Updated July 21, 2020
While COVID-19 has drastically affected the tourism industry in Ottawa, the industry continues to show its resiliency through acts of “caremongering,” good faith, and by taking their experiences online. Examples include:
- Ottawa Tourism launched the #MyOttawa Pass, Ottawa’s very own local savings passport, complete with an impressive collection of more than 60 discounts and offers from businesses across the city. This FREE pass is available to all Ottawa locals until July 31, 2020. All you need to do is sign up and present your offer at any participating businesses to redeem and save.
- There are various street closures around downtown Ottawa to ensure more space for patios and pedestrians. Closures include various streets in the ByWard Market; Bank Street (from Queen Street to Flora Street, Saturdays only); and Somerset Street (between O’Connor Street and Bank Street, Friday nights through to Sunday).
- The ByWard Market Restaurants (a family of restaurants including Métropolitain Brasserie, The Grand Pizzeria, Zak's Cantina and Zak's Diner) partner with the Lowertown Community Resource Centre on the Pay it Forward initiative to contribute meals to homeless families.
- The Keep Ottawa Awesome initiative sees Ottawa Tourism members banding together to promote their services and generate income through the sale of gift certificates. Participating members include Haunted Walk, Escape Bicycle Tours & Rentals, Brew Donkey, C’est Bon Cooking, Pirate Life, Escape Manor and À La Carte Shuttle & Tours.
- Haunted Walks has launched a super spooky Save Halloween Project on Kickstarter to help support their business and produce some fun online events before the big day in October.
- The City of Ottawa launched the campaign Buy Local, aimed at supporting local businesses by encouraging residents to buy items and gift cards online, ordering take-out, supporting social media activity, and more.
- Similarly, Together Apart has compiled a list of businesses still operating in some capacity (delivery, gift cards, etc.), searchable by Ottawa neighbourhood.
- Ottawa Markets has launched a new tool to allow online purchasing of farmers’ market goods with scheduled pick-up times from the ByWard Market and the Parkdale Market.
- Capital Taxi offers assistance with order pick-ups through their app, with drivers able to facilitate pick up and drop offs.
- Local sign company Miller McConnell Signs have pivoted their production to switch to making personal protective equipment.
- Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), like the Bank Street BIA, ByWard Market BIA, Chinatown BIA, Downtown Rideau BIA, Glebe BIA, Preston Street BIA, Sparks Street BIA, Vanier BIA, Wellington West BIA, and Westboro Village BIA, have special campaigns, new sites, and lists online of businesses in their neighbourhoods offering online shopping and food delivery/takeout.
- In an effort to provide residents the opportunity to get fresh air and exercise, the National Capital Commission opens the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway and Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway for non-vehicular public use between 8:00am and 4:00pm each Saturday and Sunday until Monday, September 7. Queen Elizabeth Drive is also closed to vehicles daily until Monday, September 7. Parking lots are also now open to allow for easier use of trails and increase access to the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park.
- In April, hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan made a donation to the Ottawa Food bank which garnered media attention and inspired others to follow suit. As a result, a campaign called A Better Tomorrow has emerged with clothing and lifestyle brand 36 Chambers, run by members of the music group, to raise funds for the Ottawa Food Bank, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and the Ottawa Mission Foundation. Items for sale include an Ottawa-branded Wu-Tang t-shirt, “Protect Ya Hands” hand sanitizer, and a “Saga Continues Bowl” at Pure Kitchen.
Restaurants, Food and Drink
- Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse has found a fun way to provide take-out to their customers by way of a pulley system, lowering food to customers from their main-level window.
- C’est Bon Cooking now offers virtual classes, either privately or in a group, focusing on various ingredients like seafood, poultry, vegetables, and more.
- Local honey farm Gees Bees offers a fun way to learn about bees with the private beehive tours – a unique way for families to learn about bees and honey production!
- Local breweries and distilleries stepped up to switch their production to hand sanitizer, including Big Rig Brewery, Cassel Brewery, North of 7 Distillery, Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company in partnership with Dunrobin Distillery, and Dairy Distillery (who have introduced a program where each bottle purchased gives a bottle of hand sanitizer to those fighting COVID-19).
- Ottawa restaurant The Waverley started a worthwhile project called Operation Ramzieh, aimed at helping the community and feeding seniors in need.
- A number of Ottawa restaurants have joined an initiative called Love Local Delivery to help get their food to customers during COVID-19. Contactless delivery and over the phone payment are used to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Other restaurants providing innovative services for their customers include: Soca and Gooney’s, Pure Kitchen, and Beckta Dining + Wine.
- Brew Donkey, a craft brewery tour company in Ottawa, launched a directory of local breweries with information about delivery and patio openings to help locals know how to enjoy craft beer from their favourite breweries.
- allsaints event space offers fun themed food boxes for delivery and pick-up with themes like Morning Buzz or Wine & Charcuterie.
- Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm now offers Picnics at the Farm every Saturday, which includes refreshments!
- Party bike Thursty Pedaler takes their experience online, facilitating fun games, trivia, and cocktail kits as a new way to hang out and connect.
- Saunders Farm now offers an Essentials Shop, complete with food boxes, gift cards… even daytime picnics and campfire nights where families or couples can enjoy a private campfire at Saunders Farm, complete with food and drink – and a staff member to get the fire ready for you!
- Local food initiative Just Food offers ways to garden during COVID-19 by offering online gardening workshops and providing access to the Ottawa Seed Library.
- The Supreme Court of Canada is now offering remote tours where a representative teaches groups of up to 35 more about the Court and its history with the help of pictures and facts.
- The Royal Canadian Mint has created a special medal to pay tribute to essential workers in Canada, with proceeds going to the Breakfast Club of Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Funding to address food insecurity.
- Check out Mayfair Virtual Cinema, offered by the iconic Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa! Online move rentals of eclectic, independent films are available from their website.
- Local escape room company Escape Manor launched a new online escape experience called Taken: The Swiss Account for small groups to be played over online video conference software.
- The now iconic OTTAWA sign in the ByWard Market neighbourhood is lit up in rainbow lights as a sign of solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In March 2020, the Canadian Museum of Nature changed their signage for the earlier Me and my Microbes exhibition to promote handwashing, with help from the Ottawa Hospital.
- Ruckify and the United Way East Ontario have joined together in a relief initiative to provide technical equipment for social service providers (such as doctors and counselors) to help them continue to offer services during mandated closures and physical distancing.
- Ottawa-based Nesta Manufacturing has shifted focus to PPE, with a new brand NestaPPE which works to produce PPE for the general public and for organizations.
- Local company Big Time Murder Productions has switched from offering live performances to offer online, “Who-dunnit” style interactive murder investigation shows staged over Zoom at ZoomMystery.com.