Glebe shops could soon stay open on holidays

Shop owners in the Glebe will soon find out whether they can open their doors — and their tills — during five annual holidays on which they've been forced to stay closed.

City council to mull exemption for Bank St. businesses after request from Glebe BIA

Retailers along Bank Street in the Glebe will soon find out whether they can stay open on five designated holidays. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

Shop owners in the Glebe will soon find out whether they can open their doors — and their tills — during five annual holidays on which they've been forced to stay closed.

City of Ottawa staff are recommending Glebe retailers be granted an exemption from the province's Retail Business Holidays Act, under which most businesses must stay closed on designated holidays. 

If city councillors approve the recommendation, retailers along Bank Street from the Queensway to Lansdowne Park will be given the option of remaining open on Family Day, Thanksgiving, Labour Day, Canada Day and Victoria Day.

"It's a great step in the right direction," said Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe Business Improvement Area, which requested the exemption.

First the BIA needed to demonstrate that the neighbourhood is within two kilometres of a major attraction — hardly a difficult challenge, Peck said.

"Being surrounded by the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site, and now that Lansdowne is built ... it's an attraction itself."

Peck is happy city staff agreed with Glebe BIA proposal to stay open on holidays. 0:21

Currently only the Rideau Centre, the Loblaws on Rideau Street, as well as the BIAs in the Byward Market, Sparks Street and Downtown Rideau are allowed to remain open on holidays because they are within a designated tourist area. 

Peck said Glebe retailers, which have suffered through years of construction, are eager for the added business a tourist area designation can bring. .

"It's going to define the area as a place to go spend time with their friends and family and fellow citizens, Peck said. "I think it is going to make a significant difference."

Kilvert says staying open on holidays will attract families to the area 0:39

Elizabeth Kilvert, the owner of The Unrefined Olive, a shop on Second Avenue, said if the majority of Glebe businesses choose to open on the holidays, the neighbourhood will see an influx of business.

"I think it's  going to open up this whole area. People are coming here. They're curious about what's going on in this part of the world." 

Last April, Whole Foods at Lansdowne Park got into trouble with the law when it opened on Good Friday. Good Friday is not among the holidays on which the BIA has requested its members be allowed to remain open.

The city's finance and economic development committee will consider the request next Tuesday. City council will make a final decision on Feb. 10.