Ottawa’s Mainstreet Reopens


Rideau Street has come a long way over the years. Its roots reach back to the mid 1800s, during the construction of the Rideau Canal, when it was established as the community’s route to Montreal for rail and travel.

As one of our city’s first streets, it quickly developed its status as Ottawa’s main street. The first shops on Rideau Street opened in 1827. This led the way to developments like department stores in the 1900s and the Rideau Centre shopping mall that we know today.


Built in 1981, the Rideau Centre brought significant investment and many retail establishments to Rideau Street. Throughout the years, it has undergone many changes.

Underground work for the construction LRT tunnel and Rideau Station closed Rideau Street for the last 5 years. Who could forget the Rideau Street sinkhole in June 2016 which added to the LRT opening delays. In 2015, the Ottawa Art Gallery and Arts Court expansion contributed to this area’s development. Underground work for the construction of the LRT’s Confederation Line One and Rideau Station brought interruptions to traffic along Rideau Street. This included closures and repairs for the sinkhole in 2016.

The Latest Update: Urban Amenities and New Design

This final and third phase of construction began in April 2020 and saw the complete closure and redesign of Rideau Street between Sussex Avenue and Dalhousie Street, and William Street between George Street and Rideau Street. It has beautiful and practical street design, includes two additional ParaTranspo bus stops, and urban amenities such as 15 urban trees, furniture, including modern OC Transpo bus stops with electronic sign boards, and rack-style bike parking, which will be implemented in the spring.

Rideau Street consistently raises the bar. Back in 1887, it broke the record by being the first street in North America to be lit by fully electric lights. Now, in 2020, Rideau Street’s lights are being upgraded to energy-efficient LEDs and William Street will have romantic overhead string lights.

This is another example of how Rideau Street continues to be at the forefront of innovation. Furthermore, Rideau Street is currently being updated to have bidirectional cycling lanes, which will be convenient for road users and will be in line with climate impact priorities advancing eco-friendly transportation options. Lastly, Rideau Street will break records once again by becoming the street in Ottawa with the widest sidewalks, allowing for greater pedestrian access and walkability.

Rideau Street, which was once lined with horse-drawn carriages, is now accessible to all road users travelling by foot, bike, or car. Transit routes 5, 6, 7, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18 that were detoured to the Mackenzie Bridge during this phase of construction will return to Rideau Street on December 20th. OC Transpo routes 16 and 19 will remain on the Mackenzie King Bridge to follow their regular route pattern. STO buses will not return to Rideau Street as they have been integrated into Lyon Station. STO routes currently operating on Mackenzie King Bridge, will remain.

We invite all Ottawa residents to come explore the newly opened, upgraded main street and see all of these exciting urban amenities for themselves. The holiday season is the perfect time to come support the local businesses in the Rideau and Byward Market districts—while maintaining proper COVID-19 protocols, of course!

Full project information can be found here:

More information on OC Transpo detours:

Media Coverage includes:

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