Ontario pledges $11.5 million for Ottawa businesses affected by ‘Freedom Convoy’
Businesses in the ByWard Market. Feb. 19, 2022. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)
Ottawa businesses impacted by the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration will be eligible for $5,000 in provincial funding to help cover operating costs incurred during the nearly four-week protest in the downtown core.
The Ontario government announced up to $11.5 million in funding to support local businesses and to help Ottawa Tourism "welcome people back to the nation's capital" following the protest.
A $10 million grant is being established to help businesses, which will be administered by Invest Ottawa.
The province says eligible businesses can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to help pay for "non-deferrable operating expenses incurred during the blockade."
The Rideau Centre and several small businesses were closed for up to 25 days after vehicles began blocking downtown streets to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures.
"The illegal blockades in downtown Ottawa this winter caused significant financial losses for local businesses," Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod said in a statement. "Today's announcement will help Ottawa – and the small businesses at the heart of our community - get ready to welcome visitors for the spring and summer tourist seasons."
Two weeks ago, the federal government announced an investment of up to $20 million for businesses impacted by the demonstration. Small businesses can apply for a non-repayable contribution of up to $10,000 for operating costs not covered by other federal programs.
Information on both loan programs will be available on the Invest Ottawa website.
The Ontario government is also investing $1.5 million in Ottawa Tourism.
The province says the funding will help the capital, "reinforce its brand as a world-class city while encouraging visitor and tourism spending" in the national capital region.
Ottawa Tourism plans to launch a campaign that "inspires consumer confidence and encourages tourists and visitors to come to Ottawa to enjoy the peak spring and summer seasons," the province said in a media release.
Ottawa Tourism president and CEO Michael Crockatt says the provincial funding will help the city showcase the "incredible experiences" that can be enjoyed in the region.
"Tourism has a major role to play in the recovery of our community; in the short term, we encourage Ottawans to support the downtown as we resume our role as a welcoming, safe, inclusive destination," Crockatt said.