Businesses hope Amazon arrival will put Boundary Road on the map

Business operators in Ottawa's east-end are optimistic the arrival of online retail giant Amazon's warehouse will attract money and development to the neighbourhood.

Future distribution centre at at 5371 Boundary Rd. expected to employ more than 600 people

'It’s actually hard to explain where we are to people,' said Tony Hynes, who runs a heritage-building restoration company. '[Now] Everyone is going to know where Amazon is - they’ll see it from the highway.' (Stu Mills/CBC)

Business operators in Ottawa's east-end where Amazon announced it will construct a massive warehouse say they are optimistic the online giant will attract money and development to the area.

The online retail giant confirmed Tuesday its plans to build and run a massive distribution centre at 5371 Boundary Rd., near Highway 417.

Once the new one-million-square-foot facility is built, it will employ more than 600 people full-time and become a hub for shipping large items such as household furniture, sporting equipment and gardening tools, Amazon said.

Tony Hynes has run a heritage-building restoration company from a two-hectare lot near the Amazon construction site since he purchased the commercial land in 2008.

He chose the out-of-the-way site 15 minutes east of downtown Ottawa partly for the affordability of the land, which he needed for storing salvage material like reclaimed brick and lumber.

"It's actually hard to explain where we are to people," said Hynes. "[Now] everyone is going to know where Amazon is — they'll see it from the highway," he said.

He suspects with an employer like Amazon opening up next door, bus service will improve. A workforce in the hundreds might also create a market for hair-dressers, convenience stores, restaurants and other retail operators, he said.

The tech giant's arrival could improve services and attract new business to part of the city that is largely undeveloped, residents say. 0:47

East-end underdeveloped, says business owner

Yvan Bourdeau is also optimistic. He and his brothers operate their company ​YSB Hoist — which repairs, leases and installs heavy duty hoists used in the construction of multi-storey towers — from their property on Boundary Road, which they bought two years ago for $100,000.

He says he hadn't expected development to come to the neighbourhood so quickly.

"Never," Bourdeau said. "Thought this place was kind of quiet, and slow-paced."

Ryan Lemire and Yvan Bourdeau run a business servicing commercial construction elevators from a property neighbouring the Amazon site. They have differing views on Amazon's potential impact on the area. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Many people forget about Ottawa's east-end, Bordeau said, despite the abundance of available industrial and light industrial land.

"I think it's going to bring up the value of the area and make this area look more decent," Bourdeau said.

Co-worker Ryan Lemire was less optimistic, suggesting the arrival of the Tagger Miller waste facility would bring down land values.

"I don't think it's really going to do anything — it's just going to even each other out," Lemire said.

'A magnet for new businesses'

Carole Lavigne, Director of Economic Development for neighbouring Prescott-Russell, said there are 105 commercial land parcels for sale within the municipality.

"We have a lot of opportunities," she said. "This is a magnet for new businesses in Prescott-Russell."

Stanley Crescent, about 6 kilometres south of the proposed warehouse, is one of the closest residential sub-divisions to the site. Long-time residents Hub and Grace Stapper also believe the Amazon announcement will boost the community.

Yvan Bourdeau's maintenance yard neighbours a derelict gas station near the site of the new Amazon warehouse. 'I think it‘s going to bring up the value of the area and make this area look more decent,' he said. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Hub Stapper called his neighbourhood the closest area to downtown Ottawa that hasn't been developed yet and said the new commercial neighbour would accelerate housing development already underway in Russell.

"Maybe young people who are looking for a job, restaurants, gas stations," Stapper said.

"My guess it will be running 24/7, people need to eat, people need a break," pointed out Grace Stapper, who suggested the nearby community of Carlsbad Springs would likely see a business boost.

"Hey, maybe I'll get my packages from Amazon even quicker," joked her husband.

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