Ottawa 2017 event to take up dozens of Byward Market parking spaces

An Ottawa 2017 Signature Event is under construction in the Byward Market, but it already has people talking.

But it’s not so much about the event, which is still a month away, but about the land it’s using: prime, downtown parking spaces on York Street.

“Inspiration Village” features 41 shipping containers that will be transformed into mini-stages with interactive displays that highlight all of Canada’s provinces and territories. The Village will be open from May 20 to September 4. It will take over a stretch of York Street, from Sussex Drive to the Byward Market Square.

But that means that 92 parking spaces on that stretch of road will be unavailable that entire time, and longer, as the stretch is closed for set up now, and will remain closed for a time afterward for clean-up.

Rideau-Vanier councillor Mathieu Fleury tells CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Evan Solomon that he understands losing out on parking can be a pain, but he feels this event will be worth it.

“We’re sensitive around losing parking spots because it does have an impact on businesses,” he says. “But, at the same time, if we can bring more people to the area, we continue to grow the opportunity for businesses to make business.”

Fleury says 92 parking spots may seem like a lot, but there is still ample parking downtown.

“There are 3,000 spots right in the Market, and when we look at walking distance from the Market, there are 8,000 spots,” he says.

The Byward Market BIA is expecting a boost in tourism because of Inspiration Village.

Some businesses, like the Urban Barn, tell CTV Ottawa they’re hoping to cash in on the increased foot traffic.

“I think it's exciting, a great way to promote tourism and Ottawa downtown,” says store manager Kim Lopez.

But others worry about a loss of business as drive-up clients look elsewhere.

“I think it's an odd location,” York Street Spa stylist Amitya Bourgeois tells CTV Ottawa. “It's known for being a good parking lot for downtown (along York Street) so Major's Hill would have been a good area or Confederation Park.”

With files from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr.