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O-Town Hockey
Nov 1, 2007, 12:08 AM
Sparks Street

http://www.cbc.radio-canada.ca/images/facilities/ottawa/building01.jpg

http://www.worldofstock.com/slides/ANB1527.jpg

http://www.currencymuseum.ca/grfx/shared/map2.jpg

Sparks Street should really have a thread in this section. I was walking down Sparks today and it was really busy and looking pretty good. There are a few new restaurants and bars between Bank and O'Connor and the newly renovated facades beside the CBC building are almost all complete. There may not be many people moving to Sparks, but the number of condo units being built at Mondrian and Hudson Park will bring a lot more action to the Sparks Street area.

keninhalifax
Nov 1, 2007, 7:58 PM
A few points I'd like to raise:

It'd be great if the CBC building actually had a public entrance from Sparks Street.

The NCC needs to install better cultural/historical interpretive signage on the street to relate its significance in the history of Ottawa.

Some of the facades of the street's buildings are downright dilapidated. I'm not sure the exact ownership breakdown of the buildings on the street, but if it is indeed PWGSC that still owns the majority of the buildings I'm thinking of, they need to get on that.

Those dreadful concrete medians need to be redesigned or moved altogether.

The west end of the street and Escarpment Park provide a great physical opportunity to connect the cultural amenities within the Confederation Boulevard area with the NCC's new development at LeBreton Flats. The NCC might want to look into a way of making Sparks Street more accessible to the new community, thus strengthening its role as a thoroughfare.

LRT.

That's it from me for now. ;)

m0nkyman
Nov 1, 2007, 8:27 PM
How many decades is it now that people have been predicting Sparks St will finally start functioning Real Soon Now ®?

O-Town Hockey
Nov 1, 2007, 10:59 PM
How many decades is it now that people have been predicting Sparks St will finally start functioning Real Soon Now ®?

About the same number of years that people have been predicting large movements of population into the downtown core, it's actually happening now.

rakerman
Dec 9, 2009, 3:19 PM
It my opinion Sparks fails because it became a buisness district (does well during lunch Mon-Fri). The market flourishes because there are many condos and other housing nearby.

It's like NCC tried to build the Market on Sparks St, but it did not happen as it was already happening naturally in the ByWard Market area. Housing developers had to compete against huge businesses on Sparks for property but did not have to do that in the Market.

I think this is basically true. Sparks used to be in the core of a mixed-use district. You can see what the population pattern looked like in the Greber plan diagram.

http://qshare.queensu.ca/Users01/gordond/planningcanadascapital/greber1950/plates_doc/300/plate_4.jpg (https://qshare.queensu.ca/Users01/gordond/planningcanadascapital/greber1950/plates_doc/300/plate_4.jpg)

Downtown would have been full of middle and upper class residents going to and from work, to the train station, to shop on Rideau Street... Sparks was a channel for people moving around the city. (And of course it was a streetcar street.)

Turn the clock forward, stick all the civil servants out in the suburbs, and you've got Sparks stuck in the middle of the CBD / Financial District. It's like having a pedestrian shopping street across the middle of downtown (business district near the NYSE) New York - after 5 PM, it's dead (in Ottawa and even in New York). Sparks goes from nowhere to pretty much nowhere - there's no major destination points close to the ends of the street, and even if there were, there's no pedestrian traffic to be moving between those destinations anyway.

IF you had Lebreton as a source/destination with good pedestrian connections (neither of which is true now) and IF you had something on the other end of Sparks rather than the tangle of traffic around the War Memorial, and IF you had more people living along that Sparks/Queen east-west corridor, then Sparks might work.

As it stands, it's way more likely that with Mondrian, Central I and II and hopefully a few more developments near or on Bank Street, it's Bank that will start to become a good walking street (albeit not pedestrianized, although if I were in charge they would be running trams up and down Bank like the streetcars used to).

rakerman
Mar 16, 2010, 10:55 AM
Sparks Street Mall Part 2 (http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Ottawa_Morning/ID=1430300420) (audio) - March 3, 2010

via Apartment 613 (http://www.apt613.ca/2010/03/15/weekly-news-review-reinventing-bells-corner-sylvia-holden-park-lansdowne-sparks-st-and-more/) / Spacing Ottawa (http://spacingottawa.ca/2010/03/03/needed-feet-on-the-street/)

c_speed3108
Jan 14, 2013, 2:04 PM
After the success of their $100,000 New Years Eve party, the Sparks Street Business association is proposing buying a 1000 foot zipline from a Las Vagas company.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2013/01/14/ottawa-sparks-street-zip-line-makeover-tourist-attraction.html?cmp=rss

like Fremont Street in Las Vegas

https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=Fremont+Street+in+Las+Vegas&ll=36.1708,-115.144&spn=0.004844,0.003895&fb=1&gl=ca&hq=Fremont+Street&hnear=0x80beb782a4f57dd1:0x3accd5e6d5b379a3,Las+Vegas,+NV,+USA&cid=0,0,1868794094261391412&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=36.1708,-115.144&panoid=V5n0n78KBsP3c5cEawI9ug&cbp=12,142.69,,0,-14.26

Harley613
Jan 14, 2013, 2:09 PM
Ah you beat me to it! I just heard about this on CBC this morning. I honestly don't know what to think of it... We have world class ziplining 12 minutes away in the Gatineau's, will people line up to pay $10-20 to ride a few hundred feet down Sparks Street? Maybe they will...it is kind of novel...

kevinbottawa
Jan 14, 2013, 4:00 PM
I think it's a good idea. Yes, there's a zip line over in Gatineau Park, but a zip line in an urban area is a completely different experience.

I'm pretty impressed with the new ED of the Sparks Street BIA; he's really trying to transform the street. I emailed him with a suggestion and he responded almost immediately, and said he would act on it. While I don't think Sparks will ever be truly transformed until they improve the mix of stores they offer, all of these new initiatives are a step in the right direction.

Aylmer
Jan 14, 2013, 4:07 PM
This could be the future of public transport :D

...of course, it's only one-way...

harls
Jan 14, 2013, 4:07 PM
Ah you beat me to it! I just heard about this on CBC this morning. I honestly don't know what to think of it... We have world class ziplining 12 minutes away in the Gatineau's, will people line up to pay $10-20 to ride a few hundred feet down Sparks Street? Maybe they will...it is kind of novel...

Are you talking about Aventure Lafleche? I think they might be going out of business.. there was a story about it not too long ago.

edit - here's the story in french

http://www.lapresse.ca/le-droit/economie/201212/11/01-4603003-aventure-lafleche-au-bord-du-gouffre-financier.php

J.OT13
Jan 14, 2013, 4:25 PM
I'm glad they are working on improving Sparks Street, I'm ecstatic that they are redoing the pavement, but a Zip-Line would be ultra-cheesy, it would look stupid and only in use part of the year. A block south of Parliament, Sparks should be high-class.

Harley613
Jan 14, 2013, 4:31 PM
Are you talking about Aventure Lafleche? I think they might be going out of business.. there was a story about it not too long ago.

I was thinking of Camp Fortune. Lafleche is a little further in Val-de-Monts. There's also Chutes Coulonge even further and the big ripline at Great Canadian Bungee only 20 minutes away.

I think the Sparks St. thing will be very cool and different, I'll try it!

Uhuniau
Jan 14, 2013, 4:46 PM
I'm glad they are working on improving Sparks Street, I'm ecstatic that they are redoing the pavement, but a Zip-Line would be ultra-cheesy, it would look stupid and only in use part of the year. A block south of Parliament, Sparks should be high-class.

Seen urban ziplining in Vancouver. Nothing cheesy, let alone ultra-cheesy, about it.

Ottawa needs to take the splintery board out of its ass.

defishel
Dec 30, 2013, 3:39 AM
Sparks Street will allow cars to park on Sparks Stree, free with $50 purchase. A sad way for them to get money to the street.

Des voitures bientôt stationnées sur la rue Sparks (]http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/ottawa/2013/12/29/002-rue-pietonne-sparks-ottawa-voitures-stationnement.shtml)

Des voitures bientôt stationnées sur la rue Sparks
Mise à jour le dimanche 29 décembre 2013 à 19 h 14 HNE

La rue Sparks à Ottawa accueillera bientôt des voitures. La rue Sparks à Ottawa accueillera bientôt des voitures. Photo : Archives

Des voitures pourront bientôt se garer sur la rue Sparks, l'une des seules rues réservées aux piétons à Ottawa, dans le cadre d'un projet-pilote qui déplait à plusieurs résidents.

L'association des commerçants espère inciter davantage de personnes à venir dépenser dans les boutiques de la rue Sparks, qui a la réputation d'être déserte en dehors des heures de bureau.
« On essaie d'organiser des activités uniques que les gens ont envie de faire et qui ne se font pas ailleurs. » — Les Gagné, directeur de la zone d'amélioration commerciale de la rue Sparks.

L'association a déjà organisé un festival de côtes levées et un autre de poutine qui a attiré beaucoup de monde, mais qui n'a pas entraîné un plus grand nombre d'achats dans les boutiques.

14 places de stationnement seront disponibles exclusivement pour les personnes qui viennent magasiner dans les boutiques de la rue Sparks.

Le stationnement sera gratuit avec 50$ d'achat.

Même si certains gérants de boutique avouent que le stationnement est un défi constant pour leurs clients, plusieurs résidents s'opposent au projet-pilote parce que l'idée de devoir circuler à travers des voitures ne leur plait pas. Certains craignent aussi que la rue Sparks perde son cachet avec cette transformation.

Le projet pilote sera en place du début du mois de janvier à la fin du mois de mars. Mais s'il connait du succès, il pourrait être élargi à une plus grande portion de la rue.
D'ici là, un autre évènement est organisé pour inciter les gens à s'approprier la rue Sparks pour le Nouvel An.

D'après un reportage de Laurie Trudel.

Des voitures bientôt stationnées sur la rue Sparks (]http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/ottawa/2013/12/29/002-rue-pietonne-sparks-ottawa-voitures-stationnement.shtml)

Capital Shaun
Dec 30, 2013, 4:48 AM
Sparks Street will allow cars to park on Sparks Stree, free with $50 purchase. A sad way for them to get money to the street.

Des voitures bientôt stationnées sur la rue Sparks (]http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/ottawa/2013/12/29/002-rue-pietonne-sparks-ottawa-voitures-stationnement.shtml)

Yet riding a bike on Sparks street is still forbidden...

kevinbottawa
Dec 30, 2013, 6:18 AM
The problem with Sparks isn't as much the lack of parking as it is the lack of attractive tenants. I read the report they commissioned a few years ago and one of the recommendations was for anchor tenants. Years later, where are they? I like the events they're putting on, but they can't replace having stores that are attractive to consumers (especially residents as compared to tourists).

defishel
Dec 30, 2013, 7:09 AM
Yet riding a bike on Sparks street is still forbidden...

Is it?! Sparks Street is perfect for safe cycling, and if the street were uncluttered and we got some decent retail, sparks would be wonderful.

The problem with Sparks isn't as much the lack of parking as it is the lack of attractive tenants. I read the report they commissioned a few years ago and one of the recommendations was for anchor tenants. Years later, where are they? I like the events they're putting on, but they can't replace having stores that are attractive to consumers (especially residents as compared to tourists).

Really good restaurants and retail on Sparks is important, but we also need more people living close to use it. Tonnes more people living in close proximity, some anchor tenants and even necessities like a grocery store someplace on it (Ha! Like that would happen) get more people there. It might even help with Bank Street.

I'm thinking... uncluttered, some cycling up and down it, maybe some trees to form a bit of a shaded, green (maybe spring-time blossoming canopy?), good retail and residences nearby would be important for revitalizing Sparks. Until then, Sparks will be dead.

Capital Shaun
Dec 30, 2013, 2:49 PM
Is it?! Sparks Street is perfect for safe cycling, and if the street were uncluttered and we got some decent retail, sparks would be wonderful.

Really good restaurants and retail on Sparks is important, but we also need more people living close to use it. Tonnes more people living in close proximity, some anchor tenants and even necessities like a grocery store someplace on it (Ha! Like that would happen) get more people there. It might even help with Bank Street.

I'm thinking... uncluttered, some cycling up and down it, maybe some trees to form a bit of a shaded, green (maybe spring-time blossoming canopy?), good retail and residences nearby would be important for revitalizing Sparks. Until then, Sparks will be dead.

Cycling is forbidden on Sparks St and it is at times enforced. The BIA even had locks cut for people who locked their bike at the wrong spot.

I completely agree though that cycling should be allowed on Sparks St most of the time except maybe when big events (like Ribfest) are being held.

m0nkyman
Dec 30, 2013, 6:30 PM
The problem with Sparks isn't as much the lack of parking as it is the lack of attractive tenants. I read the report they commissioned a few years ago and one of the recommendations was for anchor tenants. Years later, where are they? I like the events they're putting on, but they can't replace having stores that are attractive to consumers (especially residents as compared to tourists).

Lack of parking does affect the retail mix, as it limits it to things people are willing to carry for a few blocks. Forget furniture stores, stereo stores, art galleries etc. etc. That lack of retail mix means that you can't do all your shopping in one place, so you end up going elsewhere when you do your errands for efficiency's sake. That's what has killed Sparks. Being able to park near a store makes a huge difference, even if it's just loading zones.

kevinbottawa
Dec 30, 2013, 7:19 PM
Lack of parking does affect the retail mix, as it limits it to things people are willing to carry for a few blocks. Forget furniture stores, stereo stores, art galleries etc. etc. That lack of retail mix means that you can't do all your shopping in one place, so you end up going elsewhere when you do your errands for efficiency's sake. That's what has killed Sparks. Being able to park near a store makes a huge difference, even if it's just loading zones.

The pedestrian mall in downtown Cardiff, Wales had no parking on it and very little in the area last time I visited, but it had a lot of people. They didn't even have a lot of residential density in the immediate area. What they had was a lot of anchor tenants and clothing stores that people wanted. I guess North America is different.

J.OT13
Dec 31, 2013, 1:54 AM
I don't get it. How will they keep track of this. You can't buy 50$ worth of stuff and then park. You usually have to pay your parking before leaving your car (on the street).

Anyway, I don't think we should allow cars under any circumstances. As for bikes, I wouldn't allow free roam through Sparks, but bike lanes might be a good idea.

Retail mix is lacking. It's all touristy shops and an HMV. The fact that everything is closed by 5pm also doesn't help. It kind of explains why the place is dead after 5pm, yet no one else seems to have cracked the code.

I think that the best Sparks street can hope for as of today is becoming yet another bar district. As much as having it a high fashion destination would be interesting, Ottawa is still to small and middle class to support it. Everything high class will likely open on/in Rideau.

m0nkyman
Dec 31, 2013, 3:39 AM
The pedestrian mall in downtown Cardiff, Wales had no parking on it and very little in the area last time I visited, but it had a lot of people. They didn't even have a lot of residential density in the immediate area. What they had was a lot of anchor tenants and clothing stores that people wanted. I guess North America is different.

Having never been to Cardiff, I find it difficult to respond. I do know that Sparks St in Ottawa and Stephen Ave in Calgary are almost identical in that they are insanely busy for the lunch hour all summer, and are basically dead zones at all other times of the day and year. I know that they both have an almost identical mix of restaurants aimed at the lunch crowd, mid range clothing stores, with a few high end mixed in, some jewellery, book stores, an HMV, and some tourist traps. Stephen Ave is in better shape due to it's numerous connections to the Plus 15 and the anchor of a Convention Centre, but they are definitely kissing cousins. Calgary also tends to brag about how great it is, so they talk about how great Stephen Ave is, and Ottawa tends to brag about how boring we are so we talk about how..... :runaway:

lrt's friend
Dec 31, 2013, 9:25 PM
We have made so many mistakes on Sparks Street, it is incredible. I don't know why the city did not require every redevelopment on Sparks Street to have street level retail/restaurant space. It is no wonder the place is dead when building after building was rebuilt with dead walls facing Sparks Street. How in the world can we expect to have pedestrian traffic if every second building has no possibility of retail. Just look at how many banks there are with no street presence. The big bank block at Metcalfe which replaced retail stores. The Bank of Nova Scotia that replaced Murphy-Gambles. Woolworths being replaced by the CBC. 240 sparks that internalized its retail and is now dying as government security increases.

I don't believe that turning Sparks Street into a bicycle route is the answer. What are cyclists buying? Not much.

A grocery may help to bring foot traffic but it is not a draw for people to come downtown. I would rather see the grocery store off of Sparks Street but close by.

We need a mix of interesting shops but it is so hard to be an independent retailer these days. And that is part of the problem. But it is possible as the Glebe and other locations demonstrate. How do we get some of that onto Sparks Street?

The restaurants catering specifically to office workers should mostly be on side streets. We need Sparks to become trendy some how. And then we need a parking garage (like we used to have) that specifically caters to Sparks Street shoppers. Then you can give them free parking with purchases. Not everybody going to trendy shops will want to use the subway.

waterloowarrior
Jan 1, 2014, 5:15 PM
I dont see parking as a major issue. There is already free parking on evenings and weekends and the mall is relatively dead.

lrt's friend
Jan 1, 2014, 7:38 PM
I dont see parking as a major issue. There is already free parking on evenings and weekends and the mall is relatively dead.

But unless there is a special event, why would you go there? It would be different if there was quality shopping available.

phil235
Jan 1, 2014, 10:55 PM
I don't believe that turning Sparks Street into a bicycle route is the answer. What are cyclists buying? Not much.



Why would you say that? This comment is contrary to the recent studies I've seen which have shown that cyclists do spend considerable amounts of money and actually provide a significant boost to storefront retail. Surely having more people on the street is desirable, regardless of the mode of transportation. Not sure that a bike lane would work very well, but banning bikes entirely is just silly.

acottawa
Jan 1, 2014, 11:18 PM
The problem is Sparks street shares almost no characteristics with the world's successful pedestrian streets
1. It is in an office area rather than a retail, entertainment or residential area (so it is hardly surprising it attracts businesses catering to daytime office workers that close at 5:00pm).
2. It connects an empty, windswept plaza to a cliff (in Europe most of these streets connect railway stations to market squares - even William Street gets a lot of traffic linking the Rideau Centre to Byward Market).
3. There is not a single driver of pedestrian traffic (no museum, shopping centre, transit facility, entertainment facility).

To me all the various schemes to revitalize sparks street are doomed to failure because nothing changes the fundamentals, so you might as well allow bicycles, cars, parking, etc. along major parts of the street.

defishel
Jan 2, 2014, 3:17 PM
The problem is Sparks street shares almost no characteristics with the world's successful pedestrian streets
1. It is in an office area rather than a retail, entertainment or residential area (so it is hardly surprising it attracts businesses catering to daytime office workers that close at 5:00pm).
2. It connects an empty, windswept plaza to a cliff (in Europe most of these streets connect railway stations to market squares - even William Street gets a lot of traffic linking the Rideau Centre to Byward Market).
3. There is not a single driver of pedestrian traffic (no museum, shopping centre, transit facility, entertainment facility).

To me all the various schemes to revitalize sparks street are doomed to failure because nothing changes the fundamentals, so you might as well allow bicycles, cars, parking, etc. along major parts of the street.

I agree with you, as pessimistic as it is. Although to point out, there is a museum on Sparks (I think it's still there), the Currency Museum. And there will be LRT not to far from it, that might help a bit?

Aylmer
Jan 2, 2014, 4:39 PM
I think it would be very important to have at least small entrances to the LRT stations on Sparks: considering it's one of the more pleasant streets to walk down in Downtown, direct entrances would enliven the street with through-traffic and encourage more resident-oriented businesses to set up shop along there.

gjhall
Jan 2, 2014, 4:42 PM
The problem is Sparks street shares almost no characteristics with the world's successful pedestrian streets
1. It is in an office area rather than a retail, entertainment or residential area (so it is hardly surprising it attracts businesses catering to daytime office workers that close at 5:00pm).
2. It connects an empty, windswept plaza to a cliff (in Europe most of these streets connect railway stations to market squares - even William Street gets a lot of traffic linking the Rideau Centre to Byward Market).
3. There is not a single driver of pedestrian traffic (no museum, shopping centre, transit facility, entertainment facility).

To me all the various schemes to revitalize sparks street are doomed to failure because nothing changes the fundamentals, so you might as well allow bicycles, cars, parking, etc. along major parts of the street.

I agree with points 1-2, because Sparks is busy at lunch time, especially in the summer. It provides a useful place for people to have a lunch other than a 'sad salad' at their desk.

While I would love to see a rejuvenated Sparks, I think it's probably ok, actually, that it serves the purpose as a pedestrian mall used primarily by office workers and tourists to eat lunch and buy souvenirs in the summer time.

The LRT and new condos will help, sure, but until the leasing structure of the street (short term, with many conditions imposed by Goverment landlords) changes, we won't see a serious retail revitalization. It's one thing the Sparks BIA has got right, is that they've decided to stop fighting this and try to make it better with the retail mix it kind of already has.

The zipline would still be cool, BTW.

lrt's friend
Jan 2, 2014, 5:05 PM
3. There is not a single driver of pedestrian traffic (no museum, shopping centre, transit facility, entertainment facility).

This is the concept of anchor tenants mentioned previously. If the retail sector will not join in and create anchors, then public facilities could do the same as suggested. For example, a much expanded and improved central library, the long proposed portrait gallery being just around the corner and what I have always advocated is a downtown casino in one or more of the underutilized heritage buildings with a stipulation that there would be no restaurants within the casino itself. This would force pedestrian traffic out onto the street. We have one pillar coming with the subway just a block away and additional residential development will also bring off hour life to the street. With additional pedestrian traffic, the retail mix will improve.

Kitchissippi
Jan 2, 2014, 5:12 PM
There is more than ample parking close to Sparks at the WEP, 240 Sparks and other underground garages. I sometimes drive into downtown for meetings where I have to bring bulky presentation material and I rarely have problems finding a spot at the WEP for $6 if I'm there for an hour.

The main issues I see preventing Sparks (and downtown retail in general) from succeeding would be the reluctance of Ottawans to embrace true urban living, and the failure of businesses to cater to the lifestyle. Real urban living involves consuming in smaller quantities and thus shopping more often. In the urban market "value added" usually translates to better quality and service rather than increased quantity, going against the prevalent Costco/Walmart shopping mentality. It has been proven in many places that pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be loyal customers and reward good retailers by returning more often (A 2009 study of Bloor Street in Toronto found that customers who arrive by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month).

It will be a long process, but the condo development downtown will need need to be matched by smart businesses in the area. The management and merchants of Sparks will need to shift their focus from just tourism and the lunch crowd to servicing an increasingly sophisticated, urban-savvy downtown population which in turn could attract more local residents to frequent the area, especially those who live along the LRT line.

JeffB
Jan 2, 2014, 5:25 PM
I agree with you, as pessimistic as it is. Although to point out, there is a museum on Sparks (I think it's still there), the Currency Museum. And there will be LRT not to far from it, that might help a bit?

How many people are even aware that the Currency Museum exists?

OTSkyline
Jan 2, 2014, 7:39 PM
I agree that a big problem is the lack of anchors and specialty shops but what I also think is a big problem is the lack of people living in downtown in general...

I know that this is technically considered the CBD so it's supposed to be mostly offices and businesses but still... Imagine 4, 5, 7, 10 new apartment or condo towers in the vicinity (on Sparks, Queen, Bank, Slater etc...) THEN you have a nice population living in the area who are likely to walk down the block to Sparks and shop or buy necessities. Heck, they would most likelye also visit the cinema at WEP. But the reality is that right now there is VERY little people who live in the "north" portion of downtown (anything north of Laurier) and until more condos and people move there OR more one-of-a-kind destination are ste up on Sparks, nothing will change.

lrt's friend
Jan 2, 2014, 9:11 PM
I agree that a big problem is the lack of anchors and specialty shops but what I also think is a big problem is the lack of people living in downtown in general...

I know that this is technically considered the CBD so it's supposed to be mostly offices and businesses but still... Imagine 4, 5, 7, 10 new apartment or condo towers in the vicinity (on Sparks, Queen, Bank, Slater etc...) THEN you have a nice population living in the area who are likely to walk down the block to Sparks and shop or buy necessities. Heck, they would most likelye also visit the cinema at WEP. But the reality is that right now there is VERY little people who live in the "north" portion of downtown (anything north of Laurier) and until more condos and people move there OR more one-of-a-kind destination are ste up on Sparks, nothing will change.

I remember seeing an aerial photo taken in the 1960s that clearly showed how much of downtown had been hollowed out and replaced with surface parking lots. This was the beginning of the decay of downtown retail and Sparks Street was the most vulnerable. The surface lots have now been largely replaced with office buildings and zero population but this has been compounded by the decline of household sizes particularly in the central neighbourhoods. So, yes we need population right downtown but we also need destination retailers to attract people from a broader area. I remember visiting a pedestrian mall in downtown Amersterdam. It was an amazing place for the number of pedestrians and the high end retailers. There were lots of people living nearby but it was also the place to be for the whole city. Yes, the locals will be the most frequent customers but to be vibrant, it needs to draw in people from a much larger area. If you look at vibrant downtowns like in Montreal and Toronto, you will see lots of population just blocks away and high quality transit that connects a much larger portion of the city.

We are having problems because our downtown has become almost entirely office buildings with residential being pushed further and further away. I believe the problems with redeveloping Lebreton Flats has also contributed to the problem with it being mostly empty for 50 years. Downtown has almost become an island with Sparks Street one of the most isolated streets. So downtown condo development and redeveloping Lebreton Flats and the Domtar property are keys to reviving downtown.

Improving transit is also important and this needs to occur beyond just the Confederation Line. I am concerned that in our hurry to get people to use the Confederation Line, we will reduce easy downtown access too much. Other transit routes need frequent service and decent coverage. Yes, express routes are not sustainable but I get nervous when I see previous proposals that require transfers even from central neighbourhoods such as Preston Street.

phil235
Jan 2, 2014, 9:42 PM
I remember seeing an aerial photo taken in the 1960s that clearly showed how much of downtown had been hollowed out and replaced with surface parking lots. This was the beginning of the decay of downtown retail and Sparks Street was the most vulnerable. The surface lots have now been largely replaced with office buildings and zero population but this has been compounded by the decline of household sizes particularly in the central neighbourhoods. So, yes we need population right downtown but we also need destination retailers to attract people from a broader area. I remember visiting a pedestrian mall in downtown Amersterdam. It was an amazing place for the number of pedestrians and the high end retailers. There were lots of people living nearby but it was also the place to be for the whole city. Yes, the locals will be the most frequent customers but to be vibrant, it needs to draw in people from a much larger area. If you look at vibrant downtowns like in Montreal and Toronto, you will see lots of population just blocks away and high quality transit that connects a much larger portion of the city.

We are having problems because our downtown has become almost entirely office buildings with residential being pushed further and further away. I believe the problems with redeveloping Lebreton Flats has also contributed to the problem with it being mostly empty for 50 years. Downtown has almost become an island with Sparks Street one of the most isolated streets. So downtown condo development and redeveloping Lebreton Flats and the Domtar property are keys to reviving downtown.

Improving transit is also important and this needs to occur beyond just the Confederation Line. I am concerned that in our hurry to get people to use the Confederation Line, we will reduce easy downtown access too much. Other transit routes need frequent service and decent coverage. Yes, express routes are not sustainable but I get nervous when I see previous proposals that require transfers even from central neighbourhoods such as Preston Street.

Transfers aren't necessarily a huge problem, provided that they are combined with frequent service. My fear is that the frequent service will never materialize, given that we don't even have it on streets like Bronson.

acottawa
Jan 2, 2014, 11:37 PM
The main issues I see preventing Sparks (and downtown retail in general) from succeeding would be the reluctance of Ottawans to embrace true urban living, and the failure of businesses to cater to the lifestyle. Real urban living involves consuming in smaller quantities and thus shopping more often. In the urban market "value added" usually translates to better quality and service rather than increased quantity, going against the prevalent Costco/Walmart shopping mentality. It has been proven in many places that pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be loyal customers and reward good retailers by returning more often (A 2009 study of Bloor Street in Toronto found that customers who arrive by foot and bicycle visit the most often and spend the most money per month).

It will be a long process, but the condo development downtown will need need to be matched by smart businesses in the area. The management and merchants of Sparks will need to shift their focus from just tourism and the lunch crowd to servicing an increasingly sophisticated, urban-savvy downtown population which in turn could attract more local residents to frequent the area, especially those who live along the LRT line.

I think the opposite is happening - condo owners may want their beer and coffee downtown, but when it comes time to spend money it is off to the inner suburbs (by car or using a rapid transit system that is well-connected to big box stores). Partly it is a quality issue (Hartmans sucks, Country Boy is nice), partly it is a price issue (Costco is cheap, Hartmans is expensive), but most condo owners grew up in the suburbs and may have ditched the suburban commute, but like the suburban shopping experience.

It isn't just Ottawa BTW, thousands of Parisians and Romans flock to Ikea and other big box stores every weekend.

Buggys
Jan 3, 2014, 12:32 AM
I think here are less people living downtown mostly because it's more expensive to buy a decent condition house or condo.

For many of those near the inner edge of the greenbelt and in the suburbs, public transportation would be much slower than driving, so taking the car would feel like the lesser evil. However, many also dread having to fight traffic and pay expensive parking. What would be the point of all the hassle getting to and from downtown if there's no big incentive like much better entertainment or retail?

Land and space rental prices downtown are probably more expensive than the outskirts. Why would a company not want to save that expense when people would happily flock to the outskirts in their cars?

It's a vicious cycle. Question is, how can the cycle be broken?

defishel
Jan 3, 2014, 12:52 AM
I think here are less people living downtown mostly because it's more expensive to buy a decent condition house or condo.

For many of those near the inner edge of the greenbelt and in the suburbs, public transportation would be much slower than driving, so taking the car would feel like the lesser evil. However, many also dread having to fight traffic and pay expensive parking. What would be the point of all the hassle getting to and from downtown if there's no big incentive like much better entertainment or retail?

Land and space rental prices downtown are probably more expensive than the outskirts. Why would a company not want to save that expense when people would happily flock to the outskirts in their cars? That's at least what I read in A Country of Cities: An Manifesto for an Urban America.

It's a vicious cycle. Question is, how can the cycle be broken?

Government intervention? To stop policies that subsidize the suburbs and disadvantage the downtown as happened after the War. I know this is the case with the States, but it may be the case for Canada, too. At least, that's what I'm reading in A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.

lrt's friend
Jan 3, 2014, 12:56 AM
Transfers aren't necessarily a huge problem, provided that they are combined with frequent service. My fear is that the frequent service will never materialize, given that we don't even have it on streets like Bronson.

The current mentality on city council is that each new rider costs taxpayers money therefore why would we really experiment with improving service? The mindset is rather, introduce bigger buses. It is only a 'few minutes longer wait'. Of course, if this occurs a number of times, what quality of service do we end up with? For example, Route 6 used to have 10 minute headways during off-peak hours. It was a transfer route. But we added a few minutes to wait times over and over again and eventually it became useless as a transfer route. Now, it only runs every 30 minutes during peak periods and there is no service during off-peak hours. So, with congestion reaching the breaking point in the Glebe and a new Lansdowne soon to open, we offer next to no east-west transit service.

Buggys
Jan 3, 2014, 3:46 AM
Government intervention? To stop policies that subsidize the suburbs and disadvantage the downtown as happened after the War. I know this is the case with the States, but it may be the case for Canada, too. At least, that's what I'm reading in A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America.

Perhaps I just want to play Devil's advocate for a bit, but why would we want to have government intervention to make the downtown core (e.g. spots like Sparks St.) more vibrant? Why not desire non-downtown core areas within the greenbelt to be vibrant as well?

There must've been what sounded like good reason for subsidizing the suburbs at the time?

teej1984
Jan 3, 2014, 2:52 PM
Lower the rents on sparks and encourage start-ups to locate there! There are a bunch of buildings which I'm sure could be maximized into cool spaces for small businesses.

Or maybe we just accept the fact that there is really nothing that can be done for sparks street. We use a lot of social capital trying to figure out how to improve it, when maybe it just needs to be what it is.

lrt's friend
Jan 3, 2014, 5:17 PM
Perhaps I just want to play Devil's advocate for a bit, but why would we want to have government intervention to make the downtown core (e.g. spots like Sparks St.) more vibrant? Why not desire non-downtown core areas within the greenbelt to be vibrant as well?

There must've been what sounded like good reason for subsidizing the suburbs at the time?

Isn't there already a lot of government intervention on Sparks Street? Isn't that part of the problem? When we hear about the language clauses being put into leases, how are we not distorting market forces? It seems to me that the federal government may not be the best of landlords or at least that perception may be out there, making private business hesitant to move in.

The subsidization of the suburbs has everything to do with transportation policy, suburban politics and the desires of the public to live in a quieter suburban environment. At the same time, particularly transportation policy makes it almost impossible to create a vibrant suburban core. It has been attempted a number of times with little to show for it.

J.OT13
Jan 3, 2014, 5:29 PM
I think it would be very important to have at least small entrances to the LRT stations on Sparks: considering it's one of the more pleasant streets to walk down in Downtown, direct entrances would enliven the street with through-traffic and encourage more resident-oriented businesses to set up shop along there.

But that would require spending extra money, and in Ottawa, only the basics will do. Our only hope is that private companies step up to make it easier to access Sparks from the subway stations.

Brookfield should revisit the underground mall entrances as well as the redevelopment of the Podium Building to make the underground easy and inviting to access as well as adding wayfinding directing people to the subway.

Morguard should stop talking about the possibilities of connection and actually sit down with the City to discuss concrete plans to connect their buildings along with entrances (via their buildings if need be) to the stations.

Although it's not on Sparks, the World Exchange should seriously have direct access to Parliament Station, especially if the theatre ends up staying open.

Uhuniau
Jan 3, 2014, 5:47 PM
Yes, express routes are not sustainable but I get nervous when I see previous proposals that require transfers even from central neighbourhoods such as Preston Street.

Don't worry; sometimes Vivi Chi takes the bus and she is aware of your concerns.

ortelius
Jan 3, 2014, 7:24 PM
Ottawa Heritage Streetcar Concept. Route: "Loop 1A".
video tour
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrgGASaitEM&feature=youtu.be

JeffB
Jan 3, 2014, 7:37 PM
Transfers aren't necessarily a huge problem, provided that they are combined with frequent service. My fear is that the frequent service will never materialize, given that we don't even have it on streets like Bronson.

I agree on this. I think the biggest fear I have with transfers is that I will get the transfer point and then have to wait 15+ minutes. If I have to wait a few minutes, ok. But it should be often enough that I don't feel I have to worry that my transfer won't be there.

lrt's friend
Jan 3, 2014, 9:51 PM
Considering the high transit ridership in this city, why has the concept of guaranteed service frequency not been considered on key routes? Customer service really does not appear to be in the mindset of our transit commission. For the next 4 years, they are blinded by the building the Confederation Line and figure that this will solve all problems. It will not. And with the opening of Lansdowne Park in just 6 months, we have not seen a concrete plan that will provide adequate transit service on Bank Street and that will actually deliver real improved service to the customer. Everything will be focused on providing the minimim service at the least cost with the expected crush loading of vehicles at critical times. And the end result being that the majority of the public will continue to have to use a car to get there.

NOWINYOW
Jan 3, 2014, 11:53 PM
Ottawa Heritage Streetcar Concept. Route: "Loop 1A".
video tour
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrgGASaitEM&feature=youtu.be

Great video and concept. I think a lot of residents and tourists would welcome this streetcar line.

JCL
Jan 4, 2014, 12:47 AM
Considering the high transit ridership in this city, why has the concept of guaranteed service frequency not been considered on key routes? Customer service really does not appear to be in the mindset of our transit commission.

They seem to be more interested in using less resources (buses/drivers) to carry the same amount of existing and growth ridership. And if making (minor) frequency reductions on a major bus route achieves that by assigning a high capacity bus (artic or double decker), that's what they will do. This is their way in achieving efficiencies through their "loading standards".

Since Route Optimization, I've noticed that they've been doing this a bit more aggressively over the last couple of years. Route 114 use to operate every 10-minutes between Hurdman and Elmvale during the weekday midday (with every third trip continuing onto Greenboro). Now Route 114 operate every 15-minutes with an artic, with every second trip continuing to Greenboro. Express routes with double deckers are another example.

Kitchissippi
Jan 4, 2014, 1:21 AM
Great video and concept. I think a lot of residents and tourists would welcome this streetcar line.

A single restored streetcar on a unidirectional loop? I don't see it being feasible nor reliable. There's no way it can have convenient frequency or keep a regular schedule being in mixed traffic like that. Good luck to doing the Mackenzie-Wellington-Elgin-Sparks manoeuvre in the middle of the day. A similar thing could be achieved with shuttle buses at a fraction of the cost, like Winnipeg's Downtown Spirit (http://winnipegtransit.com/assets/445/spirit_network.pdf), which is free.

Completely off topic, but if I were to run a heritage streetcar route, I would do it to promote other parts of the city. My choice is Somerset Street West — run it from the foot of Corktown bridge to Hintonburg Square (3 kms). It would connect several downtown districts — Elgin Street, Somerset Village/Bank Street, Chinatown, Little Italy and Hintonburg. It could also link the uOttawa LRT Station across the canal to a possible O-train stop between Somerset and Gladstone. It could run on a single track on one side of the road. but at the halfway point at Dundonald Park, there could be a double track station so it can be possible to run two cars on the system like the O-Train. The tracks switch to running on the other side of the road from there.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3671/11742635196_c323343775_o.jpg

Most of this route west of Bank was a streetcar route. Keeping it within the City of Ottawa also eliminates the red tape dealing with the NCC and Gatineau.

Aylmer
Jan 4, 2014, 1:53 AM
I think that the true value of streetcars from an urban design perspective is as a 'pedestrian accelerator' - stitching together hubs of activity which are separated by unwalkable borders like overpasses/bridges, industrial areas, highways, long distances or otherwise. In that respect, it would go a long way to connect the Downtown Ottawa and Hull (separated long distance and bridge). But Sparks already being a highly walkable axis, I don't think that it would have the transformational value of areas such as the Pearl District in Portland (the most heavily-cited example).

Of course, there's the whole aspect of increased property values, but I think that might actually make things worse for Sparks which is too expensive to allow lower-rent, everyday elements such as affordable housing, grocery stores or small pharmacies (i.e. NOT SHOPPERS' DRUGMART). If there were some way to allocate more of that space to these affordable uses and keep it affordable, I don't see how a streetcar would do any harm.

Uhuniau
Jan 4, 2014, 4:27 AM
It will not. And with the opening of Lansdowne Park in just 6 months, we have not seen a concrete plan that will provide adequate transit service on Bank Street and that will actually deliver real improved service to the customer.

I'd start by not restricting transit service to Lansdowne to Bank Street.

Uhuniau
Jan 4, 2014, 4:29 AM
They seem to be more interested in using less resources (buses/drivers) to carry the same amount of existing and growth ridership. And if making (minor) frequency reductions on a major bus route achieves that by assigning a high capacity bus (artic or double decker), that's what they will do. This is their way in achieving efficiencies through their "loading standards".

Actually, their way the last few years was to reduce frequencies on city-central routes, reassign 40-footers to those central routes that used to have artics, or both.

This problem was especially acute on the "improved!" No. 12 after it was stupidly split from the 2.

Uhuniau
Jan 4, 2014, 4:30 AM
Most of this route west of Bank was a streetcar route. Keeping it within the City of Ottawa also eliminates the red tape dealing with the NCC and Gatineau.

But it goes within five zillion feet of the Rideau Canal and its precious World Heritage designation!

JCL
Jan 4, 2014, 2:59 PM
Actually, their way the last few years was to reduce frequencies on city-central routes, reassign 40-footers to those central routes that used to have artics, or both.

This problem was especially acute on the "improved!" No. 12 after it was stupidly split from the 2.

I will concede that I have seen a 40-footer onto Route 12 (as well as a Route 95) - that I believe is through interlining without taking into cosideration of what bus type is actually needed for that route/trip. But what I was explaining earlier was the general principle of how they are planning service these days from my observation.

As for the split for Routes 2/12 - The original Route 2 was a very long crosstown stop-and-go route that would always become late and unreliable. Their approach was to split the route into two separate routes so that they don't cause a "ripple affect" city wide along with that original route. So now with the changes that went in effect after the 2008-09 strike, if Route 12 is running late (for whatever reason), someone who is in the Westboro area would still get a bus arriving on-time (or close to on-time) through the revised Route 2.

J.OT13
Jan 4, 2014, 3:50 PM
I like the heritage streetcar idea, but I think a heritage streetcar-looking bus would be much more feasible not to mention affordable. They won't get a cent from the Feds or the City so might as well come up with a cheaper concept.

That said, if we build a loop, might as well build a full fledged TO type streetcar as an actual transit line for commuters.

Aylmer
Jan 4, 2014, 4:12 PM
Ugh, these things?

http://www.nabusind.com/Optima/images/streetcar.jpg

God forbid - I already find heritage streetcars a little kitschy, but these 'trolleys' have all the tackiness, but none of the quality or charm. They exude cheapness and a lack of taste.

A thousand times no to a bus trolley.

Uhuniau
Jan 5, 2014, 1:39 AM
As for the split for Routes 2/12 - The original Route 2 was a very long crosstown stop-and-go route that would always become late and unreliable. Their approach was to split the route into two separate routes so that they don't cause a "ripple affect" city wide along with that original route. So now with the changes that went in effect after the 2008-09 strike, if Route 12 is running late (for whatever reason), someone who is in the Westboro area would still get a bus arriving on-time (or close to on-time) through the revised Route 2.

Except now you have two routes which are frequently off-time and unreliable, and one less way to travel through the downtown core without changing buses.

Problem solved? Nope. Problem introduced? Yup.

J.OT13
Jan 5, 2014, 6:50 PM
Ugh, these things?

http://www.nabusind.com/Optima/images/streetcar.jpg

God forbid - I already find heritage streetcars a little kitschy, but these 'trolleys' have all the tackiness, but none of the quality or charm. They exude cheapness and a lack of taste.

A thousand times no to a bus trolley.

Certainly not my first choice either, but that would be the best we could do at this point.

Kitchissippi
Jan 5, 2014, 11:02 PM
It would be far more eye-catching to go for futuristic trolleys instead of ersatz heritage streetcars-on-wheels

http://3-ps.googleusercontent.com/x/www.trendhunter.com/cdn.trendhunterstatic.com/thumbs/volvo-one-bus.jpeg.pagespeed.ce.oMw6un9jIH.jpg

http://4-ps.googleusercontent.com/x/www.trendhunter.com/cdn.trendhunterstatic.com/thumbs/xeolo-bus.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.OOcDUBFCLT.jpg

http://psipunk.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Cameo-electric-Minibus-By-Martin-Pes-01.jpg

OTSkyline
Jan 5, 2014, 11:12 PM
First one looks kind of cool, the other two look like plain Airport shuttles...

But still, I don't think I would want the city to spend money on these "touristic buses" to do the loop around Confederation Blvd... I dont think its worth it and think we could come up with better ideas.

waterloowarrior
Jan 6, 2014, 12:10 AM
merged various Sparks Street threads and moved to Transportation...

acottawa
Mar 12, 2014, 11:25 PM
Can't find a link, but local CBC news had a story on a planned 500k renovation (less clutter, new paving, more trees, muskoka chairs).

citydwlr
Mar 13, 2014, 12:04 AM
Can't find a link, but local CBC news had a story on a planned 500k renovation (less clutter, new paving, more trees, muskoka chairs).

Saw this too. I don't really get the Muskoka chairs though...Not a fan of that part. But, it sounds like they will remove those horrible cement/steel obstructions at each end of each block of Sparks Street. They also said something about planting trees down the centre of the street.

UPDATE: Here's the video on CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Ottawa/ID/2441588976/

J.OT13
Mar 13, 2014, 3:04 AM
Since the new BIA president has taken the position, we've seen some significant steps forward on Sparks.

S-Man
Mar 13, 2014, 3:34 AM
The BIA has done good work, but I worry (and lie awake at night wondering) if their good work has somehow hurt the NCC's feelings. ;)

J.OT13
Mar 13, 2014, 3:52 AM
The BIA has done good work, but I worry (and lie awake at night wondering) if their good work has somehow hurt the NCC's feelings. ;)

How dare they take action to improve Ottawa!! And without a 20 year study!? Absurd!

NOWINYOW
Mar 13, 2014, 4:29 PM
Sparks St. needs residential housing. Apartments, condos and the like.

J.OT13
Mar 13, 2014, 10:03 PM
Sparks St. needs residential housing. Apartments, condos and the like.

I'd like to see the feds selling a few of its Sparks buildings to private developers for conversion or in some cases (certain buildings from 60s to 80s) redevelopment.

rocketphish
Jun 2, 2014, 2:50 AM
Sparks Street stupidity:

Sparks Street market vendors told to stop selling hot food

Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: May 30, 2014, Last Updated: May 30, 2014 5:49 PM EDT

The future of the fledgling Sparks Street Market is in doubt after three vendors have been told they can no longer sell food there, according to the market’s manager.

“They’ve been told they’re not allowed to vend, period,” market manager Lawrence Henderson said of the vendors selling hot food at the market, which runs Thursdays and Fridays between O’Connor and Metcalfe streets.

The reason, Henderson was told, is the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area has received complaints from permanent business owners concerned that the street vendors are taking away customers.

However, BIA chair Sam Elsaddi said vendors are “welcome to stay” as long as they don’t serve freshly-cooked food. But those who sell cooked food become lunch destinations and compete with the year-round mall merchants, he said.

“I’m here to protect the existing businesses, the ones that pay taxes all year round,” he said.

Henderson said he was “incredulous and confused” at the decision because everything the vendors sell was vetted and approved by the Sparks Street Mall Authority.

“I understood that they have to respond to their membership complaints, and the BIA executive is taking the steps they need to respond to those,” said Henderson, who is a vendor at Pretty Fours Patisserie, which his wife owns. “But these vendors have already committed money, time, and resources to attend this market, based on the fact they had an agreement for a year.”

The market began last year, when a handful of vendors sold goods on Thursdays and Fridays on Sparks Street between Bank and O’Connor streets. This year the market was expanded and moved over a block. It features 10 local vendors selling items such as produce, baked goods, artisan crafts and freshly-prepared foods.

Henderson said he wants the BIA to honour the original agreement with the vendors, and for them to stay for the rest of the season.

But Elsaddi said the agreement with the market makes it clear that vendors are subject to review and approval by the BIA. The contract, he says, states that the manager will only recommend vendors that are local producers, are not re-salers or offer products that do not present a “substantive conflict of interest” with the mall merchants.

He said the idea behind the farmer’s market was to have a space for local vendors to sell goods such as fruits and vegetables, cheese, and other such products, not meals made on the spot.

Jasmine Leese and her father Greg Leese, who run the Hot Potato Company, said they are “very disappointed” that they’ve been told to stop selling hot food after only 10 days of operation this season.

“It’s kind of like we had the rug pulled from underneath us,” Jasmine Leese said, “It’s a big shock.”

Leese said she isn’t sure whether the family business will be back next week, but she wants more time to show that they aren’t taking customers away from the brick-and-mortar businesses nearby.

“I don’t think we should give up,” she said. “We’re a small business and this is how we survive.”

Greg Leese says the BIA executive is thinking about things the wrong way; markets are incubators for local businesses and attract more foot traffic.

“It’s been proven around the world that markets do generate traffic and interest in areas,” he said. “Markets are a good testing ground for businesses. To me, the BIA should stop thinking the old-fashioned way.

mwoods@ottawacitizen.com
twitter.com/michaelrwoods

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/sparks-street-market-vendors-told-to-stop-selling-hot-food

Jamaican-Phoenix
Jun 2, 2014, 1:48 PM
....................

...How is it that stupid people get into positions of power so often?

rocketphish
Jun 7, 2014, 3:15 AM
Last market stand standing on Sparks Street

Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: June 6, 2014, Last Updated: June 6, 2014 7:48 PM EDT

The Art Is In Bakery stand was the last of 10 food vendors still operating on Sparks Street Friday, but at least that one will be back next week.

The vendors say they have been driven out by the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area, which has restricted some market stall sales to protect restaurants on the pedestrian strip.

Stephanie Mathieson, owner of Art Is In, was trying to sort out plans at the BIA office late Friday but said part of the problem was “miscommunication.”

After a late-afternoon meeting with BIA president Les Gagné, she said her bakery stand would be back next week selling its regular range of baking.

Asked about the other nine vendors — companies like Pretty Fours Patisserie and the Hot Potato Company — she replied, “They’re gone.”

The BIA couldn’t be reached Friday.

The market began last year as a collection of vendors that operated on Sparks on Thursdays and Fridays. This year it had expanded, but any future presence now appears in doubt.

“Yesterday (Thursday) the farmers’ market manager told us that the market was done, so we weren’t allowed to come back,” Mathieson said.

But she says this was an error. There has been “miscommunication and a lot of frustration in the past few weeks with the BIA because they were restricting products that were previously approved”, she says.
Related

“There was just a big confusion about who was calling the shots.”

At one point vendors were told to stop selling pastries, but now she says the order is simply not to sell frozen pastries.

Sales of vegetables, fruit and flowers will be allowed, but not prepared food, she said.

Mathieson will have another meeting with the BIA on Tuesday. “They just feel very embarrassed that there’s only one vendor left, so they’re going to try to rebuild it basically.”

tspears@ottawacitizen.com
twitter.com/TomSpears1

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/last-market-stand-standing-on-sparks-street

drawarc
Jun 8, 2014, 3:31 AM
Reminds me of the one time I went to a Fat Albert's in Centretown (now closed). I was told they couldn't serve pizza, because the restaurant next door also sold pizza.

kevinbottawa
Jun 8, 2014, 7:14 PM
There's a sign up at the old Zellers that says Bier Markt is coming Fall 2014. Perhaps Sparks can become another Clarence Street; lined with restaurants from top to bottom.

MountainView
Jun 9, 2014, 1:53 AM
There's a sign up at the old Zellers that says Bier Markt is coming Fall 2014. Perhaps Sparks can become another Clarence Street; lined with restaurants from top to bottom.

They should have been more on the ball and opened in Spring/Summer 2014 to take advantage of Patio and Tourist Season. Now they'll be opening up in cooler weather and when people go back to work and don't spend as much money. Place has been empty for a while, it's a shame.

Kitchissippi
Jun 9, 2014, 2:17 AM
What?!? The Sparks Street BIA didn't complain that another brewery will take away business from the other places that already sell beer?

The Rib Fest and Poutine Fest offer prepared hot food (and in quantities that discourage people from eating anything else) which competes with the restaurants, and both events are officially sanctioned by the BIA. The food stalls in the farmers market by comparison only compete with chip trucks and hotdog vendors.

canabiz
Jun 9, 2014, 2:35 AM
They should have been more on the ball and opened in Spring/Summer 2014 to take advantage of Patio and Tourist Season. Now they'll be opening up in cooler weather and when people go back to work and don't spend as much money. Place has been empty for a while, it's a shame.

I agree, I would be more inclined to visit the place when I go downtown (I live in Barrhaven) for ribfests, poutine fests.

I don't have many reasons to go to Sparks Street and will check it out in time but they certainly could have raked it in if there was something in place by now. Oh well, there is always next summer!

rocketphish
Jun 10, 2014, 2:08 AM
Editorial: Allow a Sparks Street food-for-all

Ottawa Citizen Editorial Board
Published on: June 9, 2014, Last Updated: June 9, 2014 5:16 PM EDT

If the City That Fun Forgot were a country, Sparks Street would surely serve as the capital. It’s bad enough that the snoozer of a pedestrian mall is often devoid of life on evenings and weekends. Now, an eclectic mix of daytime food vendors has been chased from the space by a whirlwind of red tape.

To the Business Improvement Area behind the move we say: set the contraband cuisine, and the market, free.

The food fight surrounds a BIA edict banning vendors who had signed up to be part of the new Sparks Street Market — which operates on Thursdays and Fridays — from selling ready-to-eat food. The restriction wiped out most menu items on offer and, as a result, nine of the original 10 vendors packed up and left. The new-look market, if the BIA can find replacement businesses, will sell locally grown fruit, vegetables and flowers.

All this, because some established restaurants along the strip complained the hot food vendors were biting into their profits.

The knee-jerk reaction assumes the restaurants are right: that a majority of the people who frequented the quick-service stalls would have otherwise considered a sit-down establishment. It also assumes office workers are willing to dedicate their lunch hours to vegetable shopping, hauling bags of lettuce back to their cubicles.

We find those assumptions hard to digest.

There are many factors preventing Sparks from becoming the next ByWard Market or Elgin Street, but a couple stand out. The first is a relative dearth of people living in the area, a problem solved by focusing business efforts on the weekday lunch crowd and the weekend tourist/family crowd. The second is a lack of imagination, a problem solved by asking: what do those people want and/or need when they’re here? Weekday lunches are more about fuel than fine dining, and the ever-quickening pace of life is as credible a reason for a drop in sit-down restaurant traffic as the addition of a handful of street vendors.

Would it not make more sense to run a ByWard-style market on the weekend, drawing in locals and taking advantage of the Parliament Hill tourist traffic? For those who park for free at the World Exchange Plaza, it would be a nice alternative to trekking through Major’s Hill Park and past the U.S. Embassy. It might even draw more customers the Sparks Street restaurants when they actually have time to sit down and enjoy a meal.

As for weekdays, give the people what they want: a quick bite during a brief escape.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/editorial-allow-a-sparks-street-food-for-all

rocketphish
Jun 10, 2014, 2:08 AM
Sparks Street Market promises to come back

Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: June 9, 2014, Last Updated: June 9, 2014 5:14 PM EDT

If you ever wanted to sell veggies to downtown workers at lunchtime, now’s a good time to start.

The Sparks Street Market will keep operating, as the president of the area’s Business Improvement Area says he has all kinds of potential vendors asking him for space to sell fruits, vegetables and flowers.

But nine of the original 10 vendors are gone, and the BIA’s Sam Elsaadi acknowledged Monday he hasn’t heard from them since they left last week. The market operates Thursdays and Fridays.

“Some people decided not to come back,” but “five or six” potential new vendors have since called to ask about setting up their own stands, Elsaadi said.

He said there’s still plenty of time to get them operating through the summer. “We are asking around” and new vendors will start “as soon as possible. The market never shut down,” he said.

Asked whether some could start this week he replied, “I hope so.”

But the new vendors won’t be selling lunches. The BIA banned sales of ready-to-eat meals after nearby restaurants complained they were cutting into the lunch business.

The market will specialize instead in fruits, vegetable and flowers, with a focus on local farmers, Elsaadi said.

The one remaining stand from the original group is Art Is In Bakery. Owner Stephanie Mathieson confirmed Monday it will return this week.

One vendor that won’t return is the Hot Potato Company, which gave up last Friday.

It’s “impossible to continue” due to a series of obstacles, but mainly the ban on selling hot food, said owner Christina Leese.

“Obviously it’s a complete fiasco when we are the Hot Potato Company and the only food we were actually allowed to sell is frozen pasties.”

The frozen pasties are part of their line, “but obviously that isn’t what we were aiming to sell on the street there. We did our hot pasties, hot potatoes. Those were apparently now rejected (by the BIA). There was no option otter than to cease business there for us, so that’s what we did along with all the other vendors.”

She accused the BIA of trying “to make life as difficult as possible” for the vendors.

“It just isn’t worth it — all that negativity. We’ve moved on.”

Hot Potato will still operate outdoor markets in Westboro on Saturdays and Brewers Park on Sundays.

Jean-Guy Lapointe, a public service worker, will be sad to see the market return to a theme of farm produce.

“Flowers are nice, but when I go for a walk at lunchtime, I want something to eat,” he said as he took in the sunshine at noon on Monday.

Anne-Marie Prévost questioned whether a farmers’ market can survive in June selling local produce.

“They can sell local strawberries, but not much else,” she said. “They have to import what they sell at this time of year.”

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