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LETTER: Two suggestions to help our businesses rebound

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In the eight months that I have lived in St. Albert, I have found myself attempting to avoid the generic chain stores of St. Albert Trail in favour of the more family-run enterprises of the charming downtown area. Although the current crisis is hard on everyone, I particularly fear for the future of the downtown businesses. I have two suggestions:

As we gradually, cautiously reopen the economy, many of us will receive some form of extra payments from the government. For some, these funds will have to be spent for necessities, but for others they will allow some discretionary spending. Can we make a point of spending as much as we can patronizing local businesses?

For the store owners, it is not too early to start thinking about a strategy for recapturing business. My suggestion would be a street fair on Perron Street highlighting local musicians and giving the stores a chance to showcase their offerings. The musicians who are at a professional level should, of course, be paid, since they are as much a part of the economy as anyone else. The young musicians who play at the Farmers' Market suggest a rich local culture of ethnic music, but I suspect they are only the tip of the iceberg. A Perron Street music festival would show us skilled performers at different stages of their careers, while offering the performers a more focused audience than that of the Farmers' Market. My own preference would be to emphasize acoustic music, which could also include dance. All performances, though, would have to maintain high standards of public hygiene, including distancing. We need to get used to it!

Timing, of course, is difficult to determine, but, since a street festival relies on warm weather, I would propose mid to late August as a reasonable target. As a semi-retired professional musician myself, I happily offer my assistance in bringing such an event about.

Michael Eastep

St. Albert