Ottawa

Rideau Street McDonald's reduces hours due to security concerns

The infamous McDonald's at 99 Rideau St. will no longer serve overnight customers due to security issues, according to the franchise owner.

99 Rideau is one of the city's top locations for 911 calls, according to councillor

The McDonald's at 99 Rideau St. has reduced its operating hours. Instead of being open 24 hours a day, it'll now operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

The infamous McDonald's at 99 Rideau St. will no longer serve overnight customers due to security issues, according to the franchise owner.

The fast-food restaurant used to be open 24 hours, but will now be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven nights a week.

Adeel Hashmi, the owner of the franchise, said in a statement provided through McDonald's Canada that he's concerned about safety in the neighbourhood.

"I take the situation in the area very seriously and recognize the impact these changes will have on my business. Affected crew will be offered the chance to relocate to other restaurants in the area," he said.

The decision follows years of issues and a letter to McDonald's Canada from Ottawa's police chief, according to Coun. Mathieu Fleury.

"It's a great first step that they're closing earlier, that they're [hiring] security guards for the entire operation, but I'm cautious about being over-optimistic," Fleury said.

Ottawa police officers stand outside the McDonald's restaurant on Rideau Street after a young man was stabbed near the Rideau Centre on Feb. 23, 2017. (Hugo Bélanger/CBC)

Calls steadily increase

In his March 15 letter, police Chief Charles Bordeleau told McDonald's Canada president and CEO John Betts that he believed the 99 Rideau St. location was "breaching your established standards of operation."

Bordeleau said the number of calls for help had steadily risen at the location, jumping from 647 calls in 2014 to more than 900 in 2017.

"Officers of the Ottawa Police Service attend this location on a daily basis to address issues including vagrancy, liquor licence violations, illicit drug use, and incidents of violence," Bordeleau wrote.

"In fact, even as I draft this letter, another individual is recovering from a stabbing that occurred at that address yesterday."

Fleury said the location has seen issues with gangs and is among the top addresses in the city for generating 911 calls, creating a major expense for emergency services.

He's been disappointed by the franchise owner in the past, and said a previous attempt to hire security guards failed.

Fleury said he would like the store redesigned so it doesn't permit through-traffic from Rideau Street to George Street.

'Really positive step' 

The executive director of the Downtown Rideau BIA also said the design of a store is a challenge and that the proximity of the bus stop creates a "captive audience" that has added to the problems at 99 Rideau St.

Peggy DuCharme said the BIA was pleasantly surprised by the action from McDonald's.

"I do think that this is a really positive step by them at this [time], given how much there seems to be an increasing issue of calls for service and complaints on social media about their particular location," DuCharme said.

Mayor Jim Watson also welcomed the reduction in hours.

He said the restaurant had become a public safety concern and he supports the efforts of Ottawa police to protect the public and keep the ByWard Market safe.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau has not responded to CBC's request for comment.

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