Board of trade encourages residents to take part in consultations on the future of the downtown

The task force dedicated to bringing downtown Ottawa back to life is looking for input from as many Ottawans as possible, organizers say. 

A new public engagement tool announced Tuesday will allow the public to provide feedback in a series of phases that will inform the task force’s decisions and conclusions.

The first phase, which involves gathering general input and ideas from the community, started Tuesday and will continue for the next three weeks. Following the initial round of consultations, the task force will follow up with participants in two more phases to provide feedback on the findings from phase one.

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Using the online HowSpace consultation platform, the task force is collecting and reviewing data daily, Ottawa Centre MP Yasir Naqvi told OBJ in an email. He said HowSpace allows the team to collect responses and identify recurring themes.

Sueling Ching, president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade and a member of the task force, stressed the importance of public involvement in rebuilding the “heart and soul of our community, our culture and our economy.

“(Our downtown) is a key asset for our visitor economy, which impacts every other form of economic development. Our downtown businesses have been disproportionately impacted these last three years and we need to assure them and new investors that the future of downtown is bright. Now is the time to work together to build up Ottawa,” said Ching in an email to OBJ Thursday.

The task force was formed in July 2022 to brainstorm potential solutions for a range of issues plaguing Ottawa’s core, including a lack of affordable, accessible housing, as well as ways to reinvigorate local businesses, create a more sustainable environment, and build more inclusive community spaces that promote Indigenous reconciliation.

The task force will incorporate public feedback into its final report, which will include recommendations on breathing new life into Ottawa’s downtown core.

“The best ideas always rise to the top when we engage people and seek broad public input on decisions being made,” Naqvi said Tuesday. “If we want to come up with recommendations that our community and local policymakers can support, public consultation and sustained engagement are key to building a consensus.”

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