We saw many small businesses shut down after the strain of mandates, it seems that trend is not slowing down.
On October 28th the community will see the beloved York St. Diner close its doors. After 12 years of serving satisfied customers, multiple factors have become too overwhelming to overcome for the owners of this much-loved establishment.
In speaking with Corrina, the manager of York St.Diner, it became apparent that small businesses, especially the food industry, are up against a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ situation.
Corrina mentioned multiple reasons for their closure, and the fact that they made it through horribly restrictive mandates during COVID-19, only to meet this end, was even more upsetting to the staff, manager, and owner.
York St. Diner had tried multiple angles to bring in more revenue. One plan was to open at night for dinner, but no one wanted to come to the area at night, which was what we also heard from Kim Wa’s staff, as the Province’s ‘safe injection’ site’s ‘customers’ had begun to multiply by the month and cause an unsafe atmosphere in the immediate location.
York St. Diner tried veggie bowls until they couldn’t afford the broccoli and cauliflower because of the increase in vegetable prices from ever-increasing carbon taxes. In April of 2021, B.C. was hit with a 7 % soda tax, which drove up the pricing on a glass of pop, causing just another reason to “not go out”, or to not order pop with your meal, which used to be one of the commodities with a high margin of profit for restaurants as is the case with liquor. York St. also holds a liquor license and, as many consumers and facilities that serve liquor know, On April 1, 2023, the federal government in Canada increased the taxes on beer, wine, and spirits by 6.3% due to an annual escalator excise tax implemented in 2017. The escalator tax allows the government to automatically raise taxes on alcohol in response to inflation. Canada’s inflation rate hit a 39-year high in June 2022.2 From 2017 to 2019, federal beer taxes went up $34 million for large brewers in Canada while going down $31 million south of the border. Canadians are facing a sky-high tax hike of 6.3% in 2023, which is the largest year-over-year increase in 40 years. Canadian beer taxes are about 45% higher than other G7 countries on average.
When the minimum wage increase happened, not only did York St. have to pay the minimum wage earners more, but they obviously had to bump senior staff up to be fair to them. These are the same 16 staff that now will be without a job come the end of October.
As we say goodbye to Romeos, Kim Wah, and York St, and while we watch ground being broken for Popeyes and other chain restaurants across the road, dare we ask: ‘Why does it feel that there is a war on small businesses since 2020? Why are our local governments that preach about circular economies and supporting small businesses not fighting back for their citizen-owned businesses?