ARMCHAIR MAYOR: York Plaza could be a great civic square

By Alan Teramura and Jill Stoner, Ottawa Citizen, September 18, 2018

Ottawa is a unique Canadian city, and perhaps its most unique feature is the Rideau Canal, with its magical attraction in both winter and summer, transcending the seasons. Yet Ottawa is missing one crucial urban feature: a large, open civic space, like Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, Montreal’s Place des Festivals, and Vancouver’s Robson Square.

These kinds of venues, inspired by plazas and squares found in virtually every European city, enhance public life and help to reinforce international identity. Urban squares are where people celebrate together, conduct commerce and gather for the simple pleasure of being in the company of fellow citizens. These are spaces of spontaneity and joy; no great city is complete without one.

And Ottawa has such an opportunity, nearly ready-made. As a main component of Ottawa’s ByWard Market, York Street possesses the exact proportions of Rome’s famous Piazza Navonna, where at all times of day and night one finds a lively and eclectic mix of commerce, entertainment and food. With simple modifications, York Street can be transformed from what is essentially a large parking lot into a similarly vibrant and iconic public space for Ottawa.

Connect with us