Covert Ottawa Weekly Newsletter: The Drive-In Experience Edition

Happy Toronto Maple Leafs Elimination Day!! It’s my favourite day of the year!

Hi there, and thanks for reading another edition of my weekly newsletter. I’m happy to see that more and more of you are subscribing to have this delivered to your inbox each week. It gives me some positive vibes that people actually kinda care what I have to say! Or maybe you’re just really bored, haha! If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do so on any page of my website, and you’ll get this newsletter and all event announcements, big news and reviews sent your way to read. And now….on to the newsletter!

The Future of the Office Building

I read an article back in April that mentioned all of the empty cubicles and office space where employees once worked pre-pandemic. Now that the majority of office workers (particularly the public service) are working from home, Ottawa has a huge amount of vacant space. Now, these are not technically vacant (yet), they are still home to the workforce from all of your favourite government departments, but how much longer will that last? Over the past several years, the public service has been filling in major tech infrastructure that was lost during the crash in the early 2000’s. Look at the previous home of JDS Uniphase (now RCMP headquarters), and of course the Carling Nortel headquarters, which now belongs to PSPC and also houses DND headquarters. These massive office complexes are not unique, as much of the Ottawa skyline is made up of buildings with public service tenants. Just have a look at Tunney’s Pasture, or the Booth Street complex. Both of these areas are as prime real estate as you can ask for in Ottawa, and could have so many other uses!



Some private industries are closing their “brick and mortar” locations, allowing their employees to work from home offices. This past five months of COVID-19 have shown us all, private and public, that we can work from home with little or no change to productivity. So where does this leave us? Well, nobody knows for sure, but it appears that now is not a good time to be a high-rise office tower landlord. There is still a need for face to face meetings and physical contact with co-workers and clients, but we’ve seen that it can be minimal, and certainly doesn’t necessitate major infrastructure. I strongly believe that places like Collab Space, and My Byward Office are just the start of a new revolution of the office place. With many companies having only the occasional need for physical meeting places, I suspect businesses like these will start popping up quickly.



Here’s an article on the potential vacancy problem in Ottawa that I found from last week that seems to predict this trend:

Events Live and in Person, AND….Virtual

As I spend time each week updating my events calendar, I get a good feeling for trends in the types of events going on. When COVID-19 first hit, everything just got cancelled or postponed, and there was nothing going on around town. Then some virtual events started popping up, such as virtual paint nights, coffee chats, and other small interactive events. Then concerts started going virtual, and major festivals and events quickly followed suite. By the beginning of July, pretty much anything you did before the pandemic was available online. Now that restrictions are being lifted, there are more live and in-person events happening. It’s great to see some smaller venues starting to host concerts again, albeit with no dancing. The Rainbow, Brass Monkey, Live! On Elgin, and even Babylon have had some live shows so far, and that list of venues is quickly growing. It’s nice to see a little bit of normalcy resuming, but at the same time, it’s also scary. The last thing we need right now is a second wave causing us to shut down everything again and start over. We can avoid that though by following basic health guidelines, such as wearing a mask. I know, all you anti-vaxxers….errr…I mean anti-maskers don’t want the big bad government telling you what to do, but just do it for the rest of us who actually care about our health and want our lives to go back to normal.


Drive-In Events

Along the same lines as many events going virtual, the Drive-In experience has been re-introduced into our lives during the pandemic. If you’ve lived in Ottawa as long as I have, you may remember the drive-in on Uplands Drive (off of Hunt Club, where the Park and Fly is now), and the drive-in behind the “Britannia 6” theatre on Carling, now home to the Coliseum (yes I know….I’m old!)



Last weekend was the second of two weekends where Bluesfest, in partnership with #CanadaPerforms and the National Arts Centre, hosted a Drive-In music festival. I had a ticket to go on Sunday night, but I’m sad to say that I could not make it. The Covert Baby wouldn’t do well in a car for a 4.5 hour concert, so I’m sure that anyone who would have been parked near me will appreciate my lack of attendance. While there will be no review on the event from myself, I’ve heard some feedback from others!

Apparently, it was a great experience. I know several people who were able to attend different nights (there were five in total) and they had some great things to say.



“It was great! People were all sitting outside their cars…trucks and jeeps were parked backwards and people sitting on chairs in their truck beds. The only thing was the sound..weird not to have it blasting but with everyone dialed in with their cars it was pretty awesome! We didn’t turn our truck around so everyone behind us got the benefit of our speakers! The next time I would definitely turn it around. But all in all it was great! Definitely do it again! It was nice to be out amongst the living! Everyone was super friendly and respectful”

Richelle Matthie, patron on August 8th 2020

The Drive-In experience is not unique to Bluesfest though, Wesley Clover Parks is running a regular schedule of events with the same concept. This week, on Tuesday night, “The Reklaws” are performing to a drive-in audience, and then on the weekend, for the kids, you can catch the famous Max and Ruby, Splash’n Boots, and Ba-by Shark (do do do do do do). You can see all of the scheduled events (including movies) on their website.

Thanks again for reading my newsletter everyone! Have a great week, and stay safe!

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