Unanimously approved and ready to improve: The Byward Market Public Realm is official! (Lowertown Echo, January-February)

The Byward Market’s full potential is finally about to be realized. 

Council unanimously approved the Byward Market Public Realm Plan on Jan. 27 – and I couldn’t be more pleased this day has finally come. Eight years in the making, I am happy to say over this time, the plan has taken shape. There is no need to point out all the great things about this space – we know them, love them and embrace them. And the areas which required some more attention, their time is now. 

As we all know, the push to make changes in the Market first began by commissioning New York-based consultants People for Public Spaces to conduct a visioning exercise to imagine the best outcome for our Byward Market. It was this process that defined the vision for Ottawa’s most important and historic district. 

The development of this plan would not have been possible without the collaboration with City staff (Jillian Savage, Court Curry, Kim Copeland and many others), local stakeholders (Lowertown community association, Byward Market BIA, Ottawa Markets, NCC, Ottawa Tourism, Ecology Ottawa, Hotel Association etc) and consultants, resulting in highlighting specific areas within the Market to improve and ensure the important spaces are used to their full potential.  

The comprehensive public spaces plan leaves no stone untouched in the public spaces of ByWard Market District. It establishes a vision and defines the Market’s character. It also guides principles that include public art, accessibility, paved areas, greening and landscaping, retail and patio zones and specific character desires. 

And although this plan may not resolve local farmers’ fresh produce, shelter concentration, housing, addictions & mental health, safety, truck route, and business diversity concerns – it does set improvements and beautifications goals for the area. I can confidently add these serious concerns are not being ignored. Rather many other City initiatives such as the Housing and Homelessness Plan and the Safe Supply expanded pilot begin to address the challenges we face as a large City. 

The detailed plan – which I encourage all of you to review on my website, Mathieufleury.ca – has many encouraging elements such as beautification, traffic calming, an outdoor market strategy, access throughout the Market, and future governance of the area. 

This type of detail is integral to ensuring this plan is more than just an overview of what could be or should be – but what will be.

Without a doubt, with the approval of this plan and the launch of its investments, all ages will once again enjoy our ByWard Market District year-round – just as it should be, the iconic gem we all know and love. 

My role now is to prepare the ByWard Market for its 200th market season for 2026.  Over the next five years we advance funding and construction to ensure the plan is in place for this important year.

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