You can make an economic difference!

Welcome to Barrie, Ontario’s most progressive city! That’s the slogan.

I look at Dunlop St and feel sick to my stomach.

Downtown Barrie is a mass of mud and construction… storm sewers, according to media reports.

The problem is the powers that be have planned this to occur in all directions, effectively cutting businesses off of any potential customers unless people park and walk through back alleys and around barriers to get to where they’re going. For months. Not just weeks… months!

In so many ways, it’s just easier to go someplace else.

I planned a business meeting at Casa Mia last week and was one of four tables in a restaurant that is normally lined up out the door at lunch. City planning has effectively isolated this business, and others on Toronto St., like islands in chaos with no chance of drive-by traffic, and limited get-to traffic, even if you know the back alleys.

As I left my business meeting, two waitresses were out back with a paint roller and tray… the city had sent a letter threatening a big fine if they didn’t remove the graffiti someone sprayed on their building within 10 days. It seems the city taketh away and taketh away!

I’ve been very careful over the past decade to not use this column to rant, but I have to wonder how our city fathers and mothers can call this a business-friendly city and then allow delayed construction projects to decimate businesses. I hope the tax department will be refunding all city property taxes and business taxes to all of these businesses, at the very least.

But, what can we, normal citizens, do about this?

Well, we can go the extra mile and try to do business downtown. We can park and walk and have our Christmas lunches at the businesses hardest hit by this unbelievable jam of construction on Dunlop St West, running from Eccles St right through to Maple AVE, and north-south routes in between.

We can look at where we can’t get to, and try to get there and do business with these harried owners.

Hopefully we did the same thing while Anne St was torn up for months and businesses there were cut off from their regular customers.

But this Dunlop St activity, all fall and now into Christmas season (and likely into January and February) is sounding a death knell for so many businesses. Get your manicures and pedicures at the Dunlop St salons. Buy gift certificates at the clothing stores, and the restaurants. Meet your friends downtown for dinner and tell the restaurant owners you’re there because of the construction.

One by one, each of us can make a difference for this important economic engine in our community. Once the pavement settles and the curbs are in, we want and need these businesses to be there … we can do something now to help ensure that!

PS Every employee at City Hall could make a great impact economically by trudging through the construction mess and doing the same thing!

See you downtown!