Do US authorities have a responsibility to help Ottawa’s economy recover?

The issue came up Tuesday after a presentation by the Ottawa Board of Trade at a meeting of the City Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee.

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Does the federal government have a responsibility to improve the economic health of downtown Ottawa by bringing government employees back to their offices?

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The issue came up Tuesday after a presentation by the Ottawa Board of Trade at a meeting of the City Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee.

grev. Mathieu Fleury asked the board of Trade President and CEO Sueling Ching if the organization has formalized a request to the federal government for more information on when employees will return to downtown offices after COVID-19 forced thousands of government employees to work from home.

But Ching said the unknowns apply to all jobs, not just federal ones.

“What we are trying to get a handle on, frankly, not just the government as an employer, but all employers, is what the appetite is to return to office,” Ching said.

“Even CEOs we have met with and who have a national mandate are struggling with how to get back into office in a safe way, in a way that supports what their workforce wants to do and that they can retain that workforce. “

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Ching said the board is working on ways to increase “employee confidence” to return to the office.

For months, City Hall has been trying to learn the intentions of the federal government when it comes to the return of public servants to downtown offices.

The status of federal workers is particularly important as the city seeks to project equestrian levels for OC Transpo. When the municipal budget proposal for 2022 is presented on Wednesday, there may be plenty of guesswork at stake when it comes to revenue forecasts in the transit department.

The city is also keeping an eye on the financial health of the retail and service industries at its core as the traditional consumer base thinned out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there are positive signs.

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Cushman & Wakefield’s analysis of Ottawa’s retail in the center showed a one percent vacancy rate in the second quarter of 2021, an improvement from 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the vacancy rate for downtown retail was 3.1 percent, according to Cushman & Wakefields research.

During the committee meeting was the county council meeting. Eli El-Chantiry urged Mayor Jim Watson to contact the federal government to “promote and encourage people to return to work.”

A prime minister in central Ottawa is now overseeing the federal government administration, with Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier taking over as chair of the Finance Council. Fortier’s riding includes part of downtown, east of the Rideau Canal, including the ByWard Market and Rideau Center.

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After the committee meeting, the county council. Laura Dudas, who as the committee’s vice chair has also worked closely with business during the pandemic, said the mandate to work from home, issued by employers at the center, has generated economic activity for stores outside the core.

Dudas said companies at St. Joseph Boulevard has done well during the pandemic, where residents working from home spend money in their local shops.

But the center issue is towering.

“I think now is the right time to have that conversation about how we, as a city, but even as residents, can support local businesses in the center, which over time have become very dependent on daytime workforce support. their companies, “Dudas said in an interview.

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Downtown businesses will need to diversify their customer bases and consider what services residents need, Dudas said. The city can do its part by promoting events at the center, she added.

The city has no control over when or if employers bring workers back to their offices.

Dudas agreed that the city can no longer trust the federal government to protect economic health at the center.

“There’s an opportunity here to see how we can strengthen our downtown businesses in the long run (considering) that we do not know what the work of the future looks like,” Dudas said.

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