HO­LI­DAY SHOP­PING BACK ON COUN­CIL TABLE

Le Reflet (The News) - - ACTUALITES • NEWS - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­[email protected]

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.

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