A political push at city hall seeks to let London businesses access a pandemic relief fund currently restricted to communities under 'Modified Stage 2' restrictions.
City hall’s Corporate Services Committee unanimously supported a motion requesting the provincial government allow London businesses impacted by recent Section 22 Orders have access to the new $300 million Business Support Fund.
The fund is currently restricted to help businesses struggling under the Modified Stage 2 restrictions in York, Peel, Ottawa, and Toronto.
The motion was presented by Councillor Josh Morgan, Councillor Arielle Kayabaga, and Councillor Steve Lehman
"This motion is asking the province to recognize that restrictions brought on locally by our health unit can be equally harmful as those resulting from the provincial restrictions," Councillor Lehman told the committee.
On October 24, the Middlesex London Health Unit initiated Section 22 Orders that placed further restrictions on local restaurants, fitness centres, spas and personal services.
"All we’re asking the province is to do what they’re already doing in places like Toronto, York, and Ottawa," explains Councillor Morgan. “they (provincial government) are balancing off public health measures with support for those businesses impacted.”
The Hyde Park BIA warns that the new restrictions are jeopardizing many of their businesses.
"There’s deep concern, they made it through the first phase, and now they’re concerned how they are going to make it through this phase," says Donna Szpakowski, CEO of the Hyde Park BIA.
Access to the $300 million fund would help businesses experiencing revenue reductions offset some of their fixed costs including property taxes and utilities.
Szpakowski says local businesses prioritize safety, "Health is first for them, but we really need to keep that balance and consider the economic impacts."
Mayor Ed Holder expressed doubt that the province will open up the funding to London businesses, but Morgan believes it's worth asking the Premier to consider the localized impacts of the health unit’s orders.
"All we’re asking from him is for the same here, so I think we do have a strong case to make, and I’m hoping he’ll be open to the dialogue on this."
Council will discuss the motion at its meeting next week.