Restaurateur will not support legal action against the City

By David F. Rooney

Joel Asher, owner of the Village Idiot, says he does not support legal action against the City.

He said in an interview today that he believes a lawsuit against the City over losses many Mackenzie Avenue merchants say they suffered during the recent construction of the Grizzly Plaza extension “will not be fruitful” and even if it was, it would simply force all taxpayers to foot the merchants’ bill. A group of 11 merchants were identified in a list presented to Council on July 28 by Grizzly Book and Serendipity Shop owner Vanessa Smith as asking for $10,000 each in compensation for lost business. Pat Campbell, owner of Conversations, withdrew her name prior to the list being presented to Council. Asher’s withdrawal of support winnows down the list to 9 merchants who support a claim for compensation. There are about 24 businesses on Mackenzie Avenue between Victoria Road and Third Street.

“While I am in support of the merchants claim for compensation for the lost business during the “downtown beautification project”  I am not asking for that support in the form of monetary compensation,” Asher said in the letter he sent  to Council today. “I wish to formally withdraw my name from the list of merchants seeking monetary compensation.”

Asher said he supports Smith’s overall goals but would prefer to see the City help the merchants of Mackenzie Avenue “get back to business as usual.” He would also like to see new strategies to assist the business community generate future commerce in a “a beautiful new downtown that has already cost the tax payers more than enough.”

“This point was raised at the Council meeting when the letter from the businesses was read,” he said. “It is interesting to see that the result of that meeting has come in the form of a black or white demand for money.”

In fact, Asher was dismayed when he attended last week’s Council meeting and heard the demand for $10,000 compensation. That outright demand should have been discussed and agreed upon at the meeting that Mackenzie Avenue merchants held prior to their appearance before Council, he said.