GCA keeps calm and carries on

Sarah Viehbeck President GCA

You might think that community issues disappear when you are in isolation, but this is not the case. The Glebe Community Association had an unexpectedly busy month.

Social Distancing

Health issues were front and centre. Having places to walk while physical distancing was one of the issues. The GCA applauded the National Capital Commission for its pilot project to close part of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway to cars, and it wrote to the NCC asking it to extend both the duration and the distance. We’d love to see the space extend as far as possible towards Preston while remembering some residents require access to the Driveway to access their homes.

We also discussed Bank Street. In an effort to provide safe social distancing while accessing essential stores, councillor Shawn Menard made a proposal to close the parking lane on three blocks of Bank Street, on the west side from Glebe Avenue to Third Avenue. Many Glebe residents have felt unsafe because it’s difficult to maintain physical distance on sidewalks. However, we also heard concerns from businesses – they worry about reduced parking, which makes it harder for customers to be dropped off and picked up, and about operational issues related to deliveries and garbage. Another concern was the possible unintended impact of encouraging people to congregate in an already busy area. Since a healthy community requires both healthy residents and healthy businesses, the GCA focused on hearing both sides and promoting dialogue. At the time of writing, constructive conversations were taking place.

Cannabis Store

A cannabis store has applied for a licence to set up shop in the former Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s site. The province has a special process for considering licenses for cannabis stores that requires public notice to invite those with concerns to submit objections. The notification for the Good Cannabis Store was posted during the pandemic when few people were on Bank Street and the store window was covered with Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s bags, making the notice hard to spot. The GCA advised the community about application through a communiqué to members so individuals could comment. The board itself declined to take a position as cannabis retailing is a legal business, and we do not normally comment when businesses want to open, especially when there are empty storefronts. That said, there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and there could be a hearing to discuss public concerns.

Proposed Patterson Creek Bistro

Another commercial operation that has a legal requirement for stakeholder consultation is the NCC’s proposed Patterson Creek Bistro.
The NCC ombudsperson recently concluded that the commission had failed to follow its own policies on consultation for this pilot project and needed to re-engage before any pilot this summer. On April 28, the GCA heard that the NCC intended to go forward with consultations and plans for a bistro this summer. We were stunned this project would go ahead when parks and businesses are closed, and we asked the NCC to hold off for another year. At the time of writing, the NCC was considering this request and we are hopeful that the the pilot project will be delayed until summer 2021.

The GCA also made submissions to the city on broader matters. The board urged all levels of government to protect vulnerable populations during COVID-19, particularly the homeless and women at risk, by providing housing in hotels so they can isolate safely.

Urban Boundary

The GCA made a formal submission to city council to ask that the current urban boundary be maintained. The GCA, along with the Federation of Citizens’ Associations and many others, views expansion as antithetical to the climate-change imperative. Urban sprawl entails longer commutes and increased greenhouse gases as well as the loss of farmland, habitat and recreational areas. At the same time, we recognize the implications for urban communities. In the coming months, the GCA board will pursue discussions of what intensification could or should mean for the Glebe. Holding the line on urban sprawl will mean making room for more people in central, 15-minute walkable communities such as ours, so it’s important for us to consider what kind of intensification would suit our neighbourhood and then advocate for it.


While the GCA has been discussing matters by ZOOM, it is not an ideal format for our annual general meeting. We have therefore postponed our AGM until September, date and place to be confirmed. If in-person meetings are still impossible then, we will proceed with a virtual meeting. The AGM is when members elect a new board. We still have openings. If you are interested in joining a diverse group of neighbours who advocate for a liveable, sustainable urban community, please reach out to us at gca@glebeca.ca and we’d be happy to discuss what is involved.

As mentioned last month, we have cancelled the Great Glebe Garage Sale in what would have been its 35th year. The sale usually raises about $12,000 for the Ottawa Food Bank, which needs help this year more than ever. In honour of our long-standing tradition of support, please consider a donation this May to the Ottawa Food Bank.

The GCA is also asking for your support. For decades, we have gone door to door in May to sell memberships for $10 a household. Since we can’t canvass this year, we ask you to sign up or renew your membership online at glebeca.ca. We are an entirely volunteer group –membership not only gives us credibility to lobby, it also pays for hosting public meetings and organizing events like the Great Glebe Garage Sale.

The next GCA board meeting will be on Tuesday, May 26 at 7 p.m. We will send out information to community association members in advance. If you have just recently become a member and are not yet on the mailing list, contact secretary@glebeca.ca.

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