Sparks Street: 6 businesses vandalized early Wednesday morning

Ottawa police have arrested one person after several businesses on Sparks Street were vandalized early Wednesday morning.

The Sparks Street BIA says six businesses had storefront windows and doors smashed overnight.

Ottawa police tell CTV News Ottawa that police arrested an individual around 2:20 a.m. He is facing several counts of mischief to property and appeared in court Wednesday. Police did not identify him.

Plywood was installed on the damaged windows and doors.

“We understand how difficult it can be to run a business in these trying times,” the Sparks Street BIA said on the social media site X, “and the last thing we want is for our dedicated business owners to have to deal with this. We are deeply frustrated by this and will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of businesses.”

Mike Liberty, owner of Ottawa Souvenirs, said he was devastated to see all the stores with broken windows.

“You know, we’re trying to drum up business as much as we can and with this, we had to open the store at 11:30 instead of 9:30. So, not good for business,” he said.

Ottawa Souvenirs was one of the six businesses that had its window smashed. Liberty said he’s at least happy with how quickly the plywood was put in place.

“I’m very happy with the management on Sparks Street because they acted immediately,” he said. “I was under impression that it was going to take a few days to get a glass in the window, but, like, today, the day of.”

The windows are being replaced with temporary glass. Two-pane glass is expected in the next three to four weeks, Liberty says.

“I’m very happy it’s this fast. I’ll be able to do the window and open business as usual.” 

BIA executive director Kevin McHale told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron that the businesses affected were able to get things cleaned up quickly.

“They were all able to be open for the day, so that’s good, but it’s another headache and frustration for the six businesses today that they weren’t expecting,” he said.

The only commonality between the businesses affected appears to be proximity. Many are right next to each other, including Palermo Express, Morgante Menswear and Albert Opticians.

“The ones I’ve talked to so far have taken it in stride. They’re relieved that it was only vandalism and it wasn’t theft. The windows were boarded up very quickly and none of them lost inventory,” said McHale.

McHale said businesses on Sparks Street are dealing with an increase in incidents inside and outside stores such as shoplifting, damage, and disruption.

“We’re seeing a lot of individuals who aren’t well. Mental health issues, and such. We’re seeing an increase in individuals who need support who are causing some of these disruptions,” he said. “There seems to be more desperate people out there than a few years ago.”

McHale said the BIA is hoping to see more support for people who are experiencing homelessness and mental illness. He is also hoping to see more consistency with police patrols and enforcement in downtown Ottawa. He’s also hoping a future police hub at the Rideau Centre could help.

“Some of our systems aren’t working anymore, and I think that’s everything from social services, to enforcement, and city services in general, public and private,” he said. “I think we need to look at all our things and find different ways of doing things. Hopefully this combined police-community resource space is a first step.” 

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Jackie Perez.