Street Name and Address Changes - Overview

Importance of Clear Street Names and Civic Numbers

How we name our streets and number our buildings and properties within Ottawa is very important. We need to ensure that every building, park or facility has a unique address to make it easy to identify and locate.

Components of an Address
Civic Number Street Name Street Type Designation Cardinal Point
(when required)
123 Main Avenue North

The Process for Resolving Confusing Street Names

In 2001, 11 former cities and townships were amalgamated into the new City of Ottawa. Combining these municipalities resulted in many duplicate and similar sounding street names as many of our communities share local history and geography. Also over time, development has resulted in the creation of physical barriers dividing streets into two or more disjointed segments.

Following amalgamation, the primary focus for resolving street name problems was the elimination of identical street names and street type designation (i.e. Main Street former Goulbourn and Main Street former Ottawa). However, Ottawa still has a number of street names that can cause confusion and require resolution.

In consultation with emergency services, it has been determined that the following categories of street names are the most problematic:

1. Streets with duplicate or similar sounding names and different street type designations (ie: Hello Street/Hello Avenue):

  • Combined with duplicate civic numbers ... these can cause confusion if the 9-1-1 caller cannot appropriately identify the street type, with duplicate civic numbers significantly increasing the confusion
  • Those are not connected to one another but are in proximity to each other. If there is a greater distance between the anomalous streets, this is less of a concern as the caller can often determine the area of the City they are calling from (i.e. Kanata vs. Orléans), rather than two duplicate or similar sounding names being very close to each other (say, Hello Street in Centretown vs. Hello Avenue in the ByWard Market).

2. Streets with duplicate or similar sounding names and identical street type designations, (ie. Time Way and Tyme Way).
3. Streets that are physically disconnected (ie. by a park, building, highway, ravine, etc.).

Once it is determined that a pair or group of duplicate or similar street names are problematic, a decision will be made as to which street or streets, from the pair or group of streets, must be replaced with a new name to eliminate the confusion based on the following criteria:

  • The number of affected addresses in order to minimize the impact on those who will be required to change their address
  • If the existing street name contains a lone cardinal point (i.e. Time Street West with no matching Time Street East)
  • The historical significance, or whether the street is a major road
  • How long the street has existed, or if the street forms a boundary with an adjacent municipality
  • If the street includes an identifiable landmark within the community or if the street name contributes to existing street name theme in the neighbourhood which aids in way finding.

Next Steps

The list of streets that will require name or civic number changes is currently being confirmed. Property owners who will be affected will be notified by mail starting in February through December of 2016 so that the implementation of the changes will be made in a phased approach, on a ward by ward basis.

We will be accepting replacement street name suggestions which will then be screened to ensure they are appropriate. Those submitting names to recognize a person will also be required to submit an application for Commemorative Naming approval. The replacement street names will be reviewed by the City and a final decision will be made by the Director of Building Code Services under delegated authority from Council and following consultation with the ward councillor.

Following this, property owners affected by a street name or civic number change will be notified and provided with information on how to proceed with changing their address and the exact implementation date. It is anticipated that the mailing address changes and replacement of street signs will begin in June 2015 right through 2016.

Contact information
Rebecca Anderson
Program and Project Management Officer
Building Code Services Branch
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 28121
Fax: 613-580-2688

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