Belleville, Ont., community comes together during COVID-19

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Belleville, Ont., community comes together during COVID-19
COVID-19: Communities are banding together to help support one another during pandemic. – Mar 19, 2020

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a difficult time for many businesses. While the challenges are many, business owners people in Ontario are doing what they can to make things better.

Dave Franks and his business partner, Stephen Quickert, own a plaza in Belleville that includes 10 stores. In the midst of closures and reduced hours due to COVID-19, he’s decided to help out tenants by not charging them next month’s rent.

“Yesterday I went around and let the tenants know that we are going to try and help them and support them. I know their families are definitely affected by the virus. And anything we can do to try and help, that’s what we wanted to do,” says Franks.

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He says the response has been very positive. “One of the tenants put me on the phone with the owner, an older couple in their late 70s that can’t even go to their business. At this point they’re afraid.

“They were so gracious and so kind. And that’s what it’s all about — trying to take care of each other.”

Himashu Patel has owned Quiznos for the past nine years. He too is grateful for the extra help. “The business has really slowed down so it’s really helpful financially to cover all our other costs and everything,” says Patel.

Patel is also trying to give back by lowering prices on his take out. “We are giving 15 per cent off, to give something back to the community in this tough period,” says Patel.

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In Napanee, a flower shop has a bucket of single-stemmed roses with a sign that reads “Better days ahead please have a rose on us.” Flower shop employee Tammy Pigion says, “under all the circumstances going right now, we just thought we would spread the love.”

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And it seems to be working. Many people walking by and taking a rose were delighted.

“I think it’s fantastic for people to walk along and have something to make them a little bit happier,” says Sharon Doreen.

Elaine Mercier also grabbed a rose while walking by. “I’m so happy, I love flowers, especially roses!”

The care for the community has even spread online.

A facebook page called “care-mongering ygk” has been created to make sure those most vulnerable have what they need, such as food, housing and healthcare. According to the site, its a group for sharing and organizing community resources in response to COVID-19.

Back in Belleville, Franks and his business partner hope others will follow their lead when it comes to supporting local businesses.

“It’s not about money, it’s more about doing the right thing. This is what we saw as the right thing and we want to be good community sponsors and that’s what we’ve always been,” says Franks.

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