- Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 19:59
- Written by Mohammad Al-Asad
Reflecting on Old Ottawa South’s Built Environment, Past and Present (cont.)
Old Ottawa South increasingly is becoming a magnet attracting new residents because of the high quality of urban life it offers. There is a need to explore strategies that will allow it to do so without sacrificing its unique character and without it becoming an exclusive sanitized neighborhood for the rich. A process of densification along Bank Street may provide one acceptable scenario for dealing with those developments.
Also, one cannot consider Old Ottawa South in isolation of its neighboring districts. Old Ottawa South blends in rather smoothly with the adjacent areas of Old Ottawa East. It also shows considerable architectural and urban continuity with The Glebe, with the Bank Street Bridge contributing to that continuity even though the Lansdowne Stadium provides a visual intrusion and eyesore located at the meeting point of the two neighborhoods, and the area would have been better served without it.
The situation along Old Ottawa South’s western and southern borders is more challenging. Along its western borders, there is a need to explore ways of establishing stronger physical links between Carleton University and Old Ottawa South. This not only includes rethinking pedestrian movement across the multi-lane high-speed Bronson Avenue, but also exploring ways of physically bringing the campus closer to the community. The heart of the Carleton University campus currently is at a considerable distance from Bronson Avenue, and is fully isolated not only from Old Ottawa South but from the city of Ottawa as a whole. This is highly unfortunate for a campus affiliated with a city. University campuses can take on a very vibrant role within the urban communities in which they are located, and having a university campus integrated with its urban surroundings almost always provides for a mutually beneficial relation for both the university and the city.
Regarding the link along Bank Street, across the Rideau River to Alta Vista and Billings Bridge, there is a need to explore ways of establishing a sense of continuity more in tune with what exists along Bank Street as it crosses the Rideau Canal and links Old Ottawa South and The Glebe. The loss of the “Main Street” character of Bank Street as it crosses into Alta Vista and Billings Bridge is unfortunate, and there is a need to look into ways of continuing the urban character that is evolving along the Bank Street stretch of Old Ottawa South across the Rideau River and developing a stronger sense of a local community in it. These, however, are involved projects that deserve separate discussion.
The issues presented in this essay are on the minds of many in the Old Ottawa South community, and they very much define where this district is and to where it is heading as a built urban environment. One important point to keep in mind, however, is that these issues cannot be treated as frozen in time, but are the result of various developments that have been taking place over decades. Any clear vision regarding possible directions for Old Ottawa South in the future needs to incorporate a full understanding of its past.