernalia. They include instructions covering safe handling and disposal, needle drop box locations, and what to do in case of a needle stick injury.

Learn more about the program and find out where to pick up a free kit online here.

 

Minto Park Sale

It’s that time of year! We’re excited to announce that this year’s Minto Park Sale will be held on June 8, from 9am to 3pm at Minto Park.

The Sale is a beloved Centretown tradition, and we’re pleased to bring it back for this year. The annual no yard, yard sale is a great opportunity to bring out all your odds and sods and see if they can find new life with another neighbour.

We do not have any more tables available. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

 

THIS WEEKEND - Doors Open Ottawa!

The City of Ottawa is proud to present the Doors Open Ottawa, a free annual architectural event that celebrates our community’s built heritage. On June 1 and 2, explore Ottawa’s iconic buildings for their architectural beauty but also their hidden musical heritage.

Plus, Doors Open Ottawa has a special theme this year – Music in our Nation’s Capital!

Learn more online here.

 

Upcoming open office hours

We are excited to launch our new season of open office hours, working with incredible community partners. Come join me for a coffee and let’s chat about issues in the ward and across the city.

Affordable housing registry

Friday June 14th: 2pm - 4pm @ Catherine Street Hub (370 Catherine St)

Sparks Street with the Sparks Street BIA

Tuesday June 18th: 1pm - 3pm @ Le Moulin de Provence (30 Metcalfe St)

Downtown revitalization

Friday July 5th: 11am - 1pm @ Arlington 5 (5 Arlington)

 

THIS SATURDAY - Public Works Big Wheels Expo!

The Public Works Big Wheels Expo offers kids (and kids at heart!) an exciting chance to get a closer look at the trucks and equipment that put the “work” in our city’s public works. This is a twist to the traditional “Doors Open” offering: The City's Public Works Department is opening the doors of its mightiest machines so that kids across Ottawa can meet the fleet, climb into the driver’s seat, and keep dreaming BIG.

The event will include vehicles and equipment such as a garbage truck, a snow plow, a 40-ton rock truck, a road painting truck, an interactive traffic signal display, a sidewalk sweeper, a hydraulic crane truck, and more. City staff will be on-hand to share information, answer questions and help kids take a peek inside the trucks.

Learn more online here.

 

Three-item limit coming for curbside waste collection

Starting Monday, September 30, the City will be implementing a three-item garbage limit for residents who receive curbside waste collection. This limit includes residents whose waste is collected in one shared location – often called a common pad – and those living on agricultural properties.

More information on the new rules can be found online here.

 

Who to Call

Our office put together a comprehensive list of community resources, to help in situations where you or a neighbour might be in distress. Feel free to print this out, post on your fridge and share with your neighbours and local businesses.

 

Cargo Bikes & Movie at the Mayfair: MOTHERLOAD

On Sunday June 9th at 11:30amFor Our Kids Ottawa-Gatineau is hosting a showing of the award-winning film MOTHERLOAD at the Mayfair Theatre. This film captures a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of modern life, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote.  

The event is a fundraiser for the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation Hop On Bikes program. Tickets are by donation – suggested $10 per person, $5 for students / youth. Special thanks to John Gomes of Royal Lepage Realty, Vélofix, Physio Bike Fitter, Let’s Go Cargo, School Streets Ottawa and Bike Ottawa! 

Prior to the film, from 10:30-11:30am, drop by the Hopewell Avenue Public School bike racks to check out a wide variety of cargo bikes and chat with their owners about what works for them to make family transportation by bike easy and fun.

Learn more: https://www.forourkids.ca/MOTHERLOAD

Get your tickets: www.tinyurl.com/MOTHERLOADottawa

 

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