Letters to the editor: The community responds to Westfest leaving Westboro

Editor’s note: We had a record number of letters in response to the Westfest story. This is just a small sample of the feedback we received.

“Deep disappointment”

I wish to add my voice to the deep disappointment in Westboro Village BIA’s decision to withdraw funding from Westfest. My business and many other businesses in Westboro benefited greatly from Westfest. I am concerned that the BIA made this decision without having a clear plan on how to generate the same economic impact on Wesboro as Westfest. The first step in making sound business decisions is doing a thorough cost-benefit analysis of options, and then make a decision based on that analysis – the BIA has failed in this regard.

The BIA is suggesting to replace Westfest with streetscape beautification and Christmas decorations – it’s all very nice but how will this generate the same economic impact as Westfest? People all over the city and beyond will not drive to Westboro to see flowers and Christmas decoration, but they will and they have for Westfest.

A decision of this magnitude should have been done in consultation with all parties involved, businesses and community. BIA Westboro has failed in their role to represent Westboro businesses, and have demonstrated a lack of long term vision and business acumen.

Marie-France Marquis
Owner, Half Full

Let’s not forget about the ?cultural impact

As an artist who has played Westfest twice, I would also like to remind the B.I.A. of the impact this festival has had culturally. It’s all well & good to talk about return on investment, but the cultural impact this festival has on the lives of local artists & citizens alike is immeasurable & cannot have a dollar value attached to it.

Jason Fryer is a guitarist for River City Junction and has performed at Westfest. Photo by Caroline Gomersall.
Jason Fryer is a guitarist for River City Junction and has performed at Westfest. Photo by Caroline Gomersall.

Westfest brings people together & lasting relationships of all kinds are formed (business & personal alike) & these relationships are the very fabric that make up our communities.

Westfest is essential to the overall communal health of Westboro & is something that all of Ottawa should be very proud of. There are not many festivals that I know of that can boast promoting 100% Canadian content, so from that perspective, this even becomes a national issue. THAT’s how important Westfest is to all of us.

Westfest is something that we should ALL be incredibly proud of. It’s everything beautiful & wonderful about being Canadian & we need to keep it going not only for our own community, but also to serve as an example to the entire world what kind of amazing things we can accomplish when we come together & work with one another. Please don’t let this happen. Get involved & change your world for the better!!!

Jason Fryer,
River City Junction

Westfest put Westboro on the map

My husband and I owned a business in Westboro from 1990 until 2007. At the beginning, Westboro was a ghost town. Failing businesses, tired buildings, lack of identity. It was difficult to get businesses to open in Westboro. We had little to offer. The BIA tried. We held a parade that was “well attended” but didn’t really make a blip in sales figures for the event. We introduced other initiatives that really did not give a significant return on investment for the business owners.

Along came Westfest. Visionaries such as Peter Germotte and Bernie Stewart saw the potential. The goal was to put Westboro on the map. To make it a shopping destination. To give other businesses a reason to open in our area. Westfest has done that. The BIA’s support has allowed the festival to remain free and accessible to all. Brilliant use of resources. One only has to walk through the streets of Westboro during Westfest to feel the impact of this festival.

The loss of the festival to our beloved Westboro would be such a shame. A travesty. To their credit, Elaina and her Westfest team have not only made Westboro a household name, but have made Westfest a household name. A name she can take anywhere and be successful. Thanks Westboro BIA for contributing to that success.

If I still owned a business in Westboro I would not be happy with the members of the BIA board. This is tried and true. Other areas can only dream of this kind of success. Sheba said this is a decision made without consulting their members. If Westfest commits more than 50% of their budget I would expect a referendum to be conducted before cutting it out.

Janis Silver

Westfest brought positive change

As a long time resident of Westboro (40 years) I have seen many changes to my neighborhood.

The biggest changes by far have come since Elaina Martin put us on the city map with her WESTFEST.

I cannot believe the shortsightedness of the decision makers of the BIA when they opted to pull out of their sponsorship of this fabulous event.

I have spoken to many of the business owners along Richmond Road and certainly, this is not what they want.

If there is any organized protest planned, please let me know – I’ll be there.

Maggie Glossop

One thought

  1. I attend Westfest ever year. It’s an easy stroll down my street (Tweedsmuir) to stop in for a pint at Whispers, to go see my son’s friend’s band (The Young Offenders) playing to a large and appreciative crowd, to pick up a good deal or two at one of the local shops, or to pass out free dill weed to anyone who wants it (it grows rampant in my garden). And, as an environmentalist and a non-driver, I’m always thrilled whenever streets are closed to cars.

    Christine Leadman, the former BIA chair, was the driving force behind Westfest and Elaina Martin has gone above and beyond the call of duty in organizing it. Sadly, the work of both of these smart women is now in the toilet.

    This is such a short-sighted decision, made even more odious by the fact that the BIA didn’t bother to canvass its own members before making the call.

    Sadly, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. I’ve lived in this area my whole life, and on Tweedsmuir for 26 years. I have lived, and continued to live through so many changes in this area, some good, some really bad. When I tell people I live in Westboro, a good many of them roll their eyes; for those of you who may not be aware, Westboro has gained a reputation as being a snotty place. By axing Westfest, all this decision will do is cement that opinion.

    — Sharon Boddy

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