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ByWard Market Public Realm Plan

Project Status: 

ByWard Market Public Realm Plan

City Council unanimously approved the ByWard Market Public Realm Plan on January 27, 2021, which is a document to guide the evolution of the Market’s public spaces and provides a framework to coordinate investment opportunities.

The plan will ensure the ByWard Market remains a unique, pedestrian friendly destination in Ottawa. The report recommends strategic advancement of priority projects, establishing a working group to lead economic recovery in the market in 2021 and a review of district governance options.

The Public Realm Plan is supported by several documents under separate cover, including technical memoranda for transportation and utilities; a Lighting Design Master Plan; a Public Life Study and public consultation reports produced over a two-year planning process.

Notice of Project Completion

The recommended ByWard Market Public Realm Plan will be considered for approval by the Finance and Economic Development Committee on December 1, 2020. Details of this meeting can be found here.


About the ByWard Market

The ByWard Market is one of the most well known destinations in Ottawa. This iconic precinct’s cultural and heritage assets attract local residents as well as visitors from across Canada and the world. The heritage public market building is at the ByWard Market’s symbolic core, but the precinct accommodates a diverse collection of original shops, boutiques, retailers, restaurants and public spaces. Because of its economic and cultural contributions, the City of Ottawa plans to ensure that the Market remains a popular and successful destination in the future. 

What is a public realm plan?

The public realm plan will establish a vision for the short, medium and long-term improvements made to the network of public spaces in the ByWard Market. The types of public spaces to be studied and enhanced include streets, sidewalks, parks, squares and plazas. The plan will also identify strategies and partnerships to enliven key public places within the ByWard Market.

The plan will provide direction and designs to beautify, organize and connect the ByWard Market’s public spaces to make them accessible, inclusive, safe and inviting.

Creating the plan

The planning process will study:

  • Public life and consumer behaviour
  • Pedestrians and cyclists
  • Vehicle circulations
  • Parking and loading
  • Below-grade utilities and services
  • Existing and planned context
  • Previous work completed for the study area

The data will inform the new spatial requirements and designs of sidewalks, streets, public spaces, movement patterns, landscaping and other details.

This project is scheduled to be delivered in four phases.

Phase 1: Project Launch and Study of Existing Conditions
Phase 2: Functional Planning
Phase 3: Design and Activation of Key Places
Phase 4: Recommended Public Realm Plan

Why now?

  • The creation of a public space plan is a next step outlined in the Project for Public Spaces report to City Council titled Strengthening the Future of the ByWard Market (2013)
  • The 2015-2018 Term of Council Priority directs the renewal of the ByWard Market (along with the Parkdale Market and Sparks Street)
  • The timing builds on the momentum of recent successes in the area, such as:
    • Delivery of Rideau Street Renewal (2019)
    • Renovation of the Government Conference Centre to house the Senate of Canada (2018)
    • Creation of the new Ottawa Markets governance model (2018)
    • Delivery of George Street Plaza and York Street Plaza (2017)
    • Expansion and renewal of CF Rideau Centre (2017); and
    • Other private sector investments.


This project is scheduled as an 18-month process, beginning in the summer of 2018. 

Get Involved!

Contact information / contact us

Jillian Savage, MCIP, RPP
Urban Design
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
613-580-2424 ext. 14970

Related links

ByWard Market
ByWard Market Local Area Parking Study (City of Ottawa)
Capital Illumination Plan (National Capital Commission)
Core Area Sector Plan 2005 (National Capital Commission)
Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (City of Ottawa)
Nepean Point Redevelopment Plan (National Capital Commission)
Official Plan Volume 2a – Central Area Secondary Plan (City of Ottawa)
Ottawa Confederation Line (City of Ottawa)
Ottawa Tourism
Rehabilitating the Government Conference Centre (Public Services and Procurement Canada)
Rideau Street Renewal (City of Ottawa)
Strengthening the future of the ByWard Market (City of Ottawa)
The Plan for Canada’s Capital 2017-2067 (National Capital Commission)

Public Workshop #3, ByWard Market Public Realm

The third and final public workshops were held on Thursday, October 24, 2019 in the Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa Downtown in ByWard Market. Approximately 100 people attended one of two presentations made by the project team and provided thoughts and feedback through table group discussions. The presentation outlines the current thinking on the plan and illustrates recommendations for sidewalk widths, street paving, tree planting, furnishings, parking, vehicle travel and space for events and special features. The team will now refine these concepts based on feedback, and create the preferred plan to be presented to City Council in early 2020.

The study is being conducted in the context of Ontario’s Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process insofar as it may apply to individual infrastructure projects that arise from the study in the future.