“Ch-ch-ch changes coming to the Byward Market”

Stéphanie Plante


Photo F. Adam Sopuck

Big changes are coming to the ByWard Market. By June of this year, the Market might look the same on the outside, but the internal governance structure will have changed. The Market’s Business Improvement Area will dissolve and the Municipal Services Corporation currently known as Marché d’Ottawa Markets will receive an expanded mandate for broader district operations. What does this mean, and how will it affect the ByWard Market experience?

A Municipal Services Corporation, or Municipal Owned Corporation is somewhat self-explanatory in that it is a corporation owned by and answerable to the City. In Ottawa, there are a few well-known municipal corporations, such as Hydro Ottawa and the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. Other famous examples include the Granville Island market in Vancouver, BC, and the Distillery District in Toronto. While the ByWard municipal corporation won’t be a carbon copy of those national landmarks, it will follow their model. Not bad company to be in!

Under the new district model, the ByWard Market will enjoy the benefits of coordinated area operations. Previously, the BIA, Marché d’Ottawa Markets and the City operated with a cumbersome decision-making structure. We all know what happens when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Under the new model, area operations, programming, advocacy and marketing will happen under one roof.

The new district model will allow the area to speak with one voice and advocate for priorities that support commercial vibrancy and an enhanced experience for residents and visitors.

The ByWard Market will celebrate its 200th birthday in 2027. It is older than Confederation! But the Market has had an incredibly difficult time recovering from the blow dealt by the pandemic and over-concentration of social services. If we want the Market to be around for another 200 years, it needs to be nimble and self-reliant. This evolution will be instrumental in keeping the ByWard Market healthy and vibrant for the long term. Stay tuned for City Council consideration of this opportunity in June.