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Businesses hoping to improve communication with City Hall

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Troy Shantz

Four Sarnia businesses have launched an ‘Independent Business Consortium’ in a bid to improve communication with City Hall.

“This is a group of independent businesses who are just looking to come together to present issues or concerns proactively,” said member and spokesperson Scott Palko.

Business owner Scott Palko is the spokesperson for a new Independent Business Consortium intent on improving communication with City Hall. Troy Shantz
Business owner Scott Palko is the spokesperson for a new Independent Business Consortium intent on improving communication with City Hall.
Troy Shantz

Palko, the owner of the Sarnia marketing and design firm CCI Studios, said there is currently a perceived lack of communication between small business and city administration.

“The feedback we’ve received is that we need to have direct, immediate action,” said Palko. “Feedback that goes to City Hall, we fear sometimes is lost in the busyness of City Hall.”

Palko said the new Independent Business Consortium is open to any independent businesses in Sarnia-Lambton. It is assembling a board that will collect complaints and concerns and in turn engage city staff and councillors.

“This group is just intending to cut out any intermediary,” he said.

One impetus for the group was the four-year-long remediation of Centennial Park and the as-yet to be completed boat launches. The $12-million project negatively impacted the operation of businesses around to the park, Palko said.

Spokespersons for two of those businesses, Dockside Restaurant and Paddy Flaherty’s, told The Journal in May they were frustrated by lengthy water shut-offs, ongoing dust storms and an overall lack of communication from City Hall.

“If the power is going to go out, we want to know these things,” Palko said.

The Consortium expects to have a web-based portal operational this week where members can submit concerns and vote on issues already in the queue. The Consortium’s board could then meet with city staff to engage, offer feedback and present expectations, he said.

Palko said unlike the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce and its advocacy work, the group is only concerned about improving communication with City Hall.

“This is, how do we have a positive impact on independent business operations?”

On July 10, city staff presented council with a new communications and engagement strategy created by a working group that included local business owners, including Palko.

Deputy Clerk James Jenkins said the new strategy will be open for public input this summer and voted on in the fall.

When asked about the new Consortium, Jenkins said the city hasn’t been formally introduced to the group but welcomes input from the business community.

“Public engagement is certainly welcome,” he said.

For more on the Independent Business Consortium visit www.ibcsarnia.com

 

 

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