Plan for urban facelift approved

An exciting community development proposal for Centretown’s escarpment area — the neighbourhood situated between LeBreton Flats and downtown Ottawa — was approved with little discussion at a city planning and environment committee meeting on Tuesday.

The Escarpment Area District Plan proposes an expansive urban facelift in the area surrounding the north end of Bronson Avenue, including an expansion of green space, redeveloping the existing Ottawa Technical High School property, introducing low and high-rise residential buildings and eventually forging a connection with the city’s planned light rail transit system.

“Some of the elements of this plan I think are truly exciting,” said Coun. Peter Hume, the committee’s chair. “There are lots of great opportunities to make that gateway much better than it is today, because it certainly isn’t an inviting entrance to our downtown core.”

Many residents of the escarpment area attended the meeting to show their support. Members of the Nanny Goat Hill Garden cooperative in particular were enthusiastic about the formalizing of their community garden as an integral part of the plan, presenting Somerset Ward Coun. Diane Holmes with fresh produce in appreciation.

Now approved by the planning committee, the plan will go on to a vote by city council. If given the go-ahead, the 25-year implementation process for the sweeping urban redevelopment project will begin next year.

Landscape architect George Dark, the plan’s chief designer, acknowledged the challenge of such a large undertaking, but noted that things are off to a good start.

“It’s big and it’s complicated and it takes a lot of time,” Dark said. “But having a clear plan that’s endorsed by (the planning committee) is a great departure point. I’m thrilled it went through this well.”