Windsor

City of Windsor considering new measures for businesses amid latest pandemic restrictions

Some of the recommendations include offering to waive parklet and sidewalk cafe fees for 2022, while free parking would be extended from 15 minutes to one hour.

Recommendations aim to help with cash flow for businesses, as aid to provincial programs offered

Businesses in the hospitality sector would be given extension to pay their business licences if proposal is approved. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Windsor city council is looking at new measures to help small businesses amid ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Council will decide Monday whether or not to implement the new proposals.

They include offering to waive parklet and sidewalk cafe fees for 2022 and extending free parking from 15 minutes to one hour, according to a report posted by the clerks office. 

City advertising and sponsorship fees could also be relaxed up to a maximum of $25,000, and the upcoming February property tax instalment would be deferred to March and spread out over the number of months the business usually pays.

Businesses in the hospitality sector would also be given until June 30 to pay for their business licences. Currently, the deadline is Feb. 28 and the fee varies.

Erie Street BIA president Filip Rocca, who also owns Mezzo Restaurant and lounge, thinks the city should tackle those fees.

Mezzo Ristorante and Lounge owner Filip Rocca shows barriers put between tables as part of previous pandemic restrictions. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"We'd like to see the business licenses removed permanently, to be honest with you for this year. To help out the businesses since we have paid it last year, actually last two years, I believe we paid it during this COVID, so I would love to see something like that waived, at least just to help us out a little bit more," he said, adding that he does appreciate the proposal.

Windsor restaurant owner Philip Jacobs wrote a letter to Mayor Drew Dilkens asking for business licence relief.

He said the deferrals help, but believes businesses should get a break based on their losses.

Business owner Philip Jacobs says he's worried about the future of his restaurant as yet another round of pandemic restrictions disrupt cash flow. (CBC News)

"Just like we had when we got our government grants and loans, we had to supply revenue numbers to show that we were down. So I said, why can't we do that with the city? Put the onus on us to prove to you that our revenues are down and you can adjust our business license fees accordingly," said Jacobs, who owns Jake's Joint.

Jacobs said recently he's had to borrow money from family "just to keep the doors open," adding that the latest provincial restrictions put him in a difficult position.

"Now I have no idea what to do. I'm not really worried about myself…but my staff. They've been with me more than five years to 18 years, and they're like family. A lot of them are family. So that's who I'm concerned about," he said.

The city's deputy treasurer, Janice Guthrie, said having businesses prove losses to then allow for adjustment to taxation or licensing fees would be difficult to implement.

"Certainly, the municipality still continues to offer services to all of its residents and taxpayers across the board. And while each taxpayer may be entitled to different services, depending upon their preferences, it becomes very difficult to then determine each one on a case-by-case basis," she said.

Guthrie added that the city is hopeful businesses will be able to tap into various provincial programs for support, while the city's measures will help with cash flow.

If council approves all of the proposed measures, they will cost the city about $161,000. That amount has already been factored into the $25 million of COVID-19 costs in 2022 the city is asking the province to fund, according to Guthrie.

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