Does Mid-Centretown Exist??

June 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm 15 comments

The Market is the Market. Sandy Hill is Sandy Hill. The Glebe is the Glebe. Centretown is Centretown…or is it??

A question that we are working our way through is whether Centretown is one single definable neighbourhood – like the Market – or a more diverse area that needs to be understood as a series of pieces that fit together – perhaps more like the Central Area (comprised of several sub-areas). When one reviews the planning work completed in the past by the City, it would appear that Centretown is in fact one definable neighbourhood sharing a common look, feel and fabric. But when you hit the streets and look around, it is pretty obvious that this is not the experience ‘on the ground’. When we look at Centretown, it becomes apparent to us that this is not one definable neighbourhood sharing a common character – it is a much more complicated and diverse neighbourhood than that.

So, in an early effort to better understand the complexities of Centretown, the City invented the term “Mid-Centretown” and drew its boxy boundary between Kent and Elgin, south of Gloucester to the 417. We think that this is a good start, but it is only a start.  We believe that Mid-Centretown does exist as a place and has for some time now, but it has just never been labeled as such. We believe that this part of Centretown is different in its form and function to the Golden Triangle as well as to the single family area west of Kent.  Its boundary?? Well… probably not quite as neat and clean as the box that the City drew for us. That would be too easy. We think that Mid-Centretown is about here (2 MB PDF).

We think that Mid Centretown bleeds easy across Elgin and down Cartier. To the north it stretches along Cooper and perhaps even touches the canal. In these locations, the streets are crowded with big, tall buildings that look like they would be more at home on O’Connor than they are within the Golden Triangle! In contrast, to the west, we think that the boundary box is too close to the low rise residential area west of Kent and believe that in some locations the boundary should be pulled back closer to Bank – big and tall have no place along these leafy residential streets. Bigger and taller (i.e. the Mid-Centretown apartment building typology) could, however, possibly be accommodated along the 417 corridor or in the transition area between the Business District and the stable low rise neighbourhood north of Cooper (or so).

We believe that Mid Centretown exists, just not necessarily in the same location as what the City has told us. We don’t yet have the aswer as to exactly where it is, so we would you like to hear you think.

Tell us if you think that Mid-Centretown is a real place and distinct from other parts of Centretown. If you think it is a real place, tell us where you think its boundaries should be.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and thanks for your help. Click here to let us know your thoughts.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Thanks to all those who joined us at our Mid-Centretown CDP Open House last night What Community Facilities Does Centretown Need?

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dan  |  September 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    There are a few comments I would like to make in reply to my question on the consultaiton proces, in the context of the councillor’s action to formalize the designation of the gay village.

    First. It is not a personal issue with me. If there is a preference to identify an area as the Gay Village so be it. Within the cotext of the planning process now underway, I would, however, like to think that there has been some thought given to this concept, beyond another pronoucement from City Hall and the erection of signs.

    Second. I believe that to designate the area as the Gay Village is more than a symbolic gesture. It has consequences and implications that affect more than a few businesses that cater specifically to the G.L.T. communities. If there were no implications, then the naming in itself is a hollow gesture.

    Third. In terms of a “vision” for the area for the next 20 years,the designation of an area has specific implications and it is something that affects the whole community. For this reason I suggest that the context in which to discuss the matter is in the consultations for the community plan.

    Fourth.We were told at the outset that the planning team met with significant stakeholders to identify concerns and issues of the community. The elected councillor was part of this pre-consultaiton exercise. We were also told that the results of these meetings and consultations would be summarized and placed before the community as a “context” for the subsequent consultatations. Although this did not occurr, in the absense of the issue being mentioned by the planning team in any of its public documents or in the public meetings, it seems reasonable that the matter is not (atm least until this point has not been) an issue of concern to the residents. If is is now deemed an issue, why is it not being raised as part of the planning process?

    Fifth. If “designation” is of no greater distinction than the placement of Gay Village signs on lamposts, the impact will be less signifcant than the kiosks advertising Sun Kist tuna that already proliferate Bank Street.

    Sixth. I believe that the characer of the community, whether it is the Gay Village or the Elgin Bar Scene or the Centertown Express Roadway system, or the designated heritage overlays, is both defined by and helps to define the the form and the functioning of the community. I am able to visualtize the impacts of 8 storey buidings lining the west side of Kent Street. I am able to appreciate that the intensification of the residential area, through the haphazard approval and conversions of 6 – 8 – 10 unit apartments has been having in the area.
    In the editorial remarks there is the statemment that in the residential area west of Kent Street… “In contrast, to the west, we think that the boundary box is too close to the low rise residential area west of Kent and believe that in some locations the boundary should be pulled back closer to Bank – big and tall have no place along these leafy residential streets”….Yet the report proposes a zoning and development regime that would allow up to 8 stories without a serious discussion of how to protect the residential character of the low rise leafy residential streets.
    It was this observation that led me to the conclusion that there is no appreciation of the present character and nature of the community.

    For instance, since the approval of the 1978 Plan, how has the residential neighbourhood changed? How has the area been affected by demographic changes. How many rental units have been added within the housing stock of older buildings and how many units are now owner occuppied? How many families live in the area, versus 30 years ago? In all the changes that have taken place, what accomodation has there been for the realities of the community when it comes to policies coming out of City Hall that relate to the everyday life of the residents? Not only in terms of th ebig issues, liek allowing Kent Street to serve as a super highway through the community, but in other matters as well. For example, what opportunity is there for the community to absorb the changes to the waste management practices? How many units now have garbage bags, blue, black and green boxes all stored in the front porch or in the front yard because there was no provision made to accomodate them when the structure was converted from a single or two family residnece into a 10 unit apartment, with front yard parking and no landscaping.

    Finally, it is my observation that either the planning team missed on the importance of the designation, or that it does not want to now raise a possibly controversial issue. In either case, it is a planning issue that will have an impact on the future form and function of the community.

  • 2. Dan  |  August 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Earlier this week an item on the CBC evening news addressed the character of the area identifed as the gay village. The clip focused on the “controversy” as to whether the area should be given formal status. There were comments from the BID, from one business owner and from the area councillor.
    I have no opinion on the naming of the area. My concern is with the remarks of the councillor, who voiced frustration with the delay in formally designating the area. She was presentd on camera holding a sign with the name she evidently prefers.She believes it is an important issue that warrants council action.
    The BID representative stated there had been a survey of the businesses in the district, with the conclusion that the business community was opposed to a formal designation.
    The councillor’s response was that she intended to conduct a public consultation and that …I believe it is an accurate representation, “in the final anlaysis, I will make the decision”.
    Aside from the posturing and the politics of the matter, I believe it is significant for another reason.
    I am under the impression that the councillor has been consulted on the matter of the CDP. If this matter is a concern – if it is an issue, then it seems reasonable to ask the question why was the matter not raised as an issue for public consultation during the conduct of this planning study. If the intent of the planning process is to confirm the vision for the community of Centretown, does this matter not deserve some public discussion as part of the overall planning program?
    The “public” status of the CDP study is that it will be completed by September. So a week before the arrival of September, the councillor has idenitifed an issue of such grave importance that she intends to conduct a consultation program separate from the Community Design Plan – that goes to the very nature of the type of community that we are engaged in discussing. There seems to be a serious communications gap here.

    • 3. Administrator  |  September 2, 2011 at 9:13 am

      Hi Dan – In the CDP we have identified and made reference to the gay village, but specific naming rights are beyond what we were looking at in the CDP. We had not heard that this becoming an issue in the community, but if that is the case, we would support further consultation on the subject and think that the Councilors approach makes sense (if this is a locally contentious issue). Deciding whether to formalize a name of an area/neighbourhood does not really impact of the CDP, especially in light of the fact that it has already been identified as a distinct place. Personally, I think that it would be great to call a spade a spade and bring some formalization and a ‘shout out’ to what is an important and enriching part of the city….but that is just my opinion. I am sure that the Councilor will find many others when she starts the consultation process.

  • […] Does Mid-Centretown Exist?? June 2010 10 comments […]

  • 5. Dan  |  December 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Here it is the end of the year and I am taking the opportunity to get back to a more thorough examination of the planning documents for the Mid Centretown CDP
    I just want to comment on my post and your response dated way back in July. Your response stated that Kent Street is “busy, dirty (and I assume with respect to the traffic) – way too fast moving”.
    I tend to agree with you that Kent Street can be described in the manner you have put it. On this basis I re-affirm my objection to the inclusion of the western boundary of the street into the more dense area newly defined as Mid Centertown.
    I can foresee developement advocates then suggesting that five storey buildings along the length of Kent Street West would serve to provide a barrier to the noise and dirt of the fast paced thru way. In this way it would be seen as being beneficial to those unfortuate neighbours of the boundary line, which is now in their back or their side yard, rather than across the street.
    If the obective is to modulate the pace, noise and dirt of Kent Street “because it forms the eastern boundary of a residential neighbourhood, then the development of the eastern fringe of the Mid Centretown area (ie Kent Street East) should be the transition. The way it is being positioned in the plan, the zero spacing between the back or side yards of porperties fronting Kent Street form the boundary.
    By way of comparison, I prefer having the the Queensway form the boundary of Centretown rather than a positon put forth that “since the Queensway is …. noisy, dirty …. that it makes sense to allow 20 storey buildings on the north side of Catherine Street to serve as the break point and modulate the undesireable influence of the thru way.
    We are not about to alter the nature of the Queensway. We can do something about Kent Street. Or at least that is my hope and belief as part of the planning process.

  • 6. Ross  |  July 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm


  • 7. Thomas mcveigh  |  July 18, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I own my home at the corner of Kent and Florence, across the street from a ten story apartment building. I can see why Kent st. is included on both sides but don’t see why you’ve excluded my home from your map of mid centretown

    Unless the idea is to define mid centretown as somewhere to direct highrises. In which case I think the community might have an issue with the direction of the plan.

    • 8. midcentretown  |  July 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Thomas – the thinking behind the mapping in that location was that this part of Centretown doesnt typically support 10 storey apartment buildings – the one opposite your place is pretty out of the ordinary. But looking again at the plan, maybe it would be better to include this part in MCT?

      The idea wasnt to define an area for high rises, it was to try to figure out how and if this part of Centretown is distinct from other parts – does it justify a “Mid Centretown” title? Althoug the boundary might need to be revised, I think that overall, this part of the neighbourhood is quite disctinct to the rest of Centretown.

  • 9. Phil Castro  |  July 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Interesting…I own a home on Arlington Ave. at Percy and I admit I was surprised when NOT included in the boundary. I work on Preston and Centretown does not cross Bronson (I do everyday though). So, II would say with a high degree of certainty that it does go up to Bronson. Also, I don’t think the Golden Triangle is in Centretown, but it does go up to Elgin as for south…the Queensway is a no brainer…North…Well that’s where it can get tricky…

  • 10. Dan  |  July 12, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Could you provide an explnation as to why the west boundary along Kent Street includes the west side of Kent street, which then includes the properties fronting on Kent and backing onto the residcential streets. Would it make sense to only include the east side of Kent street and use that as a boundary, much like the qeensway separates the Glebe from Centretown or the canal does between the Glebe and Old Ottawa South. I don’t understand the rationale of having a back side yard being a boundary.

    • 11. midcentretown  |  July 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Dan – that is a good question.

      The rationale for including the eastern side of Kent is more about how Kent Street functions through the city as street and less about how the stable residential neighbourhood operates further to the east. We wanted to capture both sides of the street, because we feel that anything fronting onto this busy, dirty, way too fast moving street is affected by these conditions and would benefit from improvements. Very few streets operate as just one side, so the boundary that you compare it too – like the canal or the 417 underpass isn’t quite the same condition as it is here.

      That said, we fully appreciate that the character of the area changes dramatically and very quickly as soon as you move in from Kent Street. We have no intentions of changing those stable areas to the east of Kent.

  • 12. J  |  July 7, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I live in mid-Centretown and psychologically for me the area Is bound by Bank at the West, Argyle at the South, Bronson at the East and the horrible Queensway. I know that’s a small area, but the areas with higher buildings, and modern architecture feel like different areas.

    • 13. midcentretown  |  July 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

      Hi J – you are not kidding when you say that it is a “small area”!! I am not 100% sure that I follow your directions though – do you mean Bronson to the west, Bank to the east and Argyle to the north? Meaning that little strip along teh 417? Please clarify.
      Many thanks – Ross

  • 14. Scott  |  June 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Going west, past Kent to Bronson, is that referred too as West Centretown then?

    And Bronson to.. Preston is Chinatown? bounded by somerset and gladstone?

    Could you post the neighbourhood image in the post perhaps?

    • 15. midcentretown  |  June 24, 2010 at 3:56 pm

      Hi Scott – we are working on a graphic to show it … but that wont be up and ready for a while. I wanted to get the discussion going before that though.


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Welcome to Mid-Centretown Tomorrow, the official project blog for the Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan, commissioned by the City of Ottawa! This is the place to learn about and participate in discussions regarding the future of Mid-Centretown.

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