Ottawa's Glebe BIA wants option for stores to remain open on stat holidays

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By Haley Ritchie, Metro

The Glebe BIA is submitting a request to city council next week requesting an exception to an Ontario law that requires retail businesses to close on statutory holidays.

"Let's let the businesses make a choice for what works for them, what works for their customers and their staff," said Andrew Peck, executive director of the BIA.

"We spent quite a bit of time talking about it, we talked to our board, did a survey with our members and went door-to-door to talk to merchants," he said.

Peck said the proposal is not asking for any kind of special designation. Instead, he's appealing to a part of the Retail Business Holidays Act that says exceptions apply to areas "located within two kilometres of a tourist attraction."

The proposal would apply to the Bank Street BIA's official district, including Bank Street and Lansdowne.

Right now retail stores in the Glebe are required to close down during holidays and risk fines if they remain open.

Peck said the idea was in the works long before Whole Foods was fined earlier this year for opening on Good Friday.

"It came about fairly organically last year. It wasn't a particular business that came to us," he said.

Peck said missing out on holiday foot traffic is painful for a lot of smaller stores along the Bank Street main drag who have to compete with online retailers and malls.

"The businesses that have been closing in our area are retail. Those handful of days with heavy traffic might make a bit of a difference," he said.

Other areas within Ottawa that fit that criteria and are currently exempted include the ByWard Market, Sparks Street and the Rideau Centre.

"We're putting in an application, starting a conversation and we'll see where it ends up," said Peck.

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