With ByWard Market staples like Tucker’s Marketplace, The SmoQue Shack and the Highlander Pub closing its doors, Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury says he recognizes that businesses in the area need help to recover from the effects of COVID-19.
And that help could come in the form of extended patios and improved pedestrian accessibility, if the area BIA's and Fleury have their way.
“We know it’ll be tough to restart for many in an area like the Market where the summer period is not just for locals — it is super important for locals and we’ll need to support our local businesses during this time — but usually there’s an influx of tourism to the area, which obviously won’t be there in 2020.”
And seeing businesses close their doors after being in the area for so long is sad to see, Fleury says.
“It’s tragic — it’s really tough,” he said. “A lot of the businesses in the Market are locally-owned and have been in place for many years. And a pandemic, like what we’re seeing where not only did we all staying home but we don’t have the tourism outlook, when a lot of those business during the months of April to September, we’re past that period that generates a lot of their revenue already.”
Fleury says the City is doing what it can to make it easier for businesses to reopen by coming up with a plan, and part of that plan includes removing some fees.
But the virus isn’t entirely to blame — the ongoing construction in the area has also contributed to the hit on businesses, Fleury says — with much of the construction still going on.
Fleury’s hoping a new plan he’s been putting together with several stakeholders, including Ottawa Tourism and the Hotel Association, among others, can help bring the ByWard Market back to life.
It’s called the ByWard Market Public Realm Plan. The plan would allow the city to look at beautification and investments in the Market.
While that plan was supposed to be presented at council in June, it has been pushed back to the fall due to the city's financial outlook and risk, Fleury says.