The ULI Ottawa chapter took a big step on September 12th with its inaugural Summer Social event. Over 100 professionals from across the real estate, planning and development industries registered for the event, which was held in “The Stores,” a refurbished 113-year-old mill building at the heart of the Zibi mixed-use community. Hosted by Dream Unlimited and Windmill Developments on the 4 million square foot development site, the event space was emblematic of the current momentum in Ottawa’s development scene. The room’s atmosphere was optimistic, with many attendees expressing excitement at Ottawa’s growth as a city and the new forum for the industry that ULI Ottawa provides. ULI Ottawa’s chapter chair, Jamison Young (BLG LLP), encapsulated this attitude: “ULI Ottawa is taking a major step forward in establishing itself here. Our own identity is symbolic, and this event is an exciting step as we look forward to fostering city building in Ottawa.”
Earlier ULI events have been run in Ottawa with support from the ULI Toronto chapter, like June’s Spring Walkabout tour which highlighted development and revitalization in Ottawa’s Arts District and the Byward Market. Interest in previous events highlighted the appetite for a dedicated Ottawa chapter.
One of the big wins for the event was the diversity of attendees. Young professionals and experienced veterans representing over 50 organizations networked and drank up the atmosphere in the industrial-chic space overlooking the Ottawa Electric Channel. Stephen Willis, the City’s head of planning, was a driving force behind the start-up of the Ottawa chapter of ULI. For him, fostering connections across professional and organizational lines is one of the core strengths of ULI. In his words, “ULI is one of the few forums that brings all of the professional groups together. It’s not about politics or advocacy or only one type of professional: it’s about city building, and it will be great to see how that grows in Ottawa with this group.”