The Village saga continues, but there may be an end in sight. Councillor Diane Holmes has sent out a residential survey asking for feedback on the installation of six street signs.
“Nobody has ever sent a questionnaire to the residents. So that’s what this is. It’s a questionnaire out to the residents who live a block on each side of Bank St,” says Holmes. “It’s to get a general consensus of the neighbourhood as to how people feel. It’s just a matter of six signs going up on telephone poles.”
The survey comes out long after the signs, embellished with a rainbow logo and the words “The/Le Village,” made their debut at Ottawa Pride in 2010. The signs were the result of a longstanding collaborative effort between Holmes and the Village Committee.
In September 2010, a prototype Village street sign was put up on the northwest corner of Bank and Gilmour streets. The signs were left up for 10 days while Holmes and members of the Village Committee canvassed residents, through an online voting system set up by the Village and through ballot boxes placed in various stores along Bank St. Residents, shoppers and business owners then cast their votes for or against the signs.
Glenn Crawford, chair of the Village Committee, said in an earlier interview with Xtra that he was under the impression that Holmes would install the signs if the public response was supportive.
It was — overwhelmingly: 1,240 individuals were in favour of the signs, with only 33 against. In addition, 33 businesses expressed support.
But the signs were never mounted. Although the signs will be placed on city property, Holmes could put them up without approval from the BIA. In an interview with Xtra in February 2011, Holmes said she wanted the Bank St Business Improvement Area (BIA) to endorse the Village before any signs were mounted.
The BIA has done three surveys in the last few years asking businesses their opinion on the Village.
“Recently they did another one where they talked about the bicycle lane on Bank St and confused everybody,” Holmes says. “Then they took all the indifferent [responses] and added them to the negative, so they got a strong negative response.”
Holmes ultimately took the step to send out the residential survey.
“I am just interested in the people whose neighbourhood it is and who really shop and use Bank St a lot, walk along, shop on it and just as a general consensus. It is an inexpensive way to get information from the residents,” she says.
The Village Committee has also distributed the questionnaire widely, and Crawford is eager for residents to complete it.
“After tripling the number of rainbow flags and signage in the Village, and the recent installation of the Oscar Wilde banners and We Demand mural, this is an important last step in the official recognition of your Village,” writes Crawford in an email to Xtra.
The pressure is on. If the survey receives positive feedback, Holmes says that Bank St could see six new rainbow signs going up late this fall.