Zip Line Could Spark Ottawa Pedestrian Path Makeover

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A group of businesses want to build a zip line in Ottawa. They say it would resemble an attraction that currently exists over the famous Fremont Street in Las Vegas — also known as the old Las Vegas strip (YouTube screencap).
A group of businesses want to build a zip line in Ottawa. They say it would resemble an attraction that currently exists over the famous Fremont Street in Las Vegas — also known as the old Las Vegas strip (YouTube screencap).

A group of businesses wants to revitalize one of Ottawa's historic streets with a 300-metre zip line to help bill the pedestrian walkway as a tourist attraction.

The new executive director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area, Les Gagne, said there are plans to install a zip line above the street.

Gagne said it would resemble an attraction that currently exists over the famous Fremont Street in Las Vegas — also known as the old Las Vegas strip.

The zip line would be purchased from a Las Vegas company.

Implementing the idea would cost between $3 million and $5 million, Gagne estimated, and he believes it could return Canada's oldest outdoor pedestrian mall back to its days as a hot spot for foot traffic, which was in the 1960s.

The money would come from businesses and potential sponsors.

"In the past, it was all about putting in a new sign, new service or retail outlook," Gagne said. "But now with the idea of bringing an actual ride attraction, I think that's something we've never really tried before."

Zip line would cross at least 1 street

The zip line would have to cross over at least one street if it were to be about 300 metres in length, which could raise some logistical obstacles. The longest stretch without a roadway is about 170 metres.

But business owners along the stretch are excited about the plan and the potential for more tourism and more business.

"I think this street should be paved in gold," said Jeff O'Reilly, general manager of the D'Arcy McGee's Irish pub.

"It's a block from Parliament Hill. This should be the most exciting street in Ottawa, and with baby steps we could do that if we work on getting more tenants and better tenants."

The street has started to form a new identity, sparked by Gagne's arrival.

He organized Sparks Street's first New Year's Eve bash, which he billed as something that resembled Times Square in New York City. That cost about $100,000.

There are also new lights along the stretch and plans to repave the walkway, Gagne said, and valet parking will be available soon.

A farmer's market could also open on the street this summer.

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