On March 15 Ottawa-Vanier byelection candidates came together to take a walk in the ByWard Market.
The event, organized by the Lowertown Community Association, Action Sandy Hill and Ecology Ottawa aimed at getting all of the candidates on board with the city’s plan to revitalize the market.
The Liberal party’s candidate Mona Fortier, Conservative candidate Adrian Papara and the NDP’s candidate Emilie Taman attended the walkabout.
“The city has approved the ByWard Market revitalization as a priority so we want our federal government representative to contribute to this project,” said Liz Bernstein, president of the Lowertown Community Association.
Bernstein added it’s important to the community that their local member of Parliament to not only champion causes such as the market’s revitalization, but help make it happen.
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury took the lead on the walkabout, updating the candidates about the steps the city is taking as well as the plans of creating underground parking and more plaza space. Fleury pointed out to each of the candidates how the market could benefit from federal funding and participation.
"Sometimes in a boardroom it can get boring, so I think it was important to do it on site," Fleury said, adding he was pleased all the candidates came out to participate in the walk.
Of what is expected to cost $10 million, currently, the city already approved $1.2 million for updates to the George Street plaza in front of the market building on George Street.
The remaining $9 million is still unfunded.
Fleury said the city is prepared to spend $3 million, but needs buy in from both the province and the federal governments to make the market's vision complete.
Although the market is merely adjacent to his neighbourhood and Sandy Hill residents are not directly impacted by any improvements as Lowertown residents would be, Action Sandy Hill president, Chad Rollins attended the walkabout in order for the candidates to see that it shouldn’t just stop with the market.
“I wanted the federal candidates to associate the idea of Rideau with the idea of revitalization the market,” Rollins said. “Rideau Street is an extension of the market, and it too needs revitalizing.”
Bernstein said she was pleased the candidates came out and listened to what she and other community members had to say about the market and its needs.
“I think this was effective because they were interested and asked questions and acknowledged there is work that needs to be done,” Bernstein said.