At a time when small businesses are suffering at the hands of COVID-19 restrictions, an ugly necessity for now, it is imperative that municipal staff and councillors do everything in their power to accommodate and respect those businesses.
The vast majority are suffering through no fault of their own. Many had to close down for months on end; some are still shuttered, due to the pandemic and safety guidelines. Need we mention that all the corporate big box stores were considered essential and remained open?
Have the small businesses seen tax breaks from the municipality? No. Conference halls are shut, but still taxed as if they are running at full capacity.
An idled factory can receive a tax break.
When a business pays enough for insurance, the last thing its owners want to see is potentially a claim against a mishap on their property, especially one that shouldn’t even take place.
For example, the sidewalk in front of 330 Richmond Street in Chatham is a mess. It has buckled, heaved and cracked. Walking along it on a sunny day can be an ankle-twisting challenge. Electric scooters avoid it at all times.
And when it rains or snows, forget it, as the area becomes a pond or skating rink. The options are to walk on the street or walk on private property – 330 Richmond.
The building has a small concrete walkway that links both parking lots to the front entrance. It has become a pedestrian and cycling traffic point for general passersby due to the sorry state of the municipal sidewalk out front.
The sidewalk is a public safety hazard, and the detour by the public onto the walkway is a safety hazard for anyone coming in and out of the building.
This is all avoidable with repair of the stretch of municipal sidewalk. There is not much time to act before the cold weather means pouring concrete is just not possible until spring.
Unfortunately, that very likely means nothing gets done until sometime in 2021.
That means another winter of hazardous walking along a section of one of Chatham’s busier streets.