Bank Street Corridor

On this page

General Precinct Strategies

Streetscape Infrastructure Programme

A major reinvestment in the quality of the public realm is required along the area's main north-south corridors. To recapture the rich history and past dignity of the street, Bank Street demands special focused attention. It must continue to be treated as a Main Street.

The streetscaping treatments used along Bank Street should wrap around the main east-west junctions. This will help to create a stronger sense of arrival to Bank Street when accessing it from these smaller east-west connector streets.

The City should reclaim the public right-of-way where it is encroached upon by surface parking lots, and should require enhanced landscaping and screening as part of all temporary parking lot renewals.

Over time, one-way streets-Kent Street and O'Connor Street-should be reviewed for conversion back to two-way systems. This will encourage these streets to be used more as Main Streets, better able to support new commercial and residential developments.

Parks and Open Space Strategy

The Bank Street Corridor is a good example of how Downtown Ottawa suffers from an acute shortage of meaningful urban open spaces. For an area that supports such a large quantity of residential accommodation, lack of park space is a serious shortcoming. Due to the abundance of surface parking and underutilized lots, there are numerous opportunities to remedy this situation.

The Strategy identifies several opportunities to create new park space as part of redevelopment opportunities across the area.

Built Form Guidelines

The height along the Bank Street frontage is relatively modest, dominated by two- to three-storey commercial buildings. These historic buildings must be reviewed for retention or integration into new schemes. In general, facades, and the design, proportion and rhythm of the street frontage, should be protected to maintain the desirable qualities of the street. Any major new developments fronting Bank Street must be well integrated with neighbouring buildings and should not exceed four to six storeys, depending on the location.

Surface parking lots and vacant sites in the remainder of the Bank Street Corridor provide opportunities for infill and intensification, taking into account the Heritage Conservation District designation that also covers most of the area. North of Cooper Street and the area immediately behind Bank Street are well situated for intensification.

Regardless of the height of new buildings, the City should carefully review all design aspects, including street setback, architectural quality, contextual fit, massing, parking provision and the distance between buildings. It is important to note that while zoning may define an allowable building envelop, design review could impose limitations and require further refinements within that envelop to ensure compatibility with local conditions. Section 2.5.1 of the Official Plan outlines the criteria to be followed in order to achieve compatible development when undertaking intensification and infill in established areas.

As building heights exceed six storeys, this design review becomes even more critical to ensure appropriate development and compatibility with the existing context.

Catherine Street defines the southern edge of the precinct. It currently has a mix of vacant lands and under-developed sites, with a limited number of newer buildings interspersed along it. This very accessible and visible corridor can support commercial, institutional and mixed use buildings with larger floor plates. Special design and massing considerations should be given for the sites located at the corners of Catherine and Bank Streets to ensure their compatibility. Over time, the streetscape of Catherine Street needs to be improved.

The Bank Street Corridor has a large quantity of surface parking to serve the commercial uses along Bank Street. Parking should be accommodated behind the buildings and the street frontage used for infill development or new open spaces. The demolition of buildings to supply surface parking lots should not be permitted.

Targeted Precinct Strategies

The Bank Street Corridor represents a very important 28-block mixed-use re-urbanization area centred along a traditional Main Street. It requires design controls for infill and strategies for neighbourhood transition and heritage resource integration. It also requires a significant improvement to the quality of its urban spaces and public realm.

To achieve these goals, the following targeted precinct strategies are suggested:

39. Bank Street Beautification

Bank Street needs to be protected from further deterioration. At present, it is looking tired, fragmented and overly cluttered. As one of the most important and high profile shopping destinations in the downtown, it is critical that the quality of Bank Street be raised to a standard demanded by a regional shopping experience. As an early priority, the sidewalks and building frontages of Bank Street should be fully cleaned and cleared of clutter.

The NCC's proposed Bank Street Axis project offers a wonderful opportunity to reinvent Bank Street starting from its northern tip. The City should extend the quality of the proposed Interface District from the Capital Realm to the Civic Realm along Bank Street at least as far south as Somerset Street if not farther. The quality and style of streetscaping and public realm improvements, including planting and landscaping, paving and street furniture, should transition seamlessly from the Capital to the Civic Realm. The most significant investment should be made between Queen Street and Wellington, followed by Laurier Avenue to Queen Street, and finally, a more modest scale of investment should be made between Somerset Street and Laurier Avenue. By creating a better quality public realm and shopping environment along Bank Street, it will become more appealing for private investment and help to attract new businesses to the area.

40. Bank Street Corridor Intensification Programme

As with neighbouring Centretown East, virtually the entire Bank Street Corridor south of Somerset Street is designated as a Heritage Conservation District. To help realize the area's significant opportunities for infill and mixed residential and commercial intensification, the City should explore which portions of this District are most valuable, prioritize them, and then within these priority locations encourage ways to integrate the heritage resources into new developments.

The Strategy identifies a large number of potential infill sites between O'Connor Street and Kent Street. In an effort to help repair the urban fabric and improve the image of Bank Street's existing residential clusters, new residential development should be concentrated south of Cooper Street in existing residential areas. Many of the available development sites front onto east-west streets. These mid-block sites are well-suited for residential development. Larger scale residential developments should be concentrated north of Cooper along east-west streets.

In addition to the identified east-west corridor infill opportunities, the eastern edge of Kent Street supports a number of available development sites. Infill along this edge must be sensitive in scale and character to the existing development within the adjacent neighbourhood and should complete the transition from the corridor to the neighbourhood.

Intensification within the Bank Street Corridor needs to consider the following directions:

  1. Preserve the Bank Street frontage as a Main Street. New development should be set well behind this Main Street frontage.
  2. Transition into the neighbourhood west of Kent Street.
  3. The majority of residential intensification should occur mid-block along east-west streets. South of Somerset should be the focus for smaller scale, well integrated residential infill.
  4. Continue to protect legitimate heritage sites.

41. Urban Open Space Programme

As identified above, the Bank Street Corridor suffers from a lack of open space provision. To ensure that the area does not become fully built-out, a network of small open spaces should be introduced. The City should secure some available development sites, or work with developers on private site design. The strategy has identified a selection of available sites across the area.

It is recommended that new open spaces be located on corners and other strategic locations which can provide linkages between places. The strongest candidates for new park space are located on corner lots along the Kent Street seam. This location is preferred due to each site's proximity to existing residential concentrations within the area as well as to other adjacent neighbourhoods.

Other priority sites for consideration include parcels along the Bank Street seam, with the strongest candidate located at the intersection of Gladstone and McLeod.