New greenspace, art installations proposed for ‘pedestrian oasis’ on Sparks Street


The City of Ottawa unveiled a loose plan for the future of Sparks Street Thursday, one that would see the pedestrian thoroughfare remain closed off to vehicles but gain a few leafy elements.

Mayor Jim Watson addressed members of the public and media at 79 Sparks St. Thursday afternoon, where the city has been hosting a public storefront since last year in order to engage with the public on the future of the street.

“We’ve received a lot of good ideas. Some of them very strange, but some of them very good,” Watson said of feedback from local residents collected in the past year.

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The proposed plan has a few specific features. Under the proposal, the stretch between Elgin Street and Lyon Street would indeed remain pedestrian-only – public feedback was firm on that front. New greenspaces, including 50 canopy trees, would be added to brighten the promenade and encourage passersby to linger.

Sparks Street would also host additional events, art installations and public entertainment. Businesses along the street are also encouraged to contribute to the street’s vision as a “pedestrian oasis and cultural celebration street,” according to the city’s press release.

National Capital Commission CEO Tobi Nussbaum highlighted that the plan aligns with the Crown corporation’s priorities for the street, such as preserving its heritage and character while moving forward with sustainable improvements. He also expressed the NCC’s desire to get Sparks Street property owners involved in the process.

Watson extended an invitation to the public to review the preliminary plan and provide feedback. The plan can be seen at 79 Sparks St. on Thursday, March 21 between 3 and 7 p.m., and on Friday, March 22 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Criticisms, suggestions and other feedback can be sent to before May 1.

The plan – and any additions to it inspired by the public’s feedback – will be up for approval in the fall.

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