July 17, 2003

York Region approves business openings on Labour Day and Thanksgiving in 2003

NEWMARKET - Citing the negative economic impact caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), York Regional Council today approved a By-law allowing the Queensville Antique Mall and businesses in Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville to open on the Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day statutory holidays in 2003.

"By allowing businesses to open this year on Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day, we hope that our merchants can partially make up for losses suffered during the recent SARS crisis," said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch. "We want people to 'stay and play' in our communities, and I think this move will help demonstrate that York Region is open for business."

The Retail Business Holidays Act allows York Regional Council to permit businesses to open on statutory holidays for the maintenance or development of tourism. Following a public meeting, Regional Council passed the By-law for business openings to help promote tourism as part of the Region's SARS Recovery Program.

Businesses throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have been negatively impacted by the SARS outbreaks. Tourism contributes over $450 million to York Region's economy and brings in over two million visitors.

In May, the Region approved $250,000 in economic development funding to implement an Emergency Marketing and Recovery Plan to assist York Regionís business community in their recovery from the economic impact of SARS. The plan was launched in partnership with local municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, the business community and other key stakeholders.

As part of this program, the Region issued a Road Map to Savings and Excitement brochure to residents in early July that included coupons from local vendors and a pass for free York Region Transit rides on the weekends of August 2-4 and August 30-September 1. Today's decision will build on this effort to spur the local economy.

Barring any appeal, the new by-law will be in effect on Labour Day. As a tourist area, Georgina already has an exemption under the Retail Business Holidays Act, and allows business to open on all holidays except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The municipalities of Aurora, King and Newmarket opted to keep holidays as status quo in their respective communities.

For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at: www.region.york.on.ca.


Contact: Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region

- (905) 830-4444 or 1-877-464-9675, ext. 1232

- Email: michael.kemp@region.york.on.ca

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