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Weekly News Review: Zip line on Sparks? Venture capitalism, and tourism in Ottawa

By François Levesque on January 28, 2013

Sure, Ottawa and the national capital region gets its droves of tourists in the Summer, and during Winterlude and Tulipfest but I don’t really think of the capital as a touristy city like my hometown, Québec City. What brings tourists to Ottawa? The latest edition of the Ottawa Business Journal’s annual “book of lists” lists Leamy Lake casino as the top tourist attraction in the region with 2.8 million visits in 2011. Gatineau Park comes second at 2.7 million, and to David Reevely’s and my great surprise – the Rideau Carleton Raceway comes third with 1.76 million visitors. For a full list, pick up a copy for free in the Ottawa Business Journal boxes.

Entrepreneurs in Ottawa have long complained there aren’t a lot of folks interested in investing in new ventures. This could be changing as Mistral Venture Partners has announced that it has closed the first phase of a “made in Ottawa” investment fund, attracting over $10 million. It now is actively seeking companies in which to place the money. Techvibes reports that the fund was originally slated to close at $10 million, but managing director Code Cubitt revealed the fund was impressively oversubscribed: its overall target is now $35 million. Good news for startsups in Ottawa.

We may have been too late to the game with our suggestion of naming Ottawa’s new CFL team the Red Pines. It looks like OSEG is down to 5 finalists – the Red Blacks, the Nationals, the Raftsmen, the Voyageurs and the Rush. Anything you like? Most are meh for me, but I’d accept Raftsmen.

Is a zip line the answer to making Sparks St. a more bustling street? That’s what Les Gagne, Sparks Street BIA’s Executive Director is hoping. The 300-metre long zip lines above Sparks Street would run side by side from either Metcalfe to O’Connor or O’Connor to Bank streets. It’s up to the city to approve this… Frankly, I think the idea is a little ridiculous. I do commend the BIA for doing what it can to liven the street (see photo) and I understand the issues of Sparks Street to be very complex and über-bureaucratic with the NCC, PWGSC and the city each “owning” parts of the street, making it almost impossible to get anything done. But I can only go back to my simplistic solution: encourage people to live on Sparks (condos, apartments, a hotel) (double-bracket, what’s happening with Re?) and try to bring shops like H&M and Anthropologie and people will flock to the street!