Bringing needed improvements to Bank Street 

Bringing needed improvements to Bank Street 


I think we all know how important Bank Street is to our neighbourhood, surrounding communities and the city as a whole. It is one of the most important north-south connections in our city, as well as a well-loved destination in its own right.  

For all its uses, its role as a focal point in each neighbourhood through which it runs far outshines its use as a traffic corridor. People in the Glebe know this, implicitly or explicitly. Recently, the Glebe Community Association released a study on potential improvements to the neighbourhood’s transportation network (you can read it at their website, I want to thank the GCA for taking on this work. We, too, believe transportation can be improved in the Glebe, and fixing up Bank Street is key to that goal. 

Bank Street has its issues. Coming into office five years ago, I knew that improving Bank Street would be a priority for our office. Concerns about safety and traffic levels, the need to maintain and enhance vibrancy, and desires for better transit and more transportation options dominate discussions. 

We want to see Bank Street become a street that prioritizes the needs of the community, enhances small business activity (with more patios), improves safety and induces less congestion (ie: improved quality of life for residents who use the street). 

Within months of coming into office, we found an opportunity to make long-needed improvements to the Bank Street Canal Bridge. The bridge was being resurfaced. Usually that wouldn’t include any changes to the design of the bridge, but we were able to secure funding and pass a motion at council to enhance safety on the bridge, add separated bike lanes and design a configuration that allowed for better sidewalk separation from vehicles and buses driving by. This is a huge improvement, providing a better connection between the Glebe and Old Ottawa South without creating more traffic along Bank. 

This is a key point we all have to remember: the design of the street determines the type of traffic and congestion you get.  

Transit has also been a big concern for residents of our ward and for people visiting our ward. Coming off COVID, there have been pressures at the city to cut transit services. In Capital Ward, though, we have been able to increase service along routes 6 and 7, adding articulated buses where they didn’t run before. In addition, we’ve increased the running time of route 56, giving the community an east-west connection that links up to Bank Street. 

Soon, we’ll also see improvements made to the Billings Bridge. We’ll have protected intersections, bicycle lanes and an advanced right turn lane onto Riverside. This bridge and the Riverside split have been the site of collisions and of tragedy, and these safety measures will help to connect the communities of the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, Heron Park and Alta Vista, opening up more city life to more residents. 

We’ve also worked to enhance the pedestrian experience along Bank. Since we’ve been in office, we’ve extended and prioritized pedestrian walk times, and last year we started seeing improvements to our street trees, work that will continue this year. 

And there’s still more work to be done this term of council. The city has launched an Active Transit and Transit Priority Study for Bank Street in the Glebe, a study we pushed for, with the help of the GCA and residents. This study will look at moving people to and around the Glebe in a better, safer, more efficient manner. And in the coming years, we expect the city to launch a similar study in Old Ottawa South. We know we need better facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users along this entire corridor, and we are excited to see what can be done for residents and businesses in our ward. 

With proper vision and commitment, the city could transform Bank Street, bolstering its identity as Ottawa’s main street. Changes that we have already implemented and that we are likely to see in the future will make Bank Street more people-focused. It will encourage more activity. It will bring more customers to local businesses. It will be better for our environment. 

And Bank Street will remain, now and forever, the place to be. 

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