Canadian cities are no strangers to boneheaded urban planning decisions — the Gardiner Expressway blocking access to Toronto’s waterfront, Montreal’s crumbling Turcot interchange, space-sucking viaducts in Vancouver.
But imagine hiding a magnificent waterfall in your downtown core. Take a bow, Ottawa.
Now, however, there’s finally a plan to pull back the industrial curtains — part of a long-awaited urban renewal in a capital that’s not had a serious update since Canada turned 100.
But it’s just one of several major projects that will change the look of Ottawa over the next 10 to 15 years.
There’s a light-rail system planned, with underground stations downtown; a new city art gallery and central library; a fancy new glass entrance and atrium for the National Arts Centre; and maybe even a new downtown hockey arena.
It follows Landsdowne Park, a seven-hectare entertainment district beside the Rideau Canal that’s home to a renovated football stadium, and the tulip-shaped, glass-fronted convention centre in the heart of downtown.
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“With the exception of the investment of the PanAm games in Toronto, on a per capita basis, our city is going to see more dollars into renewal projects than any other city in the country,” Mayor Jim Watson said.
“It’s a combination of public and private investment that we’ve never really seen in the history of our city to this extent.”