Hon Yasir Naqvi, MP Ottawa Centre

Thursday 11 January 2024

“Envisioning a Great Downtown,” presents a comprehensive suite of recommendations that tackle the challenges faced by Ottawa’s downtown communities

OTTAWA, January 11th — After a year of dedicated effort, the Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force is excited to announce the release of its comprehensive report, representing a significant milestone in its collective journey to transform downtown Ottawa into a vibrant, inclusive, and thriving community.

The Task Force, which is composed of affordable housing advocates, not-for-profit and for-profit housing developers, Indigenous leaders, sustainability advocates, tourism and economic development stakeholders, and local business improvement area representatives, has meticulously crafted a vision for a renewed downtown based on extensive feedback and input from Ottawa residents and stakeholders.

Yasir Naqvi, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, expressed his enthusiasm for the Task Force’s work, stating: “The Task Force’s comprehensive report is a testament to the power of community engagement and collaboration. Ottawa residents have spoken, and their input is woven into the fabric of these recommendations. I look forward to advocating for the implementation of these proposals at the federal level, ensuring our downtown becomes a place where everyone is excited to live, work, and visit.”

The Task Force report, “Envisioning a Great Downtown,” presents a comprehensive suite of recommendations that tackle the challenges faced by Ottawa’s downtown communities. The report recommends various short-, medium-, and long-term solutions to our community’s challenges within the themes of Living, Shaping, Playing, and Doing Business that can be implemented by each order of government.

Additionally, the report outlines possible solutions to known challenges downtown, such as the lack of affordable housing, tackling the chronic homelessness challenge, reinvigorating local businesses in a hybrid work environment by encouraging the return of residents and tourists, providing ideas for a more sustainable urban environment, and creating more inclusive community spaces that promote Indigenous reconciliation.

Finally, the Task Force report also looks into three transformative projects that our community should seriously explore. These projects include a revitalization and redevelopment of The Jackson Building, the old Ottawa Public Library, and l’Esplande Laurier.

Graeme Hussey, Task Force Co-Chair and President of Cahdco, emphasized the importance of community-driven revitalization, saying: “As Co-Chair of the Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force, I am proud to stand behind a report that not only addresses the physical aspects of our downtown but also reflects the diverse needs and aspirations of the people who call it home. This report is a blueprint for a vibrant, connected community, and I am committed to championing its implementation alongside my fellow task force members.”

Neil Malhotra, Task Force Co-Chair and Vice President of Claridge Homes, highlighted that “Our vision for downtown Ottawa goes beyond traditional ways of thinking about its development. It’s about supporting local business, growing the core’s economy, creating homes that families can live in, and developing attractions that draw people to the area on a routine basis. This comprehensive report is a culmination of our collective efforts, and as Co-Chair, I am eager to work with all stakeholders to revitalize downtown Ottawa.”

The Task Force spent the last year actively seeking feedback from a variety of external actors, including Ottawa residents through a large-scale online public consultation where hundreds made their voices heard. Additionally, the Task Force held workshop discussions with interested groups of stakeholders throughout the report development process.

Moving forward, the Task Force is committed to utilizing their report as a powerful advocacy tool, fueling joint and individual efforts at all levels of government and within the community, with the goal of ensuring that recommendations are not only acknowledged but also implemented to bring about positive, long-lasting change.

Quick Facts:

•      The Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force’s full report can be found online in both official languages and in PDF format here: https://yasirnaqvi.libparl.ca/2024/01/11/news-release-downtown-ottawa-revitalization-task-force-unveils-comprehensive-report-and-recommendations-for-a-vibrant-future/

•      The Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force Committee is composed of:

•      Graeme Hussey, President of Cahdco (Co-Chair)

•      Neil Malhotra, Vice President, Claridge Homes (Co-Chair)

•      A Representative from the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition

•      Mary Huang, President, Centretown Community Association

•      Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade

•      Sabrina Lemay, Executive Director, Bank Street BIA

•      Kevin McHale, Executive Director, Sparks Street BIA

•      Hugh Gorman, President, BOMA Ottawa

•      Catherine Callary, Vice President of Destination Development, Ottawa Tourism

•      Christophe Rivet, Director – Strategies, EVOQ Strategies

•      John Thomas, Founder, Azure Urban Developments

•      Mathieu Fleury, Former Councillor, Rideau-Vanier Ward

•      Ariel Troster, Councillor, Somerset Ward (Observer)

•      Stéphanie Plante, Councillor, Rideau-Vanier Ward (Observer)

•      A Representative from the City of Ottawa Mayor’s Office (Observer)

•      A Representative from the City of Ottawa Economic Development Office (Observer)

•      A Representative from the Treasury Board Secretariat (Observer)

•      The Task Force has engaged with the community on various levels, including four workshops with downtown commercial landlords, small- and medium-sized Ottawa businesses, local housing and immigration stakeholders, and local arts, tourism, and culture stakeholders. In addition, the Task Force also solicited input online from local residents, successfully speaking with 958 engaged Ottawa on the HowSpace virtual platform.

About the Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force:

The Downtown Ottawa Revitalization Task Force includes affordable/social housing advocates, not-for-profit and for-profit housing developers, Indigenous leaders, sustainability advocates, local business improvement area representatives, and tourism stakeholders, representing a comprehensive table of community and business leaders with the knowledge and experience needed to propose innovative, ambitious ideas for downtown Ottawa’s successful future.