ByWard Market Retailers say rent increase and added costs could force them to leave

Some businesses in the ByWard Market say a new hike in rent and operating costs could force them to leave.

Edward Olszowka has owned and operated Wadel Touch of Europe for over 20 years. He moved the store to the Market two years ago. He wanted to serve tourists and customers looking for European specialty foods.

Last month, he says he got notice that his rent was increasing and there would be more operational costs. 

Olszowka says he is “very sad… I put all my saving in the store, $300-thousand to renovate and build something… and before retirement I lose everything.”

Olszowka says he has also been notified he needs to pay more than $5-thousand dollars in back pay by July 10th.

“I don’t have the money. They wrote me and said as of 10th of July you have to leave the store,” he says.

He isn’t alone. His neighbour Mia Hu runs Fairway Trading. She says she is at risk of losing her store.

“Last year we pay $2.97 per square foot, now we have to pay $6.95 ... 3 dollars to seven dollars!” Hu says.

Hu hopes for answers and a better explanation about price hikes.

The landlord is Ottawa Markets. It is a non-for-profit municipal organization that took over the building in January 2018.

They declined an interview for CTV News, but in a statement to CTV News says they “cannot speak to how the former landlord determined operating costs or if and how any subsidy was applied to reduce those operating costs.

“The costs are reconciled at year end and then audited by accredited Audit Professionals to verify and ensure that only costs directly related to the leased premises are recovered."

Jasna Jennings with the ByWard Market BIA says she is deeply concerned about "this aggressive and inconsiderate action committed against our small local independant businesses."

Jennings says "If it is starting here, where is it going to end, who will have to worry tomorrow if they havent gotten a letter from Ottawa Markets."