Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 2:30 p.m.
Russell Township council still wrestles with holiday shopping issue
The holiday shopping hours issue for local businesses is still on the table for Russell Township council.
Council members continue to wrestle with the issue after receiving an administration report June 18 concerning a request from the owner/operator of Foodland in the Village of Russell (see photo) for permission to keep her store open on some statutory holidays.
The report recommended refusal, 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 would benefit a large local tourism economy. The report indicated doubt that the 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 were written in 1990 “before Internet shopping became big.”
Council has 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 the township’s larger business outlets expressed doubts whether there will be any actual financial benefit for local businesses in being open on major statutory holidays.
“I’m not for it,” said Ron Fleming, owner/operator of the Giant Tiger outlet in Embrun. “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 Carsgadden, 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 let me, I don’t think I’d do it.”
“I would prefer not to,” said Alain Viau of Le Marché 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.