Letters & Opinion

Local businesses need our support | ByTowne will be back!

Local businesses need our support

March 17 — New procedures on OC buses separate drivers from riders.
Photo Frank Heilingbrunner

As I walk the dog around our neighbourhood in my self-isolation bubble, I notice how eerily quiet it is on all of our streets. With the cancellation of classes at uOttawa, many, if not most, of the students have moved out of town so there are a great number of empty houses on all of our residential streets. It brings home the fact that huge numbers of students or short-term renters occupy houses that used to be homes to families and other long-term residents of Sandy Hill.

With the disappearance of all of these students I think about how this new reality is affecting our small local restaurants and other small businesses in Sandy Hill. They will all need our continuing support throughout the coming months. The City of Ottawa is reminding residents to buy local to keep small businesses operating but the unique condition in Sandy Hill should move us to buy at the “micro-local” level to keep our favourite businesses going. We can order food to take out or for delivery or buy gift certificates for friends or our own future use. We have some great local restaurants and it would be a shame to lose them. Cadena Spanish Cafe, Working Title and the Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill are a few of the local restaurants that my family will often order food from as the weeks and months go by.

Let’s support our local restaurants by enjoying their excellent food.

Jane McNamara

Marlborough Ave.

ByTowne will be back!

Photo Bob Meldrum

To respect society’s new need to keep people apart, the ByTowne closed on March 15. At the time, I had no idea how long the closures and distancing measures would last.

And I still don’t. But it’s becoming apparent that, to keep the number of Covid-19 infections to a minimum, we’re all going to have to stay home for longer than we first thought. It’s clear to me that none of the ByTowne’s April screenings can go ahead.

Even re-opening in May is, to borrow a word from the U.S.A.’s narcissist-in-chief, “aspirational” at best. Even if our collective good behaviour can flatten the coronavirus curve by the end of April, getting businesses back to pre-pandemic status will take several more weeks. Some authorities, including Toronto Public Health, are now mooting June 30 as a possible end date for restrictions on public gatherings.

Plus, logic tells me that large public venues (cinemas, concert halls, live theatres) could well be among the very last institutions to be allowed to return to normal.

But there’s good news, too.

In my new-found “spare time,” I’ve done what most small-business owners have been doing: I’ve crunched some numbers.

With the announced relief programs provided by the government, and a rainy-day fund that we haven’t had to dip into in recent years, the ByTowne will weather the storm.

Don’t worry: the ByTowne will be back.

Bruce White

ByTowne Theatre