Full steam ahead for downtown Ottawa task force

Downtown Ottawa

One month in, the Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force is diving headfirst into its three-month plan for bringing life back to the downtown core.

The task force is currently “focused on understanding (the) breadth and scope of issues we want to discuss as part of the revitalization of downtown,” Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi told OBJ Thursday.

As Ottawa continues to adjust to life after the pandemic, Statistics Canada estimates that 46 per cent of the city’s workforce is still working from home. Elsewhere in the country, that rate is roughly 28 per cent. This has had a significant impact on businesses in the core that rely on daily foot traffic. 

The task force members met for the first time in August, in person, to discuss short- and long-term plans and goals for the task force.

“I can’t tell you how encouraged I was by the tone and kind of ideas and the depth of knowledge by all the members of the committee,” said Naqvi. “Everybody to me felt very committed to the process and shared the common desire of things that we have to do to revitalize the downtown.

“The main focus was around what kind of data we need to understand the depth of the issues and the potential solutions,” explained Naqvi. “There is a strong desire to ensure we’ve got good, research-based data and practical ideas so we can start advancing.”  

Naqvi said there is also a goal to “engage the broader community to get their perspective.”

The next step is already in the works with plans for a “walking meeting” so the task force can visualize the issues Ottawa faces, especially from a housing perspective.

At the announcement last month, Naqvi said the task force will study challenges to affordable, accessible housing in the area, reinvigorate local businesses, and provide ideas for a more sustainable environment and more inclusive community spaces that promote Indigenous reconciliation.

The committee members include social housing advocates, not-for-profit and for-profit housing developers, Indigenous leaders, sustainability advocates, local business improvement area representatives, and tourism stakeholders. 
 

THE TASK FORCE MEMBERS ARE:

  • Graeme Hussey, President of Cahdco (Co-Chair)
  • Neil Malhotra, Vice-President, Claridge Homes (Co-Chair)
  • Mary Huang, President, Centretown Community Association
  • Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade
  • Christine Leadman, Executive Director, Bank Street BIA
  • Kevin McHale, Executive Director, Sparks Street BIA
  • Catherine Callary, Vice-President of Destination Development, Ottawa Tourism
  • John Thomas, Founder, Azure Urban Developments
  • Christophe Rivet, Director of Strategies, EVOQ Strategies
  • Hugh Gorman, Past President and Member, BOMA Ottawa
  • A representative from the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition
  • Jason Shinder, CEO, District Realty
  • A representative from the Office of the President of the Treasury Board (Observer)
  • Catherine McKenney, Councillor, Somerset Ward (Observer)
  • Mathieu Fleury, Councillor, Rideau-Vanier Ward (Observer)
  • A representative from the City of Ottawa Mayor's Office (Observer)

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