Downtown Ottawa businesses say enhanced Canada Day security could attract more customers

Sparks Street
Sparks Street (Photo by Tony Webster / Flickr)

Downtown businesses are confident enhanced security measures for Canada Day will actually bring more people downtown.

Kevin McHale, acting executive director of the Sparks Street Business Improvement Area, said the businesses he has talked to all seem glad the city is stepping up screening and other measures.  

“The world has changed a little bit in the last little while,” he said. “They are happy to see that security is being adapted for it.”

He said the Canada Day weekend is expected to be “one of the better ones” for restaurants and shops along Sparks.

“We think it will be a good week before and good week after.”

Mayor Jim Watson and Police Chief Charles Bordeleau briefed the media last week on security measures for Canada Day. They said they expected 500,000 people set to head downtown — much more than an average year — and the police resources will be stepped up to match.  

The chief said people should expect screening tents and bag searches and other measures to ensure safety on Parliament Hill.

Watson said anyone coming to the day of concerts should expect some delay and leave time for it.

“It’s going to take you a little longer to get through security to get on the Hill,” he said.

McHale said he’s confident people will be reassured by the stepped up security and will actually be more likely to make the trip downtown.  

“I think the hope and the feeling is that people who may have felt nervous will actually come down.”

He said the city has also given businesses plenty of warning on street closures and other measures.

“We have got that information with enough time that it’s not going to affect our guys,” he said. “Instead of loading up the day before, they are going to load up two days before.” 

- This story originally appeared in Metro News. With files from Alex Abdelwahab