Burlington City Council recently unanimously approved a motion asking the provincial government to make changes to business restrictions in an effort to increase fairness for small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s closures and restrictions.
The resolution is asking Ontario to help small retailers that were forced to close their doors to the public while big box stores have been allowed to remain open so long as they sell food or other essential items.
Additionally, the resolution asks that capacity limits be based on the square footage of a venue, as opposed to a hard cap; something that would also increase fairness among smaller and larger businesses.
This was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas; Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith worked together to bring the resolution forward and both sit on the BERN.
The BERN chair Randall Smallbone and Mayor Meed Ward co-signed a letter to Premier Doug Ford, the Honorable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, the Honorable Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, MPPs Jane McKenna, Effie Triantafilopoulos and Parm Gill, Halton Regional Council, AMO, Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM), Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington.
The letter included a copy of the resolution and reinforced the call for fairness for Burlington businesses.
Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna will be working together to bring a similar resolution to Regional Council for endorsement as both councillors own businesses in Burlington and Councillor Bentivegna has a long history in the hospitality industry.
“We can maintain public health and safety and do better to ensure fairness among our large and smaller businesses, which are the engine of our economy. It makes no sense that a large big box store can sell goods smaller retailers can’t,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.
“It makes no sense that the same store can have hundreds of people inside while a large restaurant is capped at 10 regardless of size and ample ability to ensure physical distancing. We hope the government will make the necessary changes that will both protect public health and our local businesses.”