Hub & Spoke event builds momentum toward 2017 celebrations

Tom Pechloff
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As the city of Ottawa prepares for its Canada 150 festivities in 2017, news of marquee events like the Juno Awards or the possibility of hosting the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup game can steal the headlines.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury, co-chair of the City's Task Force on Canada's 150th Anniversary in 2017, opened Hub Ottawa's 'Setting the Scene for 2017' event May 5.

But there will also be countless smaller, neighbourhood-led celebrations throughout the year, and officials at HUB Ottawa say that if their Hub & Spoke event last week is any indication, there is plenty of enthusiasm in the community for these events as well.

On a jam-packed day of business conferences in the capital that included Invest Ottawa’s AccelerateOtt conference and Startup Canada’s Startup Day on the Hill, the HUB’s event drew a full house.

“It was hard to move” at the event, said James Chan, HUB Ottawa’s director of civic innovation.

There is potential for significant economic gains throughout the entire city in 2017, and Mr. Chan said the crowd reflected that belief on Thursday night.

“In addition to the folks you would normally expect, the community associations, the non-profits, those folks, we had a good showing of entrepreneurs, small business owners, people who work for large corporate, BIAs,” he said. “I think people realize there is a role for businesses to play, there’s a role for citizens to play. It doesn’t always have to be kind of the large-scale stuff that we think about.”

Mr. Chan said that while attending some of the signature Ottawa 2017 events is one way to get involved in the celebrations, HUB Ottawa wanted to highlight ways the community could “actually roll up their sleeves and work with their neighbours, their colleagues, do something in their workplace that can celebrate and can mark this big year in their own meaningful way.”

Many government funding programs centred around 2017 celebrations “both implicitly and explicitly” allude to collaborations, he said, and one of the HUB’s main goals in hosting last Thursday’s event was to bring like-minded people together.

“(Governments) want people working together,” he said. “They don’t want to see a million kind of half-baked mediocre ideas. They’d rather see 1,000 or 100 kick-ass ideas.”

The HUB’s director of community, Heather Ward, said the enthusiasm of Thyme and Again caterers and Beau’s All-Natural Brewing to provide food and drink for the kickoff event shows the appetite of the business community to get involved in 2017.

The Ottawa 2017 Bureau was one of 16 organizations represented at the event. Mr. Chan said it’s obvious the organization overseeing the city’s year-long Canada 150 party wants to include as many people as possible from all corners of the National Capital Region.

While the bureau doesn’t have a formal partnership with HUB Ottawa, Mr. Chan said he hopes his organization can continue to play a key role both in the buildup to next year’s events and the celebration itself.

“They know who we are. They know what we can do. They know that we have this kind of terrific community of people who care about this city,” he said. “These are exactly the kind of people they need, right? They’re the doers. They’re the people who actually get off their butts and act on their ideas.”

Geographic location: Ottawa, Startup Canada, National Capital Region

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