Ottawa is on the verge of becoming an extraordinary city. Over the next few years, billions of dollars will be spent on several projects that will transform our region. These initiatives include:
? The $2.1 billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) system currently under construction;
? The $110 million planned renovation of the National Arts Centre;
With this massive investment in our city, Apartment613 is launching today the Future of Ottawa series, a week-long collection of posts that will discuss the numerous changes taking place in our region. Featuring a guest writer each day, this series is meant to encourage wider discussion on Ottawa’s future.
Below is the schedule of guest posts. We hope you find this series informative, and look forward to discussing the issues facing our city’s growth in the coming weeks and months.
Monday – Is Lebreton the new Lansdowne?
Eric Darwin is arguably the most popular urban affairs blogger in Ottawa. His highly popular site West Side Action is a must-read site for anyone interested in local development issues, as evidenced by his recent series Building LeBetter Flats, which offers an extensive analysis at the redevelopment of Lebreton Flats.
Given his expertise in urban development in our city, we asked Mr. Darwin to write a guest post on the proposed phase II redevelopment of Lebreton that could see the Ottawa Senators move downtown.
With the huge debate over the redevelopment of Lansdowne, we also asked him for thoughts on how we could avoid another costly fight between local residents, the city and developers.
Tuesday – In praise of developers
Developers regularly get criticised. We were therefore interested in hearing from someone who could make the case for why private developers can promote smart and responsible urban growth. As such, we invited Jonathan Westeinde of the Ottawa-based Windmill Development Group to discuss his company’s potentially transformative plans for the Domtar lands.
While the plan has its critics, with one legal challenge underway, it also has many supporters who are thrilled about turning this neglected area into a world-class and environmentally-progressive community.
Wednesday – Defending the public interest
Jeff Leiper is the city councillor for Kitchissippi Ward. The former president of the Hintonburg Community Association, he is well respected for his insights on development-related issues, and how urban growth should always take into account the views and needs of impacted communities.
With his impressive credentials, we approached Mr. Leiper to write a column on how the public interest should be be respected when decisions are made about urban development. In a very interesting piece, he offers his opinion of what is the public interest, while offering a nuanced viewpoint that provides food for thought.
Thursday – Correcting past blunders (or not)
Andrew Cohen spares no punches as a writer. Whether through his columns in the Ottawa Citizen, or in such books as The Unfinished Canadian: The People We Are, he has been critical of the numerous urban planning blunders that have taken place in Canada’s capital city. From putting the Ottawa Senators arena in a cow pasture, to the questionable architecture of the National Arts Centre – or, as Cohen called it, a “Stalinist detention centre” – he has been very frank with his views.
With the recent flood of development proposals, however, it can be argued that many past mistakes are now being addressed. We therefore asked him to write a post on whether he thought this was in fact the case.
An award-winning journalist and best-selling author, Prof. Cohen’s latest book is Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History, which has been published simultaneously in Canada and the United States. It is an hour-by-hour chronicle of two momentous days in which JFK pivots on the two biggest issues of his generation.
Friday – A bright future
A native of Toronto, Kevin Bourne moved to Ottawa in 2009. Excited about the potential of his new hometown, he launched the blog Reinventing Ottawa to discuss how Canada’s capital was changing. Due to other projects he put this site aside in 2012, but this did not stop him from continuing to think and comment on issues related to economic development and urbanism.
Through twitter, regular posts on such sites as the Ottawa-chapter of SkycraperPage Forum, and an active presence on social media, he is an avid participant in the debate over our city’s future. In fact, if you have read any online sites that contain posts about local development issues, chances are you have seen a story and/or comment by Mr. Bourne, who is also a former Canada Editor of CityMayors.com. We therefore asked him to write a post imagining what our city will look like post-2018, when the LRT is finished, and beyond.