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Skycrapers in Ottawa: Are We Reaching Too high?

Skycrapers in Ottawa: Are We Reaching Too high?


by: Brian Clarke

If you regularly read the Ottawa Citizen, you may have read this morning’s article about the unveiling of plans for Ottawa’s tallest building.  If not, I’ll sum it up for you: developers have created blueprints and sketches of a 42-story condo that will be built by 2017 at Dow’s Lake.

The lack of tall buildings is one thing that distinguishes Ottawa from other North American cities.  Some argue that this is a good thing, while others argue it is bad.  But for most of Ottawa’s history it was illegal to build a structure taller than the Parliament Buildings.  The goal was to ensure the Peace Tower remained the tallest building in the city’s skyline.  That height restriction has since been revoked, but Ottawa has still not seen many tall buildings.  Currently, the tallest building in Ottawa is Place de Ville on Albert Street – a 29 story office building.

But the proposed Dow’s Lake condos surpass Place de Ville.  Many people have strong opinions about such a building being developed in a residential area.

On one side, there are arguments that Ottawa does not need tall buildings. Remember our piece about Ottawa not being New York? Some people argue along these lines, and want Ottawa to maintain its ‘biggest small town’ feel.

On the other hand, some argue that this is a good thing for Ottawa, as it contemporizes our city and makes it look like we have joined the 21st century.  They argue that building up is better than building out for commute and traffic reasons.

Both sides have valid points.  We are curious to know what you think. As Ottawa citizens or tourists, do you think more tall buildings would improve or damage the city’s image?