“You can’t just designate the Village and then do nothing with it,” says the head of the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA).
After a long battle ending in 2011, a group of community members managed to win Village designation for a length of Bank Street in Ottawa. But not much has happened since, says Christine Leadman, executive director of the BIA.
Little has been done to make the most of the Village’s designation, apart from installing some flags, murals and street signs, she says.
To bring new life into the area, the Bank Street BIA has launched a new initiative called the Village Legacy Project, intended to highlight LGBT culture and history in the Village.
“We want to invest in the Village,” Leadman says. “[We want to] make it so that people can learn more about the community, its growth, and so on, in the city.”
The first phase of the project will be a phone app that takes you on a tour called Marching to Equality, which includes points of interest in and around the Village.
There will be physical markers installed throughout the community to tell you where to stop and consult the app for information that may come in the form of very short documentary videos (details are still being worked out). The hope is to have the app up and running by May or June 2017.
Following a call-out for proposals in summer 2016, the BIA hired Glenn Crawford to oversee this phase of the project.
Crawford was one of the volunteers who fought for Village designation, and he sees his involvement with the Village Legacy Project as a continuation of that work. “I’m humbled and very grateful to be doing this,” he says. “It brings me back to the activism I was involved in at the time, and it’s exciting to be able to contribute to new things for the area.”
All stops on the Marching to Equality tour will relate to LGBT history or culture in Ottawa. Stops may relate to significant buildings, sites of historical events or simply an opportunity to pause and learn about a notable person, or an important topic, such as hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.
As part of his research into what the tour and app should include, Crawford is asking the community to fill out a survey about the events, people, places and topics they’d like to see included in the tour.