Businesses say $10,000 compensation for blockade losses not enough

·2 min read
Protesters block access to the Ambassador Bridge in February. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Protesters block access to the Ambassador Bridge in February. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Some business owners along Huron Church Road say the $10,000 they received in compensation for last winter's Ambassador Bridge blockade doesn't come close to covering the losses they incurred.

When barriers went up blocking access to Fred Bouzide's market, it kept customers away right before Valentine's Day, when he was trying to sell thousands of dollars worth of roses.

He was compensated $10,000 through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario's West Windsor Small Business Relief Fund, but he says that doesn't cover the losses.

"I don't think was enough. But how can we get any more?" said Bouzide.

A total of 65 businesses received support totalling $504,856, according a spokesperson for the minister responsible for the fund.

Veterinarian Surinder Khahra usually makes about $50,000 a month in the early winter months. He too only got $10,000.

"So we lost a lot of money during that period and we lost a lot of clients," said Khahra, owner of the Huron Church Animal Hospital.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Khahra said many clients had to go to other vets for their pets so he can't say how many clients he lost permanently.

He is hoping he will be able to attract more clients as time goes on.

Anti-COVID-19 mandate protesters blocked Huron Church Road and access to the Ambassador Bridge from Feb. 7 to Feb. 13.

But police closed off cross streets and parking lot access points along Huron Church Road from the E.C. Row Expressway to the bridge for several weeks. The barriers came down gradually and eventually everything was open by March 12.

On April 1, the federal government announced the $2.5 million compensation plan for small businesses through FedDev Ontario. Applications were due by May 20. Bouzide said he was surprised there was not more oversight.

"I was surprised that there wasn't more of an investigation of your losses," said Bouzide.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Meanwhile, Archie Sarros received $5,000 compensation for his auto service business and was satisfied.

"We didn't suffer all that much, but we we've got enough. I think it was fair," said Sarros.