ByWard Market BIA Dissolution and District Formation

News regarding ByWard Market BIA dissolving later this year, 2023.

To summarize, the city of Ottawa is in review of expanding their existing Municipal Services Corporation (MSC) currently known as Ottawa Markets, to an entity that will represent the Byward Market in whole, as a District Authority.
This is still in strategic review and consultation.
Yesterday it was presented at the Byward Market BIA AGM – Click for the presentation: March 1, 2023_ByWard Market AGM_City of Ottawa Presentation Further perspectives from the BIA and City are provided below.


In the case of Byward Market, there are competing interests and messages within a highly visited area. This is unlike other parts of the city where the BIA has a singular message to promote and program the business area/neighbourhood.


The MSC that is being expanded will bridge the two organization’s mandates into a single organization with a considerably large mandate to represent the heritage and tourism area it is.  What it also does is bring the area directly under the city, with considerable measures to act and implement various necessary programs.  In similarity, the expectation of this district is similar to internationally known Canadian districts such as Granville Island / Market or Distillery District.


OCOBIA recognizes the Byward Market BIA and their decades of work in building a nationally recognized and revered business area through events, promotions, and street beautification.  The businesses, with the BIA Board, make up a big part of the character and attraction that the Byward Market has.  It is good to know that the BIA representatives will move forward alongside the city to make sure that the Byward Market businesses are still represented in a newly expanded MSC.


As the Byward Market approaches its 200 year anniversary, with a much larger organization and mandate, and with the will and power of the City and business community behind it, we anticipate that it will be recognized and celebrated on an international scale.


BIAs are partners with the city in providing valuable services, programs, events and street beautification to attract and showcase a vibrant area that drives economic activity. Every BIA has its own unique brand and serves its businesses in building a thriving mainstreet or area. To learn more about BIAs, click here


A heartfelt thank you to the Byward Market BIA, the Board, and the businesses who have built the character of Ottawa’s Byward Market. The work they have done over decades is a solid foundation for the work that will continue forward.


Organization Perspectives:

Release from Byward Market BIA

Byward Market BIA to dissolve in 2023 to make room for a new Byward Market Authority. 

March 2, 2023  Ottawa, ON

At the Byward Market BIA AGM, which took place March 1st, 2023, the board announced the formal dissolution of the BIA, effective March 31, 2023, with marketing and promotional activities to support our businesses, to carry on until September 30th, 2023.

While we recognize news of this nature may be concerning and unprecedented in our area, we want to stress this has not been entered into lightly or without great consultation.

To summarize, the City of Ottawa undertook multiple reviews of the area assets and operations, which resulted in the formation of Ottawa Markets in 2018, with a continued mandate to review the existing Municipal Services Corporation (MSC) during its tenure. Subsequently, by direction of council in 2022, the choice was made to expand oversight of the MSC following a restructuring exercise, which is currently underway. Upon the conclusion of the process the new entity will be formed and referred to as a District Authority, with operational oversight of the area as a whole.

It should be noted that this strategic review and consultation is still underway. However, as part of the structural changes, the ByWard Market BIA has undertaken the dissolution as step one of this process.

We would like to stress that this change is seen as a strategic move forward, in achieving the operational synergies needed to ensure there is consistent representation for all stakeholders, while creating one entity with direct reporting and accountability to the City of Ottawa. I am sure we can all agree that the silo approach has not yielded the results that this area so desperately deserves. We offer by way of comparison the successful concepts of Canadian districts such as Granville Island / Market or Distillery District.

To move the dial forward on the many concerns of the area as it exists today, compounded by the complexities of the Public Realm Revitalisation Program which are on the horizon, we felt it prudent to give clear path to the City of Ottawa to create an entity that represents and works solely for the interests and benefit of the area.

We assure you that the BIA has worked with the City to ensure that a Business Guiding Counsel will form an integral part of the entity, as we believe that the area’s businesses are paramount to the long term success of the area.

On behalf of the board and unbelievably hard working staff (past and present), we offer our support to the City of Ottawa in this transitional time and want to thank the over 600 businesses of the area for their support over many decades. There are not adequate words to express the feelings attached to this change. Just know that as members of the area, we will continue to work, every day, advocating on your behalf for the future of OUR ByWard Market.


Message from the City of Ottawa

“The ByWard Market Public Realm Plan, approved by Council in 2021, included a recommendation that City staff undertake a review of ByWard Market governance. In 2022, the City formed a working group, with participation from the boards of both the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the Municipal Services Corporation (MSC) known as Marché d’Ottawa Markets, to examine options for a new governance model for the area. This work, known as the ByWard Market Strategic Alignment Initiative, is a coordinated effort by the City and stakeholders to address the ineffective, multi-jurisdictional structure in the ByWard Market and improve the management, operations and programming of the area. The working group has achieved consensus on a new district governance model that will align area operations, marketing, programming and advocacy under a single entity.

The new district model will utilize the existing MSC legal structure. A new service agreement between the City and the MSC will reflect an expanded mandate for the area to encompass current BIA priorities. The BIA endorses the new district model and has notified the City of their intent to wrap-up business operations in 2023.

The new district model will centralize area operations and create economies of scale and administrative efficiencies. The district will benefit from uniform district policies, defined placemaking and place keeping responsibilities, coordinated programming, and cohesive branding and marketing. The City, through the new service agreement, will provide the MSC with broadened authorities to fulfill the vision for the district and assume new responsibilities for service delivery and revenue generation over time as the organization continues to mature. The district model provides a single decision-making table to allow the ByWard Market to speak with one voice and advocate on issues and opportunities critical to the commercial vitality of the area and the ability to deliver a positive visitor experience.

The ByWard Market Strategic Alignment Initiative was presented to members of the ByWard Market BIA at their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday and will be brought to Committee and Council in June.

–          Attributed to Cindy VanBuskirk, Program Manager, High Economic Impact Programs, City of Ottawa


Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas is an advocate and influencer on issues and policies affecting the economic development and well-being of Ottawa BIAs – and the businesses they represent.


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