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Open for business: Kirkland Lake considering holiday changes for stores

A public meeting on April 16 is a chance for businesses to have their say on a bylaw that would allow them to be open on provincial holidays

KIRKLAND LAKE - Ever wished you could shop or dine out on holidays? One Northern Ontario town is considering making it a reality.

Kirkland Lake is considering a bylaw to allow businesses to stay open on certain holidays. They hope to have it in effect on May 22, which is just after the May long weekend. 

At Kirkland Lake council’s April 2 meeting, director of development Dan Laverdure talked about the proposal. He said municipalities that focus on tourism and attraction are more inclined to pass a bylaw of this nature.

Currently in Ontario, retail businesses must close on New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The provincial act exempts gas stations, pharmacies and tourist businesses. Outside of that, a municipal exemption bylaw is needed to open on one of the nine days.

A public meeting is being held on April 16, 2024, at 4:40 p.m. to allow business owners to provide feedback.

In 2003, the municipality received a request from the Kirkland Lake District Chamber of Commerce asking for businesses to be permitted to open on Canada Day. The town ultimately passed a bylaw agreeing to the request.

Coun. Janice Ranger said if an exemption bylaw is passed, residents and visitors would have the opportunity to shop locally as opposed to online.

After agreeing with Ranger’s sentiments, Coun. Casey Owens said he believes it’s fair for the decision to be open or closed on holidays to be up to the businesses themselves.

“Our few local businesses have to compete with the online market or stores that are open in North Bay, Sudbury, or Timmins,” he said.

“If I want something, I don’t want to have to wait for the stores to be open. I don't want it yesterday. I don't want it in two days.”

Coun. Rick Owen said times are changing.

“When I was a little little boy, a big issue in Brampton was opening stores on Sunday. We are trying to promote ourselves as a tourism centre. As such, we service the entire area with our retail stores and our, what I call retail services, such as mechanics, machine shops, dealerships. I think if we want to grow and support our businesses, we should be opened,” he said.

While there are some holidays he would prefer not to shop for religious reasons, Owen said that’s a decision he can make himself.

“I will not show up on certain days that are in that list. I do not impose my religious convictions upon other people. That's up to them to decide,” he said.

“Also, I think a good part of that will be dictated by business itself. If they decide to open on a certain holiday the one year and they find out they did no business, they lost money, next year they probably won't be open.”

Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Marissa Lentz covers civic issues along the Highway 11 corridor under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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