'We need it now': Businesses welcome City of Windsor relief, if it comes quickly

The City of Windsor is once again looking to offer some relief to get businesses in the hospitality sector through the winter months after the financial hardship caused by the latest round of provincial COVID-19 restrictions.

A report going before council is offering a suite of measures to lessen the financial burden on businesses.

“We want to be part of the solution here. We know the government of Ontario is also providing $10,000 to businesses who are struggling, they just have to make application,” says Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “We want to be part of the solution and play our role at the municipal level and help businesses get through this difficult time.”

The city is proposing to help in a number of ways, including:

  • Waiving sidewalk cafe and patio fees
  • Free Parking for 60 minutes to spur activity near Business Improvement Areas
  • Rent and advertising relief
  • Business licence renewal Deadline extension Feb. 28 to June 30, and;
  • Business property tax relief

“We have targeted the support, so we’re trying to get help to the people who need help. So we can’t be everything to everyone at this time,” Dilkens says.

Wade Griffith co-owns The Patio Lounge in downtown Windsor.

“We’re very happy to see the city realizes that this time is very different,” he says, noting he recently merged with another business to try to stay afloat.

He’s been offering takeout only since the in-person dining restrictions kicked in, but says volumes are down 60 per cent. On top of that, Griffith says banks aren’t lending any more money to people in the hospitality industry and debts are piling up.

“If they’re going to extend (the restrictions) past Jan. 26, we’ve got to get creative. We have to get very creative and allow the businesses to try to reopen in some portion,” Griffith says. “Otherwise, we’re not going to o make it. We can’t go to March this time. There’s not enough money to make it work.”

The restaurant owner believes the city’s measures are going to make a difference to people like him who has four licences to renew and a lot of patio space to keep open for the survival of his business.

“Any help we can get from the city, the provincial government, let alone the feds is greatly appreciated,” he says. “But we need it now. Not three months from now, not 30 days from now. We need it as soon as possible.”

Sarah Dewar, who co-owns Maiden Lane Wine and Spirits says they appreciate the gesture from all levels of government.

“Will these additional measures make a difference for us, I’m not so sure,” she says. “But we will obviously investigate and see if they do.”

Depending on the number of successful applications the city stands to forego potentially millions of dollars in revenues. According to the report going before council, the city already planned for these measures as part of its projected $25 million COVID deficit for 2022.

Council will discuss the relief package Monday Jan. 17 at 1 p.m.