Stittsville Main Street is the centre and soul of our community. It links neighbourhoods from north to south and intersects with important east-west routes including Hazeldean Road and the Trans Canada Trail. In many ways Stittsville Main is what differentiates Stittsville from other suburban communities in Ottawa.
Ask residents why they moved to Stittsville and many will tell you “the village feel”. To this day, the historic village remains visible through the 19th century buildings around Abbott Street where a busy rail station was once a magnet for commerce and employment. Stittsville’s rail history lives on at Village Square Park – a community gathering place; and the Trans Canada Trail, the former rail route, now turned into an active corridor for walking, cycling, running and skiing.
My goal is to help Stittsville Main Street continue to evolve, so that it continues to be a point of civic pride for our community. To that end, I’ve published a discussion paper called “Revitalizing Stittsville Main Street” at glengower.ca/stittsville-main.
This document is a starting point to engage our community in a discussion about the future of Stittsville Main Street. We’re also organizing activities from now until the end of March to gather feedback and start prioritizing projects to help improve the street.
A good start – but plenty of room for improvement
For many years after the end of railway service in the 1990s, the economic health of the street has been on the decline, but in the last five years we have seen an encouraging mix of small independent businesses moving back to the street.
There are still a lot of challenges. As a transportation corridor, it currently functions as an arterial road, moving a high volume of vehicles between the north and south ends of Stittsville. The speed and volume of traffic prevent Stittsville Main Street from reaching its full potential. A lack of vision over the decades has led to a patchwork of styles and designs that are not always complementary. Large gaps between existing businesses have prevented the critical mass of retail that’s needed to attract residents, while at the same time presenting an opportunity for healthy new development.
We’ve seen several initiatives to shape the future of Stittsville Main Street over the past few decades. Most recently, Ottawa City Council adopted a new Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan (CDP) in 2015. The CDP process was initiated after a contentious development proposal made it clear that a more robust zoning and planning framework was needed to protect and enhance the character of the street.
One of the challenges we face now is that beyond the CDP – which is primarily a bureaucratic land-use document – there is no cohesive plan for revitalization. In fact, there hasn’t yet been any real effort to even bring the various stakeholders together to discuss the ideas and set some priorities.
Despite all of this, I still have a lot of optimism for this street. There is no shortage of enthusiasm from residents and other stakeholders about the need to kickstart some healthier development. That’s what this discussion paper is all about. It’s a “first stab” at identifying current challenges, collecting the good ideas, and setting priorities.
I want to hear from you! Visit my web site to download the document, fill out our questionnaire, or attend one of our public workshops. Join the discussion so that we can start working towards a healthy and vibrant Stittsville Main Street that we can all be proud of.
(Editor’s Note: We encourage you to read Councillor Gower’s discussion paper, complete the survey and participate in the public meetings that have been organized to take place on March 4 and March 7. Through your comments, suggestions and participation, the initiative to rejuvenate Stittsville Main could bring our community together — and return the energy to this important corridor — something for which we should all be proud!)
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