ByWard Market business owners worry about loss of parking as finance committee approves redevelopment plan

Ottawa's historic ByWard Market is in line for a proposed multi-million dollar makeover, creating a "network of inspiring public places" for pedestrians.

But some business owners in the Market say the plan, approved Tuesday by the city's Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCo) could hurt their bottom lines.

Brenda Blondin, at the House of Cheese on ByWard Market Square, says she doesn't like the plan, especially because of the loss of parking spaces in the market.

“Our customers who shop in the ByWard Market, a lot of them come by car. A lot of them are in their upper age, so they need to come by car then can't walk or carry their bags three blocks," she says.

The $129 million ByWard Market Public Realm Plan outlines new pedestrian spaces on George Street, York Street and Clarence Street, and the introduction of the "William Street pedestrian spine."

It also includes long-term plans for a new "York Street Flex" plaza stretching from Sussex Drive to York Street and redeveloping the Clarence Street parking garage as a new "destination building", leading to the loss of hundreds of parking spaces.

The plan would maintain vehicle circulation in the ByWard Market, except on William Street.

Pat Nicastro, at La Bottega on George Street, says the plan looks beautiful, but he's also concerned about losing so much parking.

“The market isn’t only about beautiful sunny days and patios," Nicastro said. "We have to remember that retailers require parking. Retailers require parking and short-term delivery areas. There are things the plan missed." 

The plan must still go before full city council for final approval.

Blondin says she will keep serving the customers that do come back, who say specialty shops like hers should be protected.

"We love all the little stores here. You find stuff things you can't find in big box stores. We would miss you if anything every happened," said one customer who spoke to CTV News.

The City of Ottawa is hoping to cover the $129 million plan with funding from upper levels of government, public-private partnerships and leveraging assessment management funding where practicable. Funding would also be subject to future city budgeting. 

With files from CTVNewsOttawa.ca's Josh Pringle.