Historic moment as the Village in Ottawa becomes official
On Friday, November 4, 2011, Ottawa joined many world capital cities in boasting a GLBT-friendly Village. After six years of advocating and lobbying, the Village has received official endorsement from the City of Ottawa when six street signs, featuring the Village’s and City of Ottawa’s logo with a round rainbow decal, were installed on Bank Street on three intersections at Nepean, Somerset and James Streets. The final decision to install the signs was green-lighted by Somerset Ward City Councillor Diane Holmes, with the approval and support of Mayor Jim Watson.
The debate over whether to mark the six blocks of Bank Street from Nepean to James as a Village had met opposition, mainly from the business sector, but received wide-reaching support from three levels of government, community advocacy groups such as the Centretown Citizen’s Community Association, community groups and partners, businesses, and the community at large. The street signs cap off an historic year for the Village, with two public art projects unveiled in August, and more signs and flags installed than ever before in the Village area.
“This is something the community can take an enormous sense of pride in,” says Village chair Glenn Crawford. “We now, for the first time, have an officially designated Village in Ottawa. That’s huge and it’s just beginning to sink in for me how big this is. We’ve known this has existed for many years, as we’ve seen the area grow and become more GLBT-friendly, but now, after years of hard work, the Village has become recognized by the City as a unique area of specific cultural importance, on par with other areas such as Chinatown and Little Italy.”
Achieving this milestone is exciting, but the Village Committee recognizes that this is only the beginning. “It’s time to enter a second major stage for the Village; one of growth,” continues Crawford. “Now that we’ve created the designation, it’s time to grow it. This is an exciting time for the community to reflect on what we want the Village to become—discover what services we are lacking, what businesses we’d like to see. I hope that these signs will inspire people to demand more from us, from the City, from the community at large. We know that there are many areas for improvement, such as feeling safe in our schools, workplace and communities. We need better services for our elderly, trans community, and people living with HIV/AIDS. I know many people would like to see a more active nightlife. We believe that the Village can, by partnering with other exemplary organizations and businesses, contribute to making Ottawa a safer, happier, more exciting place to life, work and play.”