Feb 23, 2021
City of Brockville
1 King Street West
Dear Mayor Baker and Councillors
On behalf of the Advocacy Committee of the Brockville Chamber of Commerce, I am writing to request your consideration of community business needs for the 2021 budget deliberations.
In 2020, the Chamber conducted extensive outreach activities to businesses. One key activity involved was one- on-one conversations with our members to discuss how the pandemic has impacted their business. While most indicated they were able to survive the first shutdown, they believed a second shutdown could be devastating to their business. Unfortunately, that outcome came to fruition.
It is laudable that the City enacted a number of measures in 2020 to assist businesses, especially given the uncertainties and the pressures on the municipality. We appreciated that city helped certain businesses by allowing expanded patios without fees, and erected signs throughout the City to encourage local shopping. Congratulations are also in order that the City ended up in a very positive fiscal situation in 2020 especially given all the upheaval and change required to deal with this devastating pandemic.
During 2021, the Advocacy Committee feels that it is critical to open all City assets, such as campgrounds, islands, public toilets, and marinas etc. for the summer tourism season in order to help Brockville businesses thrive.
Additionally, the Chamber respectfully requests that local businesses be taken into consideration in the 2021 budget. While continuing existing measures, like patio licenses and shop local signs, is ideal for restaurants or other businesses who might benefit from displaying their wares outside, there are other pressing needs as well. With the closures in January and February of 2021, there is an urgent need to focus on alleviating businesses’ financial burdens in order to minimize or offset deficits incurred as a result of government mandated business restrictions and the closures.
Many similar-sized municipalities are compounding federal and provincial supports through various forms of alleviation and deferrals of fees for property taxes. The Chamber is therefore requesting consideration for the City of Brockville to provide certain financial assistance programs for its businesses as well.
Specifically the Chamber is suggesting the following potential actions in the 2021 budget deliberations:
- Revisiting the 2020 budget and reducing the previously approved tax increase for commercial ratepayers, in particular the small and medium sized businesses hardest hit by the closures.
- Consideration to reduce the 2021 levy increase for these ratepayers in order to protect the local economy by helping them navigate these trying times trying to keep their doors open.
- Municipal grants would be effective to further assist small businesses who many not qualify for provincial and federal grants. A grant program could allow businesses to purchase tents and equipment to operate outside, and/or purchase PPE or upgrades to air purifying systems.
- Policy changes and elimination of fees could also prove to be beneficial with the implementation of new programs to allow for expansion or continuation of business such as allowing business in the parks.
- Enacting activities such as business sector forums (via chat forums), established with the purpose of connecting key business organizations in order to determine urgent needs across different sectors of the economy could help develop tangible steps to seek support for short and long term business needs.
Your consideration of our community’s business needs is appreciated. Together, we can work to speed up the recovery in our city. The Chamber is pleased to meet to discuss these or any other measures enacted to aid our local economy and ensure our businesses viable.
Chair – Advocacy Committee