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  • Ron Corbett

The Bolton-ator

Updated: Sep 1, 2020


The good old days of Ottawa's Annual Super Ex
Ottawa Super Ex Circa 2009 Courtesy Ottawa Citizen

I think the city of Ottawa should finish the job and hire Michael Bolton.

I am tired of dragging this out. I am tired of death by a thousand cuts.

If the city really wants to kill retail in downtown Ottawa then hire Michael Bolton and be done with it.

No more fooling around. No more subterfuge. Bring on the crowd-dispersing chemical weapon that is Bolton and be done with it.

I am concluding this is the goal of the city – to shut down every last store in downtown Ottawa.

How else can you explain the near-carpet-bombing campaign of parking enforcement and construction closures the city has waged in downtown Ottawa in recent years?

Then comes the short e-mail sent to businesses on Rideau Street a week ago. A note that gave storeowners a one-week notice about a three-year street closure.

I can’t imagine it. How it would have felt to receive notice that the street in front of your store is about to be cordoned off, partially barricaded and closed to vehicle traffic until 2018.

Would you like to bust a kneecap while you’re here?

Yet this is what the city is about to do to Rideau Street, from Sussex to Dalhousie, closing the street for LRT construction, after years of other construction in the area, everything from water mains to street straightening on King Edward Avenue.

By the time this latest round of construction is done (if that day is not a mythical moving target) some retailers on Rideau Street will have had pylons, holes and barricades in front of their stores for more than a decade.

The city has never once considered compensating these businesses. Or for the many other businesses that have been affected by Lansdowne construction, bike-lane construction or any of the other projects the city so loves.

So the city does not want stores downtown. Unless they are stores at Lansdowne, the Rideau Centre or some future transit station. What other conclusion can you draw?

And if so, the city should just Michael-Bolton and be done with it.

Line the last surviving storeowners up again a wall and Bolton them.

Right. I haven’t explained that part yet.

Well, Michael Bolton is the man who shut down Super Ex. And I think lightening can strike twice. I think he is quite capable of taking out the retail sector in downtown Ottawa.

In 2007 Michael Bolton – the waxen-haired, blue-eyed ‘80s crooner of such forgettable hits as Go the Distance (theme from the Disney movie Hercules) -- was booked as one of the headliners at Super Ex.

Bolton’s last hit had been 13 years earlier, but for some reason the people who ran Ottawa’s annual summer fair thought he would be a good draw.

Less than 200 tickets were sold. The concert was cancelled. Bolton had a guaranteed contract and his lawyers were quick to phone and point that out.

The Bolton fiasco killed the outdoor-shows that were once a regular part of Super Ex. The cost of paying him for a non-concert – somewhere between $60,0000 to $100,000, depending on whom you believe – sat as a debt on the books until Super Ex shut down three years later.

So he’s killed before. He can do it again.

I would suggest the city schedule and heavily promote a series of Michael Bolton concerts in downtown Ottawa.

The concerts should be scheduled outdoors, for maximum Bolton-disbursement, perhaps at Parliament Hill, or Confederation Park.

I know this is drastic, but it’s time we put the city’s downtown retailers out of their misery. Two weeks of heavy-rotation Bolton should be enough to clear and secure the area.

Either that or start to think about compensating them.

Original Publication

Ottawa Sun

September 3, 2015

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