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Voice of businesses need to be heard on licensing issue

Ron Giofu - Just a Thought

Members of the Amherstburg business community are upset with the new business licensing scenario and aren’t taking it lying down.

Town council will hear about it at their March 25 meeting from at least one business owner (and possibly more, as a revised agenda is possible later this week). 

Business owners are being dinged with new costs, something that town administration says is in line with what other municipalities in the region are doing.

The business licensing bylaw was passed last December but, at the very least, a public education campaign needs to occur. 

Is it possible to put a pause on the issue at this point to have a better dialogue with the business community?

If this indeed has to go forward, explain to the business community what they’re being charged for and why. Based on the rumblings and conversations I’ve had, it seems that there are a lot of questions about the new bylaw so those questions need answers.

Should fees be lowered? Should they be delayed entirely? 

The business community needs to have their input and have their voices heard.

Small businesses are vital in every community and Amherstburg is no exception. 

Many are still struggling coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, others are dealing with increased competition including from larger conglomerates and others, to be fair, are doing just fine. 

All of them have to be listened to on this issue.

Non-profit organizations regularly hit small businesses looking for donations, the River Town Times included. They also employ both adults and youth as bills need to be paid ranging from mortgages to school books. 

Additional input from these businesses on this matter and allowing them to say what is on their minds is crucial. 

Any fee additions or increases can have an impact on their operations.

A public open house would be a good idea in order to properly explain what is going on and what the business community would like to see. Just as a bylaw can be passed, it can also be amended and/or repealed.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce has taken up the issue, stating “we are compelled to express the collective concerns that have emerged from our membership regarding the new business license program recently implemented in our town. This correspondence is borne from a deeply felt need to ensure that the voices of our diverse business community are not only heard but acted upon with urgency and consideration.”

Among the issues identified by the ACOC include “insufficient consultation and communication,” licensing fees that are “excessive,” the need for licenses elsewhere and possible overlap with existing regulatory frameworks, and the ACOC called for a program pause and re-evaluation.

The ACOC is calling for an immediate review of the program, the rethinking of the licensing structure, a reassessment and adjustment of fees and enhancing communication efforts.

“As the Board of the Chamber we are merely the conduit through which the collective concerns and suggestions of our members are conveyed. The urgency of this message reflects a shared commitment to maintaining Amherstburg’s reputation as a vibrant, equitable, and business-friendly community,” the ACOC states in a letter to town council.

The business community is speaking out and having a receptive audience at the Town of Amherstburg is important.

Voice of businesses need to be heard on licensing issue

By Ron Giofu

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