With the clock ticking down on 2023, Ottawa’s ailing downtown – and what can be done to revive it – is a core priority for Mayor Mark Sutcliffe as the new year approaches.
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With the clock ticking down on 2023, Ottawa’s ailing downtown – and what can be done to revive it – is a core priority for Mayor Mark Sutcliffe as the new year approaches. The federal government’s move to start reducing its footprint in the capital presents “both a risk and an opportunity” for the local economy as business and political leaders grapple with the thorny issue of how to replace the city’s largest occupier of office space, Sutcliffe told the audience at Tuesday’s Ottawa Economic Outlook event at the Shaw Centre. “This could be one of the biggest transitions our downtown faces in a lifetime,” the mayor said in a pre-recorded interview with OBJ publisher Michael Curran. Sutcliffe said the feds’ decision to vacate a number of large downtown office properties could be a chance to re-envision the spaces as residential complexes or make room for attractions such as an NHL arena that would draw more visitors to the city’s core. The mayor said the federal government has a responsibility to help financially support the city’s efforts to reimagine downtown. “We can’t do it alone,” he said. “We’re going to need help from not just the federal government, but the provincial government as well.” In a wide-ranging discussion, Sutcliffe also addressed other pressing issues facing the city, including ongoing woes with the light-rail system, the need to attract more direct flights to Ottawa International Airport, and what municipal leaders can do to help make the capital a more enticing place for young post-secondary graduates to call home. “We have a lot to be excited about in 2024,” he said. “We’re facing lots of challenges, but as I always say, if we’re working together and we’re building on this amazing city we have with great leadership, great community leaders, great people who are committed to our city, then we can tackle those challenges and build a better future.” To hear more of what the mayor had to say, check out the video.