OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa's finance and economic development committee (FEDCo) will be debating next week whether to allow the Tanger Outlets mall in Kanata to open its stores on statutory holidays.

According to a document prepared for the meeting scheduled for Tues. Sept. 1, the mall's owner, RioCan, has applied for an exemption under the Retail Business Holidays Act.

In a statement, RioCan told CTV News it looks forward to council's decision.

"To help support tourism and economic development in Ottawa, RioCan has submitted an application to the City of Ottawa requesting all non-exempt retail businesses within Tanger Outlets Ottawa be open to the public on statutory holidays," the statement said. "Tanger is a major commercial centre, attracting an estimated 4.2 million visitors each year, including many shoppers from outside the City, from Eastern Ontario, the Ottawa Valley and Western Quebec."

Similar exemptions are in place in the ByWard Market, Downtown Rideau, Sparks Street, and the Glebe. If approved, this would be the first exemption for a suburban shopping centre.

City staff are recommending FEDCo approve the request.

"The exemption By-law would provide economic development opportunities for the local retail sector and other potential economic benefits to area hotels, restaurants and attractions," the report says.

If approved by FEDCo, the decision would go to full city council for final approval. 

Rocco Rossi, president of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce praised the idea.

"This is a good step forward," he told CTV News. "Having additional flexibility like the ability to open on stat holidays, and really focusing on convenience and service is going to be critical to the future health of many retailers."

One shopper, Amanda Jiron, told CTV News she approves.

"I think it's a great idea," she said. "I haven’t currently been able to go, because of my work schedule; and, on stat holidays if I am off, everything is closed."

However, The Ottawa and District Labour Council says it is opposed to the request and will fight to have it denied or repealed.

"There are a certain number of stat holidays that would allow families to spend together," Ottawa and District Labour Council President Sean McKenny said in a statement on the council's website. "That was the whole design of (the provincial law) so that families could spend time together. Little by little that gets pulled away."

McKenny also argues that extending shopping hours during the COVID-19 pandemic puts front-line retail workers at greater risk.

"It’s exposing these workers to another day of being confronted with COVID-19," he said.

"All of those businesses need help, there’s no argument there - but this is surely not the way to do it, especially, especially during this pandemic," he told CTV News.

The labour council fought the 2016 decision to allow businesses in the Glebe to open on statutory holidays, but a provincial tribunal rejected its appeal.