Small businesses in downtown Windsor ask premier to change lockdown rules

·2 min read

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association has written to the premier, pleading for changes to the provincial lockdown rules, in order to help small businesses.

The organization wants to see changes that would level the playing field between small retailers and big-box stores.

The letter reflects a petition that has attracted more than 12,000 signatures, which the B.I.A. launched ahead of the regional lockdown.

Windsor-Essex entered the grey lockdown status on Dec. 14, in the middle the holiday shopping rush.

A week and a half later, DWBIA Chair Brian Yeomans said businesses remain frustrated because they find the government is giving an unfair advantage to big-box stores, allowing them to operate at a reduced capacity, "which is still hundreds of people or at least 100 people," he told Chris dela Torre on Afternoon Drive Wednesday.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Yeomans said it's unfair this is permitted while small businesses, which have a capacity of five or fewer people and have "bent over backwards to accommodate all the changes from the health unit," were told to close, while big box stores are allowed "to sell whatever they want" and continue to make "mega" profits.

"There's no question that we support the concerns from the health unit to make sure that everybody's social distancing and being safe. That's not that's not what's at question," Yeomans said. "The issue is that they're they're not being given a fair shake."

NDP MPP for Essex, Taras Natyshak, released a statement on Wednesday also urging the provincial government to help small businesses.

"More small businesses in Essex are now in dire straits and on the verge of shutting down forever as COVID-19 and Doug Ford's uneven lockdown has left them struggling to survive," the statement reads.

Natyshak is urging the Conservative government to provide urgent, ongoing financial supports for small businesses in Essex County to get them through the pandemic, instead of a one-time payment.

City of Windsor supports petition

The statement said Natyshak also finds it unfair stores, such as Walmart, are allowed to operate, "filling up with sales at the expense of the mom and pop businesses in every municipality in Essex County."

Yeomans added that he hopes the government comes to the table to discuss ways to make it a "fair game" for all businesses.

"This is a time when we need to support our small businesses, from the local level, from the provincial level, from the federal level," he said.