Windsor

'Back to normal' for Huron Church Road businesses as push for funding continues

Customers are returning to businesses along Huron Church Road in Windsor, but businesses owners are hoping for more support to make up for lost revenue.

Huron Church Road reopened after closures since the Ambassador Bridge protest

Getting back to normal on Huron Church Road

7 months ago
Duration 1:50
Fred Bouzide, owner of Fred's Farm Fresh, says the closures along Huron Church Road affected his business but things are picking up once again. Employee Sylvia Carmenate says it feels amazing to see customers' faces again.

Customers are returning to businesses along Huron Church Road in Windsor, but businesses owners are hoping for more support to make up for lost revenue.

Parts of Huron Church Road were closed to traffic for about a month, since the end of blockades at the Ambassador Bridge. The city has said the closures were in place to prevent further protests from popping up.

"We've done well since they opened up," said Fred Bouzide, owner of Fred's Farm Fresh on Huron Church Road. "It's back to normal, thank goodness."

Bouzide said the number of customers visiting his store ramped up over the past few days, as Huron Church Road got closer to fully re-opening.

The final closed-off area of Huron Church Road, at the intersection of College Avenue, was re-opened on the weekend.

"I think people started to talk [to] their neighbours, telling them that it's OK to come down," he said. "There was a lot of people that just wouldn't come down for a long time."

Bouzide said the shutdown affected his store's sales "quite a bit." Exact numbers aren't yet available yet.

"In the period that the truckers blocked it until they opened up, we're probably down $30,000 or $40,000 in sales," he said. "It was quite a long time."

"And then, even the after-effect too, because people didn't want to come down here."

Some compensation for businesses affected by the Freedom Convoy protests has been announced. Last week, the province said it would provide up to $11.1 million to Ottawa businesses affected by the protests in that city. Federal funding is also available.

No such relief has yet been announced for Windsor, but Bouzide said it would be welcome.

"Every little bit helps," he said. "A lot of people think that we have a great big business. We do, but we have great big expenses as well to go along with it."

"It's not as big as people think after we pay all our taxes and payroll deductions and everything else like that," he said. "The help would come in handy."

Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive on Monday that she was pushing the province to step in and provide financial relief for Windsor businesses and workers affected by the blockade.

"First and foremost, it needs to be a dedicated fund specifically for the businesses that have been impacted by the blockade," Gretzky said. "It cannot be a business program that the government is currently running, because access to those programs are very limited."

"I think what they really need to do is speak to the local businesses that were impacted, to talk to the industries here that were impacted and the small and medium sized business owners, to get a good understanding of what those financial losses were, and what is needed," she said. "Then to come up with the plan and the dollar amount that would need to flow immediately to enable to offset the losses for those those businesses, and ... by extension, the workers."

In a statement to CBC News, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk said he's pushing for federal support.

"I have communicated directly to the prime minister and the deputy prime minister the devastating impacts of the Ambassador Bridge blockade on our community," the statement reads. "I continue to advocate strongly for support for the affected businesses on and around Huron Church Road and those conversations are progressing."

Regular Fred's customer Stephen Hale said while he usually visits the store about once a week, he didn't go there at all during the Huron Church Road closures.

"You really had to go out of your way to get across Huron Church," he said. "I really wasn't happy with the situation."

Hale said he's in favour of compensation for Windsor business owners affected by the Ambassador Bridge protests.

"I think they're entitled to something," he said. "How much, I'm not sure."

"Especially if it's going to come from the federal government, then yeah, that'd be great. They should get something."

In a email to CBC News on Monday, Windsor police said officers will continue to monitor the Huron Church Road corridor to ensure no further illegal protests take place there.

"We continue to see 'slow roll' vehicle protests and other peaceful demonstrations throughout our city," the statement reads. "The Windsor Police Service will work with event organizers and other stakeholders to ensure a safe environment for a demonstration."

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