Here’s what we’ve heard so far…

Executive Summary – Results of the visual preference survey and input from Pop-up Consultation (October-November 2015) Community’s Vision for Bank Street (between Pretoria & Holmwood)

ImagineGlebe is a community visioning project that was initiated by the Glebe Community Association (GCA). In the first phase of this project we have focused on Building a Vision for Bank Street: Strengthening our Community’s Traditional Mainstreet.

Upwards of 30% of properties along Bank Street are underdeveloped or in need of redevelopment, with the recent development of Lansdowne Park signalling a period of transition for the street. This project has been designed to develop recommendations and an implementation plan aimed at reinvigorating Bank Street, including:

  • urban design considerations;
  • built form (building height, setbacks, stepbacks, etc.);
  •  land Use (new / additional businesses/services);
  • public/social space; and
  • streetscaping and street animation.

Through the initial consultation process, we actively and creatively sought input from a broad community that included not only residents, but also business owners, visitors to the Glebe, and those in the development community. Bank Street is successful when it serves not only the local community but the City as a whole. Recognising this, the project sought to incorporate ideas and feedback from all of these constituents groups.

popup outsideHow did we engage with the community?

We knew that a broad approach to engagement was needed to develop a true community vision. We valued input from those who are already actively engaged in our community’s development. But, we also wanted to reach out beyond regular contributors, to get input from youth and young professionals in our community, from families who are too busy driving kids to hockey practice to attend an evening meeting at the Community Centre, and from visitors spending a Saturday afternoon shopping or going to a restaurant in the Glebe. To make it easier for people to tell us what they thought, we needed to go where they were, rather than expecting them to come to us.

Project preparation got underway in May of 2015. The Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA) jumped in and participated in the project – a BIA Board member, who is also a local developer, agreed to be on an Advisory Committee. Background articles in the Glebe Report presented the ImagineGlebe project and discussed key urban design elements of Traditional Mainstreets. Then we developed a visual preference surv ey that was distributed online at the end of October. It was kept live for a month. GCA members were contacted directly by email, but we also promoted it through social media and by tapping into other networks including neighbouring Community Associations, the Ottawa EcoDistrict, and the BIA. The Community Centre’s Youth Group used their youthful charm to promote it directly to people on Bank Street itself and in local coffee shops – passing cards with the survey link and encouraging people to do the survey and add their views to the conversation.

Importantly, through the generous donation of storefront space, we expanded our community consultation at a Pop-up venue on Bank St. from November 6-16, 2015. Following a successful launch, and with the help of many keen volunteers, we received feedback from a cross-section of glebites and visitors to the Glebe as they strolled along Bank Street. Visitors to the Pop-up consultation were invited to complete the survey on site using available tablets, as well as provide comments on visual elements temporarily covering the walls of the Bank Street storefront. In total, 885 people completed the online survey. Importantly, 30% of the completed surveys came from people from outside the Glebe. Roughly 1000 people visited the Pop-up venue and over 10,000 written comments were received (from the survey and Pop-up consultation).

popuStreetscapeWhat did we hear from the community?

A clear vision emerged from the ratings of statements about Bank Street. The vision was shared by residents, business owners and employees, people from other urban and suburban areas, and respondents of all ages. A very strong consensus emerged that in future:

  • It will be a place for people to gather, not just a shopping district.
  • One of the attractive things will be the variety of smaller buildings and businesses
  • Buildings will be designed to reflect its historic nature as a Traditional Mainstreet
  • Bank Street will be a vibrant, bustling and safe place to be.

See below for images from the survey that received strong support as elements of a future vision for Bank Street.

The next steps in this project will be to:

  • refine the vision
  • share the results as part of a community forum
  • draft Community Development Plan (CDP)
  • Implement the CDP!



ImagineGlebe launch attracts enthusiastic crowd

On Friday, November 6, ImagineGlebe opened its doors to the 10-day “Pop Up” consultation space on Bank Street. We hosted the official project launch in the storefront space generously donated by MODA Development Corporation. Many thanks go to The Clocktower Brew Pub and Bronson Consulting Group for providing Friday evening refreshments for an enthusiastic crowd. The event kicked off an engaging conversation among people who live, work or play on Bank Street about a future vision for our traditional main street.

Joining us to lend support to the project and participate in the exchange of views were Mayor Jim Watson, our own Councillor David Chernushenko, and councillors Jan Harder and Jeff Leiper (Chair and member of the City’s Planning Committee, respectively), and MPP Yasir Naqvi.

The Glebe does not have a Community Design Plan, a planning document that “translates the principles and policies of the Official Plan to the community scale,” because it is not recognized by the City as an area with significant development potential. But as Mayor Watson indicated in his remarks, this visioning project should be a good tool for residents, merchants and visitors to “dream smart” when it comes to how they would like to see this traditional main street evolve and develop in the future.

We asked. More than 
875 people answered!

Well over 875 people have already shared their vision for Bank Street through our online survey. Significantly, non-Glebe residents completed almost 30 percent of surveys. This will be very helpful in generating ideas that will continue to make Bank Street in the Glebe a destination for visitors. We also welcomed (encouraged!) hundreds into the consultation space itself over 10 days to view images and maps, and post comments on the wall alongside those of others.

Questions…. and lots of ideas!

Initially, visitors to the Pop Up had lots of questions: What is the project all about? [A vision for Bank Street in the Glebe]. Are we an anti-development group? [No]. Did we not realize that Bank Street had just been reconstructed a few years ago? [Yes]. Why do we need a vision or plan? [I think the best answer to this last question lies in the words of the late Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”]

Toward a vision for Bank Street

Preliminary analysis of the survey input suggests that there is strong consensus among residents, business owners and employees, people from other urban and suburban areas, and respondents of all ages for the following elements of a vision for Bank Street. It should be:
• a vibrant, bustling and safe place,
• a place for people to gather, not just a shopping district,
• a street with a variety of smaller buildings and businesses that add to its attractiveness, and
• a street where buildings are designed to reflect its nature as a historic traditional main street.

Respondents believe that visual variety, small to medium storefront widths, pedestrian-scale buildings, and buildings with historical elements are important to the street. More significant building stepbacks are important where greater height is contemplated [N.B. a stepback is the setting back of the upper storeys of a base building or of a tower from the face of a base building]. Trees, green spaces, more seating and various forms of art are all seen as highly desirable. Many ideas for new businesses and services that would be integral to the vision also surfaced and are being forwarded to the Glebe BIA.

The questions posed and images presented in the survey were intended to provoke thought and discussion about all of these and other issues. The ImagineGlebe committee will make full results available in December on the ImagineGlebe website ( and the Glebe Community Association website (

Next steps in the project will be to identify and refine vision elements. We will engage stakeholders in the New Year to develop practical recommendations and action items that meet the aspirations of the community and the objectives of the City.
Email us at, like us on Facebook ImagineGlebe, or follow Twitter @ImagineGlebe for future project updates.

Carolyn Mackenzie is chair of the Glebe Community Association’s ImagineGlebe Committee.

What do you like?

Our ImagineGlebe Committee will be seeking your input as we undertake a visual preference survey for Glebe’s Bank Street.

BankSt4StoryWe are eager to hear from you!

In the coming weeks we will launch a survey – available online AND through our mobile survey teams at various locations around the neighbourhood.

The results of this survey will be shared at a GCA community open house in the new year as part of developing a forward thinking Vision, supported by a broad cross section of the community – residents, business owners, developers. Our approach is to be creative, collaborative, and positive – to build a vision for the future. The end goal is to develop recommendations aimed at reinvigorating and further animating Bank Street, including:

  • Urban design considerations
  • Built form (building height, setbacks, stepbacks, etc.)
  • Land Use (new/additional businesses/services)
  • Public space / Social Space
  • Streetscaping + street animation

If you look carefully, upwards of 30% of Bank Street in the Glebe is in need of some form of (re)development. A broadly supported Vision can guide the transformation of surface parking lots and underdeveloped sites/space in a way that will contribute to the vibrancy and attractiveness of Bank Street.

Stay tuned for more information on upcoming consultation events. For more information, Follow our blog, “Like” us on Facebook at ImagineGlebe, Twitter @ImagineGlebe or email us at

ImagineGlebe is a community visioning project initiated by the Glebe Community Association (GCA).

How do you Imagine Bank Street in 20 years?

BankStGlebereport1Bank Street in the Glebe is actually a place. “I’m going to Bank Street!” I call out before I leave the house. I shop there, meet friends and colleagues, go for coffee and walk my dog. I look in store fronts to see what is new. I’m no different from most people – we are naturally drawn to places that attract other people. Just think of the recent explosion of coffee shops – is it really just about our collective addiction to coffee? Or are they meeting basic social human needs?

Bank Street in the Glebe has been a successful “place” for a long time. It meets both functional and social needs. People don’t simply go to Bank Street – they stay, and connect with people. It has the advantage of many vibrant historical mainstreets. It was “designed” and built to reflect a human scale before the emergence of cars shifted priorities. It scores well on “walkability” ratings, and includes public space to relax, gather, and be entertained. Storefronts tend to be narrower and continuous, with inviting doorways and windows. Sidewalks are relatively uncluttered and safe from vehicular traffic. Buildings don’t loom, allowing sun to reach the sidewalks, and building detail is focused at eye level to maintain interest as you walk. In short, it is a lively place.

Recently I walked and looked at the full length of Glebe’s Bank Street. I really looked. And I was surprised by the properties that were no longer in use, or seriously underused. In fact, roughly 30% of Bank Street frontage when tallied up. Consider the following: McKale’s automotive (Bank/Fifth), the former LCBO (Powell Avenue) and Bucklands store (First Avenue), and the Beer Store., and the recent fire site. Suddenly they stood in stark contrast to some very attractive stretches and spots along Bank Street. The blocks between 1st and 4th Avenue provide lots of continuing and interesting storefronts. The Starbucks patio, essentially functioning as public space – with a tree offering shade, a low knee wall providing casual seating for passers-by to stop and chat, and the outdoor location itself an ideal place to people watch. These areas are successful at attracting people.

Redevelopment of the under-used properties won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, and that is a good thing. City policies including intensification along “Traditional Mainstreets” (see background on this designation in accompanying GR article) will surely have an impact. The question is whether and how it will enhance life on Bank Street. How will adjoining neighbourhoods be affected, and life in our city generally?

Think about what the neighbourhoods look like in cities you like to visit – what elements invite you not just to pass by, but to stay, and to return again? Jan Gehl, a renowned architect and urban designer who has worked around the world, has spent his career thinking about just those questions – the connection between architecture, physical form, and human behavior that result in successful city life, or “liveliness”. In his book, “Cities for People”, he says, “City life does not happen by itself or develop automatically simply in response to high density. The whole issue requires a targeted and considerably more varied approach. Lively cities require compact city structure, reasonable population density, acceptable walking and biking distances and good quality city space. Density, which represents quantity, must be combined with quality in the form of good city space”.

So how will we meet city planning/intensification goals while adding to the quality of city life, public space? How can the community participate in and develop a “targeted and varied approach”? How can we provide input and continue to build on the successful “place” or Traditional Mainstreet (TM) that is Bank Street?

The City of Ottawa’s Official Plan states that Community Design Plans (CDPs) are meant to “translate the principles and policies of the Official Plan to the community scale”. So a CDP seems like the right tool. Many areas including Wellington West have them. CDPs have introduced refinements to city policies that work with local circumstances. But the city does not intend to develop a CDP for the Glebe or for Bank Street.
With BIA and local developer involvement, the GCA is launching a community-based, forward thinking visioning exercise this fall. It is intended to assist in managing development and growth that will meet community needs as well as the city’s strategic growth policies.

How do you ImagineGlebe (Bank Street) in 20 years?

Like this?GlebeReportModel1

or like this?Glebereportmodel2

The ImagineGlebe Committee of the GCA will be seeking your input on these issues and we are eager to hear from you. Stay tuned for more information on upcoming consultation events. For more information, check us out on Facebook at ImagineGlebe, Twitter @imagineGlebe or email us at

Carolyn Mackenzie
Chair, Glebe Community Association Planning Committee/ImagineGlebe

Unwrapping the Traditional Mainstreet (TM)

BankSt11What does “Traditional Mainstreet” conjure up in your mind? Many people might imagine a heritage era high street with low-rise buildings, and a collection of shops and services serving a town or local community.

In Ottawa, “Traditional Mainstreet” (TM) is the term used to refer to a planning zone in the city’s Official Plan. The purpose of the zone is to:

  • Accommodate a broad range of land uses (retail, office, residential, etc.)
  • Promote compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development
  • Recognise the function of Business Improvement Areas as primary business/shopping areas, and,
  • Impose development standards to ensure that street continuity, scale and character is maintained, and that uses are compatible and complement surrounding land uses.

BuildingEnvelopeHow does the TM zone do this? Through zoning provisions, that spell out things such as allowable residential and non-residential uses (i.e. yes to mixed use buildings, no to automotive services and drive thrus), setbacks from property lines, and building height.

For example, the maximum that a building can be set back from the property line is 2 metres – the intent is to ensure a fairly continuous “edge” along the street. The TM zone also requires that buildings be no shorter than 6.7 metres (roughly 2 storeys), and no taller than 20 metres (roughly 6 storeys). The figure above illustrates what type of building form is allowed under the default Traditional Mainstreet zoning provisions (and how it could relate to residential zone).

Does this mean that Traditional Mainstreets in Ottawa can all be created/developed equally? Quite literally, no.

For example, take something as fundamental as street width. Bank Street in the Glebe is one of the narrowest, if not the narrowest, TM zoned streets in the city. At just 18 metres wide (as compared to 20 -22 metres elsewhere), this narrower width leads to different choices about providing for sidewalks, vehicle lanes, room for cyclists, and other elements typical of mainstreets such as sidewalk trees and café seating. Ever wonder why outdoor seating is limited, why our newly planted street trees are largely failing to thrive?

Street width is one of a number of basic parameters that needs to be considered when thinking about streetfront development. Too little height along a wider street can result in a lack of a sense of “enclosure” for pedestrians – in other words, people start to feel a bit exposed or uncomfortable, unless elements such as trees or awnings can be added.   Too much height can result in significant sun shading, a feeling of being loomed over, and increased wind tunnel effects. All things that don’t encourage people to visit, to gather, to spend time on our Mainstreet. But with some care and imagination, these elements can be addressed to foster an inviting experience.

In other Traditional Mainstreet areas including Elgin Street, Beechwood, Wellington West and Main Street (Old Ottawa East), the city has developed more tailored approaches to the general provisions of relevant planning policies, through establishment of Community Design Plans (CDPs). These CDPs are meant to “translate the principles and policies of the Official Plan to the community scale”.

What kind of refinements have other communities made?

On Elgin Street:

  • a cap of 600 square metres of gross floor area on ground floor uses, and maximum storefronts no wider than 20 metres (to ensure a diverse streetfront that fosters a more interesting pedestrian experience)
  • maximum building height is 15 metres/4 storeys rather than 20 metres/6 storeys (to encourage reasonable “enclosure” and maintain sidewalk sun)

On Beechwood Avenue:

  • a minimum building setback from front lot line of 2 metres above the first 3 storeys, rather than the default 4 storeys (to increase sun on sidewalks and encourage more pedestrian friendly scale).
  • Reduction in required rear yard setback requirements to 5 metres from 7.5 metres (for the first 3 storeys) to enable development of building lots that are not very deep.

In Wellington West:

  • A minimum building setback from front lot line of 2 metres about the first 3 storeys, rather than default 4 storeys, for buildings higher than 4 storeys (similar to Beechwood provision)

On Main Street (Old Ottawa East):

  • A minimum building setback of 2 metres is required (rather than 0 metres) on Main Street, which already is wider at 20 metres.  This provision would result in a minimum “street width” (ie distance between facing buildings) of 24 metres (as compared to 18 metres on Bank Street).
  • A parking garage will only be allowed below grade in a building (to create a more pedestrian/people friendly street “edge”.

What do you think about future development of our Traditional Mainstreet, Bank Street in the Glebe? Are there elements from other communities that you think should be incorporated? Other uses, services or businesses that you would like to see?

Send your comments to .  Please “Like” IMAGINEGLEBE on Facebook to get more updates!

Carolyn Mackenzie

Chair, Glebe Community Association Planning Committee/ImagineGlebe

ImagineGlebe… A long Term Development Vision for the Glebe!

BankStrettTMmapPhase 1 will focus on… Building a Vision for Bank Street: Strengthening our Community’s Traditional Mainstreet

Why do we need a Vision or Plan for Bank Street in the Glebe?

Consider that upwards of 30% of the Bank Street TM area is, by any reasonable standard, ripe for redevelopment.  This includes properties such as: the recent fire site south of Fifth Avenue, closed McKale’s automotive, LCBO and Bucklands stores, as well as underutilised properties including the Beer Store, Rogers, Kundstadt, and the parking lot on the corner of Clemow Avenue.

Community stakeholders, including both residents and business owners, recognise the importance of managing the growth that will of course occur, so that it meets the needs of both the community and the City.

A vision or plan is an important basis for ensuring the ongoing attractiveness and viability of the community as a place for a range of socio-economic groups to live, work and play.

The City of Ottawa will not lead and fund the development of a Community Design Plan that would “translate the principles and policies of the Official Plan to the community scale” as it does not consider the Glebe as a high growth area,

So we need to do it on our own!

What are the Objectives of Phase 1: Building a Vision for Bank Street?

  • To act as the community’s guide to the long-term design and development of Bank Street in the Glebe, as reflected in the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan and related Policies for residents, developers, commercial operators, and city planners.
  • To identify the planning and development objectives including zoning and urban design considerations, land development proposals, open/public space, streetscape, road improvements (to the extent possible given recent street rebuild), and civic initiatives, and other issues of concern to the local community.
  • To facilitate discussions and seek consensus related to future development of the neighbourhood.
  • To implement resulting proposals as appropriate (i.e. through development of guidelines, Secondary Plan development, community action, etc.).

The resulting community vision will guide both the development of private lands and any public works (both the City and other government agencies) within the Bank Street TM area. The intent is to advocate for implementation of the Vision in ways that will satisfy both community aspirations and the relevant strategic growth management policies of the City of Ottawa’s Official plan.

What is our general approach going to look like?

We want the Vision to speak to what our community is FOR

We want this Visioning project to be POSITIVE, CREATIVE, COLLABORATIVE, and FUN!!

We are seeking creative ways to get as much input, from as many people in the community as possible

We want to have fun with this, but we are intent on doing a serious job that the community can get behind

We plan on working with community partners and city leadership to implement the plans

Where is the Bank Street Traditional Mainstreet area? What does it include?

The Bank Street (TM) is that section of Bank Street between Highway 417/Queensway and Holmwood Avenue. The large majority of this area is designated as Traditional Mainstreet, as per the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan.

The boundary area will take into account adjacent properties including residential and Lansdowne Park (“zones of influence”) so that it may address how development in the TM zone transitions appropriately to such properties.

What is the High level Vision for Bank Street?

The Working Group for this exercise developed a High Level vision, approved by the Glebe Community Association, to act as a starting point for this exercise. It reflects the City of Ottawa’s Official Plan, and relevant policies including, importantly, Traditional Mainstreet (TM) policies that designate Bank Street as one of a number of TM “streets that offer some of the most significant opportunities in the city for intensification through more compact forms of development, a lively mix of uses and a pedestrian-friendly environment.”

In no particular order, the high level vision will support:

  • a healthy, livable and economically viable community
  • an attractive and viable place for a range of socio-economic groups to live, work and play
  • a “destination” that will attract residents and those from other neighbourhoods to local businesses
  • quality urban design that also values and reflects our community’s heritage
  • mixed residential and commercial/office space
  • specialty stores, restaurants and entertainment services that support the residential nature of the local Glebe community
  • a walkable neighbourhood that encourages non-car modes of transport
  • strong “green” stewardship, including trees
  • important public/community spaces

When will all of this take place?

  • We are currently working on preparatory activity for this project.
  • We are aiming to do an official launch followed by community consultation activities in October and November.
  • Following with community forums in December and January where we will assess the best ideas and options generated during consultations, we will produce a draft report for the community.
  • We hope you will get involved at all of these project stages – but we will take your input and feedback any way we can get it!

 How can you get involved? 

    • Tell us what you think!   Join the conversation, participate in community consults and forums, on-line surveys, etc.
    • See what your neighbours think! Check in with us regularly to see what others in the community have to say and give us your feedback