Don’t Turn Out the Lights on Small Business

Veronica F.COVID19, Roncesvalles Village BIA

Lightbulb glowing in the dark

Small businesses are the backbone of Toronto’s economy and many are a day away from turning off their lights for good.  Today rent is due for the first time since the government-imposed shutdown for all but essential businesses. With businesses closed and no revenue coming in, small business tenants cannot afford to make rent and small business landlords cannot afford to miss that income. They could lose everything.

Unless government steps up and provides real rent relief to stabilize small businesses, one in four small businesses in Toronto will go bankrupt. We’re asking government to do the right thing and support small businesses by:

  • Putting an immediate freeze on lock outs. The provincial government has done this with residential tenants, we’re simply asking for the same rules to apply to small businesses. Right now, landlords can seize property after 48 hours of nonpayment, after 5 days they can sell property, and after 16 days they can change the locks with no notice. This is not acceptable in these exceptional times.
  • Creating a rent relief fund immediately. Mortgage deferrals may not apply to commercial properties and the additional programs announced by the federal government are weeks if not months away. Small businesses just don’t have that long. Rent strikes are only arising because the government has provided no option or relief, we need the federal and provincial governments to step up now.

Our businesses who qualify for the support put in place for their employees are deeply appreciative, but with no revenue and no rent relief they will be unable to pay their rent or their employees, defeating the purpose of these programs.

It’s important to understand, just as small businesses are struggling to make rent, small landlords are equally vulnerable if tenants don’t pay. Many small business owners have taken funds against their personal homes to start up or grow their businesses, so not only are their businesses at risk, so are their homes.

No small business owner, be they a tenant or a landlord, should have to choose between keeping the lights on or feeding their families. We’re asking the government to step up, do the right thing and provide rent relief to stabilize small businesses, so our businesses don’t have to turn off their lights on Roncesvalles permanently.

What you can do

Many local residents have been asking us how they can support our businesses during this very difficult period of mandatory closures and social isolation. Supporting this campaign is one way. Please share it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @roncesvillage.

The other way to support our businesses is to check our online Roncesvalles Business Directory, Instagram and Facebook posts where you’ll see how they are pivoting their operations to serve you in alternative ways. Some are offering online and phone ordering, curb-side pickup or home  delivery, while others are providing online consultation, online classes or gift cards. Many of our businesses along Roncesvalles have the essentials  you need and what you want. Please keep bringing them your business!