OTTAWA -- Council has approved a $129 million plan to rejuvenate the historic ByWard Market, but no funding is committed to the project beyond this year.

The ByWard Market Public Realm Plan includes new pedestrian spaces on George Street, York Street and Clarence Street, along with the introduction of the "William Street pedestrian spine."   There are also plans for a new "York Street Flex" plaza stretching from Sussex Drive to York Street, and one-day redeveloping the Clarence Street parking garage as a new "destination building."

"The ByWard Market is not a ward asset, it's a city asset," said Mayor Jim Watson.

"This is a large request for dollars, but this is the first step along the journey. Everything is not going to be done in one year, with the whole budget spent in that one year. It's going to be over a number of years."

The mayor suggested the private sector might be interested in supporting the makeover in the market.

The ByWard Market will turn 200 years old in 2027.

"We are also city councillors, and as city councillors we really have to ensure that we are making decisions in the best interest of our city, that's the nation's capital," said Coun. Diane Deans, urging all councillors to support the plan.  "To me, the ByWard Market is among the best assets that we have as a national capital city. It is a huge tourism draw for this city."

The plan is divided into over 20 capital projects, with an estimated cost of $129 million.

During debate at Council, Coun. Riley Brockington raised concerns about continuing to seek funding from the upper levels of government for several different projects, including transit and other infrastructure projects.

"Part of the financing of this project will come as we replace our assets in this area through natural life-cycle renewal, and we have to have a coordinated plan on actually how we should replace so we build back better," said Stephen Willis, General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development.

Willis added the federal and Ontario governments could announce new programs that the ByWard Market would be eligible for coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You can't attract the money from those programs if you don't have a plan that what you're going to do with that money," said Willis, noting any government funding would be tied to "targeted" projects.  "So by having a plan in place, it improves our capacity to actually chase the funding at the senior levels of government."