Sparks Street's multi-million dollar renovation taking shape

Art installations, cultural events and greenery are just some of the features likely on their way to liven up downtown Ottawa's Sparks Street pedestrian mall.

$57-83M for more greenery, cultural events, art installations on pedestrian mall

The redesign, seen in the proposal stage this spring, imagined adding more trees and public seating spaces. (City of Ottawa )


  • Council approved the plan for Sparks Street on Nov. 27, 2019.

More art installations, cultural events and greenery are a few of the features likely on their way to liven up downtown Ottawa's Sparks Street pedestrian mall as part of a multi-million dollar overhaul that would take several years.

The city's finance and economic development committee (FEDCO) approved the plan on Tuesday to revitalize the historic street. It needs approval from full city council at the end of the month.

Work would start in 2022 and wrap up in 2028, with an estimated price tag between $57 and $83 million. The first block to see work could be from Kent to Lyon streets.

Detailed designs are still in the works.

Last spring, the city asked people in Ottawa what they thought about the design plans.

The goal is to create "a more vibrant public gathering space for residents and visitors all year round" by focusing on "pockets of intimate gathering spaces and social activity nodes around the middle of each block," according to the city.

It would mean a "lush pedestrian oasis" with 50 new trees, gardens and water runoff collection.

While the broad strokes of the plan have been developed over the last three years, details such as fountains and public washrooms "will be further explored" between now and 2022.

Sparks Street between Bank and O'Connor streets. (Andrew Foote/CBC)
The proposal for the same stretch of Sparks Street, including a fountain feature. (City of Ottawa)

In the short term, the report mentions an "interim immersive virtual parliamentary experience" in the Wellington Building at Sparks and Bank streets and recycling coming to the street next year.

If approved, the city plans to negotiate cost-sharing agreements with federal partners starting next year, according to a city news release, at which point it will have an exact price.

The revitalization project was developed with the help of Public Services and Procurement Canada, the National Capital Commission, the Sparks Street Mall Authority and the Sparks Street BIA.


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