Reconstruction to revitalize Montreal Road

As the city gears up for Montreal Road’s 

big revitalization plan, set to break ground in the spring of 2019, community members, artists and associations are being called upon to help put together a vision for one of Ottawa’s busiest streets.

The $25-million plan will see the addition of bike lanes on either side of the road, as well as widened sidewalks and more bus stops. The raised bike lane will link St. Laurent Boulevard to the Rideau River, with a short multi-use path at its western end.

The road will also be undergoing a much-needed resurfacing and renewal of key underground infrastructure.

However, it’s not just the streets that will be getting a fresh look. The City of Ottawa has a policy of setting aside one per cent of the value of large construction projects for public art. That works out to approximately $20,000 in the case of the Montreal Road revitalization, and the city is looking for input from the community.

“Montreal Road and the surrounding Vanier (area) has a really rich history and a diverse community,” says Melissa Black, an officer with the city’s public art program. “We want to make sure we develop a thorough and sensitive art plan that will reflect the characteristics of the community and the vision for public art.”

According to the City of Ottawa, a “curator, planning artist or public art consultant” is being contracted to develop a public art plan for Montreal Road. Vanier community members are invited to submit ideas and proposals for the public art plan between September 2018 and January 2019. At that point, the recommendations of the plan will be put into action and a call for artist submissions will be put forward.

Local and national artists will have the opportunity to submit applications that follow the recommendations of the plan, which Black says will support art that follows the goals of the Montreal Road revitalization process. Requirements for the plan include at least one public art installation dedicated to recognizing the heritage and culture of the Indigenous communities that live in Vanier.

Rob Ireland, director of operations at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health on Montreal Road, says he hopes to see Vanier’s diverse community, including its Indigenous population, properly represented in the public art projects chosen.

“It should be local,” Rob says, adding that the Wabano Centre will serve as a resource for community members and artists looking to get involved during the recommendation process. He mentions usable public art – such as a marketplace for artists to show and sell their work – as one possible project he would like to see considered.

Melissa highlights the importance of public art as part of the road revitalization process. It adds vibrancy and character to the busy street, in addition to celebrating Vanier’s rich history and diverse community. In addition, the installations are meant to make art more accessible to community members.

“(Public art) helps bring art outside of the gallery walls and into the public space,” she says. “There’s so many exciting possibilities of where public art can go for Vanier, and we want to hear from the community and hear what they think would be appropriate.”

Community members can stay up-to-date with the progress of the program by following @publicartottawa on social media or emailing publicartprogram@ottawa.ca.

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