Jody Vance: city halls wondering how to help struggling businesses could start by asking them what would work…and then just do it.
We shouldn’t hug, gather, go to work or your classroom, or whatever, because, well, COVID-19. Today’s Middle is an ask of our municipal leaders to shift their focus from no, and more towards why not?
Case in point: with the pandemic forcing restaurants to severely restrict indoor capacity, many pubs and eateries have been pushing to make it easier to serve outdoors. Some city halls have gotten bogged down, not knowing how to proceed.
But on Monday I had a chat with Delta Councillor Dylan Kruger, who had the audacity to say this:
“We proactively visited businesses looking for what made the most sense, and did that.”
Insert brain exploding emoji.
My rather flippant reply was to protest that common sense has no place in municipal politics. Luckily, the councillor has a sense of humour and did not take offence.
I certainly meant no offence; I leave the throwdowns about municipal red tape for my UnSpun cohost George Affleck. My goal was to punctuate how refreshing it is to see a council, like Delta and a few others, ready to proactively engage with small business owners, and make their needs the agenda – rather than vice versa.
Think about what we could get done if public policy was to do what makes sense.
Delta’s fast-track patio plan doesn’t charge permit application fees or bury businesses in red tape. Kruger was clear about how it’s been received.
“Not one citizen complaint, no pushback at all. Unanimous.”
The program has been so well received, Kruger said it might just be something that survives COVID-19, to help create and sustain a community atmosphere.
Let that sink in: a city considering public enjoyment above parking revenue! Pinch me.
People in Delta are getting out, finding friends, have a place to safely happen. More to the point for the businesses, they are spending. They have a spot to dine and socialize with the glorious byproduct of supporting their local business people.
This is what it looks like when leaders are “in this together.”
Things don’t need to be complicated; we make them complicated. We get distracted with fixing what isn’t broken. Let’s pivot to what should be happening and electing leaders who represent the community as a whole.
Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.