The first executive director of the association of merchants along the area of Wellington Street west of downtown announced Monday she is stepping down from the post.
Annie Hillis is the outgoing executive director of the Wellington West Business Improvement Area.
Annie Hillis was the first person to occupy the position in 2008, when businesses in the area came together as a response to road construction the City of Ottawa planned for the street.
They formed the Wellington West Business Improvement Area, a non-voluntary organization retailers and commercial property owners are required to join, as a means of shaping the street’s appearance once the work was done.
“It’s been a terrific amount of work and really exciting but I feel like I’ve contributed my share and now I’m ready to go on and try something else,” said Ms. Hillis in an interview.
Ms. Hillis said the area has grown alot since she took over the post. She said she was blown away at how quickly the new appearance helped take care of some of the vacancies on the street.
Now the area is a trendy hotspot for bars, restaurants and retailers. Ms. Hillis said she gets calls from businesses all over the city who are hoping to relocate to the area and the BIA now represents more than 600 businesses and commercial property owners.“The growth over the last five years has been incredibly profound,” she said.
Despite the new sidewalks and other aesthetic changes that emerged once the construction was finished, Ms. Hillis said there is still more to be done.
She thinks her successor will have to work to do on beautification projects such as adding more bike racks, benches and places for cars to park.
There is also more to do when it comes to promoting the shops and restaurants that fall into the BIA’s catchment area between Island Park Drive in the west and Breezehill Avenue North in the east, she said.
The Wellington West BIA will be advertising a posting for her replacement at some point in the next week or so, said Ms. Hillis.