A task force aimed at exploring an official tourism designation for Quinte West that would allow businesses to stay open on statutory holidays is in the works.
Monday night, council approved a motion that would see a bylaw created and a five council member group formed with officials from the Quinte West Chamber and the Downtown Business Improvement Area.
Councillor Allan DeWitt said the City has legitimate tourism businesses in place with a lot of growth potential to come. However the current model with businesses closed during the holidays isn’t ‘conducive to good business or good tourism.’
As it stands the Retail Business Act limits what businesses can be open on statutory holidays. However it does allow a municipality to pass a bylaw where retail businesses can open for maintenance or tourism development.
It’s been eight years since the City discussed the holiday bylaw where they opted to keep the status quo by one vote. DeWitt said a lot has changed since then.
“Our marina is going to triple in size of boaters within the next three to four years,” he explained. “We are going to build a waterfront trail, we’ve got a wake park, we’ve made numerous renovations to Centennial Park and yet we’re closed on holidays.”
Councillor Sally Freeman spoke out against the proposal saying they were precious days and far too few of them for families as is. She said she wouldn’t be a part of taking them away.
DeWitt said he understands employees may not want to work on holidays but added people who have the option should be allowed.
“If you have a business that services tourism then you should be allowed to be open,” he said.
Councillors Allan DeWitt, Michael Kotsovos, Rob MacIntosh and David McCue plus the mayor were appointed to the group that will look at options and report on their findings.