'My life is really destroyed': Butcher blames high hydro rates for closing his businesses
A long-time Barrie butcher has shut his doors and declared bankruptcy. He says it’s because of skyrocketing hydro costs.
On Monday, after 32 years, Lawrence Vindum closed The Butcher Shop for good. He was a month behind on rent and his last hydro bill topped in at $2,956.
"I had three employees and it really makes me sick inside that they're out of work right before Christmas," he says.
He didn’t hold back his words by outright blaming the government for rising hydro costs and killing small businesses.
"Our hydro rates in the last decade went from $800 on the high side to the largest bill that we paid: $3,200.”
His loyal customers are shocked, calling it a “crying shame.”
“I don’t have words. I can’t believe that this is happening to Lawrence, to the butcher shop. This has been here forever,” says customer Karen Sinclair.
The Barrie Chamber of Commerce says this is happening more often than most think.
“Input costs are going up, the minimum wage is higher, rent costs are up, hydro costs are up, so it's a tough time for businesses just to keep the doors open,” says Richard Brooks, executive director of the chamber.
Until recently, Vindum was a Progressive Conservative MPP candidate in Barrie. He dropped out of the race after filing for bankruptcy, which is part of party rules.
Barrie MPP Anne Hoggarth and other Liberals are questioning his motives.
“There may be good reason for closing his business, but I do not think it’s Premier Wynne's problem,” she says.
But Vindim says this is hardly a publicity stunt.
“My life is really destroyed. Today I actually have to return my truck because I can’t afford to pay for it. I will have absolutely nothing,” he says.
PC Leader Patrick Brown used Vindum’s situation to further his party’s plan to reduced hydro rates and small business taxes if they are elected.
“Another example today of how Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government is killing jobs and closing small businesses & this time in my hometown of Barrie,” he posted on Twitter.
Vindum admits he doesn't know what's next for him, but he says he's been overwhelmed by the well-wishes of long-time customers and strangers alike.