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Sparks Street Navigating Covid-19

June 19, 2020

As the world was swept into a pandemic of unforeseen magnitude, many worked hard

at keeping their footing while pivoting with the constant changes, updates, news, and

regulations. Sparks Street BIA (SSBIA) having just come out of a successful Winterlude

season is among those who switched gears from major event planning and business

marketing to navigating a whole new environment of shutdowns and unknowns.

Some of what the SSBIA has been up to has been visible through our social media

channels as we worked to create a one-stop online shop where gift certificates could

be found for many of our business and restaurants. We partnered with the

FanSaves Gift Certificate Program and assisted in upgrading many of our businesses

to online shopping opportunities as our members strengthened or evolved their

online presences.


In the first weeks of the pandemic, the SSBIA created an online member page where access to all the important and ever-updating information they needed could be found in one place: from news releases, useful links, to provincial regulations and bylaws. In a world scattered with information, we compiled the most pertinent and useful on this page as we progressed from the unknown to Phase 1, 2, and will continue to as we look forward to Phase 3.

Behind the scenes, the SSBIA worked to support our members as quickly as possible by getting board approval to reallocate our annual budget to provide an E-Commerce Grant. Our members were invited to apply for a $1,000 grant to assist them with creating their online shopping platforms or online marketing campaigns. We are happy to report that many took advantage of this initiative.


When Phase 2 allowed for the reopening of patios, the SSBIA waived the patio permit fees and has been working closely with its restaurants in expanding their usual footprints to accommodate the new physical distancing regulations.


The SSBIA continues to work closely with its partners, including the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Public HealthOttawa Festivals, Ottawa Tourism, Ottawa Coalition of BIAs, the Ontario Business Improvement Association, and IDA Canada. Our efforts were focused on ensuring that COVID-19 legislation was created and adapted to suit the needs of our members from rent to CEBA to employee supports, to gain insights to how other organizations are succeeding and bringing best practices back to our membership, among many other useful tools and knowledge gained through these cooperative networks.


Some visible updates to the street can be observed when you take a

walk and see our phone booths now displaying physical distancing

reminders echoing the city’s guidelines. If you peek into shops and

restaurants, you may notice the window decals which match the floor

stickers with their cute animal footprints letting you know

distance-friendly service is offered here. The SSBIA also partnered

with Top Shelf Distilleries to provide sanitizer kits which we distributed

to our members.


What you may have seen the most as everyone swerved online is our

efforts to maintain a connection between our businesses and restaurants

and YOU, their valued customers, patrons and neighbours. Through all

the uncertainty and sometimes wobbly progression, the local love has

been felt across all the SSBIA social media channels and has made a

big difference in keeping up our morale as well as our members’.

Supporting one another through tough times is part of what makes this

city so terrific and we are grateful to find ourselves in this together at

the heart of it with the next phase just around the physically-distanced


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