With the vast majority of flights in and out of the Ottawa International Airport grounded and large indoor gatherings on hold, people passing the EY Centre recently have been struck by a curious sight — a parking lot crammed with vehicles.
No, it's not a convention or a trade show — those are likely still a long way off, even as COVID-19 restrictions gradually loosen.
The vehicles filling the vast lot on Uplands Drive are rentals from the nearby airport, sitting idle because there are very few visitors looking to drive them.
An official from the EY Centre confirmed to CBC the lot is being used as overflow parking for rental vehicles during the pandemic. The conference facility isn't charging for the space, just being a "friendly neighbour," according to the official.
With borders closed, more people working from home and many tourist attractions closed, demand for rental cars has dropped off significantly.
"Earlier on, when travel had come to a virtual standstill, and reservations declined, we parked many of our vehicles not in use," said spokesperson Lisa Martini of Enterprise Holdings, the parent company of Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, Alamo and Enterprise.
Martini said the companies are starting to see a slow but steady recovery in vehicle rentals for summer travel.
That's good, because eventually the EY Centre is going to need its parking lot back as conventions and trade shows resume.