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Mayor and councillors step up to help businesses reeling from the lockdown

Barrie city residents and businesses are still reeling from the aftermath of pandemic lockdown. Certain industries have been disproportionately affected, one of them is dentistry. Honestly, I skipped a couple of dentist appointments during the pandemic. I thought the risk of getting infected with COVID was too serious an issue. 

For Barrie Heights Family Dentistry, the troubles caused by the lockdown were made worse by a water service repair. The breakdown was on the city property between the dentistry and water main line. However, according to a city by-law, the businesses are required to pay the repair charges for any water maintenance work even though the damaged infrastructure is not on the property of the business. 

During the last Finance & Corporate Services Committee Meeting, Aylin Ozturk of Barrie Heights Family Dentistry argued that the lockdown has already caused an undue hardship to the business and it should be exempted from the by-law. “The financial instability we are experiencing right now and the stress that would put on our finances,” she said. So she asked the city to pay the repair bill.

In the last five years, there have been 16 water service breaks where businesses were responsible for the maintenance. Of which six occurred since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Ozturk quoted that the maintenance would cost her business between $3500 to $5000 while the city staff quoted between $1000 to $2000. Mayor Lehman asked city’s Director Of Infrastructure Bala Araniyasundaran about the huge discrepancy in two quotes. Araniyasundaran said more details are required from the contractor that provided Ozturk the quote.

Councillor Jim Harris was also concerned about the quote discrepancy and asked if an exemption was given in any of the previous 16 cases. Araniyasundaran mentioned that though the city provided the payment plan no exemptions were given, not even during the pandemic. 

Mayor Lehman put forward a motion to provide a relief to the business at the same time continuing the practice of not providing any exemption. As per motion, the city will undertake the work and provide Ozturk a payment plan for the next months. 

The motion was unanimously approved and Ozturk thanked the mayor and council for the motion. “I am very satisfied with the result and I appreciate your taking the time and consideration to help us,” she concluded. 

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