Although Christine Leadman doesn’t officially assume the role of Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA) executive director until Sept 3, the former city councillor isn’t wasting time getting to know the ins and outs of Ottawa’s gay community.
Leadman marched in last week’s Capital Pride (CP) parade with the BIA, which now includes the Village committee, and attended the Village movie night Aug 21.
The BIA sponsored this year’s Cirque Bizarre events at Pride and created signs with a rainbow variation of its logo to erect along Bank Street.
This support of CP is something Leadman says will continue under her direction.
“The message is out to the community at large that Bank Street is going to be partnering again down the road with the Pride festivities,” she says. “We are looking forward to developing a strong relationship there.”
Bank Street is the home of Ottawa’s Pride, Leadman says. Now that the parade has travelled through the officially designated Village, she would like to see it stay.
Leadman served as executive director of the Westboro BIA for 14 years before her election to city council, to represent Kitchissippi Ward, in 2006. She then took the reins of the Glebe BIA after Katherine Hobbs took her place on city council. Leadman also helped launch the multidisciplinary arts festival Westfest with Elaina Martin.
The city doesn’t support arts festivals or Pride enough, Leadman says. Festivals give the city a “soul,” she says, adding that Ottawa’s soul is not found on Parliament Hill.
Festivals “bring a lot of revenue and economic development — if they are done right and supported properly,” she says. “I’ve always been supportive of the arts community. It’s key to our city being more than just mortar, bricks and sidewalks.”
Village committee chairperson Ian Capstick says Leadman brings “an incredible amount of experience” to Bank Street.
“I really don’t think we could have found anybody better to do this job,” he says. “It’s sort of like it was tailor-made for Christine.”
Before the Village committee became part of the Bank Street BIA, the two organizations frequently butted heads.
Leadman says she prefers the term “partnership” to absorption and does not see the recent amalgamation as a “takeover.”
“The committee itself is a very strong group,” she says. “What we’re looking for is that connectivity and how we can work together. You have to be respectful of the organizations that are in place. It’s working together to build a good, strong presence.”
This increased presence includes a fresh marketing campaign, with an emphasis on social media, and a Halloween event, Leadman says.
She would also like to see a new signature Bank Street event in the spring to complement the late-summer CP festival — and “set the street on fire.”
“It’s not that Bank Street doesn’t have a lot to offer; it’s just that people forgot about it. Now that Pride is back, it’s a start. We need to keep that momentum.”