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Take two: After trucker convoy, Ottawa redoing Valentine’s Day exactly one month later

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Take two: After trucker convoy, Ottawa redoing Valentine’s Day exactly one month later
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The city councillor says Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days for restaurants and some businesses, and that day was taken from them when Ottawa was gridlocked last month.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury knows his proposal may appear a tad bizarre at first.

The councillor for Rideau-Vanier, which includes Lowertown and Sandy Hill, wanted to find a way to allow residents to celebrate an event that slipped under the radar while the trucker convoy protest paralyzed the city in February.

So he put forward a motion at city council for Ottawans to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Monday, March 14 – exactly one month after the official date. His reasons? 

“One is for families and couples to properly celebrate Valentine’s Day, those living in Ottawa who couldn’t, and the other one is really supporting our businesses.” he explained to CityNews. “I’ve heard from residents saying, ‘it is cheeky, but it’s fun to see’. We live in bizarre times, challenging times.”

Fleury says Ottawa restaurants have embraced the idea and are preparing special menus and activities to mark the occasion, one month removed. Some community members are even making Valentine’s Day cards to hand out to local businesses. 

Busy time for restaurants

Fleury explains Valentine’s Day is usually one of the most important and busiest days for businesses, especially restaurateurs and the opportunity to celebrate that day was taken from them when the downtown core was gridlocked last month. And now, it’s time to make up for that. 

“The opportunity to redo that and the opportunity for residents to support local businesses is extremely important,” said Fleury.

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It’s not just restaurants, he says, there are local business owners who sell flowers, chocolates, cards, gifts and more that could greatly benefit from the economic boost that comes with holidays.

“Those are all part of the Valentine’s Day economy and we have amazing businesses in our city core, particularly the ByWard Market, Rideau Centre that are excited to have that business.”

The timing could not be perfect, says the city councillor, now that COVID-19 rates have dropped, restrictions have begun to lift, and the weather is warming up as well.

‘A new form of a normal’

Fleury sees more and more people becoming increasingly comfortable returning to old routines, and things getting busier.

“We as a society have lived through some of the most challenging times over the last two years,” he said. “We’ve all pivoted, adjusted, got vaccinated, and we’re trying to get back to what is – we’ll call it what it is – a new form of a normal.

“You don’t forget the pandemic … But at the same time find moments that are for couples, for families to come out and just talk about different things. I’m sort of tired of talking about the pandemic with my own family and friends. [It’s] good to change the [minds] and if the redo of Valentine’s Day raises a discussion or a poll amongst family at the restaurant, then I’ve done something right.”

What kind of turnout is Fleury expecting on Valentine’s Day, take two? He says time and time again, Ottawans have come out and supported local when businesses have struggled the most.

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“I know Ottawa is a caring town and we’ve seen that throughout the pandemic, even throughout the occupation, support for local businesses,” he said. “And our business leaders are open about some of the challenges they faced and residents of Ottawa have always stepped up to support them.”

—With files from Alex Goudge, CityNews Ottawa

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