DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
SCUGOG: Scugog council is providing some help for restaurants to participate in the township’s seasonal patio program. At a meeting on Monday, May 25th, council passed a motion, made by Ward 4 Councillor Deborah Kiezebrink, to waive the parking spot fee and road occupancy permit fee for the 2020 edition of this program. In her motion, Councillor Kiezebrink noted the province could potentially announce the reopening of ‘eat in’ service at restaurants later this year with social distancing restrictions in place, such as using fewer tables and the “addition of seasonal patios will help to augment the loss of inside seating.” The Ward 4 Councillor also stated, in her motion, all businesses in Scugog have been “severely affected by the restrictions of operations” during this COVID-19 pandemic. “I know that there’s been a lot of back and forth about what people regard as safe. I think the bottom line is that some of the business owners want to keep their staff safe. There will obviously be reduced tables out there, but then they can have a self-serve option where the customers can come and place their orders and come and pick up their item. Just being outside is really important. We just want to do everything we can to support our downtown. It’s been brutal on everyone,” Councillor Kiezebrink explained to council. Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido questioned how much the fees are. “The permit fee for seasonal patios is $250 for the road occupancy permit and $400 per parking space per season. The patios, to date, have each occupied two parking spaces, so the total cost per year is $1,050,” Carol Coleman, Scugog’s director of public works, parks and recreation explained. Councillor Guido also had a concern regarding the fairness of this motion. “I think we can confirm that every single business in Scugog has suffered during this pandemic. If we are going to waive the fees for one business, or several businesses who are participating in this, I worry about the equitability of all of our other businesses who are not receiving any relief,” Councillor Guido said. “I think we need to be fair with how we are supporting our businesses, and while I appreciate these patios, I’ve been a supporter of them since the inception of it, I’m just concerned that we are choosing certain ones to support or waive fees for financially when all of our businesses could use some sort of assistance.” But council later voted 4-1 in favour of Councillor Kiezebrink’s motion.