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Why we must revitalize downtown Ottawa

Downtown Ottawa is a very special place to our community, and to the world. It is the heart of our cultural, economic, and social landscape and plays a meaningful part in the lives of our residents, students, employees, and visitors. Almost one quarter of our city’s jobs are in the downtown and it is home to some our most attractive amenities. Our downtown is a significant draw for tourism, business, and leisure travel, opening the door to many other forms of economic development across the city. And as Ottawa is Canada’s capital, our downtown is a civic symbol for our country.

During the last two years, business districts and downtowns in large urban cities have been disproportionately impacted by travel restrictions and work from home protocols. The main street businesses have been innovative and resilient, but they are running out of cash, credit, and confidence. And just when we were excitedly preparing for the lifting of restrictions designed to combat the Omicron variant, Ottawa’s downtown was overtaken by a demonstration that became a three-week occupation. The long-term impact is unknown but significant.

One thing is clear. We must revitalize Downtown Ottawa. We must do it now. And we must do it together.

What’s happening. What you can do.

Downtown Ottawa is open for business. And while we are still living with COVID, many restrictions are being lifted based on the most current data. Today, Health Canada’s Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP) updated their occupational health guidance for the federal public service. Departments and agencies may now resume their planning to gradually increase building occupancy, while continuing to respect the appropriate use of workplace preventive practices.

Both the Government of Canada and the City of Ottawa have announced support packages for the businesses impacted by the occupation. These include business funding, city transportation and parking rate reductions and resources to create exciting new downtown events and animation. Follow OCOBIA and Ottawa Tourism for details. Come out and invite friends!

Grassroots initiatives are also being created to bring us together as a community. We are encouraging everyone to #buylocalOttawa with a focus on supporting the downtown leading up to the weekend of March 14. Look for special events to show your #OttawaLove including ones at the Queen St. Fare, whose businesses were forced to close during the entire occupation.

The bottom line is that our downtown is an important part of the health of our city, our region, and our country. We need the businesses there to thrive and be there as we rebuild our economy and our lifestyle.

“So go downtown. Things will be great when you’re Downtown.” – Petula Clark

Yours in prosperity,

Sueling Ching
President & CEO | Ottawa Board of Trade

About the Ottawa Board of Trade

The Ottawa Board of Trade is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan member driven business association. We are the voice of business and key advocate for economic growth in our Nation’s Capital. Our mission is to cultivate a thriving world class business community in Ottawa by influencing economic development through leadership and partnerships. We advocate key priorities at all three levels of government and support business growth through relevant benefits and programs. Join us today!