Downtown business associations from across Canada are coming together to call on the federal government for help.
Facing high vacancy, safety concerns and economic issues, the associations say assistance is needed from all levels of government, starting with the federal government.
“It’s really important that politicians understand how urgent this is because there is still fallout that we haven’t even seen in terms of our economy and downtowns and main streets,” Puneeta McBryan, the Edmonton Downtown Business Association’s executive director, said Monday.
The largest ask from the panel of around a dozen associations is for better addictions, mental health, and homelessness supports.
The associations say there needs to be nationwide collaboration to research and implement solutions.
Paired with bail reform that the federal government is currently working on, the associations hope it will help with security in the core.
It’s a call to action similar to what Edmonton’s mayor would like to see from the feds.
“Help us build more supportive housing with wraparound services that are centred around the Indigenous population because 60 per cent of Edmonton’s houseless population is Indigenous,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said when asked what he would like from the federal government.
The associations are also asking for some changes to help small businesses, noting many are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strong El Nino winter may lead to below-average snowfall in Canada, U.S.
45-minute long orca attack sinks yet another yacht off Morocco
The Ottawa envoy is calling for a deadline extension for CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loan repayments, which were handed out during the pandemic, as well as for reduced credit card fees for small businesses.
A recent study found that Edmonton’s downtown currently has one of the highest vacancy rates of downtowns in Canada at 33 per cent, and other cities aren’t far behind.
“They are not considering themselves safe by any stretch,” McBryan said.
“A lot of them are predicting that they are about to see much, much higher vacancy numbers if all orders of government don’t figure out a way to solve these issues.”
While the business associations often speak to local politicians, their trip to Ottawa is the first of its kind.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Read the full article here