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Ottawa councillor backs 'Gay Village'

The hubbub of a designated "Gay Village" in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood is gaining muster after pride weekend.

The idea of a designated "Gay Village" in Ottawa's Centretown neighbourhood is gaining momentum after pride weekend, according to the local Ottawa councillor.

Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes said the success of the pride weekend, which was capped by Sunday's pride parade through the city's core, shows the downtown area is ready for official village status.

"I think that that's the expectation for many people, that it's appropriate to have such a district in the nation's capital and this is the desired location," said Holmes.

Pride flags and stickers sporting rainbow colours have decorated Bank Street businesses for many years, but Holmes wants something in writing. She is proposing new street signs to declare part of Bank St. as Ottawa's "Gay Village."

The idea is not sitting well with the local group representing Bank St. businesses, who have a policy forbidding additional labels for the street.

"We don't brand. It's not a question of the village," said Gerry LePage, executive director of the Bank Street Business Improvement Area.

"If a Lebanese contingent came to us, it wouldn't be Little Lebanon, nor any other. The fact is the brand of Bank Street is diversity," said LePage.

LePage told CBC News members of the BIA have been polled and most do not support the "Gay Village" label.

Holmes said she wants to do her own poll of area residents and said after consultation she will have the final say as to whether she brings the proposal to council.

Some business owners in the area are anxious to see the change.

"I think it's a no-brainer. It has to happen and it's starting to happen," said Robert Giacobbi, owner of the men's-oriented adult shop Wilde's.

"I don't know why there are so many studies back and forth when it's already happening."

Holmes said new street signs could be posted by November if her poll supports her idea.

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