The Councillor and the BIA: peace in our time

Council, Councillors, Shawn Menard

By Liz McKeen

A truce has been declared in the spat between the Glebe BIA and Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard.

In June, the business association requested that Menard be removed from its board of directors, stating that the arrangement was “not working in the best interests of our members.” The catalyst for this unusual move was Menard’s unsuccessful proposal to dedicate one lane of Bank Street between Third and Glebe Avenues to walkers and bikers during the pandemic. Previous disagreements had occurred over Lansdowne governance.

Reaction on social media to the BIA’s action has been largely negative. Ecology Ottawa terminated its longstanding relationship with the BIA, anchored around the annual Great Glebe Green Garage Sale, saying it was “deeply dismayed by the Glebe BIA’s opposition to active transportation improvements in our city.”

However, at time of writing, a form of peace has been restored. The BIA withdrew its request to remove Menard from its board on July 3, and the two parties issued a joint statement.

“Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard and the Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA) have agreed to enter a new process of understanding and collaboration,” the statement said. “The Glebe BIA has withdrawn its request to have the Councillor replaced on its Board. All parties will work together to continue supporting businesses and the local community.

“There is mutual agreement that the current situation is not ideal, and we must focus on effectively addressing the more pressing demands, including those related to COVID-19 and the work required to help the local economy during a period of recovery.

“As we re-establish this relationship and roles on the Board, we will seek mediated solutions, striking a balance between the needs of local businesses and the broader community.”

Good sense and good will have prevailed, for the moment at least. Best wishes for the important task of forging a collaborative relationship that will benefit businesses and residents alike. As they say, we’re all in this together.

Bank Street

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