Local businesses who suffer lost sales or property damage due to G8 protests will not be eligible for federal compensation.
A Public Works spokesman said Ottawa retailers do not qualify under guidelines for businesses affected by this month's summit in Kananaskis, Alta., and satellite locations.
"It's totally inequitable," fumed Gerry LePage, executive director of the Bank St. Business Improvement Area. "What's good for Kananaskis and Calgary should be good for Ottawa. The protests that will take place here are directly and inextricably linked to that G8 conference. It's not like people protesting the seal hunt while the G8 is going on."
Jantine Van Kregten, executive director of the Byward Market BIA, was also frustrated by the decision.
"It's troubling that they don't see the very obvious connection between the protests here and the event they are hosting in Alberta."
The bad news comes as local businesses grow increasingly impatient with the federal government's slow response to compensation claims for disruption caused by the G20 conference held in Ottawa last November.
Local retailers were led to believe they would be awarded restitution for lost business, but yesterday a finance department spokesman said there is no plan yet on how -- or even if -- compensation will be provided.
"No final decision has been made," said Jean-Michel Catta. "But we expect it will be made in a matter of weeks, not months."
Last month, the federal government announced a compensation package for Alberta businesses that might be negatively affected by G8 protests. Catta explained that compensation package is different because it falls under the jurisdiction of another government department, Public Works.
LePage said for months government officials had asked him to "be patient," but recent correspondence has left him less optimistic about receiving compensation. He predicts the government may be stalling until it's forced to pay up through legal action.
But litigation is expensive and businesses are already grappling with the spectre of rising insurance premiums if major, disruptive protests become a pattern in the capital.
LePage predicts Ottawa may become a popular protest location if the government chooses remote, inaccessible sites to hold conferences.
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