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New pedestrian plazas a boon for downtown Ottawa employers

district realty
district realty

New pedestrian spaces off Rideau Street and in the ByWard Market area are giving downtown office workers a chance to step away from their desks and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine – something that researchers and employers alike say leads to greater productivity and employee satisfaction.

Following the success of Ogilvy Square, a pedestrian plaza lined with shops and patios on Nicholas Street between Rideau and Besserer streets, the city officially opened the new William Street Pedestrian Plaza in the ByWard Market in June. The William Street initiative is one of two new pilot projects set to help improve public spaces in the heart of the Market.

The chair of Ottawa Markets, Peter Hume, called the new pedestrian-friendly space a “place for the people” and says it’s somewhere to walk, sit and enjoy the heart of the city. The second pedestrian-friendly space will be opened on Clarence Street, between Parent Avenue and Dalhousie Street.

The new downtown pedestrian streets are being greeted with enthusiasm from downtown office workers.

“One of my favourite things to do on my lunch break is to walk around the ByWard Market,” says Janice Burke, director of finance and administration at BIOTECanada, a biotechnology industry association headquartered at 1 Nicholas St., at the corner of Rideau Street. “In the summer especially, it’s so nice to be able to get out of the office and enjoy the outdoors.”

Increased productivity 

Burke’s comments reinforce some of the key findings in a recent survey conducted by Gensler – a design, planning and consulting firm – that found many of the top performers in various industries have access to outdoor spaces.

“Innovators are at least two times more likely to have access to, and use, cafeterias, coffee shops, and outdoor spaces,” says the study. Gensler goes on to say that access to outdoor and social spaces can translate New pedestrian plazas a boon for downtown Ottawa employers to more focused activity once an employee returns to their desk.

Burke agrees.

“Being able to take a break outside absolutely increases productivity for everyone in the office,” she says. “I think it’s also really important for your mental health.”

The 2016 opening of Ogilvy Square, located on the doorstep of BIOTECanada’s home on 1 Nicholas St., has embraced by tenants in the building, says its landlord.

“It adds to the experience of the building,” says Michael Morin, a commercial property manager at District Realty. “Nobody wants to be corralled to their office all day without getting some fresh air. It’s beneficial to the tenants and really adds to the appeal of the building.”

Morin notes that the new pedestrian-friendly space is a welcome improvement over the buses that used to idle at the intersection and has completely changed the experience of entering the building’s lobby, which is located next to the recently expanded Rideau Centre.

BIOTECanada recently renewed its lease at 1 Nicholas St. to continue to take advantage of the building’s prime location and amenities.

“Inside (the building) we have this beautiful boardroom with views of the Gatineau Hills,” says Burke, noting that this feature is great when hosting meetings. “And outside, we have the ByWard Market close by, the pedestrian pathway and really accessible transportation options. It’s the best of both worlds.”

There are currently several blocks of space available for lease inside 1 Nicholas St. Companies and organizations interested in office space options in the heart of downtown Ottawa can explore their options at