Councillor Patrick Wilson is asking town council to consider waiving or reducing business licence fees for small companies that can demonstrate the pandemic is having a detrimental impact upon their survival.
"It's not the creative destruction of the free market we're seeing. We're seeing people arbitrarily losing their businesses, losing their savings, and that's where my heart goes out because there's no fault of their own."
Wilson said his wording is vague, nor does he know the cost or extent of such a measure but would like to see council debate the idea at its Feb. 22 meeting.
"I know there's going to merit, and I know there's going to be drawbacks. I just wanted that debated in a public forum."
He says there are many ways the licence fee can be reimbursed and didn't exclude the idea of it being used as a credit towards utilities or property taxes.
He says it's not a large amount of money, but it's something within control of the town.
"What frustrates me is that almost anything we do is drop-in-the-bucket solutions to a big problem but it's our little bit we control and that's why I thought we should make a move."
"If there's something we can do and we haven't done it, that's where my guilty conscience would come from--do what you can."
He says it is painful to watch what is happening to our small business owners and that it is much more than frustration.
"It's a quiet desperation where you see people that are just in really bad shape and there's nobody to really do anything about it. It's people dwindling their savings, hanging on to the last thread. I have no data to support it, just antidote, but it feels like we're reaching the end of the thread for a lot of businesses where it's time to reopen or it's the end of that business."
Prior to this, he successfully tabled a motion that will see the town send an encouraging letter to Alberta government and health officials.
"I know from my tiny little corner that criticism comes often and heavy and compliments come few and far between. I wanted our council to be one of those complimenting the province, letting them know we are in support of what they're doing. It's really tough, and I know there are no right answers right now.
What comes to his mind is a Thomas Sowell type of quote of there being no solutions, only trade-offs.
"It's ridiculous and awful and sometimes it's health vs economy and most of the time they're the same thing, but I'm trying to support them in their ambitions to find the right trade-offs in reopening our economy."
It was obvious that finding ways to help small businesses struggling through the pandemic was top of mind for Wilson throughout the Feb. 8 town council meeting.
"It has been weighing on me for a while and I think it was time to address it. We only meet twice a month and it seems like if you let something go, weeks escape very quickly."