Stalwart Brewing Co. submitted an application to the Town of Carleton Place in late August to permit the opening of retail businesses on statutory holidays under the Retail Business Holidays Act.
This has created concern from some businesses about how this will affect them. Right now, most retail businesses in Carleton Place must be closed on statutory holidays, as per a town bylaw.
The provincially regulated Retail Business Holiday Act allows the town to create a bylaw that permits retail businesses to be open on statutory holidays for the purpose of developing and maintaining tourism.
If the bylaw requested by Stalwart is permitted, large box stores locally would most likely be forced to open by their head offices.
“We want the option,” said Adam Newlands, one of the four founders at Stalwart Brewing Company. “The spirit of the legislation is to promote tourism and that’s what we would do by being open,” he said.
Newlands says about 240 people visit the brewery on any given weekend.
“I get that people want a day off, but Stalwart is a destination that people come to on their day off, so to be closed and not allowed to be open is a disadvantage to us,” Newlands said. “We want to be here for you — we are the atmosphere that makes for a great day off,” he laughed. “People could come downtown, try a beer, have some lunch and check out the other shops.”
The Carleton Place and District Chamber of Commerce said, “We understand that the impact of opening on a statutory holiday could be different for many of our businesses. We are currently in discussions with many of our member business owners to better understand this and as such are unable to take a firm position on the matter at this time.”
The Carleton Place BIA says Carleton Place should consider permitting the bylaw because it will increase tourism and maintain competition with surrounding communities like Perth and Smiths Falls that permit local retailers to be open on statutory holidays.
“The key is to have the option,” Cathie McOrmond said. McOrmond is the BIA project manager. “I don’t see any disadvantages,” she said.
It is undecided yet whether the bylaw would apply to the entire town or if it would designate part of the town as a tourism district, allowing only retailers within that district to open on statutory holidays.
The Retail Business Holidays Act requires that the Town of Carleton Place hold a public meeting to receive comments from the applicant and public prior to the consideration of adding the bylaw.
“We’re at the fact-gathering stage before council can make a decision,” says Duncan Rogers, the clerk for the Town of Carleton Place. “We need more input from the public before we move forward.”
A public meeting will be held on Oct. 11 in the council chambers at Town Hall. To speak, the public is asked to register with Paul Knowles before the meeting. This can be done via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone at (613) 257-6207.