Plaza Saint-Hubert merchants feel supported while dealing with construction, coronavirus woes – Montreal

12Aug

Plaza Saint-Hubert merchants feel supported while dealing with construction, coronavirus woes – Montreal

by BBG Hub

It’s a challenge being a merchant in the Plaza Saint-Hubert and not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Little Italy shopping destination on St-Hubert Street is part of a $50-million construction project put in place by the city back in 2018.

“It is a blessing in disguise,” said Véronique Lortie, designer and co-owner of Draculite, a shop selling medieval merchandise on the Plaza. “When the work will be done, the Plaza Saint-Hubert will be spectacular.”

“This is a very huge investment from the City of Montreal,” said Luc Rabouin, executive committee member responsible for Montreal’s economic and commercial development and design.

The project’s goal is to revamp the Plaza’s look, installing wider sidewalks and a new overhead awning. Their sewer and water systems are also being updated, leaving merchants and shoppers having to navigate through street closures and tight walkways.

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Construction has now moved to the Plaza’s south side, between St-Zotique and Bellechasse streets, but it had slowed down this spring when work came to a halt because of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Monkland Avenue merchants frustrated with borough as they adapt to changes

“The City of Montreal could have done a lot more and could still do a lot more (for its local businesses),” said Marc Fortin, president of the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).

Fortin says the city is not communicating enough with Plaza Saint-Hubert merchants regarding the street’s construction plans.

“A week ago we couldn’t even get out of the shop because they were doing the sidewalks,” said Gabrielle Laïla Tittley, owner and designer of Pony, a pop-up clothing and accessory boutique on the Plaza.

Despite construction and the pandemic, Tittley is optimistic. Pony is moving to a bigger and permanent location in the Plaza next month.

“(The Plaza’s) been struggling for a while, but I really have hope,” she said.

Plaza Saint-Hubert pedestrian glances at construction workers who continue St-Hubert Street’s roadwork on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Plaza Saint-Hubert pedestrian glances at construction workers who continue St-Hubert Street’s roadwork on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.


Pamela Pagano/ Global News

The Plaza Saint-Hubert Merchants Association told Global News that work is going so well it expects to catch up the eight-week backlog of construction. It hopes that streets and sidewalks will be completed before the end of September.

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“The construction itself was already affecting businesses but businesses knew it was coming,” said Mike Parente, executive of the association. “Then COVID hit…unfortunately, there’s no way we can really prepare for (that).”

The association now provides merchants with masks, visors and antibacterial products to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“As always, (the Merchants Association) did what they could to help us and other businesses understand the mixed messages coming from the government,” said Josh Gendron, co-owner of La Cale, a zero-waste pub in the Plaza.

After taking precautions to make their bar safe for customers and staff, Gendron says people are still afraid to go out due to what he describes as the “bad press” bars received. Recent media reports of spread of the virus among people going to bars has scared customers away, he added.

“I think it’s a disservice to our sector of operation because some of us really respect what’s going on right now,” he said.

The RCC says that it believes 22 per cent of Quebec’s small retailers and 28 per cent of Quebec’s restaurants will permanently close as a result of the health crisis.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal bars ensuring safety as sports resume this summer

Extra help to weather the storm

Plaza businesses have had other help from the city through the PRAM – Artère en Chantier program.

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This program allows businesses in the midst of major underground infrastructure work to receive financial help from the city in order to continue attracting customers and investors.

The city received 131 applications under the program and awarded a total of $6.5 million in grants.

“It’s a very big difference for a small businesses between a loan and a grant,” said Rabouin. “Because a loan they will have to pay back.”

The city along with Plaza Saint-Hubert’s Merchants Association, Desjardins, and La Ruche also launched a financial campaign to help businesses along the stretch during the pandemic, called Solidaire avec la Plaza St-Hubert.

For every $20 voucher purchased by a customer at the Plaza, the city provides an additional $10 to spend.

“It worked really, really well very quickly,” said Parente.

The campaign met its $50,000 objective. The city and Desjardins will contribute an additional $25,000 each, making it a total of $100,000 raised for the Plaza.

“There is definitely very motivated people working at Plaza Saint-Hubert’s Merchants Association,” said Tittley. “They are really helping us out.”

Pedestrians walk alongside the north section of Plaza Saint-Hubert, between Saint-Zotique to Jean Talon Street, where roadwork is complete and sidewalks are renovated on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.

Pedestrians walk alongside the north section of Plaza Saint-Hubert, between Saint-Zotique to Jean Talon Street, where roadwork is complete and sidewalks are renovated on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020.


Pamela Pagano/ Global News

“As soon as we were allowed to reopen, we did,” said Lortie who continued selling her merchandise online during the pandemic. “We sell internationally on the internet every day.”

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At the start of the pandemic, the city also helped local shops create websites in order for them to sell online.

“It was a way for some of them to be able to still be open even if they were closed to the public,” said Rabouin.

In Plaza Saint-Hubert’s case, Fortin finds this initiative ironic.

“A lot of them with the street closure cannot even get the Purolator or UPS to come pick up their goods in their store to deliver them,” he said. “(The city) needs to sit down with business…and not take blind decisions.”

Aside from construction hindering delivery services on the Plaza, Fortin explained that having a website is in fact a great first step, but it can’t stop there.

“There’s a step two…(The city) is not helping them with consulting an agency to make sure that people know about it,” he said.

READ MORE:  Coronavirus: Pointe-Claire Plaza merchants adapt to changes and receive continuous support

“We’re a historic street from Montreal,” said Parente. “Considering the situation, I think the city is trying to do their best.”

Lortie, for her part, says she is “very happy” to be a business owner at the Plaza.

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“I believe it is a beautiful place in Montreal,” she said. “A place to discover.”




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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3Aug

Complaints about accessibility of new COVID Alert app

by BBG Hub


Peterborough welcomes a new organization dedicated to accessibility in the city.
Jenn MacDonald is Fund Development & Communications Coordinator of the new Accessibility and Inclusion Network. She tells Lindsay Biscaia about the network’s mission meet increased needs for accessibility awareness in the City of Peterborough and in Peterborough County.




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29Jul

Hamilton’s Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry is ready to hear from accident victims – Hamilton

by BBG Hub

The Red Hill Valley Parkway Inquiry (RHVPI) is ready to hear from those who where involved in an accident on the roadway.

It says anyone who was affected by a crash can make an application to be heard and that includes victims and their family members.

Those who have information or documentation can send an email to the inquiry over the website RHVPI.ca with their name, contact information and a brief description of their incident.

Meetings will be set up next month with the public inquiry set to begin next year.

Read more:
Lawyer says $250M Red Hill Valley Parkway class action against Hamilton moving slowly

The inquiry was announced in April of 2019, was commissioned by the city of Hamilton and centers around a 2013 Tradewind Scientific report, which analyzed friction levels on the parkway and suggested some safety issues.

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The audit recommended “remedial actions” and an investigation of the asphalt after friction values were discovered to be “below or well below” U.K. safety standards, which were used as a benchmark in the study.

Read more:
City of Hamilton apologizes after 2013 report on ‘slippery’ Red Hill is uncovered

Earlier this month council for the inquiry said the process had become “slower and more complicated” than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic and a for historical documents.

So far, the inquiry has received about 74,000 documents from participants and other people who hold relevant technical information which is now being reviewed with the help of design experts, analyzing everything from asphalt composition to construction methods.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the city of Hamilton, alleging improper design and maintenance of the Parkway are still awaiting a judge to certify their class action.

 






Hamilton city council approves judicial inquiry over lost study


Hamilton city council approves judicial inquiry over lost study

 

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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24Jul

Coronavirus: COVID-19 drives surge of online shopping

by BBG Hub



The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of people shying away from malls and in-person retailers due to concerns over limiting the spread of the coronavirus and as a result, online shopping companies are seeing a surge of business. With back-to-school around the corner in the U.S., some consumer experts expect another surge in July…


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24Jul

Online shopping sales surge by 99% in Canada amid coronavirus pandemic  – National

by BBG Hub

Canadian consumers flocked to online shopping as the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.

A new report from the agency found that total retail sales fell by 17.9 per cent as Canadians increasingly sheltered in place between February and May and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors.

Even so, shoppers rushed to make online purchases, with sales surging 99.3 per cent during the period.

Statistics Canada says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February.

Read more:
Canada’s consumer prices up 0.7% in June, ending streak of negative inflation

E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

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Kostya Polyakov, partner and national industry leader for KPMG’s consumer and retail practice in Vancouver, says that “the split between e-commerce purchases and in-store purchases has changed forever,” but that it won’t always be as extreme as the numbers reported by Statistics Canada on Friday.

“I spend a lot of time with all the top retailers in the country,” says Polyakov. “I think the consensus is certainly you will see a return (of shoppers) to stores.”






Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales


Montreal stores reopen for business but pandemic a drag on sales

The report from Statistics Canada found that all 11 retail subsectors with e-commerce sales saw those sales increase.

The record gains in e-commerce occurred as total retail sales experienced record declines, the report says, with April data showing the most stark contrast. Retail sales that month plummeted to $33.9 billion, down 29.1 per cent from February and 26.4 per cent from the prior year. Meanwhile, e-commerce increased 63.8 per cent in April.

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Calgary organization offers online thrift shopping service to benefit charity


Calgary organization offers online thrift shopping service to benefit charity

From February to April, only the food and beverage subsector saw an increase in in-store sales, which were up 3.3 per cent, while e-commerce sales surged 107 per cent. In-store sales declined for general merchandise stores, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and health and personal care stores.

Other retail trade subsectors such as furniture and home furnishings stores, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, and clothing and clothing accessories stores saw much sharper declines in in-store sales from February to April 2020. As in-store sales decreased for these subsectors, e-commerce sales increased.

Marty Weintraub, national Retail leader at Deloitte Canada, says that not all retailers face the same level of challenges when it comes to the move to online shopping. For example, consumers may still be delaying large purchases on some types of items, out of fear that unemployment may still be around the corner, said Weintraub.

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“We don’t believe the e-commerce rates we have seen will stay at the levels we have seen them. We are already starting to see a little pulling back, most notably in apparel,” said Weintraub. “But (e-commerce rates) will be higher than where it was before the pandemic, absolutely.”

Statistics Canada said it will continue to update the e-commerce data to assess the long-term changes after the pandemic, noting that as stores reopened in May, the proportion of e-commerce sales was 10 per cent, down from a record high of 11.4 per cent in April.

“Will the COVID-19 pandemic have a lasting impact on the retail trade sector? Small businesses are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms, and are using these platforms in innovative ways,” the report said.

Read more:
Canadian retail sales surged nearly 19% in May, still 20% below February levels

Brick-and-mortar stores, particularly small ones with little online presence, may scoop back some of the recent online sales by making sure their inventory is up-to-date, Polyakov says.

“If you need a new pair of ice skates for your kid’s hockey practice tomorrow, (retailers) want you the consumer to say, `You’re better off running out to Sport Chek, because we will for sure have those skates for him,’ rather than waiting, you know, two, three days for Amazon to ship them to you,” says Polyakov.

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Polyakov expects there is a group that bought something online during the lockdown that they’d rather try in store, such as shoes or a tent. Second, a group of consumers have had to learn e-commerce systems, and were previously less accustomed to online shopping technology, such as some members of Baby Boomers or Generation X. These two groups helped push online sales higher during the lockdown, said Polyakov.

Some, particularly older generations, may keep taking advantage of the convenience of online shopping, says Polyakov, especially as some shopping malls are prioritizing appointments over browsing. The bigger questions, says Polyakov, is whether people will continue to buy items online that they prefer to try in the store, such as winter coats.

The new data from Statistics Canada is the latest peek into a changing retail sector, also reflected in two other recent data releases.






Delivery companies working overtime due to COVID-19


Delivery companies working overtime due to COVID-19

Overall retail sales data for May, released on July 21, indicated that while about 23 per cent of retailers were closed during the month, for an average of five business days, sales are 80 per cent recovered from the worst of the pandemic period.

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The consumer price index, released on July 22, suggested that consumer behaviour has shifted so much that it has thrown off the inflation index.

“Where we settle will depend on how the pandemic unfolds,” said Weintraub. “The longer we are in this state of being, the greater the likelihood that this (online shopping) behaviour will stick.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.

Canadian consumers flocked to online shopping as the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted, according to a Statistics Canada report.

A new report from the agency found that total retail sales fell by 17.9 per cent as Canadians increasingly sheltered in place between February and May and brick-and-mortar stores closed their doors.

Even so, shoppers rushed to make online purchases, with sales surging 99.3 per cent during the period.

Statistics Canada says e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May, a 2.3 per cent increase over April and 99.3 per cent increase over February.

E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

The report found that all 11 retail subsectors with e-commerce sales saw those sales increase.

Story continues below advertisement

The record gains in e-commerce occurred as total retail sales experienced record declines, the report says, with April data showing the most stark contrast. Retail sales that month plummeted to $33.9 billion, down 29.1 per cent from February and 26.4 per cent from the prior year. Meanwhile, e-commerce increased 63.8 per cent in April.

From February to April, only the food and beverage subsector saw an increase in in-store sales, which were up 3.3 per cent, while e-commerce sales surged 107 per cent. In-store sales declined for general merchandise stores, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and health and personal care stores.






Global News Morning Market & Business Report – July 22, 2020


Global News Morning Market & Business Report – July 22, 2020

Other retail trade subsectors such as furniture and home furnishings stores, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, and clothing and clothing accessories stores saw much sharper declines in in-store sales from February to April 2020. As in-store sales decreased for these subsectors, e-commerce sales increased.

Story continues below advertisement

Statistics Canada said it will continue to update the e-commerce data to assess the long-term changes after the pandemic, noting that as stores reopened in May, the proportion of e-commerce sales was 10 per cent, down from a record high of 11.4 per cent in April.

“Will the COVID-19 pandemic have a lasting impact on the retail trade sector? Small businesses are increasingly turning to e-commerce platforms, and are using these platforms in innovative ways,” the report said.

The new data from Statistics Canada is the latest peek into a changing retail sector, also reflected in two other recent data releases. The consumer price index, released on July 22, suggested that consumer behaviour has shifted so much that it has thrown off the inflation index.

Overall retail sales data for May, released on July 21, indicated that while about 23 per cent of retailers were closed during the month, for an average of five business days, sales are 80 per cent recovered from the worst of the pandemic period.



© 2020 The Canadian Press




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20Jul

Stretch of Guelph’s Eramosa Road to close for construction – Guelph

by BBG Hub


The City of Guelph says a major artery out of the downtown core is expected to be blocked off later this month to make way for railway construction.

Eramosa Road, between Woolwich and Arthur streets, is scheduled to close for four days, beginning July 31.

The city said the Guelph Railway Junction is completing emergency maintenance work at the rail crossing next to the Speed River.

Only local traffic will be permitted through the construction area and pedestrians won’t be allowed through.

Guelph Transit routes 12 and 13 will be detoured around the closed-off area.

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This is the second major road closure around the city’s downtown core after the intersection of Woolwich and Macdonell streets was closed for the city’s dining district.

The city said it appreciates the patience and understanding from residents during the construction project.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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16Jul

Coronavirus face mask exemption cards are being sold online. Experts say they’re fake – National

by BBG Hub

As mandatory face mask bylaws pop up across Canada and the United States in order to deter the spread of COVID-19, so are fraudulent cards claiming to exempt people from the rule.

If you do have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a mask, you do not need to prove it with a card, health officials say.

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READ MORE: Phony medical face mask exemption cards confound Ontario and Toronto officials

Toronto and Ottawa recently made it mandatory to wear masks in all indoor places. Quebec plans to make it mandatory on July 18. And Calgary’s mayor said he’s contemplating similar legislation for the city.

The World Health Organization on July 7 acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the virus. In areas where COVID-19 is spreading, health experts agree that wearing masks or other face coverings in public helps reduce the risk of spreading the virus when people can’t socially distance.

But there are groups of people in Canada and the U.S. pushing back against the rules. Some are even selling fake cards for individuals claiming to be exempt from wearing masks due to a medical condition.

The cards in Canada are allegedly created by an “anti-lockdown group” that opposes mandatory mask bylaws.






Poll: Most Canadians support mandatory masks, vaccines


Poll: Most Canadians support mandatory masks, vaccines

On the group’s Facebook page a post added on Monday reads:

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“Over 2000 Face Mask Exemption Cards mailed out today! To get a card, you can attend the Toronto, BC or Manitoba protests or you can order online after July 16, 2020.”

The post then asks for a donation of $5 per card.

READ MORE: All U.S. Walmart stores, some Canadian ones, to require face masks

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is listed on the back of a card, claiming to give the holder an exemption from wearing a face mask.

“These are fake. The Commission has not and would not produce posters or cards claiming that the cardholder has an exemption from wearing a face mask in closed public places. We strongly recommend to Canadians that they do not share or use these fraudulent cards,” the commission said in a Twitter statement.

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The card is also stamped with the Canadian Red Cross emblem, which did not approve its use.

“This happens quite often actually, and our approach is to use an educational and voluntary removal from its use,” a spokesperson from the organization told Global News in an email statement. “Most organizations do comply. We contacted the organization and all images of the Red Cross have been removed from social platforms and the organization has told us that they will not distribute any further cards with the emblem.”






Municipalities face struggles mandating face masks


Municipalities face struggles mandating face masks

On Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about the province’s response to the fake cards.

“This isn’t the time to use fraudulent cards and to get away and be able to go into a store, don’t be a scammer. To say you can’t wear a mask and make up some fraudulent cards, it’s unacceptable. Everyone else is wearing a mask, wear a mask,” Ford said.

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Do not need to show proof

According to Toronto Public Health (TPH), if you have a valid medical reason to not wear a mask you do not need to show proof of exemption.

“It is important to protect people’s privacy. We encourage businesses to be respectful of people who are unable to wear a mask due to health, age or other reasons,” TPH said.

Ottawa Public Health also states on its website that a person who doesn’t have to wear a mask due to medical reasons is not required to provide proof.

Read more:
Where to buy face masks online in Canada and how to choose

“There is no card that needs to be shown [for] those medical conditions that might actually prevent somebody from safely wearing a mask. It may be a question of breathing or heart troubles or it may be a question of a developmental or cognitive issue that makes it difficult to take on and off the mask,” Toronto’s chief medical officer of health said at a media conference Wednesday.






Coronavirus: Psychologists break down why some aggressively oppose mandatory mask rule


Coronavirus: Psychologists break down why some aggressively oppose mandatory mask rule

U.S. investigates fake cards

Some U.S. states and major cities have introduced rules requiring face masks to be worn.

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Last month, fake cards and other documents saying the holder is exempt from wearing a mask, also popped up. One of the cards is marked with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) seal. The cards and flyers are fraudulent, according to the DOJ.

A photo of a fraudulent ’face mask exempt’ card released by the U.S. Department of Justice.

A photo of a fraudulent ’face mask exempt’ card released by the U.S. Department of Justice.


Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice

An example of one of the fraudulent cards.

An example of one of the fraudulent cards.


Kristie Mancino/Facebook

The text on the “Face Mask Exempt Card” reads: “I am exempt from any ordinance requiring face mask usage in public. Wearing a face mask poses a mental and/or physical risk to me. Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), I am not required to disclose my condition to you.”

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The card threatens penalties against business owners who deny access to people who don’t wear face masks.

Read more:
Winnipeg man arrested after refusing to wear mask on plane from Vancouver

The cards were being sold online in boxes of at least 500 for USD$49.99, according to the New York Times.

The DOJ said not to rely on the information included on the card and instead to visit the Americans with Disabilities Act website.

— With files from Reuters



© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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16Jul

Black designers of Canada online index

by BBG Hub


The first-ever comprehensive index of Canadian Black designers is now available online. The website features everything from clothing designers to interior and furniture design. George Sully is the brainchild behind this idea and he joined us from Toronto to talk about it.




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9Jul

Calgary organization offers online thrift shopping service to benefit charity

by BBG Hub



Karen Ramchuk, executive director of Calgary’s Women in Need Society, joins Global News to talk about an online thrift shopping service to benefit essential programs and services for those in need.


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