Candidates make their pitches for city council: Thomas McVeigh, Somerset

On Thursday, Aug. 28, OBJ issued an open invitation to all candidates in the upcoming municipal election to answer one simple question: Why should the business community vote for you?

As the responses come in, one will be published online each day, and be included in our daily email newsletter. Send your response to

Today’s submission comes from Thomas McVeigh, candidate in Somerset Ward

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I’ll start by thanking the Ottawa Business Journal for providing a forum to discuss the election through the lens of businesses.

I am running for the open council seat in Somerset Ward. Between our downtown office area, Elgin St., Bank St., Somerset St., Sparks St., Elgin St., along with secondary shopping areas along Gladstone, Rochester, and City Centre, we have a huge number of small businesses, and are also home to some of large corporate presences such as Adobe and Shopify.

A thriving business climate is crucial to our ward. Not just for the businesses. They are crucial to our economy and to create jobs for our citizens.

They provide the services and shops that make our community liveable and walkable.

I’ve made a choice to work for small business my entire career. I’ve lived the challenges of covering payroll, rent, government remittances and growing a business for over twenty years.

I am currently the General Manager for Absinthe on Wellington West, one of Ottawa’s very best restaurants.

I enjoy building communities and that includes the businesses I’ve worked for. It’s what we do in business.

I joined the race in large part because I saw that the business community in Somerset Ward was not being served well by our current councillor.

Working in the Wellington West area, and being on the board for the Wellington West BIA, I’ve contrasted the commitment that Katherine Hobbs has shown to building up the small business community in her ward, and I’ve found our current councillor for my ward at city hall lacking.

A small example; she has never to my knowledge shown up for the opening of a business.

That cannot go on. I commit that if there is any help a business needs I will do everything in my power to help.

Helping with permits, speaking up for patio permits, being pro-active and giving helpful advice to BIA’s is part of it, and promoting and vocally championing our businesses is important, no doubt about it. These are the basics that need to be done.

Somerset Ward also needs a councillor who will start pushing developers to create the kinds of spaces for business that are missing.

Large floorplates for anchor tenants like Holt Renfrew that attract independent boutiques and support stores like tailors and shoe repair stores. And Holt Renfrew left in part because they couldn’t get the store size that they wanted in Ottawa.

This story has been told over and over. Businesses that want to come to Ottawa and can’t because we don’t have the space that they need. H&M had wanted into Ottawa for years, and settled for space in the suburbs instead of a downtown flagship.

We also need a councillor who will see the need for the retention of semi industrial space like City Centre that can work as incubators.

Who sees the benefit of more shared workspaces like Hub Ottawa and Invest Ottawa, and short term office spaces for nimble high tech startups.

Who will allow businesses to grow in out of the way corners where rent is cheap, and ideas can be tested without bankrupting young entrepreneurs.

Elgin St. needs a councillor who will guide the street towards creating a BIA so that when the street is rebuilt in the next term, the businesses will have a say in how it works and looks.

And most importantly, we need a councillor who sees the increasing density of an urban ward as an amenity, one that brings with it more liveliness to the streets, more opportunities for it’s business people, and more jobs for it’s citizens.

Corporate HQ’s need to be able to show potential employees, people who are talented and who can live anywhere in the world, that Ottawa is the kind of place you will choose when the world is literally your oyster.  

We have art galleries. We have music and museums. We are creating things like the Eco-District and The Islands redevelopment at Chaudiere that are putting us at the forefront of ecologically sensitive urbanism.

We are becoming one of the cool places to live in the world.  We have potential. Let’s realize it! Help elect me to be the councillor that the business community in Somerset Ward needs.

Thomas  McVeighA Voice for Ottawa’s Urban Core ~ Une voix pour le noyau urbain d’Ottawacontact: email    twitter     : @McVeighWard14    Cell: 613 863 8466


Previously published

Katherine Hobbs, incumbent, Kitchissippi, Aug. 29

Jeff Leiper, candidate, Kitchissippi, Sept. 2

Marc Aubin, candidate, Rideau-Vanier, Sept. 3

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