Ottawa·CITY ELECTIONS 2022

Mayoral candidate Sutcliffe pledges to make Ottawa 'world-class' music city

Ottawa mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe has released his plan for making Ottawa “a music city,” calling on a strengthened municipal strategy to support artists and the music community.

Council has been working on improving the city’s nightlife, music scene

Mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe said he's committed to improving Ottawa's live music scene by supporting artists and venues who have struggled throughout the pandemic. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Ottawa mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe has released his plan for making Ottawa "a music city," calling on a strengthened municipal strategy to support artists and the music community. 

Live music was one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, with pandemic restrictions forcing many to close their doors for months at a time. 

"Venues have struggled to survive and artists and musicians have had to find alternative sources of income given that performing is one of the primary ways they make a living," Sutcliffe said in a release issued Wednesday. 

Sutcliffe said he would work with Ottawa Tourism, the city's economic development team and people in the live music industry to continue to promote the city as a live music destination. 

Ottawa's music scene has the potential to put the city on the international map, Sutcliffe added. Ottawa has hosted several popular music festivals over the years, including Bluesfest, CityFolk and the Ottawa Jazz Festival. 

Creating a music office to liaison between the music community and the city, completing and implementing the city's nightlife economy strategy launched in 2021, and using city spaces to host live music events are among the pledges outlined in Sutcliffe's strategy. 

People sit near a music festival stage at sunset.
Ottawa regularly hosts popular music festivals like Bluesfest, seen here in July of this year. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Candidate who championed music on council weighs in

Many of Sutcliffe's promises are similar to ongoing efforts already being led by the City of Ottawa, according to a blog post by Jeff Leiper, who is running to reclaim his councillor seat in Kitchissippi Ward and is supporting Catherine McKenney for mayor.

While on city council, Leiper has been an active part in championing for increased resources for the music and arts industry and helped spearhead the city's music strategy program in 2018. 

He adds he expects council to continue making music a priority in their economic development plans, regardless of who the new mayor is. 

Sutcliffe's plan to develop a way to make it easier to find shows is a "key piece of unfinished business," Leiper said. Not having a central place to highlight show listings makes it harder for venues and artists to promote their shows, and for residents or tourists to find them, Leiper said. 

But Leiper said providing tax breaks for music venues and outlining a plan to address "the missing middle," a mid-sized venue that could hold larger shows in Ottawa, are other essential commitments he'd like to see. The city needs better public transit for people on nights out, he added, including later LRT hours and transit affordability.   

"What we're still missing are some more game-changing commitments."

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