When a fire broke out in the local hardware store in 2011, burning almost an entire block of cherished retail space to the ground, it is safe to say that Beechwood Avenue reached its nadir. To that point, a slow but steady decline had seen the exodus of numerous small businesses after the departure of the Mountain Equipment Co-op in 2000. Elsewhere, a strip of vacant and dilapidated buildings was left untended by its owners. The street seemed more deserted; infrastructure was aging; sidewalks were crumbling.
What made a response difficult was in part due to Beechwood’s status as a border between two municipal wards (and pre-amalgamation, among three cities), five neighbourhoods — Vanier, New Edinburgh, Lindenlea, Rockcliffe Park and Manor Park, and different linguistic histories. Although five community associations and a business improvement area each had a stake in part of the street, nobody was focused on the whole.
Read the rest at the Ottawa Citizen.