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LETTER: Moving to grey leaves local entrepreneur seeing red

'We've been repeatedly told our business is non-essential ... It's essential to me and my family,' says business owner
a sign-saying-closed-due-to-covid-at-orillia-legion
COVID has shut down the Orillia Legion, as the sign indicates. As of Monday, the region is moving back into a lockdown - an order decreed by the province Friday.

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor. This letter is from an owner of three local businesses who is frustrated by the move of the region into the grey (lockdown) by the province. Send your letters to
So we’re in grey lockdown again

We’ve been closed five months of the last 12. Even when we’ve been reopen, sales are slow, people just are not shopping. Our year-over-year sales are below 20 percent. These are obviously not long-term sustainable numbers

While we understand the current grey guideline allows retail to remain open in some capacity, this is a moot point and, frankly, a token manoeuvre by our government, sending mixed signals of shop local, but stay home. Under the “red” label, sales haven’t come close to covering overheads, so why would this be any different. People are not out shopping and who can blame them.

We’ve been told this is to flatten the curve. I think we’ve flattened many things including the curve. We’ve flattened businesses, some of whom are our friends and neighbours.

For us personally, we’ve had our bank accounts and spirits flattened. We’ve watched as other members of our community have lost businesses, lost ownership of their buildings and had their credit scores destroyed.

We’ve been repeatedly told our business is non-essential, but it is essential. It’s essential to me and my family. For our financial well being and, perhaps more importantly, our mental health

We’ve been told that our shop build cannot be inspected now because they deem it non essential construction Apparently it’s too dangerous for an inspector to be on an open lot by himself to approve a hole that’s been dug. 

We opened back up 11 days ago, and received our inspection. We failed because even with frost blankets, (here’s a shocker) five weeks is long enough to freeze the open ground. We’ve rented a ground heater to thaw the ground, but now we’re locked down again and won’t be getting inspected after more (a lot) money spent.

We repeatedly hear that help is coming, and apply for grants to sit and wait, and after many calls, find out we don’t qualify (yup, that’s right, three rented buildings, 10 full-time staff)

We’ve not been able to see family and friends to get a much needed hug or raise a glass (I think we all need this).

All of this, after one year, watching other countries succeed where we have failed, and it continues with our vaccinated rates far lower then most. (We rank 52nd in the world)

We now have variants from other countries spreading in our communities.

Our governments have failed us. Ordering small businesses to close while leaving the borders and airports open. Allowing people to travel at will. Allowing the Walmarts of the country to sell everything from underwear to toasters, all while the little guy down the road can sell nothing, even though he also sells underwear and toasters

I believe firmly in “the greater good.” I believe we need to protect our most vulnerable. I believe in supporting our communities and everyone that knows us, knows we do just that.

Things should have been handled much better. Let’s all remember this when the time comes to elect a new government. It’s past due that we have some real people in office. People that know what it’s like to struggle. People that actually live in the trenches, people with real world experiences. (Yes Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Ford, I’m looking at you).

Both our federal and provincial government officials keep saying “trust me when I say, we understand.” The problem is this, they don’t. None of them have missed a pay cheque or a mortgage payment.

None of them have had to watch helplessly as there businesses fall apart. It’s been a long time since our civil servants remembered that they indeed work for us.

Sorry not sorry for my long-winded rant, but some days it’s hard to remain positive when things are not. I’ve always said, if something is broken, fix it. Our lives and livelihoods are in our control. I feel like those options have been taken from us.

It’s not lost on me that it’s better to do this now before things get further out of control, and perhaps we can salvage a summer season, but I’ve also felt this way several times before. This is not just about us, but all of the other small business owners that are facing their own challenges. To you all, I am sorry and we will do whatever we can to help you through this.

All in all, we are fighters and won’t be going anywhere; we will once again weather this storm. Perhaps it’s time to have my voice heard on a platform where I can make a difference, because I know my thoughts and ideals are shared by many. The time has come for us to get a just little bit of a win.

Stay safe and healthy friends, because that’s the reason for all of this and it does matter.

David Shaw