East Toronto BIAs among city’s small business groups taking part in protest calling for lockdown fairness on Friday

A number of Toronto BIA members will taking part in a Think Outside the Big Box campaign on Friday, Dec. 11, calling for new provincial lockdown rules that treat small businesses fairly.

By ALI RAZA, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local BIAs are fed up with Toronto’s second lockdown, and are promoting a campaign to bring attention to the struggles facing many small businesses.

On Friday, Dec. 11, the Broadview Danforth BIA, and the Leslieville BIA, along with other BIAs across the city, will be participating in a city-wide initiative urging consumers to “think outside the big box.”

At noon on Friday, members of the BIAs will be standing outside their shops, restaurants, salons, and studios for 30 minutes with signs to bring attention to the struggles and difficulties facing small businesses during the second lockdown which was announced in late November for Toronto and Peel Region.

“This Saturday would traditionally have been the busiest shopping day of the year,” Broadview Danforth BIA chair Albert Stortchak said. “While the big box stores continue to operate through the pandemic, it’s the small business owner that once again suffers by having to shutter in what would normally be their most profitable time of year.”

“We hope that the government will consider modifying current restrictions to allow these businesses to operate under an ‘appointment shopping’ model. This would allow one or two customers on the premises at a time, with ample time to properly disinfect between appointments. We’re asking the government to think outside the box on this,” he added.

The Broadview Danforth BIA encourages residents to buy local to support small business owners in the community. It also encourages residents to come out on Friday at noon to show their support.

Businesses that are part of the Leslieville BIA will also be participating in Friday’s protest.

The Leslieville BIA said this comes in response to a recent meeting with Ontario’s Associate Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Sarkaria.

“The Leslieville BIA maintains that small businesses have invested much to ensure that customers are able to support them in a safe way, observing all the necessary health protocols,” Leslieville BIA coordinator Dominic Cobran said in a statement.

“Despite this, the government has mandated that they be closed.”

As cases continue to rise, the Leslieville BIA maintains that small businesses are not responsible for the spike. The BIA is also concerned that big box stores are permitted to operate while small businesses have been shuttered.

“The BIA believes that small businesses can do a better job of implementing protocols such as contact tracing, capacity control in stores, deep cleaning measures and so on,” Cobran added.

Alternative recommendations for the lockdown, including allowing small businesses to operate with revised measures, have not been considered, the Leslieville BIA said.

Toronto BIAs will be promoting Friday’s campaign via their social media channels with the hashtag #ThinkOutsideTheBigBox.

Ali Raza is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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