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What needs to be done to help struggling downtown businesses?

Downtown lover concerned about fate of 'unique downtown shops'

OrilliaMatters received the following letter from Eileen Quiqley-McKenna about downtown Orillia.

When my husband and I retired five years ago, we chose the community of Washago well aware that Orillia has an awesome historic and beautiful downtown core and a most competent hospital. I believe in shopping local.

While downtown last week, I entered retail establishments spending a considerable period of time speaking to two owners who are most discouraged by poor winter sales. Yes, we are a tourist and summer vacation destination; business owners’ sales intake decrease dramatically in the winter months. I gather many of the downtown business owners are thinking of pulling up stakes as they cannot afford to run their establishments. On the other hand, downtown restaurants, I'm told, are doing well.

Simply put, I don't want to see our unique downtown shops flounder and fold.

What can be done? More support from our city councillors? Free parking on Mississaga Street and surrounding lots? How is the Downtown Orillia Management Board allocating funds intended to promote and develop shopping in our historic core?

The two business owners do not desire to close but are feeling financial stress and pressure.

Eileen Quigley-McKenna