2 min

How rainbow flags landed at Bank and Cooper streets

One in Ten convinced landlord before moving in

One in Ten's new location at Bank and Cooper streets sports three new rainbow flags. Credit: Neil McKinnon

The Village just got a battleship at 256 Bank St.

When One in Ten moved to its new Bank and Cooper location, its landlord was accustomed to porn-shop tenants.

At first, One in Ten’s new landlord was skeptical of owner Tom Ramsey because he had had problem tenants in the past. To gain his trust, Ramsey dropped more than $10,000 on renovations and showed the work to the landlord. He also promised to paint the common hallway. In return, he asked if he could put a few flags outside to make the place a visible gay community hotspot.

“After he came in and saw the work we were doing, he said, ‘I’m going on a two-month vacation. Go ahead,’” says Ramsey.

Ramsey got in touch with Glenn Crawford, the Village initiative chairman, to ask for help in putting up flags.
“Tom and Scott [Wright, an owner at Scottie’s Spot) asked us for three flags and, of course, we agreed. We also installed window decals in both of their store windows,” says Crawford.

The Village picked up the tab for the three flags, which cost about $200 each. They also had the flags installed, at a cost of $350.

Located across the street from Bruce House, the AIDS Committee of Ottawa and Pink Triangle Services, One in Ten’s flags help identify the density of gay-focused businesses on the strip. A stone’s throw away is Centretown Community Health Centre, GayZone, a Youth Services Bureau satellite, Venus Envy and a gay-owned Second Cup.

“I think that every time we get another step like this, it encourages others to do likewise,” says Crawford.

Wayne Robinson, part owner of Scottie’s Spot, says the visibility has doubled his business in just one week. Ramsey, who was unsure if his new location would bring in the same revenue, says store traffic is steady and increasing.

“People are noticing the flags. They’re stopping, looking at the building and wondering what the place is. Customers that haven’t come in for a few years are coming back,” says Ramsey.

Days before his Feb 1 move, Ramsey’s former landlord, CLV Group, dumped a whopping $9,243.03 bill for back rent from 2008. The actual amount was more, but a $3,210 deposit Ramsey provided upon possession in 1998 had already been garnished from that amount.

The small-business operator says he does not have several thousand dollars to throw around. Instead of ponying up the dough, he wants to know what the bill is for. Ramsey received a lawyer’s notice saying he has until Feb 22 to pay the entire amount or he will be sued. Ramsey says he visited the CLV office and requested a breakdown of charges. He says the office agreed and later reneged, claiming they had to provide information for only one year, not three.

“I told them absolutely not. I want a breakdown of every penny. Every 50-cent receipt,” says Ramsey.

Xtra contacted Martin Vervoort, CLV Group’s lawyer. “I’m not sure what the issue is. I’m not sure why it’s a story,” he says.