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WARMINGTON: Brampton businessman unfairly given the boot?


You will have to forgive Paul Drysdale for not buying the idea that small businesses won’t be turfed by landlords.

He’s living proof it’s not true.

“I was evicted,” said Drysdale, the owner of GTA Furniture Central Inc. at the corner of Clarence St. and Kennedy Rd. in Brampton.

This came after 40 years in business in one form or another in this same location. And, Drysdale said, the eviction comes after “never” once missing a rent payment.

“The only time it ever was an issue was for the month of April after we were forced to close for the pandemic in March,” Drysdale said. “We just didn’t have enough to cover the full rent that would have been paid while we were not allowed to be there to sell” merchandise.

Instead, he said he sent 25% of the $5,100 rent and was hoping the property management company that runs his strip mall would take advantage of a federal program that would cover 50%.

The company, he said, was not interested.

“They just said we could defer our rent until the end of April and we had to pay it and the rent for May at the same time,” he said.

His feeling was “we would all shoulder this burden together,” but they “wanted all their rent when they know we couldn’t be open to make any money to pay it.”

It doesn’t make sense to pay more than $10,000 over two months in rent, he said, when you don’t have it and you have no way to earn it.

This kind of atrocity is exactly what Premier Doug Ford was railing against this week.

“A message to all these landlords: Don’t force my hand,” Ford said this week. “Work things out, because I’m trying to compromise here. We’re giving you 75% of what you’re asking for.”

The property management company could not be reached for comment.

Drysdale said while he “appreciates” Ford’s tough talk, talk is all it is.

“Why didn’t he put a moratorium on all commercial evictions as long as this pandemic is on?” he said.

This is something Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), has been pushing for.

“We’ve been urging the Ontario government to temporarily ban the eviction of commercial tenants,” she said. “In a recent survey, 47% of our Ontario members who are landlords said they won’t apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program that starts Monday. The application process is scattered: Ontario property owners may start applying on Tuesday. If the landlord doesn’t apply, their tenants can’t access the program.”

She added in the “same survey, 51% of our Ontario members said they will not be able to pay June rent in full without more help.”

I am like just about everybody else in high praise for Ford’s incredible handling of this COVID-19 crisis, but more needs to be done to stop what happened to Drysdale. Ford should use his hand and not just threaten to.

Small business is the backbone of Ontario. Lately, it’s getting it’s back broken.

“It’s very easy to evict commercial tenants in Ontario,” explained Kwiecinski. “If commercial tenants in Ontario don’t pay their June rent by June 1, their landlords can evict/lock them out without notice as early as 16 days later. A court order is not required.”

This should change until at least things are back to some sort of normal for small businesses. It is true landlords have their pressures, too, but this rigid, pay-up-or-you-are-out mentality does not sound like the Ontario I grew up in.

Drysdale said he is a “glass-half-full kind of guy” and is hoping to sell his custom furniture and water beds to clientele online, or over the phone, while he searches for a new, more forgiving landlord.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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