The Future of Bronson and Bank

Bronson and Bank are two of the busiest streets in Ottawa – and very intertwined with the fabric of the Glebe. As new developments spring up and traffic patterns adjust to change, residents of the Glebe are encouraged to actively participate by voicing their opinions and concerns.

Whither Bank Street – our Traditional Mainstreet?
Bronson ‘active transportation’ audit anticipates reconstruction
Glebe residents have their say on Bronson

Whither Bank Street – our Traditional Mainstreet?
By Neil Copeland

Lansdowne developments. PHOTO: LIZ MCKEEN

Lansdowne developments. PHOTO: LIZ MCKEEN

With the new commercial and residential uses at Lansdowne, there has been much speculation about the redevelopment of several properties along Bank Street. One recent proposal for a two-storey commercial project at Bank and Fifth was publicly criticized as being underdeveloped in terms of the site’s potential, while the suggestion for another six-storey project was considered overdeveloped. Just what should the people who live, work and play in the Glebe expect of our Traditional Mainstreet?

According to the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan, “Mainstreet” is a General Urban Area designation for a street that allows for delivery of a range of daily goods and services to the local community, as well as specialized services to meet the needs of those who live outside the neighbourhood. “Mainstreets generally developed prior to 1945, designated as Traditional Mainstreets, typically set within a tightly knit urban fabric, with buildings that are often small-scale, with narrow frontages and set close to and addressing the street, resulting in a more pedestrian-oriented and transit friendly environment.” For those commercial districts developed in the 1950s and 1960s, there may be a blend of traditional main street and the car-oriented arterial main street.

In the Glebe, Bank Street from the Queensway to the Rideau Canal has the designation of Traditional Mainstreet (TM) Zone. Lansdowne, although on Bank Street, is not a designated TM Zone. One of the stated purposes of the TM Zone is to ensure that development maintains street continuity, scale and character. The TM Zone stipulates both non-residential and residential uses that are permitted. Typically, the ground floor is for commercial use while upper floors are for residential use. Car-oriented services such as gas bars, service stations and drive-through facilities are not permitted to be developed within this zone. The TM zoning also sets a maximum building height to retain the pedestrian-oriented nature of these important commercial districts.

During the 1970s, a height restriction of 35 feet was applied to most of the Glebe. With the adoption of the City’s Glebe Development Plan in the 1980s, a maximum height for Bank Street was set at 45 feet, or not more than four storeys. Although the general TM Zone has a higher maximum of not more than six storeys, the City’s zoning consolidation in 2008 restricted the TM Zone for Bank Street from Pretoria Avenue to the Rideau Canal to a maximum building height of 15 meters (49.2 feet).

The 1980s also saw the introduction of commercial uses on the second storey, as reflected in a few redevelopments such as Fifth Avenue Court. Since commercial use requires higher ceiling heights, it is difficult to accommodate more than two or three storeys within the 15-metre maximum. Many of our existing structures remain commercial on the first floor with one or two storeys of residential above. One recent redevelopment project at Strathcona and Bank saw a building with one-storey commercial and three additional storeys of residential, with the higher floors set back from the street. All proposals for three or four storeys on Bank Street should include commercial and residential components.

Over time, we should expect to see many of the properties on Bank Street being redeveloped, especially where one-storey structures exist today. If and when redevelopment of a property on Bank Street is proposed, it is important that meaningful public consultation be undertaken. It is important that you, as a member of the Glebe community, have an opportunity for input.

What do you think is important about our Traditional Mainstreet and its future? The Glebe Community Association would love to hear your thoughts about the future development of Bank Street. Please forward your comments to

Neil Copeland is a member of the Planning Committee of the Glebe Community Association.


Bronson ‘active transportation’ audit anticipates reconstruction

By Steve Harris

say A hardy group of individuals from the Glebe, Glebe Annex and Dow’s Lake communities gathered on November 22, a cool, blustery Saturday, to evaluate the state of Bronson in terms of its walkability, bike-friendliness and accessibility. The section of Bronson from Highway 417 to Colonel By Drive is scheduled for reconstruction when water mains and sewers are replaced between 2015 and 2018.

The Glebe Community Association (GCA) Traffic Committee sponsored the audit as preparation for upcoming 2015 consultations with city planners. Equipped with tape measures, timers, wheelchairs and clipboards, several subgroups ventured out to tackle a section of Bronson each, using a survey instrument created by the team, with the generous assistance of Ecology Ottawa, Walk Ottawa and Rescue Bronson. The audit consisted of 31 questions pertaining to sidewalks, bike lanes, curbs, traffic lights, speed limits, bus shelters and more. The questionnaires will be analyzed to create a report similar to previous audit reports prepared for Centretown and Lowertown.

The GCA Traffic Committee encourages users of Bronson to take a close look at the street and take their own notes over the winter to prepare their suggestions for improvements in the way we see and use that street. The aim is not to make Bronson a full-fledged “Complete Street” (like Main Street will be after reconstruction now underway), but rather to improve it as much as possible, given its current function. Such reconstructions happen only about every 50 years, so we must seize the opportunity at hand. It is important to remember that, like it or not, the City values the input of organizations more highly than that of individuals, and the earlier the input, the more likely it is to be taken into consideration. The audit will result in a formal report from all the communities to the City and our Councillor.

Anyone wishing to complete one of the surveys either alone or in a group should do so before the end of December. Please contact Karen Hawley at Ecology Ottawa at 613-860-5353 or visit

Steve Harris is a member of the Glebe Community Association Traffic Committee.


Glebe residents have their say on Bronson

By Shannon Moore

John Woodhouse can feel every crack and bump in the sidewalk on Bronson. Unlike pedestrians whose feet absorb the changes, his electric wheelchair struggles to move over them, making it uncomfortable and dangerous for him to travel along the street.

“I’m very concerned about curbs and the state of the sidewalk, because I’m a four-season driver,” he said. Woodhouse is one of a dozen individuals who gathered on Saturday to discuss changes to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists along Bronson Avenue in the Glebe.

“Bronson is such a highway in the middle of the city. It’s very noisy and people like to speed up,” Woodhouse said. “There’s absolutely no concern for pedestrians.”

“I think that doing an audit is terrific because you can look at the things that are really problem areas and have them addressed before the construction starts,” said Dianne Breton, chair of the volunteer group Ottawa Seniors’ Transportation Committee.

Karen Hawley, the Community Network Coordinator of Ecology Ottawa, echoed this statement. “The whole street will be upended, so we figured that it’s a great opportunity to get suggestions from the community,” she said.

Resident Steve Harris said he wants safe crossings on Bronson so that people on both sides of the street feel part of the same neighbourhood. “One of the reasons I got involved,” he said, “is that this road separates this neighbourhood from the rest of the Glebe. It’s a real barrier, because you feel you can’t actually walk across it. It’s a beautiful area and it’s just cut off by this street. It doesn’t have to be,” he said.

Volunteer and cyclist Les Whitney agreed with Harris. “There has to be connectivity. You really can’t avoid Bronson,” Whitney said.

Resident Jason Vallis lives on Bronson and is mostly concerned about the speed of cars driving by. He has a newborn baby and said he fears for the safety of his family. “I appreciate that it’s a regional road and that it’s an arterial route, but for me it’s the speed and the lack of enforcement,” he said. “This is a dangerous road, and we have an opportunity to get drivers to slow down and realize that people live here.” The speed limit in the area is 50 km/h, but residents feel that drivers frequently travel at least 15 to 20 km/h faster.

In October 2012, 27-year-old Carleton University student Krista Johnson was killed while cycling on Bronson near Holmwood Avenue. While some improvements to Bronson near Carleton have already been made, including brighter streetlights and new bike lanes, residents feel more changes are needed. Councillor David Chernushenko is working to redesign the existing ramps between Bronson and Colonel By and improve pedestrian crossings in the area. Former Capital Ward candidate Scott Blurton participated in the audit and hopes to see Chernushenko implement the changes that he proposed in his platform.

For now, the community is doing what it can to ensure the safety of its residents. “We want to establish a vision of what can be improved,” said Harris. “This is an area that is in the process of change,” added Whitney. “We’ll see how the city responds.”

Shannon Moore is a student at Carleton University and contributes when she can to the Glebe Report.

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