'All we want is a fair share of the relief,' Wasaga Beach waterfront businesses struggling
WASAGA BEACH, ONT. -- The cash registers at Wasaga Beach's waterfront businesses have been much quieter than their owners would prefer.
While an unusually hot summer did bring crowds to the sand, the influx of visitors didn't translate into more sales for some businesses.
"There's a gate that they put up that restricts free movement between the beach-goers and our businesses," says Gil Mechaly, longtime owner of Splash. "It's definitely an obstacle."
While Mechaly has seen some profitable weekends over the summer, he had a deep hole to dig out. "We can't make up the lost income that we had because we didn't open in May and [most of] June."
Many business owners had been counting on a 25 per cent break on rent through a federal-provincial relief program. But waterfront businesses don't qualify because the municipality owns the buildings.
Mechaly had to pull $20,000 out of his line of credit to clear his bill with the town.
His sister also found herself in a bind a few months into running her waterfront shop. "I had to borrow money from my brother to continue to reopen the store and try to save the season since I'm in debt," Linda Mechaly says.
The town stresses that it advocated for a rule change so business owners could qualify for the rent relief program. But there's frustration that the town won't forgive a portion of the rent in the absence of funding.
John Bors, the owner of Burger Boyz, worries about his business's longevity if there isn't more help. "Any relief would be a relief. It's going to be challenging times."
The town highlights that it returned an event promotion fee typically charged to business tenants and offered space on beach barriers for advertising; however, no business took advantage.
Business owners feel these moves are insufficient.
"All we want is a fair share of the relief. The onus is not only on us," adds Gil Mechaly.