Some business folks on Carden Street met with city officials and Mayor Karen Farbridge, Tuesday August 9, to present their case of business losses due to construction in front of their stores.
Bottom line is they asked for compensation.
It presents a ticklish situation for the civic leaders. Do they give cash to those affected? Does that then set a precedent for other business owners claiming loss due to action by the city? What constitutes loss?
There is a precedent four years ago when council granted the owner of the Gummer building a ten- year tax holiday if the heritage façade was saved after the fire destroyed the building. For good measure, they threw in 100 downtown city-owned parking spaces to sweeten the deal.
That was done primarily to rebuild the building as quickly as possible, (that did not happen), and preserve the façade, a burning heritage issue.
So here’s a solution. Give the operators of the businesses affected the equivalent of a one year property tax holiday. The owners of the properties would still pay the tax. In addition, Marty Williams, Executive Director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association, had a great idea in offering coupons to shoppers to stimulate traffic onto Carden Street once the Market Square construction is completed. The coupons would be focused and available from the Carden Street merchants.
These two steps would give the merchants a helping hand and make strides in getting customers to return to the street.
It solves a problem that has escalated with blame and finger pointing from both sides. Sure, not everyone will be happy but it offers an exit from a problem that has caused great discomfort and foolishness.