By ALAN SHACKLETON
Local Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) are doing their part to remind East Toronto residents of the importance of continuing to support neighbourhood businesses as the economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis start to sink in.
“Shopping local is always important but right now it’s critical,” said Anna Sebert, Executive Director of the Beach Village BIA which serves businesses along Queen Street East between Neville Park Boulevard and Lockwood Road.
“The businesses who chose to open in our neighbourhood, invest in our community and serve our residents, need support now more than ever. Keeping them alive is key to a vibrant and healthy local economy,” she said.
To help those businesses, Sebert said the Beach Village BIA is working hard to keep them up to date on the information coming from the federal, provincial and City of Toronto governments.
The Beach Village BIA is also helping promote local businesses through social media and on its website which includes a map of all stores and restaurants offering online shopping and delivery options. That website can be accessed at www.thebeachvillage.com/support-local
Sebert pointed out that local business owners are often also local residents. “They are our neighbours, our friends and our employers,” she said.
“If you have the ability to support with your dollars, please do so by purchasing gift cards, shopping locally online, or ordering food from your favourite local restaurant. If money is tight, leave a 5 Star review on Google or Facebook for your favourite businesses, and make sure you are following, liking, and sharing them on social media. We will come out of this stronger if we all support each other.”
Colin Johnson, Manager of the Danforth Mosaic BIA which serves businesses along Danforth Avenue between Westlake and Jones avenues, also stressed the importance of supporting local business during these extremely challenging times.
“Local business is the backbone of Canadian society. Roughly 70 per cent of Canadians are employed by small business,” he said.
Johnson said that support from governments will be vital to help small businesses get through the immediate COVID-19 crisis and the months following.
“It is imperative that all three levels of government understand that if we do not protect small business, it’s going to be very difficult for Canada to economically recover after the COVID-19 pandemic passes,” he said.
The Danforth Mosaic BIA is also helping its business owners with information from the various levels of government regarding the help that is available to them.
Also, they have a website as well to help shoppers with information on their local businesses along Danforth Avenue and how they are dealing with the COVID-19 situation at https://linktr.ee/thedannyBIA
Johnson said these are scary times for everybody, and those who have put their lives into their small businesses are understandably very worried. Sometimes, he said, what they are needing right now is someone to talk to and share their fears with.
“Business owners need a person that they can talk with. I’ve had a lot of conversations with business owners in tears and they are understandably upset because of all the economic uncertainty,” he said. “Being a source of comfort, understanding and kindness is just as important as providing essential services in this crisis. Some empathy goes a long way.”