A contentious divide between a Glebe business association and the ward’s councillor seems to be healing over as the two parties released a joint statement Friday pledging to work together.
The Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA), which represents retailers and restaurants in the area, and Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard have entered into a “new process of understanding and collaboration,” according to a brief statement.
As part of the agreement, the BIA has withdrawn its controversial request seeking a replacement for Menard on the organization’s board.
Divisions between Menard and the BIA became public in recent weeks amid debates over closing streets in front of businesses to provide more space for pedestrians to physically distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Menard had sought to close off one side of the road along three blocks of Bank Street in May, but faced pushback from some businesses in his ward.
A last-minute motion from Mayor Jim Watson requiring two-thirds of affected businesses to sign off on any such closures effectively ended Menard’s attempts to close off these streets.
The Glebe BIA sent out a bulletin to its members last week stating it wanted a replacement with a more “fulsome commitment” to the organization, a move that Menard said came as a surprise.
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Removing Menard as the city’s representative on the BIA’s board would have fallen to city council for approval.
But the BIA’s decision to oust Menard from its board faced blowback from residents online.
When the Bank Street BIA tweeted Thursday about its plan to close-off portions of the road north of the Glebe, the replies were filled with users calling out the Glebe BIA as close-minded regarding street closures and the associated impact on businesses.
Many indicated that they saw the push to remove Menard as a statement against such active transportation initiatives, despite Glebe BIA director Andrew Peck’s statements clarifying the division was about more than street closures.
Though the withdrawn request avoids a messy political situation, both parties acknowledged in the statement that a divide remains.
“There is mutual agreement that the current situation is not ideal, and we must focus on effectively addressing the more pressing demands, including those related to COVID-19 and the work required to help the local economy during a period of recovery,” the BIA and Menard’s office wrote.
“As we re-establish this relationship and roles on the board, we will seek mediated solutions, striking a balance between the needs of local businesses and the broader community.”
Speaking of street closures, Watson sent out a tweet Friday announcing that Somerset Street would be closed between Bank and O’Connor streets on weekends starting Friday evening.
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