The city's finance and economic development committee is recommending council allow Glebe retailers to open on six statutory holidays.
Should council approve the recommendation Feb. 10, it could open the door to a city-wide exemption in 2017.
The Glebe BIA is looking for an exemption from the provincial Retail Business Holidays Act to allow Bank Street businesses between Lansdowne Park and Highway 417 to open every holiday except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Stores on Pretoria Avenue would also be exempt.
The Glebe BIA applied for the exemption on the grounds that it’s close to tourist attractions like the Rideau Canal and Lansdowne Park.
But FEDCO's decision Tuesday was controversial. The proposal passed 8-2, with Coun. Keith Egli and Coun. Stephen Blais dissenting.
ByWard Market executive director Jasna Jennings argued the Glebe isn’t truly a tourist area, and doesn’t have nearly the foot traffic or hotels that the downtown does.
Mr. Egli and Sean McKenney from the Ottawa District Labour Council argued employees will feel pressured to work holidays.
But it was François Bouchard, who owns the Country Grocer in Mooney’s Bay, who summed up feelings ultimately shared by Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Allan Hubley.
“You can’t start pitting neighbourhoods against neighbourhoods,” Mr. Bouchard said.
Mooney’s Bay hosts dozens of major events, he said, making it as touristy as the Glebe.
Mr. Watson said he’d like a city-wide holiday exemption, particularly in 2017 when Ottawa celebrates Canada’s 150th anniversary.
To that end, Mr. Hubley asked staff to canvass BIAs, trade associations and ward councillors for feedback.
“The fewer regulations we have to tell businesses when to open and how to operate their business the better,” Mr. Watson said.
Staff will report back before summer.
This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on Feb. 2.