One of the most important indicators of the economic health of a community is its ‘downtown’. Having a vibrant downtown means having successful businesses and many employees working. A vibrant downtown also means a strong business community that can help shoulder the burden of municipal taxes to pay for services that all citizens need and want. The fewer the businesses in our community, the greater the municipal taxes are on the residential ratepayer.
Much more can be done to strengthen our downtown but during the last four years little effort has been made to improve services and recognize the important contribution that our business community makes as a key engine of our local economy.
Unfortunately our mayor is out of touch with issues that local business owners face and the challenges of navigating the bureaucratic red tape at City Hall continues to make life harder for business owners.
As a city we are losing over $100,000 a year to pay people to give out parking tickets, which discourages people from coming to the downtown. The current city policy costs taxpayers unnecessarily and hurts local small businesses.
Free parking in the downtown actually saves taxpayers money, helps to encourage citizens to visit the downtown and thereby helps businesses thrive. Businesses as a result can hire more employees, pay taxes and be successful. Businesses are spending at thousands monthly with the City to ensure their employees have free parking.
To open a patio on Queen Street is a virtual bureaucratic nightmare. Yet residents from Sault Ste. Marie visit other communities where this amenity is common. You require a permit good for only 12 days to put out a flower-pot in front of your business, but there is little to no enforcement on derelict buildings and local business taxes are among the highest in the province.
The Mayor continued to support the splash pad in Bellevue Park even when it was pointed out that there was a Downtown Community Investment and Downtown Strategic Plan that prioritized capital spending for Downtown. This decision also significantly reduced the contribution that Rotary was willing to make. It has become another project over budget and so far behind schedule it is soon to be unfinished and covered with snow.
“We must take a more a citizen centered approach with our business community. We need to stop wasting taxpayers money insisting on flawed city policies that drive people away from our downtown and start cutting red-tape and making it easier for businesses to be successful,” said Ring. If we are going to create more jobs and opportunities we must stop refusing to make the changes that are necessary for our community to thrive.”
“As your Mayor I will establish a Red Tape Transformation Team that will assemble both internal and external stakeholders to review, assess and recommend changes to the current bylaws and permitting policies. This will allow for the complete modernization and streamlining of how we enforce and establish regulations in not just Downtown but right across our community” commits Ring.