Ottawa sinkhole disrupts lives of residents, tourists

Many people in downtown Ottawa were forced to change their schedules to work around the gaping hole that formed on Rideau Street Wednesday morning.

Tourists without data on their cellphones had 'no clue' what was happening

Karen Spillane and her Grade 8 students, who are visiting Ottawa from Stratford, Ont., were in the downtown core when Rideau Street collapsed and watched the emergency response firsthand. (CBC)

A Grade 8 field trip. A DJ who works at a downtown sports bar. A couple from Wisconsin. A dance instructor who couldn't get to rehearsal. 

Those are just some of the people who were forced to change their plans when the pavement fell away on Rideau Street in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday morning.

Andre Thibault, a DJ at Real Sports in the ByWard Market, said he was looking forward to a busy night at the bar for game three of the NBA finals.

Andre Thibault, a DJ at Real Sports in the Byward Market, says his boss called him Wednesday afternoon and told not to arrive for his shift because their power was out. (CBC)

"I was supposed to be working ... and our power was out so we called it a day," said Thibault.

"It's definitely a night that we'd like to be able to be open … because it's … a big business night for us … It's a hit to the paycheque for sure, but at the end of the day it's just a good thing nobody got hurt."

There were scary moments for international tourists, some of whom didn't have data plans on their cellphones, and had no way of looking up what was happening. 

"We really didn't know anything was going on. Truthfully. We were over at the Parliament houses ... and then we saw all this yellow tape and police officers," said Connie Secker, who is visiting Ottawa with her husband from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Connie and Paul Secker, visiting from Wisconsin, said the Westin Hotel sent all guests an email saying there would be no hot water Wednesday evening because of the sinkhole. (CBC)

The couple is in town for a conference at the Shaw Centre, which was forced to evacuate on Wednesday, and have reservations at the Westin Hotel, which also evacuated temporarily Wednesday and didn't have hot water overnight.

At one point the Seckers were worried they'd be "sleeping in the [rental] car" for the night.   

Karen Spillane and her Grade 8 students are visiting the capital from Stratford, Ont., and had planned to spend Wednesday afternoon shopping at the Rideau Centre.

"As we were leaving the war museum our travel agent called to tell us, 'Just sit tight for a few minutes,' until she could figure out if our plans were going to be dramatically affected," said Spillane.

Their trip detour was minor and the students got the chance to witness the chaotic scene firsthand.

Kseniya Ogloblina, who works at a dance studio on Rideau Street, says she couldn't get to a scheduled rehearsal ahead of an upcoming performance. (CBC)

Not as impressed with the drama was Kseniya Ogloblina, who wasn't able to get to her dance studio on Rideau Street. 

"It's probably going to be bad ... maybe even for this week," said Ogloblina, who had a scheduled rehearsal ahead of an upcoming performance at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orléans.

"We're supposed to have a rehearsal. I don't know how that's going to happen."


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