Paula McCooey, Ottawa Citizen
There had been bumps along the way, but the mood was upbeat on Saturday as Main Street in Old Ottawa East officially reopened with a good, old-fashioned block party on Saturday.
The two-year, $39-million Main Street renewal project is complete after months upon months of re-routed traffic and area businesses adjusting to ongoing construction.
Residents came out to enjoy the festivities, which included live music, bouncy castles, an open market and food stands between Clegg and Hazel streets.
The changes include widened sidewalks with newly planted trees, a landscaped plaza with public art installations and benches, and new bikes lanes, which are all part of the city’s “complete streets” plan to be shared by “many user types.”
“Over decades, the emphasis has been on motorized vehicle travel to the detriment of all of the other users,” said Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko, who cut the ribbon alongside community partners. “Complete streets simply rebalances so we now have a street that works for all of the users as best as we can in equal share, and that means for the community the reacquisition of a lot of space.”
During the event, Safer Roads Ottawa put on a bike rodeo for kids and offered tours of the new cycle tracks and bike boxes.
The project, which required that the street be reduced from four to two lanes, received a mixed response.
Mayor Jim Watson and friends cut the ribbon to officially open the redone Main Street. Paula MaCooey, Postmedia
Area resident Mary O’Donnell likes what she sees. “I like the renewal because before it was just a street for people to rush through, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night, and now you have the street for 24 hours a day.”
O’Donnell’s friend has a different view.
“I find it very dangerous and there isn’t enough room to park, even in the little parking alcoves,” said Toni Forsythe. “And in the winter it was very dangerous. Nobody made any allowance, it seems to me, for the snow banks. But I enjoy the wide paths.”
Along with the improvements will come more residents with the new Domicle condo development The Corners on Main and EQ Homes’ Greystone Village soon to be built next to Saint Paul University. Also, the newly planned pedestrian and cycling bridge between Fifth Avenue and Clegg will mean increased traffic flow in the Glebe and Old Ottawa East.
Mika Weaver, who has owned Singing Pebble Books since 1995, said she has already noticed more interest in the neighbourhood since the street reopened in the spring. She said that, with new condo plans, some are now comparing Old Ottawa East to Westboro.
“People are (saying), ‘How does it feel to be in a cool neighbourhood now?’ that kind of thing,” said Weaver. “In terms of the business, we find more people are coming in that have never been in the store before, and more people coming in who are just interested in the neighbourhood.”
Steampunk travellers promenade along the redone Main Street. Paula MaCooey, Postmedia
Mika Weaver, owner of Singing Pebble Books, said the Main Street renewal project has increased interest in the neighbourhood.