Lebreton Flats

1894 versus 2013

Lebreton Flats were first decimated by the Great Fire of 1900.  Then, sixty years later, the National Capital Commission, the NCC, expropriated and demolished all the buildings in that area in order to make room for some grandiose development.

Lebreton Flats remained empty for more than 50 years after the expropriation.

The counter-argument mentioned over and over again to justify (mainly after the fact) the NCC massive expropriations is the level of soil contamination at Lebreton Flats. Let’s look at this a bit more closely. The expropriation took place in 1962, but it is only in 2012 that they finally decided to spend the 5 million dollars (roughly 2% of their annual budget) to “scrap off” the top soil and be done with this. If soil contamination was the number one reason why they had to wipe out any sign of life on the Flats for over 50 years, one would think they would have acted sooner. Beside that the knowledge about armful elements and components were almost non-existing in the 1940s when the Gréber plan was elaborated so it is highly unlikely they weighted that in when the plan was written.

The irony is that Lebreton Flats got even more contaminated after the expropriation since it was used as a snow dump for decades after being forcibly vacated. Soil contamination has broad shoulders when it comes to justify mistakes of the past, or for developers to get extra money from the city.

The truth and the matter is that, regardless of the propaganda posters the NCC put up in front of the War Museum, the working-class and light-industrial neighbourhood that were Lebreton Flats did not fit in the future plans for a glorified National Capital Region that was laid out by Gréber in 1950. The expropriation took place but the implementation fell short partly because of the governance structure of the NCC where numerous people of its board don’t even reside in Ottawa. A younger, local and more interested board’s members would be beneficial for Ottawa and the NCC itself. But we digress here…

We definitely see a brighter future for Lebreton Flats, but the wide thoroughfares such as the 9 lane Wellington Boulevard and the 7-lane Albert Street (recently built) that dissect the area had considerably lowered our expectations to have the thriving and exciting neighbourhood they keep promising. There are no two ways about it: you either make it pleasant for cars or for humans. It is a known fact that the streets layout will dictate the kind of neighbourhood you will get. Road medians and left turning lanes only call for traffic fluidity, not pedestrian security or thriving area.

1962
2015
Former light industrial building at the corner of Lloyd and railway tracks.
Former light industrial building at the corner of Lloyd and railway tracks.
sources
City of Ottawa
Title: Untitled. Reference number: CA021017
We gave it a
-5
The NCC expropriated and let Lebreton Flats sits empty for 50 years.
Visitors's vote
-3.4
77 votes
Vote here
  • -5
  • -3
  • 0
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better
now
better
before
The former light industrial building occupied the whole street block formed by Lloyd Street, Booth Street, Wellington Street and the train tracks.After a 50 year hiatus, the workers are now back at Lebreton Flats on that exact same location to build the Pimisi station of Ottawa's new LRT system....
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1962
2015
598 Wellington Street at Lebreton Flats.
598 Wellington Street at Lebreton Flats.
sources
City of Ottawa
Title: Untitled. Reference number: CA021040
We gave it a
-5
The NCC expropriated and let Lebreton Flats sits empty for 50 years.
Visitors's vote
-4.0
61 votes
Vote here
  • -5
  • -3
  • 0
  • +3
  • +5
better
now
better
before
The archival photo shows the 598 Wellington Street with all of its architectural details....
1962
2015
The 90 Booth Street in Lebreton Flats, Ottawa in 1962
The 90 Booth Street in Lebreton Flats, Ottawa in 1962
sources
City of Ottawa
Title: Untitled. Reference number: CA020950
We gave it a
-5
The NCC expropriated and let Lebreton Flats sits empty for 50 years.
Visitors's vote
+0.1
77 votes
Vote here
  • -5
  • -3
  • 0
  • +3
  • +5
better
now
better
before
The 90 Booth Street was located at the corner of Booth Street and Oregon Street. It was located more or less where the Canadian War Museum is nowadays.  The 2015 photos gives a nice preview of what the big heads at the NCC have for the Flats:  roads as wide as rivers and...
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1962
2015
The 643 Wellington Street in Lebreton Flats in Ottawa in 1962
The 643 Wellington Street in Lebreton Flats in Ottawa in 1962
sources
City of Ottawa
Title: Untitled. Reference number: CA021019
We gave it a
-5
The NCC expropriated and let Lebreton Flats sits empty for 50 years.
Visitors's vote
-4.0
77 votes
Vote here
  • -5
  • -3
  • 0
  • +3
  • +5
better
now
better
before
Former building at the corner of Wellington Street and Lloyd Street.Lloyd Street has been wiped off the map for several decades.  It had been reintroduced a few years ago as phase 2 of the redevelopment of the Eastern part of Lebreton Flats has been started by Claridge.  That being said, Lloyd...
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