WEST CARLETON – Yesterday (Dec. 22) Premier Doug Ford announced a new lockdown for Ontario beginning Boxing Day (Dec. 26).
The news was devastating to an Ottawa business community struggling to stay above water since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, dealing with long-term, forced shutdowns; increased costs; and decreased revenue.
Yesterday, Mayor Jim Watson, Ottawa’s chief medical officer Dr. Vera Etches and West Carleton Coun. Eli El-Chantiry were disappointed by the news and struggled to agree with the reasoning behind it. The City of Ottawa has been enjoying a stabilized period with daily case counts in the 30s (the lowest of Canada’s large cities); active cases remaining steady in the high 300s; and no new intensive care patients over the last three days.
Watson says he has asked the province for a shorter, two-week lockdown citing the “devastating impact” the new lockdown will have on the city’s economy.
El-Chantiry doesn’t get it either.
“Very disappointed with (Premier Doug Ford),” El-Chantiry released in a statement yesterday evening (Dec. 22). “Regardless of whether you support or oppose additional lockdowns in Ontario, spare a thought for the thousands of small business owners who will lose everything they’ve worked for as a result of this decision. Business owners are hanging by a thread and the Ontario government is about to cut it.”
West Carleton’s two business improvement areas, the Village of Carp and the Carp Road Corridor, were taken by surprise by the announcement but say their members will soldier forward no matter what regulations are imposed.
“As we enter the lockdown, it’s more important than ever we support local businesses and shop local as much as possible,” Village of Carp BIA chair Jennifer Stewart told West Carleton Online this morning (Dec. 23). “We’re fortunate in Carp to have so many incredible businesses: a pharmacy, our many restaurants, shops, a grain mill, and the list goes on. Our community is good at supporting one another, and now is the time to rally. We’ve been here before, and we can do it again. We will get through this.”
The Village of Carp BIA represents around 80 businesses in the village area. Many of those businesses are restaurants and boutiques hit hard by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Carp Road Corridor BIA executive director Roddy Bolivar said it was too early to provide a response “advised by our members,” but shared some of his own thoughts with West Carleton Online yesterday.
“The imposition of a province-wide lock down comes as a surprise to Ottawa’s business community after the province listened to businesses and implemented a regional model,” he said. “While zero cases is the goal, Ottawa’s numbers are reported to be steady and while there will be a public health benefit there will also be a cost to Ottawa from a lockdown.”
The Carp Road Corridor is Ottawa’s largest light industry business park in the City of Ottawa. Its BIA represents more than 370 businesses and property owners. Bolivar says the lockdown will have less of an affect on the Carp Road Corridor than most of the city’s 18 other BIAs because of its industrial nature.
“Many corridor members are deemed essential businesses and have, and will, continue to remain operational while continuing to follow all the advice regarding workplace health and safety,” Bolivar said.
While Ford claims one of the reasons Ottawa is included in the 28-day lockdown is due to its proximity to Quebec, which is in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“(Ford) admitted Ottawa was doing great but worried shoppers from Gatineau
would screw things up,” El-Chantiry said. “Why does Ford want the U.S. border closed (which I agree with) but he won’t apply the same logic with his border with Quebec?”