Streets for people, final 1010 Somerset consultation, Elgin Street Market, and more!

Why can’t Ottawa be more like Montreal? I get asked this question all the time, as my neighbours look enviously at that city’s extensive network of safe cycling paths and pedestrianized streets. And hey, I get it.

I went to university in Montreal 25 years ago and the recent changes to the urban fabric even surprised me when I was there on a family visit last summer.

Streets that used to be loud and filled with gas fumes are now quiet and lined with flowers. Roads that used to cut through parks are now replaced with serene walking paths. Commercial thoroughfares like Mont-Royal, Duluth and Sainte-Catherine Street have become completely pedestrianized during summer months, replacing gridlock traffic with outdoor stages, playful art installations and comfortable seating.

So, how do we make fun stuff like this happen in Ottawa? The answer is a bit complicated – because we have a very different municipal political system here. When I spoke with a Montreal city councillor last summer and asked him what kind of public consultation they did before pedestrianizing streets, he said, “We didn’t.” Yep, you heard that right.

Montreal has political parties at the municipal level and is governed by a series of borough councils. When Projet Montreal won a majority in the Plateau, they set about implementing their political priorities. That included building out bike lanes and pedestrianizing streets. When they won a majority on city council, they did the same thing city-wide.

Their political majority was enough to give them the power to implement change. Business owners and residents complained, but Montreal’s government decided that the best way to test out an idea was to do it. And sure enough, their initiatives were wildly popular, and the city scaled up the program this summer, pedestrianizing 11 major streets.

In Ottawa, we have an amalgamated city with a huge landmass and significant differences between urban and rural communities. We also have no political party system, so the way we get direction on major initiatives is to consult with the community and then vote at the council table. If I want to close a road for a night market or festival, I need to get all 24 councillors and the mayor to vote on it. While this approach may be more democratic, it takes much more time and often seems like we are consulting new ideas to death.

During the pandemic, the city was able to cut through some of these laborious processes to create more outdoor gathering spaces at a time when indoor dining was still quite dangerous. Council liberalized the rules around patios, enabling restaurants to offer outdoor dining. The city also made it easier to close streets to cars, providing the Business Improvement Area or two-thirds of businesses on the street asked to do so.

The problem, of course, is that this places a decision about access to community space in the hands of businesses owners, many of whom are extremely skeptical that Ottawa could ever be anything other than a car-dominant city. I am currently working with the Somerset Village BIA to try and get consensus on closing one block of Somerset West for the summer (between O’Connor and Bank), so restaurants can expand their patios, and so local merchants and community organizations can run outdoor markets, skateboard lessons, ping-pong games, drag shows and other fun activities.

When the BIA and I met with business owners to explain the project, I hit a brick wall of doubt. Even though we found alternate parking half a block away for affected business owner and offered $100,000 in funding to pay for public realm enhancements to support programming. To be clear: a summer closure would only remove roughly five parking spaces on the street.

Evidence from around the world shows that pedestrianized streets are actually better for business. A study done by Transport for London shows that people walking, rolling and cycling and using public transit spend 40 percent more each month than car drivers. Similar numbers have also been replicated in studies in Toronto and in New York City.

I get residents asking me all the time how we can have more dynamic, welcoming, and safe places in our downtown core. So, to all of you who want to see more pedestrian pilot projects in our city, we need you to get loud. When you frequent neighbourhood restaurants or shops, tell business owners if you biked, walked or rolled there. And if you happen to find yourself on Somerset between Bank and O’Connor, let those business owners know that you would be more likely to dine or shop there if the street was open to people.

I often say that trying to make change in this city is like pushing a boulder up a hill. But I am confident that we will get there if we work together.

Warmly,

Ariel

Councillor Troster at the Chinatown Night Market last weekend

THIS SUNDAY! Join us for the first Elgin Street Market of the season!

The Elgin Street Market returns to Boushey Square (Elgin St and Waverly St) for its fourth season! Join us Sundays from 9am to 1pm from June 16 to October 13 for this annual summer tradition that features the best goods and produce from local vendors across Ottawa. 

More details available online here.

1010 Somerset consultation 

The City will host a virtual consultation session to review the proposed Final Concept Plan for 1010 Somerset with the general public on Wednesday, June 26 2024. Please send any questions in advance of the session to [email protected].

You will need to register in advance of the session. Please use this link to register.

Let’s Bike Month!

Let’s Bike Month is an annual campaign that encourages people to try cycling as a fun and healthy transportation option. Participants in the campaign can:

  • Win prizes
  • Save money
  • Get access to free resources
  • See the emissions averted by choosing to bike
  • Have fun!

Whether you want to try biking for the first time, use the campaign to encourage your employer to support alternative commuting options, or encourage others in your life to give it a try, Let’s Bike Month provides the resources and motivation to help!

Let’s Bike Month, an EnviroCentre initiative, is made possible with the support of local businesses, sponsors and our partnership with the City of Ottawa.

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.

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)

Building affordable housing with the Ottawa Community Land Trust

Thursday July 25th: 3pm – 5pm @ Little Victories (44 Elgin St)

Wading pools now open!

Beginning on June 15, the following wading pools will open on weekends only (Saturdays and Sundays) from noon to 5 pm.

  • Alexander Park, 960 Silver Street
  • Alvin Heights, 352 London Terrace
  • Bellevue Manor, 1520 Caldwell Avenue
  • Dutchies Hole, 154 Mann Avenue
  • Heron Park, 999 Heron Road
  • McNabb, 435 Bronson Avenue
  • Marlene Catterall, 2955 Michele Drive
  • Pushman Park, 1270 Pebble Road
  • Rideauview, 960 Eiffel Avenue
  • St Paul's Park, 469 Donald Street

You can view any of the City of Ottawa's Wading Pool locations and hours of operation in the chart online here.

267 O'Connor Consultation

Taggart Realty Management's proposed development at 267 O'Connor, bordered by three streets (O'Connor, Gilmour & MacLaren), calls for two high-rise mixed-use buildings located within a significant publicly accessible outdoor space. Some 550 residential units, consisting of both market and affordable types, are proposed in the two buildings situated on top of four levels of underground parking.

You can view the details of the proposed development on the City's DevApps page here.

Register for a virtual consultation meeting by emailing [email protected].

Notice of Opportunities to Contribute to the City of Ottawa’s Community Garden and Green Initiatives Review: June Virtual Open Houses & Engage Ottawa Survey

Greetings,

The City of Ottawa is in the process of reviewing the Community Garden Action Plan and other community-led green initiatives in order to improve related services, programs, and resources for Ottawans. Hoffmann Hayes consultant team is working with the City of Ottawa to review and improve the process and is seeking input from community groups and individuals about the future of community gardens and green initiatives in Ottawa.

Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Attend a Virtual Community Garden or Green Initiatives Open House on:

Thursday, June 20th 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Hear from other community members involved in community gardens, learn about the review process and contribute your ideas, input and feedback. This session will focus primarily on community gardens.

Tuesday, June 25th 6:30-8:00 pm

Hear from other community members involved in green initiatives, learn about the review process and provide ideas, input and feedback. This session will focus primarily on green initiatives.

There will an opportunity for interested individuals and/or community groups to register for a chance to present their ideas, experiences, or stories during these events.

To register for either session and/or for the chance to present at a virtual open house register online the Engage Ottawa Live Platform.

  1. Online Survey (June 10th – July 7th) - Share your ideas, input, and feedback on community gardens and green initiatives through Engage Ottawa Live Survey.

Please visit Engage Ottawa starting June 10th 2024 to learn more about the Community Garden Action Plan and Community-Led Green Initiative review and update.

 

 

Latest posts

Share this page

Take action

Sign up for our Newsletter
Contact our Office
Upcoming Events
Contact 311