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Ottawa city councillor exploring the idea of car-free streets

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Following the news that Montreal is making 11 of its streets car-free this summer, an Ottawa city councillor has shown interest at bringing the idea to this region.

In a post on X Sunday, Ward 9 Councillor Sean Devine asked residents: “Where in Ottawa could you see this happening?”

Dozens of comments followed – many giving recommendations on which streets could benefit from pedestrianization in the warmer months.

“Elgin is the best candidate,” commented Stephen Hickson.

“Bank Street, Elgin Street and the Byward Market surely need to be pedestrianized,” wrote Marko Miljusevic.

Downtown pedestrians were voicing their approval of the idea Saturday. Eva Apostolova and Tamara Emond live in the Byward area and say the closures could be just the kind of change the market could use.

“I love the idea because we walk everywhere,” said Apostolova.

“We don't have a car, so we rely a lot on getting places on foot, so I think it would be really positive,” said Emond.

For tourists like Mia Xu, the road closures would bring some peace of mind when walking about.

“I love walking, I love hiking and biking, so I think (it) would be (a) fantastic idea,” she said. “It allows the tourist to have more of a sense of safety to walk around to enjoy the scenery,” said Xu.

Some residents cautioned the city to avoid a situation similar to Spark Street’s pedestrianization.

“(Spark Street) is a complete and utter failure and dead zone in the morning, on the weekend and after 5 pm,” wrote Bradley Thomas online.

“I think it's a bit of a challenge getting people actually to the place,” resident Frank Colletti told CTV News Ottawa. “But, if they figure it out, I think it will be great for the city and create some more commerce which will be important.”

Braving the chilly weather and rain were a group of cyclists undergoing a Critical Mass Ride – advocating for better cycling infrastructure.

The new idea got unanimous approval.

“I think it's amazing,” said Diane Harper. “It'll be really good for the businesses that are in those areas.”

“There'd definitely be demand for that,” said Martin Lessard. “I wouldn't be able to tell which streets are better, but the more the better - that's for sure.”

Councillor Devine declined an interview Saturday, but told CTV News Ottawa he will be working behind the scenes to try and bring a proposal before council. A timeline for such a proposal remains unclear.

The National Capital Commission has yet to announce its summer plans for active transportation on Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the Parkways.

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