We have to reimagine the Glebe

Glebe businesses need to adapt to growing congestion. Can we reimagine the Glebe without cars? Photo: Liz McKeen

By Caren von Merveldt

In a time of rapid change in the Glebe, it is my growing belief that we have to reimagine how we live in and navigate around our neighbourhood.

As a resident and business owner here for more than 40 years, I am passionate about and committed to sustaining the quality of life that we who live in the Glebe have enjoyed for so many years.

Our population of residents and entrepreneurs is growing, with major construction either underway or about to begin. Many of the changes that come with this growth are positive, but they also bring disruption.

The old ways won’t work for much longer. Construction is reducing parking, not just in the short term but likely permanently. Parking spots will be reduced for individuals and business owners alike. In addition, a larger population is or will be competing for less available space for just about everything.

What’s the answer? In my opinion, we need new, creative solutions.

I was recently in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood in Toronto and took some time to observe how people get around. With parking virtually impossible to find, people walk, take public transportation or hail a cab or other ride-hailing services to go about their daily lives. The businesses where they work, dine and are entertained are very accommodating to the community. They have it figured out.

We can take a lesson from Toronto’s busy streets. As Glebites, we can – in fact we must – reimagine how we navigate without cars. We also have to encourage visitors to the neighbourhood to do the same. Before long, the easiest way to live here or visit will be to leave our vehicles at home.

As a business owner, I have to get more creative about how I attract and retain my customers. I hope my fellow entrepreneurs will do the same. How? By making it easy and convenient for customers to get through our doors. This means we have to work with developers to enable more livable neighbourhoods. It means City of Ottawa staff have to pay more attention to what entrepreneurs need to keep their businesses thriving. It means advocating strongly with our municipal councillors to ensure the disabled, the elderly – in fact everybody – can continue to patronize our businesses.

I am confident we can change our thinking and take action. Let’s get a conversation started!

Caren von Merveldt is a Glebite and owner of Von’s and Flipper’s. She began as an entrepreneur with Glebe Fish some 42 years ago. 

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