HOLIDAY SHOPPING BACK ON COUNCIL TABLE
The holiday shopping hours issue for local businesses is back on the table for Russell Township council.
Council members wrestled with the issue during their June 18 session. They received a report from administration concerning a request from the owner/operator of Foodland, in the Village of Russell, for permission to keep her store open on some statutory holidays.
The report recommended refusing the request, explaining that Ontario’s Retail Business Holiday Act does exempt some large stores and businesses from closing on statutory holidays but only in cases where holiday hours benefit a large local tourism economy. The report indicated doubt that the Russell Foodland request would fall under that exemption but not all council members agreed with the conclusion.
“If a business chooses not to open on those holidays, they don’t have to,” said Mayor Pierre Leroux, adding that the provincial regulations that deal with business operating hours and statutory holidays was written in 1990 “before Internet shopping became big.”
Councillor Jamie Laurin also disagreed with the conclusion that tourism would not be a factor in allowing local exemptions to the Retail Holiday Business Act. He suggested amending the report’s recommendation and put the matter on hold while administration begins the process for public comment on the issue.
Council approved the suggestion and directed administration to prepare a revised bylaw, which would include a public consultation process. The bylaw will come up for review during the July 5 special session of council.
Meanwhile representatives for several of Russell Township’s larger business outlets expressed puzzlement about why the issue has come up, and doubt whether there will be any actual financial benefit for local businesses in being open on major statutory holidays.
“I’m definitely on the fence here,” said Ron Fleming, owner/ operator of the Giant Tiger outlet in Embrun. “I’m not for it, but if others do proceed then I have no choice but to do the same. I’m not for it by any means.”
“I’m against it,” said Ken Carscadden, owner/operator of the Home Hardware outlets in Russel and Embrun. "I don't think it’s necessary. For me, it’s not worth it. For grocery stores, it might be a different business. But even if they (township) let me, I don’t think I’d do it.”
“I would prefer not to,” said Alain Viau of Le Marche Bonichoix in Embrun, regarding statutory holiday openings. “And if everyone is open, then what is it going to change?”
All three noted that their staff look forward to and need the statutory holiday break and might be reluctant to have to work a three-day weekend, even for extra pay.
La municipalité de Russell étudie toujours la possibilité de permettre à certaines entreprises de la municipalité de rester ouvertes aux clients lors de certains jours fériés.