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Cohen: Ottawa is the worst capital city in the G7
Here, then, is why Ottawa is a sleepy place – shoddy planning, administrative lassitude, somnolent politicians. It explains a city that is the way it is. For its lack of ambition and absence of imagination, Ottawa is the worst capital in the G7. It is unable to get anything done very quickly, whether repairing a ceremonial thoroughfare like Sussex Drive or building light rail, which will arrive decades after other cities. ...
But this is Ottawa. It is congenitally conservative. If New York is said to be a town without foreplay, Ottawa is a town without climax. Not much ever happens, and when something does, the earth doesn’t move. The big ideas remaking cities – renewed waterfronts, recovered green space, edgy architecture, environmental innovation, seamless public transit – happen somewhere else.
Oh, let’s not be too unfair. Ottawa has better shopping than it did, even if Holt Renfrew has left town. Light rail is coming, though it won’t stop in Confederation Square. The brutalist National Arts Centre is getting a new glass façade, and will no longer look like a Stalinist detention centre.
But Ottawa is more motion than progress. It still has no new central library. It cannot make people use the Sparks Street Mall, now celebrating 50 years of failure. It cannot stop Rideau Street from looking a like tumble-weed main street in a mining town. It cannot produce better, more reasonable restaurants.