New name for St. Joseph Blvd. bridge

Catherine Kitts
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City honours former Gloucester mayor by naming the Harry Allen Bridge

Mayor Jim Watson and Innes Ward Councillor Rainer Bloess recognized the many contributions of former Councillor and Mayor of Gloucester, Harry Allen, as the City of Ottawa officially named the St. Joseph Boulevard bridge, over Green’s Creek, the Harry Allen Bridge, last week.

“Starting with his community projects in Beacon Hill through to his time as Mayor of Gloucester, Harry Allen always kept residents’ best interests at heart,” said Mayor Watson. “It is a great pleasure to recognize Harry Allen’s contributions and legacy.”

As a Councillor and Mayor of the City of Gloucester, Harry Allen made significant offerings to the community. He served as municipal Councillor to the former City of Gloucester from 1978 to1985. He was then elected as Mayor of the City of Gloucester from 1985 to 1991. Known as a forward-thinking Councillor and Mayor, his passion for improving public transit allowed him to complete a number of projects including working alongside OC Transpo to establish more efficient bus routes, re-aligning the Rockcliffe Parkway at St. Joseph Boulevard, and widening a bridge over Green’s Creek.

"Other former mayors had recognition but nothing had been done for Mr. Allen,"  Nancy Pyper, the wife of Roger Pyper, who was responsible for putting in the nomination, told the Orléans Star. "He (Allen) did a lot for the City of Gloucester so he felt it was only appropriate to find something to be renamed after him."

Councillor Bloess agreed. “Harry Allen’s contributions to the former City of Gloucester continue to benefit the residents of Ottawa. We are pleased to provide this honour and recognition for his foresight and his many years of public service.”

When asked about his most memorable contributions, Bloess couldn't help but chuckle. "He presided over a 30 per cent tax increase when he was in office," said Bloess. "At the public consultations after that announcement, Mr. Allen had to wear a bullet proof vest. When you ask what is most memorable, I think that'd be it!"

At that time, in 1989, Allen also received a number of death threats. Attempting to bring some financial discipline to Gloucester, the enormous tax increase aimed to eliminate the city's debt at a time of high interest rates.

"But people never forgave him for it," said Bloess. The former city's residents tossed him out of office two years later, replacing him with Claudette Cain who passed a tax freeze.

Despite the public outcry to Allen's tactics, by the time Gloucester joined amalgamation in 2001, the region was debt free.

City Council created a commemorative naming program in 2002 to formally recognize individuals who give selfless, courageous or exceptional service to residents of Ottawa, the Province of Ontario, or Canada. 


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