Oakville is Creating Canada’s Best Downtown

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Located an easy walk from Lake Ontario, Oakville’s historic downtown offers an enviable mix of destination retail, restaurants and services.

This picturesque district stretches along six blocks of Lakeshore Road. Design work for a new streetscape is currently in progress, with construction work scheduled to be phased in through the 2019–2020 period.

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“Council and I are committed to investing in the sustainability and vibrancy of our community,” says Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. “Downtown Oakville is the heart of our community, and the Lakeshore Road reconstruction project is an opportunity to ensure the viability of the area in the long-term.”

Completed in 2010, the Downtown Oakville Strategic Action Plan was developed to guide the evolution of downtown Oakville over the next 20 years. In 2015, Council approved the Downtown Transportation and Streetscape Study with the goal to create the best downtown in Canada.

Through the reconstruction project, the town is reimagining the downtown. Extensive research and public consultation have helped to shape the town’s plan to improve traffic, beautify streets, and improve pedestrian and cycle ways in the core.

The plan envisions a connected network of revitalized streets and incorporates a number of progressive public realm initiatives.

New and enhanced tree-lined boulevards designed for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, will balance the needs for all modes of transportation while creating a pedestrian and bikefriendly environment.

The flexible design will facilitate street closures and access for special events and festivals, allowing downtown Oakville to build on the many activities it already hosts each year.

A two-metre marketing zone in front of each storefront will enable restaurants and retailers to spill out onto the sidewalk and use street space as part of their downtown presence.

Oakville is looking to the future by putting measures in place to incorporate smart city technologies into the revitalization. This September, Oakville hosted Smart City Vendor Day, a project to secure the expertise of local businesses to help the town implement and protect for smart city solutions during the construction work.

To balance new technology with Oakville’s historic charm, redevelopment will be guided by a set of urban design guidelines that reflect the traditional character of the main street.

The reimagined Commercial centre will benefit from a consistent suite of new furnishings – including benches, lighting, bollards, bicycle infrastructure and litter receptacles – designed to create a unified public realm that is instantly recognizable as ‘downtown Oakville’.

A second phase of the redevelopment will focus on the Downtown Cultural Hub Study, with the renewal and enhancement of cultural hub facilities playing an important role in the realization of the town’s vision for a vibrant, active downtown that attracts residents and visitors.

Special attention will be given to Towne Square and Centennial Square.

Built in the 1980s, Towne Square provides a central gathering place for families and downtown patrons and is an important venue for festivals and events. A refresh of the Town Square will be completed alongside the Lakeshore Road reconstruction.

Feasibility studies and plans are also underway for the transformation of Centennial Square, which houses the Central Library and the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts.

As the new square takes shape, adjoining Navy Street will act as a seamless extension to the open public space.

The comprehensive plan for the revitalization of the downtown core is one of the most inclusive and compelling projects in Oakville’s history. It presents an exciting opportunity to create a modern, accessible, and livable downtown that protects and celebrates the district’s unique historic character, cultural heritage, and natural environment.

Once complete, the improvements will position downtown Oakville as the cultural, social and economic heart of the community for generations to come.

“There’s a strong sense of community in our downtown,” says Sharlene Plewman, Executive Director, Downtown Oakville Business Improvement Area (BIA). “People still say hello when you walk down the street.”

“We invite people to keep their eyes on what’s happening,” Plewman says. The Downtown Oakville BIA and the Town of Oakville are working in partnership to keep visitors and the community engaged in the downtown during the project with events, activations and retail pop-ups.

To learn more about plans for the Lakeshore Road Reconstruction and Streetscape Project, visit oakville.ca.

Read the full Perspective Oakville Fall 2017 feature here.