Filling the Gap in Old Ottawa East

The Oblate Lands, at 170 Main Street, are sandwiched between Main Street to the west and the Rideau River to the east. From the early 1860’s to the summer of 2016, the 26-acre site was the home of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate. At the centre of the site stands the historic five-storey Deschâtelets monastery. From here, the Oblate Fathers carried out their ministries while shaping the land itself and the community beyond. The Oblates established churches and schools in Old Ottawa East, Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa.

Over time, the site also became a community landmark and recreation space for residents of the neighbouring communities. However, the Oblate Lands in combination with inward-focused institutional neighbours to the north and south, have inhibited Old Ottawa East in reaching its full community potential. While Old Ottawa East is served by a traditional street grid, a strong central avenue and two beautiful flanking waterways, the concentration of institutional use has created a gap in the urban fabric.

Aerial Context Plan

This missing piece retards the retail potential of Main Street while breaking the community in half. It also keeps the Old Ottawa East population density low, limiting the provision of potential community resources, services and amenities.

“The plan knits into the fabric of the established neighbourhood and is respectful, keeping the grand alley, forecourt and Deschâtelets building … It understands the sensitivity of the area and recognizes the river’s edge.”

—2017 City of Ottawa Urban Design Awards

The development of the Greystone Village master plan has provided a unique opportunity to fill this gap and preserve the cherished values of the site while building community. Perhaps most importantly, it has been done through a collaborative process involving the City, the Developer, Sustainable Living Ottawa East and the Old Ottawa East Community Association.

The Master Plan

Site Legacy as Organizing Principle

The historic interventions and patterns of use established by both the Oblate Fathers and the Community have shaped the site and given it meaning. The preservation and repurposing of these elements become the central organizing principles to the whole master plan.

The master plan strives to provide a wide variety of housing types and tenancies with up to 1,000 dwelling units distributed throughout a street layout drawn from the surrounding community. This new urbanism approach, with its narrow street cross-section, directs resident parking to rear laneways, freeing the streetscape to become landscape enriched and animated.

The Grande Allée and Forecourt will be preserved – as a distinctly urban park that will function as the living room to Old Ottawa East. Here, the Saint Paul Farmers’ Market will draw visitors into and throughout the site, with links through new gateways to the River.

The Deschâtelets building will be the centrepiece to the development, being repurposed to accommodate a new community centre, daycare and affordable housing. 

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