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Burlington City Council & Team Burlington Seek Fairness for Local Businesses During COVID-19

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*Please see below a media release issued by the City of Burlington.

Photo by Clay Banks on

Burlington, Ont. — Dec. 11, 2020 — Burlington City Council has unanimously approved a motion asking the provincial government to make changes to business restrictions to increase fairness for smaller businesses during the pandemic closures and restrictions.

The resolution is asking the province to level the playing field for small retailers forced to close while big box stores selling the same goods can remain open – so long as they sell food or other essential items. The resolution also asks that capacity limits be based on square footage of a venue, not a hard cap. This would also increase fairness among smaller and larger businesses.

The resolution was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas – Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN. They worked together to bring the resolution forward, along with Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna.

“We certainly understand that Canadian Governments at all levels are doing their best to keep citizens safe and healthy during this difficult period. I am so thankful that I live in Burlington, Ontario, Canada!

Unfortunately, safety measures do not always work as a one-size-fits-all solution. Specifically, we need to adjust measures to accommodate a more balanced square footage per person guideline. People need to get out of their homes from time to time to fight pandemic fatigue and mental stress. If all stores and restaurants abide strictly by the rules of mask wearing, sanitization stations and social distancing, it can offer a better alternative to people hosting social gatherings at home.

It is critically important that we support all of our local businesses that support our local economy and employ Burlington citizens.” — Randall Smallbone, Chair, Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN)

BERN chair Randall Smallbone and Mayor Meed Ward have co-signed a letter to the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, the Honorable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, the Honorable Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, MPPs Jane McKenna, Effie Triantafilopoulos and Parm Gill, Halton Regional Council, Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington. The letter includes a copy of the resolution and reinforces the call for fairness for Burlington businesses.

Councillors Galbraith and Bentivegna will be working together to bring a similar resolution to Halton Regional Council for endorsement. Both councillors own businesses in Burlington, and Councillor Bentivegna has a long history in the hospitality industry.

“We as decision makers need to balance the recommendations of public health while protecting our local economy.  Small business is the engine of our economy and will be relied upon as recovery efforts from the pandemic continue.  They have greater ability to put in place, public health measures to protect their clients and we feel that they should be given equal opportunities to do so without the threat of closure.  Large retailers that are permitted to remain open during lockdowns, have been given an unfair competitive advantage due to their variety of offerings when considering what businesses are essential.  We need a solution that can work for all businesses by taking into consideration the square footage of their premises.  Hard caps of 10 people permitted indoors does not work for larger restaurants that have the ability to keep people distanced.  Many have not opened due to this restriction and some will never open again.  We need to work together to come up with local solutions that will save many small businesses and hardworking entrepreneurs from insolvency.” — Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, City of Burlington

“As part of the hospitality industry for many years, I understand how every single customer is important for economic success, especially at this time of year. We must do everything we can to help our local restauranteurs and small business owners. They are the heart and soul of our community and these motions can help keep them open for business.” — Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, City of Burlington


We can maintain public health and safety and do better to ensure fairness among our large and smaller businesses, which are the engine of our economy. It makes no sense that a large big box store can sell goods smaller retailers can’t. It makes no sense that the same store can have hundreds of people inside while a large restaurant is capped at 10 regardless of size and ample ability to ensure physical distancing. We hope the government will make the necessary changes that will both protect public health and our local businesses.


PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages (and subscribe) and, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — that are updated as new information becomes available.

A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to


*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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1 thought on “Burlington City Council & Team Burlington Seek Fairness for Local Businesses During COVID-19”

  1. I just found out that Halton will stay in Code Red Restrictions and this is absolutely unfair to small businesses!

    We are not the problem, nor are we the source of the spread of CoVid! Don’t they get it?! The lockdown and restrictions aren’t working because they don’t make sense!

    They are shutting down controlled environments but allowing big box stores to remain open!

    For instance, when was the last time anyone at Winners, Homesense, Walmart, HomeDepot, Costco The Mall etc… checked your temperature before entering? Do you see designated people at the malls or Walmart disinfecting railings, door handles, escalators or elevators every 15mins? How about every 30mins? NOPE!

    However, me and my business and so many other small businesses I know allocate 30 mins between clients just to clean, disinfect & sterilize everything! People cannot walk in without an appointment, even if they just want to browse or shop our Spa Boutique! We check everyone’s temperature and ask everyone the necessary CoVid related questions! We ask everyone to wash their hands before beginning any service! We also wear masks and shields! Sometimes we even wear a mask and shield while working behind another shield! We have air purifiers on each floor and hand sanitizer in every room! We also take everyone’s contact information.

    Further more, because some ppl have nowhere to go they are gathering and leaving their zones!

    The provincial government needs to stop taking this out on small businesses! Either make the rules apply to everyone or no one!

    This is financial crisis for so many people and families, it’s not right!

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