“Why put so much time and money and effort into the massive infrastructure just to celebrate one day?” he asked in a January speech.
As organizers finish cleaning up from this year’s celebrations, which attracted thousands of people to downtown Ottawa, OBJ asked members of Ottawa’s tourism industry what the week could look like. Here are some of their edited responses:
“The year where we had the most success was when Bluesfest was in the ByWard Market the day after Canada Day ended. It allowed the celebrations to continue for another eight days.
Other possibilities: you could reduce the rate of the museums, or make them free during that week. There are so many museums in the downtown area, at least six or seven, to provide a lot of entertainment.
“Or move Open Doors Ottawa. There was so much that was a possibility to see, but you couldn’t see everything in a weekend.”
— Dominique Labelle, assistant general manager, Château Lafayette
“(We should) showcase not only the national museums, but also get exhibits from the provincial museums. Every province has their own museums. Maybe the exhibits from these museums can travel to Ottawa for this Canada week celebration.
“We are (discussing) reintroducing a destination marketing fee (on hotel room stays) and out of that fund – which is obviously strictly related for marketing – we would be trying to help on the marketing side of Canada Day. We cannot take some of the money and erect a tent, but obviously if you’re going to do a week-long celebration you’re going to need marketing.”
— Daniel Laliberté, general manager, Ottawa Marriott Hotel and president, Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association
“We would like to consider a two- to three-day Canada Day weekend to have an opportunity to receive a better return on our programming investment and expand programming. We would also like to discuss closing Rideau Street for the duration so that we can set up and leave staging, and use new animation assets being installed as part of the Rideau Renewal Project.
“All of this would assist us in developing and funding our program and advertising to bring visitors to Ottawa for Canada Day, as well as to identify what there is to do and where it is.”
— Peggy DuCharme, executive director, Downtown Rideau BIA
“You can look at different ethnic groups that make up part of the Canadian society; it could be Italy or Greece or something along those lines. Those ethnic groups could come here and share their experience in Canada and their culture back home.
“Youth groups could come to Ottawa and participate – work in the museums or put on shows – perhaps to demonstrate what it’s like to live back at home. Whether it’s fishing or forestry or oil exploration or farming, all these different things would be something to share here in Ottawa.
“The investment for the stage for Canada Day is massive. What if we left it up for a few days for other organizations to share that?”
— David Smythe, general manager, Lord Elgin Hotel
“Tie in Bluesfest and (the Ottawa) Jazz Festival if they happen to overlap. The bulk of the expense is already there anyway.
“Why can’t we do fireworks on a series of nights, the biggest night being Canada Day itself? The cost of the fireworks is less than $75,000. You would think (for) our national day that the country would spend more. There’s got to be a quarter of a million people watching.
“We always think so small, and it’s frustrating, and it’s almost part of our Canadian fabric. I really feel bad for somebody like (the National Capital Commission’s) Guy Laflamme. He would like to make it bigger, but he’s hamstrung by federal budgets.”
— John Jarvis, general manager, Westin Ottawa
“We could get a lot of American tourists out of this. The largest population in the United States, the eastern seaboard, is at our fingertips, within an eight-hour drive. They can come to celebrate with us.”
— Alex Munro, vice-president of business operations and development, Heart & Crown