“This is a simple way for the City to support our establishments who are being hit hard by this pandemic. We have to be proactive instead of waiting” – St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik.
News from the City of St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario
Posted May 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large
St. Catharines, Ontario – As the economy slowly begins to restart, St. Catharines City Council is directing support to local restaurants.
Recognizing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses such as the restaurants in the City’s downtown core, on Wednesday Council voted to waive all fees associated with patios operated seasonally in outdoor areas adjacent to businesses. The decision will allow businesses with seasonal patios to be prepared once the Ontario government allows them to reopen. The process to apply for a patio remains the same.
“This is a simple way for the City to support our establishments who are being hit hard by this pandemic. We have to be proactive instead of waiting,” said Mayor Walter Sendzik.
“It’s important we look at any opportunity that will allow operators to reorient their operations and take advantage of additional spaces to maintain physical distancing and help build confidence in the consumer. While we don’t know the restrictions yet, the ability to welcome greater numbers of patrons while complying with health guidelines will be critical.”
Councillor Mat Siscoe says the decision is a positive step that will be key to helping things get moving again. Many entrepreneurs have made investments into the City’s downtown core over the last decade and will require supports to ensure they remain viable.
“At this stage, we need to be doing everything we can to support businesses as they work to reopen,” said Siscoe. “All of us look forward to patio season – with this change hopefully all of us can enjoy it properly this summer, while also helping local businesses start to recover.”
“It makes sense for restaurants to use outdoor spaces to support social distancing as they get the green light to reopen,” added Coun. Karrie Porter. “We will continue to find new ways to support our downtown businesses and restaurants during our economic recovery.”
In addition to waiving the fees, the City also continues its work to identify other opportunities to support the business sector through its recovery plan efforts. City staff have been diligently working on a plan that includes three pillars – organizational, economic and health and well-being. Efforts to support the business sector will be key in that plan.
“Downtown revitalization over the past decade has been a cornerstone of our community’s economic success,” said Director of Economic Development Brian York, co-chair of the City’s Recovery Planning Team. “A critical piece of recovery is restoring confidence in public spaces, and neighbourhoods. Expanding public access (when safe to do so) through the provision of patio space helps both the city and our downtown businesses protect those investments.”
Mayor Sendzik says the City is discussing other opportunities to support the business sector, including the downtown core, and is looking forward to those ideas turning into action. The mayor is closely watching an effort by Thornhill MPP Gila Martow, who is proposing an increase to the size of restaurant patios and urging the province to work with municipalities and liquor licensing officials to be more flexible on rules and expand the services patios can offer.
“There’s no book on this emerging recovery. We’re trying to be innovative in our approach to balance public safety and support for local business,” said Mayor Sendzik. “I’m proud of how resilient our community has been through this pandemic and we are going to continue to look at ways to ensure our City thrives.”
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