Madam Speaker, right before the pandemic hit, I attended the grand opening of a Little Caesars restaurant in my riding, owned by a local entrepreneur, Ravi Prakash Singh. Tragically, in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 24, this business, along with five others, burned to the ground. The other businesses are K-Lee Boutique, KFC, Chopped Leaf, Dr. Bernstein Clinic and Great Clips.
My heart goes out to all who were affected. This terrible event comes on top of all the strain and pain that local business owners and their employees have been experiencing. Literally or metaphorically, many have seen decades of hard work go up in flames.
I want to recognize the Strathcona fire department, which worked through the night of the fire to contain the damage. As always, our community comes together in the face of tragedy, with GoFundMe pages launched and random gifts delivered to the lawns of business owners. I took my kids to an ice cream store owned by the proprietor of the same Little Caesars that was destroyed. Eating ice cream is a form of solidarity that my children would like to see us practise more often.
I am so honoured to represent Strathcona County and Fort Saskatchewan. A strong community and social solidarity will continue to get us through and keep us moving forward.