By Jacob Hoytema –
The Westboro Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) welcomed Michelle Groulx as its new Executive Director in February. Michelle is an Ottawa native who has spent the last half decade or so in marketing and communications for the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
The Westboro BIA was founded in 1979 and today encompasses more than 200 businesses. Its role is to promote the area, improve the streetscape, and organize events. Michelle has some personal connections to Westboro as well as some big plans for its future as the BIA approaches its fortieth year. KT caught up with Michelle to get to know her and her vision for the neighbourhood. So in that spirit, here’s a list of five things you should know about Michelle Groulx.
1. She doesn’t live in Westboro… yet!
Born in Gatineau and raised in Nepean, Michelle has spent nearly her whole life in Ottawa. She describes how she was always familiar with Westboro and its changing character over the years, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, who grew up there, that she obtained a personal connection to the neighbourhood. It’s now home to some of her own favourite spots — she says she loves visiting the Trio Lounge to grab a drink with friends after a day at work.
While she and her husband still own a townhouse in Westboro, her family currently lives in Kanata because of her children’s schooling. She says she plans on moving back to the neighbourhood once her kids have grown up and moved out. “It’s become such an attraction for me, and I kind of can’t wait to move here,” says Michelle. These plans for her personal future are part of why she says she wanted to work with the BIA. “I thought it would be great to be part of building that future in the community in Westboro,” she explains.
2. Michelle is a small business owner.
Michelle runs DEMES Natural Products, a family business she founded in 2011 that sells vegan and non-cruelty cosmetic and cleaning products. DEMES (pronounced “deems”) is the Groulx family acronym: Daniel, Evan, Michelle, Erik, and Skippy.
She runs the business out of her home in Kanata and sells her products online, in stores across the province, and even in a few other locations in Canada. She points out, however, that no business in Westboro carries her products (only one in Wellington Village, and that’s terra20), so her business work and her BIA job won’t bump into each other.
3. She has a green thumb.
Michelle says she “absolutely loves” anything that has to do with gardening, and it sounds like she’ll be bringing her botanical sensibilities to her work with the BIA. The organization has just expanded to include the businesses on McRae Avenue between Richmond and Scott, and Michelle says she wants to do some beautification on that road to “bring it into the BIA community.” She envisions large planters of flowers and park benches to spruce up the atmosphere.
4. She’s been getting into curling.
Even though it has fewer BIA applications than gardening does, and despite Canada’s bad luck in the men’s and women’s events at the PyeongChang Olympics, Michelle says she’s gotten into curling over the past year. “I don’t know if that speaks to my age a bit,” she jokes.
5. She has some big plans for art and events in Westboro.
Michelle is working on a new series of community events to take place in Winston Square, just next to the Westboro branch of the Canadian Legion. She says these will be “family-oriented, grassroots” events, not necessarily retail focused. She lists book readings, yoga meets, barbeques, or even dance exhibitions as some of the possibilities — “things that will bring people to the heart of Westboro, but also showcase our BIA members,” she explains.
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