Lowertown and ByWard Market Heritage, time for a review (Lowertown Echo, Fall 2021)

As the nation’s capital, this City is surrounded by great historic stories. The best part I find, whether they are truths or slightly altered, is that the stories are typically wrapped up with a particular location. From a story of the who’s who hanging out, outside of a local pub, or designating the homes of the men and women who helped build this town, historic buildings that housed great debates – this is Ottawa’s story.  

And the best part? Rideau-Vanier is lucky enough to own some of those stories – and many of those locations. 

Heritage is such a large part of our community. And here, in Lowertown, it is something that we see on every walk to the store or steps to work. 

As the oldest urban neighbourhood in Ottawa, Lowertown has strong historical and social associations with the early development of our town, including the construction of the Rideau Canal and Ottawa’s role as becoming the national capital. 

As both a residential and mixed-use district of the ByWard Market, the area is unique, dating back to 1820 as a commercial hub in the City and housing many of the individuals who helped build the canal or build Ottawa in one way or another. 

And to that point – the uniqueness offers two heritage conservation districts: the ByWard Market (designated in 1991) and Lowertown West (designated in 1994). 

As these designations are more than 20 years, and the built form of Lowertown has changed within that timeframe, I am pleased to announce the time has come to review the designations to better align with current heritage planning practices and City policies.

According to staff, the goals of the Lowertown West and ByWard Market HCD Update are to:

  • Update the heritage inventory of properties located within the Lowertown West and ByWard Market HCDs
  • Develop a Heritage Conservation District Plan for the existing Lowertown West and ByWard Market HCDs
  • Analyze the properties located outside the ByWard Market HCD, between Dalhousie Street, Rideau Street, King Edward Avenue and Murray Street to determine candidacy for Part IV designation 

It is essential for the City to properly communicate the importance of a heritage building and respect its history. There needs to be a better understanding of what heritage means to a community, and acceptance, integration and transition considerations are reviewed and studied to make sure the future of the undesignated buildings respect the neighbouring district is residing beside. 

The first phase began in January 2021, when heritage staff began conducting background information on each district and gathering data on each property. The second phase will take place this fall and will include a public engagement.

For more information please visit Lowertown West and ByWard Market Heritage Conservation District Update | City of Ottawa

As heritage is an integral piece to Lowertown’s identity, I encourage everyone to participate and stay involved. 

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