Glebe retailers won't open for Victoria Day, despite exemption

The Glebe won’t be the shopping mecca its BIA had hoped this holiday Monday, after an appeal put its new holiday exemption on hold until the fall.

City council approved the trendy shopping district’s application to allow retail stores to open on six statutory holidays last February, on the grounds that the neighbourhood is a tourist destination and local hot spot on holidays.

But the Ottawa and District Labour Council disagreed. Calling the rationale “nonsense,” council president Sean McKenny appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board on the grounds the city didn’t spend enough time weighing the impact of a lost holiday on employees.

He also questioned the BIA’s claim that the Glebe’s proximity to the Rideau Canal makes it a tourist destination.

“It’s 200 kilometres long,” Mr. McKenny said. “There’s no way the intention of the legislation had that in mind at all.”

The case won’t be heard until September, according to city solicitor Rick O’Connor, which puts the exemption on hold through Canada Day and Labour Day as well as Victoria Day.

Glebe BIA director Andrew Peck said the delay is unfortunate, but unsurprising.

“It’s part of the due process and we respect that,” Mr. Peck said. “We’ve been successful so far, we’ve obviously made a very strong case … Now we’ve got to do it one more time.”

And it’s not like the Glebe will be desolate this holiday Monday. The Glebe’s many restaurants, small grocery and handicraft stores and liquor stores are already exempt under the Retail Business Holidays Act, so they can open as usual.

Not all local retailers are on board with the plan. Jennifer Adam, owner of JD Adam Kitchen Co. at Bank Street and Third Avenue, said she wants to give her “very dedicated staff” the holidays they deserve.

But if her retails neighbours start opening on holidays, she’ll feel pressured to do the same, she said.

This article originally appeared on on May 18.