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City Council approves zoning changes meant to stimulate business development on Armstrong Street

By Apartment613 on April 12, 2017

By Hilary Lawson

On February 22, 2017, City Council approved a set of zoning changes meant to stimulate business development on Armstrong Street, which runs parallel to Wellington Street West in Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood. The changes were made following the completion of a study that assessed the viability of Armstrong Street, currently an entirely residential byway, for commercial use.

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Meat Press opened in September 2015 and is one of the few businesses already operating on Armstrong Street. Photo by Greggory Clark.

The city is touting these zoning changes as impetus for the development of local-serving small businesses along the street. The changes will lift the restriction on commercial zoning to allow for small-scale mixed-use zoning, meaning that small businesses will be now permitted to set up shop along Armstrong next to residential homes and apartments.

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Facing west on Armstrong Street. Photo by Greggory Clark.

The new regulations will also compel the installation of cycling signage along the street, offering a welcome alternative for cyclists looking to avoid the busy Wellington West thoroughfare.

The study was conducted in partnership with the Wellington West BIA, the Hintonburg Community Association, Armstrong Street residents, and with Councillor Jeff Leiper, whose purview includes the area surrounding Wellington Street West as well as Armstrong Street.

Some residents have expressed concerns about the gentrification of the neighbourhood as the growing number of middle-to-upper-middle-class households drives up the cost of living.

Hintonburg, a neighbourhood sandwiched between Chinatown and Westboro, has seen a surge in both commercial and residential development in the last decade. Reasonable costs of housing, a surplus of character homes, and proximity to the downtown core and government campuses have been driving young people and families towards the west end for years.

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Facing east on Armstrong Street. Photo by Greggory Clark.

The changes will allow for smaller, newer businesses to set up shop in an area with a growing reputation as a hub for dining and retail without having to swallow the higher cost of rent on the area’s main street. The anticipated business development is also expected to attract more visitors to the area.

Some residents have expressed concerns about the gentrification of the neighbourhood as the growing number of middle-to-upper-middle-class households drives up the cost of living.

Hintonburg, amalgamated by the City of Ottawa in 1907, is a historically working-class residential neighbourhood, and throughout the 20th century was home to many of the workers that staffed the area’s factories. The study paper briefly addresses concerns raised by residents during the consultation process about the effects of the changes on the area’s lower-income residents, but the comments are not included in the city’s report.