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FORUM: Find ways to support local businesses (Dec. 2020)

December 21st, 2020 · No Comments

Your support may prevent “ghost” towns on main streets

By Mike Layton

One of the most challenging years in recent memory is almost at an end, and I want to take this time to express my gratitude for the work of so many who saw us through. From our Medical Officer of Health and city staff, to local businesses, community groups and residents, it is clear that the majority of us want to work to overcome this pandemic, together.

As we still have many months of the pandemic ahead of us, it is also important to acknowledge the myriad of ways that pandemic fatigue can show up in our day-to-day lives. The overwhelming feeling of a sudden change is hard on everyone, and it affects people at different times, in different ways. 

As I have said before, the pandemic has shown that together we can make transformative change happen quickly

—Mike Layton

However, it doesn’t alter the fact that it remains critical that we follow the advice of Toronto Public Health, and that we get our information from reliable, informed sources. 

I continue to have full confidence in Toronto Public Health to learn, adapt, and evolve as new information becomes available to guide our response and keep Toronto residents safe.

One of the most pressing current effects of the pandemic we are facing is the strain on small businesses in our city. 

The problem is a national one, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimating earlier this year that 225,000 businesses across Canada are at risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19 measures. These measures are saving lives, so it is important that we continue to create ways that we can adhere to them, while also supporting local business.

I want to express how important it is that we continue to shop locally. Apart from the social andcommunity building benefits, studies have actually proven that locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains. 

This is because, overall, locally owned businesses generate 70% more local economic impact per square foot than chain stores, with small businesses generating an average of $68 of local economic return for every $100 spent. 

Local economies languish not because too little cash comes in, but because shopping at big box stores ensures that most of the money you spend flows out.

Among the many downsides, big box stores regularly bring with them lower pay, net job losses – even though they advertise job gains – from forced local closures, in addition to declining tax revenue. When you choose to buy your next item through curbside pick-up at a local shop, that money will stay in the city and keep our local economy going. 

It sounds simple, but these small actions can literally save neighbourhoods from becoming ghost towns, or the even more prevailing, “clone towns” – where every street houses the same big box fast-food and retail options.

I also know that times are tight for many, and for some, the money is just not there. So I wanted to also make clear that another way you can support local business is to share online. Write a review and tell others about a great experience you’ve had at a small business. “Like,” comment and share their work on social media; subscribe to their email list.  Often  small business owners are just one or two people, so helping to get the word out for them will go a long way.

As I’ve mentioned before, the pandemic has shown that together, we can make transformative change happen quickly. I know that there is more that still must be done, and I remain committed to working with you and my council colleagues to ensure that no resident is being left behind. 

As always, my staff and I are here to assist in any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office by emailing Councillor_Layton@toronto.ca or calling 416-392-4009 to let us know your questions and concerns.

Mike Layton is the councillor for Ward 11 University-Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion