Ottawa

Whole Foods charged by police for opening on Good Friday

Whole Foods at Lansdowne Park is facing four charges for opening the store on Good Friday but plans to have the redeveloped area classified as a tourist centre could make it exempt from the provincial law in the future.

Application underway to make Lansdowne and Glebe tourist centres exempt from retail holiday law

Lansdowne Park grocery retailer Whole Foods is facing four charges after it opened to the public on Good Friday, police say. (CBC)

Whole Foods at Lansdowne Park is facing four charges for opening the store on Good Friday but plans to have the redeveloped area classified as a tourist centre could make it exempt from the provincial law in the future.

Ottawa police were called to the store on Good Friday after a complaint it was violating the Ontario Retail Business Holidays Act, which calls for most stores to be closed on nine major holidays, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday, with the following exceptions:

  • Gas stations.
  • Some small shops.
  • Pharmacies under 7,500 sq. feet.
  • Nurseries, flower shops or gardening centres.
  • Stores in specific tourist centres, such as the ByWard Market.

On April 3 the store said it believed it fell under the tourist area exemption, and that it would close its doors for Easter Sunday. 

On April 20, Ottawa police confirmed the store faces four charges for operating a business and admitting customers on Good Friday. A court appearance is set for May 21.

Businesses can be fined up to $50,000 or the total amount of gross sales for the holiday, whichever is greater, while the minimum fine for a first offence is $500.

On Monday, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group told CBC News it plans to apply to the City of Ottawa to make Lansdowne Park an official tourist centre, which would make it exempt from the provincial law. CEO Bernie Ashe said that OSEG is working on an application along with the Glebe BIA.

"We've had this in our plans for some time, that ultimately we wanted to be a tourist destination — we think we are — but to be formally blessed as one," Ashe said.

"We kind of had it on our calendar as something to look at this year in 2015. That got accelerated recently, obviously with the fact that Whole Foods was so enthusiastic about opening. One of our very important tenants here."

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