Council approves ByWard Market makeover

The ByWard Market will soon get a fresh look after city councillors unanimously approved a “revitalization” plan for the neighbourhood.

But a car-free ByWard Market is not part of the plan – nor should it ever be, according to several councillors.

What the plan does include is a $1-million overhaul of the George Street Plaza, complete with new vendor stalls, seating and a horse fountain.

Although Diane Deans represents the suburban ward of Gloucester-Southgate, she was vocal in approving the ByWard Market revitalization plan. But she fell short of supporting a pedestrian-only tourist hub, later telling Metro it would be “too far, too fast.” Removing surface parking – particularly on York Street – would be a positive step, she said.

“If you take away all of the cars, you are going to make the businesses suffer in that area,” added Stittsville Coun. Shad Qadri. Orleans Coun. Bob Monette and Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley shared similar sentiments.

The notion of a pedestrian-only zone in the city’s tourist hub recently made headlines when former New York City transit commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan made the suggestion during a visit.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney, who’s known for travelling the city on two wheels, is warm to the idea. A future light rail will allow more people to travel downtown sans cars. Therefore, she said, the city should invest more in infrastructure that gets people walking and cycling.

“A car-free ByWard Market could be one way to achieve this,” she wrote in an email.

Councillors also approved two 26-storey, car-free student apartment towers on the block between Besserer and Rideau streets.

LRT was also on the agenda as councillors approved changes to three future LRT stations, including shifting the Cleary Station so it fronts on Richmond Road.

The move will affect the shopping plaza at 747 Richmond Road, but a city report said the shift would create more accessibility and visibility to cyclists and pedestrians. It also said there was potential to bundle the Cleary Station's construction with the redevelopment of the plaza.

This article originally appeared on on May 11.

with files from obj staff