Cleanup of Inspiration Village, which has been up in the ByWard Market for about four months, is nearly complete, and not every businesses owner in the area agrees this attraction really was a benefit.
Officials reported more than 340,000 people visited the village, with the giant “OTTAWA” sign on York becoming a popular photo spot.
However, some merchants complained about the loss of parking spots on York Street, which were sacrificed to make space for the village.
"My clients who came said they felt it was impossible to find parking," said Phil Emond, owner of the Gordon Harrison Canadian Landscape Gallery on Sussex Drive. "My revenues were definitely affected."
Emond’s frustration was echoed by Emma Inns, owner of the Adorit Boutique on York, who estimated about a 20 per cent drop in business.
"I've been here for 10 years and this may be one of the worst summers we've ever had," she said. "The concept of the Inspiration Village was great. The reality was pretty disappointing."
Guy LaFlamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017, the independent not-for-profit financed by the city to organize the village, said the parking situation needed to be “kept in perspective.”
"It's 70 out of 4,000 parking spots in walking distance. It was a fairly small percentage," he said. “It’s unfortunate if, by bringing hundreds of thousands of new patrons, that some didn’t see impact on their business, but I think it’s also to do with their own business model and marketing strategy.”
The owners of Chateau Lafayette on York reported a definite spike in business over the summer. Chateau Lafayette is a tourism favourite as “Ottawa’s oldest tavern,” which originally opened in 1849.
"I would say it did benefit. Any of the tourist destinations in the city were positively affected. I would say tourists in general were hitting the ByWard market; it's their No. 1 stop on their itinerary. Inspiration village provided a destination for it," said Jill Scott, co-owner of Chateau Lafayette.
The village, up from May 20 to Sept. 4. included a succession of special exhibits and performing arts events meant to showcase each of Canada’s provinces and territories.
This story originally appeared in Metro News.