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Public Realm Plan envisions new future for ByWard Market

The plan, drafted by Coun. Mathieu Fleury, focuses on establishing a vision for the tourist hub while also providing “guiding principals, a functional plan and conceptual design concepts” to make it happen. 
2018-02-28 Byward Market Ottawa sign1 MV
Ottawa sign in the Byward Market, February 28, 2018. (Photo/ Mike Vlasveld)

After teasing its unveiling in an interview with 1310 NEWS on June 11, Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury has unveiled his ByWard Market Public Realm Plan Recommendations Reports on his website. 

The draft plan was uploaded to the councillor’s website Friday and focuses on establishing a vision for the tourist hub while also providing “guiding principals, a functional plan and conceptual design concepts” to make it happen. 

“I’ve been on this journey since 2012,” Fleury said. “It started with an organization called PPS, or Projects for Public Spaces. They came into our area — the City had funded them in partnership with he BIA and the community association — to give us advice on the ByWard Market. They came up with good ideas but three fundamentals one of which was governance, the other which was zoning and the other beautification.”

Fleury mentioned the plan was supposed to be brought to council in June in an earlier interview with 1310 NEWS last week, however, he said he was going to push back his presentation of the plan until fall due to the city’s financial outlook and risk.

Until then, though, Fleury is looking for public feedback on the plan. Residents wanting to provide feedback have until about the end of June to do so. However, the deadline might be extended depending on how COVID-19 continues to unfold in the city. 

The purpose of the plan, the document says, is to “shift the perception of the Market form a vehicular-oriented space to one where pedestrians come first.”

While it seems like there has been a lot of planning over the years for the ByWard Market — or at least talk of planning — Fleury assures this is the last step as his plan actually provides a how-to plan with tangible steps.

“When you think of our capital city and what does the city own in some of these key marquees of our capital, the ByWard Market comes at the top of the list,” he said. “Everyone has an opinion about the Market because we care about it. Yet, when we look at the Market, there are fundamental things that need to switch and transition and that really relates to the bricks and motor of the public spaces. They need to be welcoming, improved and modernized.”

The plan comes at a time when business are struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We know it’ll be tough to restart for many in an area like the Market where the summer period is not just for locals — it is super important for locals and we’ll need to support our local  businesses during this time — but usually there’s an influx of tourism to the area, which obviously won’t be there in 2020,” Fleury said on June 11. 

Among the suggestions include a constructing large pedestrian promenades, a ByWard Market Square seasonal street, a civic square, flexible plazas and greening, all of which will keep accessibility in mind. 

The plan also includes design ideas for character areas, retail and patio zones and public art areas, as well as improvements made to lighting in the area. 

In total, the project will cost about $200 million, but, Fleury says, will be done in phases. 

The full plan can be access on Fleury’s website here

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