Monday, March 9, 2009

Changes to Ottawa's downtown core



I love working downtown. I would have a hard time accepting a new job at any other location in the city - I love the hustle and bustle of the downtown (even though it's still relatively tame compared to like, D.C. or Toronto) but hey - I'll take what I can! Since I am frequent visitor (and spender!) at Ottawa's Rideau Centre, I am very familiar with the intersection of Sussex Drive and Rideau Street. (And I work within walking distance of that intersection, too.)

It is one of the city's busiest intersections and it's true that the area needs a re-vamp. I was pleasantly surprised to read this morning that plans are now in the works to transform the intersection into a public square where a people can walk through or sit down and enjoy the view. (Currently there is a concrete underpass you have to walk under to get through to the other side, and it's pretty ugly and a lot of homeless people hang out there - not somewhere I am fond of walking through with my kids).

"Recognizing that traffic must be accommodated, the NCC looked for inspiration to such busy places as Times Square in New York, and Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square in London." Hey - I love Times Square and Trafalgar Square, so this can only be a move in the right direction for Ottawa, I think!

From the Ottawa Citizen: "The vision ... is to reclaim this historic space as an urban experience and transform it into a national icon," says a study commissioned by the NCC. The site "will convey a significant capital to the world and be representative of Canadian values, ideas and the nation's role on the world stage." The intersection is a key point on Confederation Boulevard. Dignitaries travelling from the airport to the prime minister's residence or Rideau Hall pass through.

The Congress Centre is also under renovation, so the entire area is going to be so nice when it's all done. And this is a great thing for tourists. If you don't live in Ottawa, it is a pretty hard area to navigate through, especially on feet. Sidewalks will be widened, more trees will be planted, and there is talk of a new fountain, too. I love fountains!

The only down side of this story is that this all could take up to five years to be completed. That's a really long time! I'm not too fond of the proposed monument as shown in the picture. I think a huge fountain would be so much more appealing.


Here are the 3 possibilities for redeveloping Sussex and Rideau: (From The Ottawa Citizen)

Scenario One

Creates a public space adjacent to the east fa├žade of the Government Conference Centre. The underpass and MacKenzie Avenue ramp extension is removed and all pedestrian circulation is at grade.

A small island at the intersection of Colonel By and Rideau serves as a refuge for pedestrians crossing the street. It is the most minimal intervention.

- About 900 square metres of commemoration space

- All existing pedestrian crossings are maintained

- Existing traffic patterns are maintained

Scenario Two

Creates a central, triangular-shaped space for public gathering and commemoration.

The space is defined and contained by a ceremonial streetscape with wide promenades.

A centre median divides Colonel By. A new pedestrian crossing of Rideau is located at MacKenzie. The underpass and MacKenzie ramp are removed. Bike lanes provided.

- About 1,700 square metres of commemoration space

- Pedestrian landing areas at Rideau intersections are enlarged

- Sussex is one-way northbound to St. Patrick

- Traffic lane widths are adjusted to accommodate wider sidewalks

Scenario Three

The entire area east of the Government Conference Centre to the intersection of Colonel By and Rideau is dedicated to public space.

The space is contiguous across the south side of Rideau strengthening relationship to Rideau Canal, Confederation Square and Confederation Boulevard.

A grand boulevard is developed along Colonel By. It is envisioned with wide sidewalks and centre medians. New pedestrian crossings of Rideau at Mackenzie link directly to the space.

The underpass and MacKenzie ramp are removed. Bike lanes provided.

- About 2,100 square metres of commemoration space

- Pedestrian landing areas at Rideau intersection are enlarged

- Sussex is one-way northbound to St. Patrick

What do you think of this plan? I think anything that is going to make our city more beautiful is a great thing!

2 comments:

A Crafty Mom said...

Wow - this all sounds really exciting. I am not downtown nearly enough anymore . . . it must be fantastic to work down there!! I rarely get to the Rideau Centre anymore - and if that's not sad I don't know what is :-) We try to take the kids down on the weekends to experience the excitement of the city and let them soak it all in.

Loukia said...

Hey Shannon! Yeah, I love working downtown, for the shopping alone! ;) We love to bring the kids downtown in the summertime... we love walking around the market, getting gelatto, and walking by the canal... so pretty!

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