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Sparks Street Public Realm Plan

Project Status: 
Underway

What's in Store on Sparks Street?

Updated October 2018

Phase II Stakeholder Memo [ PDF 19.986 MB ]

In July 2018, we invited residents to visit the project storefront at 79 Sparks Street to view the key functional analysis and preliminary recommendations for consideration in the second phase of the Sparks Street Public Realm Plan development. Residents also experienced the SparksScape additions to the street over the summer months. The project team is now working on the third phase of the project and anticipate releasing design options and variations of the preferred functional plan for public discussion in February 2019.

We asked. You Answered!

We asked a few questions via Facebook and Twitter, and here’s some of the feedback we received:

 “ Based on your feedback, we've installed pilot projects on Sparks Street to help improve the area! We even have a storefront at 79 Sparks Street so that you can learn more about our plans. Have feedback to give on the project? Let us know! #MySparksStreet”

  • Lively bars; unique restaurants and cafes; colourful concert venues, fun, one-off eateries (ice cream, chocolate, dumpling bowls or other themes); and great retailers might encourage more nighttime visitors—or locals to come out at times rather than just at lunch hour. What about a few 24/7 spots—to give people more options for late night sightseeing?
  • Cities in Europe have pedestrian only areas and they are always packed with people eating & drinking....don’t understand why it doesn’t work here?
  • I like the idea of space enhancements—how about something like Montreal’s bus-stop musical swing sets? Or illuminated dancing fountains?
  • How about open it to trucks only. I’m being sarcastic.   
  • Now get rid of the cyclists and make it 100% pedestrian (except deliveries at off-peak hours).

“You gave us feedback and we listened! Picnic tables, bistro tables, outdoor games, bean bag chairs and a small library - all have been installed on Sparks Street to make it the public space you asked for. Yay or nay? Let us know. #MySparksStreet”

  • Water Fountain? Public Toilets maybe?
  • There’s seriously no toilets or fountains? Wow, basic human needs are forgotten but it’s cool, there’s games and bean bag chairs
  • Retail that isn’t souvenir shops
  • Yes! Sparks is a great street which has been dead for years, so it needs to get rejuvenated with some life and energy brought back :)
  • Some of the bricks in the sidewalks on Sparks Street need to be replaced to make it smoother
  • Yay!! Looks amazing. And so welcoming
  • Love the hammocks!

“Based on your feedback, we've installed pilot projects on Sparks Street to make it the best public space it can be. Make sure you check it out and let us know what you think using #MySparksStreet.”

  • #MySparksStreet does nothing to serve its own neighbourhood. What about a Farm Boy, an art gallery/performance space, a small hardware store? I work on Sparks and I never "go" to Sparks, you know?
  • These are very gimmicky …short term thinking. What is needed is more shade (45C last week!), seating, shopping, entertainment. Some nice colourful shade canvases a la Gatineau umbrellas would be awesome!
  • Remember when you used to have the "soapbox" on Sparks, where anyone could stand and spout their opinion. Ah the good ol' days.
  • Live artists, musicians & poetry slams. Buskers & a mini sparks fair (winter & summer) would be nice. Also would love to see a cultural expo happening or a block party fundraisers. Pop vendors etc... Sparks was such a happening place let's bring back the vibe #MySparksStreet
  • I like what you have started. More! How about some shade for a few benches? Music? Lunchtime concerts? Bring back the better shopping choices as well. CBC outside?
  • Pave the damn thing and open it up to the horseless carriage, maybe throw in a few parking spots #MySparksStreet
  • How much is this costing taxpayers? There is such a high turnover of businesses because the rents are too expensive. I never go there - it’s a waste of taxpayers money!

If you have a comment you’d like to make, email: mysparksstreet@ottawa.ca

Public engagement opportunities in 2018 and 2019 

As part of developing the public realm plan, the City and its partners are committed to engaging the public about the future of the iconic public space known as the Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall – how should it be used, what should it look like, and how should it be programmed. The City is reaching out to:

  • residents
  • business owners
  • landowners
  • surrounding community associations
  • government agencies, and others who may be interested in sharing their perspectives and ideas on the future of Sparks Street.

Public engagement will conclude early in 2019 with a report to Finance and Economic Development Committee and City Council, the Sparks Street Mall Authority and the National Capital Commission Board of Directors recommending approval of the public realm plan and funding for detailed design and phased implementation.  During the public engagement period, the City will gather feedback using:

  • online questionnaires
  • design workshops
  • information sessions, and
  • e-mail

About Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall

Sparks Street is Canada’s first pedestrian street and a famous place for residents and visitors alike to gather and celebrate in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown. An outdoor open-air pedestrian mall since 1967, visitors find shopping, dining, festivals, beautiful heritage buildings and lots of places to sit and watch the world go by. 

What’s being planned?

  • new residential and retail uses, now under construction
  • two key light rail (LRT) stops around the corner
  • a major STO stop planned at Lyon and Sparks
  • a new Indigenous Cultural Centre recently announced for 100 Wellington
  • the new Lord Stanley’s Gift Monument, and
  • the  plans for a major renewal of buildings along Sparks Street and throughout the parliamentary precinct.

Given all this, it is time to look at the many current plans and policies to and create one cohesive plan for the future.

Under Council direction, City planning staff are working together with their partners to review the guiding policies and plans that govern Sparks Street to explore and assess:

  • street functions and special relationships
  • streetscape theme/s, and design elements – identifying what a renewed Sparks Street will look like and how it will fit into the broader Capital experience, and 
  • financial capacities for operation

Timelines

November 2017                                    Project launch 
January 13, 2018                                  Mayor's Town Hall - The Future of Sparks Street 
July 18, 19 and 26 2018                       Sparks Street Workspace Opening, 79 Sparks Street 
February 2019                                      Public engagement opportunity 

Register to receive our e-newsletter and keep up-to-date with the project events.

Contact information

David Atkinson, Planner
Urban Design
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
email: mysparksstreet@ottawa.ca
tel: 613-580-2424 ext. 15013
ottawa.ca/sparksstreetplan

Related links

Official Plan Volume 2a Sparks Street (Ottawa)
The Plan for Canada’s Capital 2017-2067 (National Capital Commission)
Core Area Sector Plan 2005 (National Capital Commission)
Downtown Moves 2013 (Ottawa)
Capital Illumination Plan (National Capital Commission 2017)
Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (Ottawa 2004)
Public Services and Procurement Canada’s LTVP for Parliamentary and Judicial Precinct (2006 and update once completed)

A new plan for Sparks Street

Draft Plan for Sparks Street: Phase II Stakeholder Memo [ PDF 19.986 MB ]

Since January 2018, the project team has gathered ideas, comments and feedback from residents about the vision and future of Sparks Street from the public’s participation in the Mayor’s Town Hall and two online surveys.

In July 2018, we invited residents to visit the project storefront at 79 Sparks Street to view the key functional analysis and preliminary recommendations for consideration in the second phase of the new plan’s development. Residents also experienced the SparksScape additions to the street over the summer months that included street furniture, a library pop-up, hammocks and other street amenities.

A new plan for Sparks Street
Using the public’s input, the project team has developed a draft plan, with key analysis, preliminary recommendations and three functional plan options. In particular, the plan includes these key directions:

  1. Pedestrian Street - Reaffirm the value and unique nature of the pedestrian mall based on the public and stakeholders overwhelming desire to further restrict and enforce limited vehicular access
  2. Heritage backdrop - Acknowledge and protect the heritage aspects along Sparks Street and the surrounding backdrop of buildings and landscapes.
  3. Cultural and entertainment venue - Advance a collaborative programming and special event strategy to showcase and celebrate contemporary local, Canadian and Indigenous cultures. Installations, activations and seasonal events will all be executed with high artistic and entertainment value and aim to be unique and refined spectacles within the City.
  4. Urban oasis - Sparks Street will be transformed into a beautiful and balanced landscape that serves as an exceptionally attractive pedestrian amenity area and route through the core of the City, both day and night. Sparks Street will be transformed into a beautiful and balanced landscape that serves as an exceptionally attractive pedestrian amenity area and route through the core of the City, both day and night

The draft plan proposes three functional plan options, all with common components, for the five-block area of Sparks Street. The options include space for:

  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Building access
  • Planting
  • Thresholds
  • Gathering areas
  • Event areas
  • Street lighting
  • Heritage lighting
  • Contemporary lighting
  • Water features
  • Public Art
  • Multifunctional kiosks

Learn more about the draft proposed functional plans and email ottawa.ca/sparksstreetplan with your comments.

The project team is now working on the third phase of the project and anticipate releasing design options and variations of the preferred functional plan for discussion in February 2019.

As We Heard It Report - Questionnaire #1 and #2

As part of developing the Public Realm Plan, the City and its partners are committed to engaging the public about the future of the iconic public space known as the Sparks Street Pedestrian Mall – how should it be used, what should it look like, and how should it be programmed. The City is reaching out to:

  • residents
  • business owners
  • landowners
  • surrounding community associations
  • government agencies, and others who may be interested in sharing their perspectives and ideas on the future of Sparks Street.

Questionnaire 1

Between November 10, 2017 and January 1, 2018, the City collected 503 responses to an online questionnaire. 

As We Heard It Report [ PDF 634 KB ] 

Questionnaire 2

Between December 22, 2017 and February 6, 2018, the City collected 1,730 responses to an online questionnaire.

As We Heard it Report #2 [ PDF 773 KB ]