We’ve been preparing for Canada’s 150th birthday for a long time, so it’s devastating to see just how angry some visitors were after they suffered through the long security lineups on Canada Day. We have to sympathize with the officials who were responsible for ensuring there were no security threats, but the end result could be damaging for Ottawa.
I’ll be curious to see the numbers when 2017 is over. While there have been some enormous successes like La Machine, I would have preferred events that were more directly connected to Canada’s history, since that’s what we were celebrating this year. And it wouldn’t have hurt to create some kind of recurring, legacy event, rather than a series of one-offs that won’t be repeated.
But many visitors will judge Ottawa purely on the events of July 1st. Ottawa remains a terrific place to visit and our strengths will mostly overshadow any controversy over security lineups. But the evidence suggests this was an enormous missed opportunity. We could have left people with a much more positive impression of our city, one that would have had them looking forward to their next visit. Instead, they left disappointed and even furious.