City looks at creating ‘night mayor’ position to help develop Ottawa’s nightlife economy

In an effort to better develop Ottawa’s nightlife economy and image, the city is looking at the possibility of creating a new position — ‘night mayor.’

The idea, which is already being used in several cities around the world, including Washington and London, is part of a proposed Ottawa Nightlife Economic Action Plan.

A staff report going before Ottawa’s finance committee next week outlines the first three recommendations for the new action plan, which aims to support Ottawa’s nightlife economy over a 12-hour period, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The first order of business would be for the city to establish the framework for a ‘Nightlife Commissioner Office’ and the hiring of a the new position of ‘night mayor.’ The city says the ‘nightlife mayor’ would be hired to act as a liaison between the city and local businesses.

Orléans South-Navan ward councillor Catherine Kitts tells Derick Fage on Wake Up with Rob Snow, in order to support the idea, she wants to learn more about what the role entails.

“What I’ll be looking at — is what is the role? What are their objectives? What is the compensation like? Are there key performance indicators built into that role.”

Meantime, Rideau-Jock ward councillor David Brown isn’t convinced a new staff position is necessary to get the job done.

“The one challenge that I do have though is the ‘Nightlife Commissioner’ post,” he says. “I really don’t understand why the answer to every problem, if you’re government, is to hire another city employee. That doesn’t make sense. I understand the desire to have that liaison between industry and government, but I don’t think we need to hire a new position to do that.”

The action plan, which Mayor Mark Sutcliffe campaigned on, also proposes the building of a 1,500 to 2,000-seat music and event venue, as Sutcliffe has said he wants to make Ottawa a “destination of choice” for live entertainment.

Also, it’s not just about bars and restaurants, but all kinds of leisure, live entertainment and cultural activities.

Michelle Groulx, the executive director of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas, also spoke with CityNews Ottawa about our local nightlife. Groulx says while it’s important to grow and develop local nightlife, the city also needs to raise awareness of what’s already out there.

“We have actual nightlife,” she says. “There are little pockets of activity and entertainment happening throughout our city, but the thing is nobody knows about it. So, our reputation, globally I guess somewhat, is that we’re the city that goes to bed at 5 p.m.”

The report outlining the Ottawa Nightlife Economic Action Plan will go before Ottawa’s finance committee on Tuesday, May 2.

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