Local businesses still feeling uncertainty amid four-stage reopening

District established the Economic Recovery Task Force to provide business community support

A task force assembled by the District to provide support to the local business community says reception to Premier John Horgan’s reopening plan has been a bit of a mixed bag.

Speaking to the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, Mike Dewar, Director of Economic Development with the District said that while the plan does offer Kitimat a bit of an idea on what the future will hold with regard to a timeline for what is opening when, there are still questions from within the community.

READ MORE: Kitimat’s new economic recovery task force looking for local business input

“Some businesses have expressed reassurance that the Province has a plan; however, there is still a lot of uncertainty and trepidation as to challenges that may arise as the plan is implemented,” said Dewar. “There are a lot of specific details that still need to be worked out as our province and the business community move towards recovery.”

The district recently set up its Economic Recovery Task Force, the result of a partnership between the District of Kitimat and the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce. Dewar said the idea to create the team came as a result of conversations in the District’s Emergency Operations Centre about how they could best provide continuity support to local businesses as well as engage in strategic planning on the economy’s future post-COVID-19.

He said through anecdotal conversations the task force has heard many businesses have been struggling financially in the past months and feel uncertain about what the future will hold, adding that for many businesses the challenges faced have been “monumental”.

To the above point, the task force recently launched its COVID-19 Business Impact Survey which Dewar said will help provide deeper insight into the impacts the pandemic has had on local enterprise, as well as relevant short and long-term support measures.

The survey is available at the District of Kitimat’s website with a May 18 deadline.

With regard to the best way to address the issue of supporting the local economy, Dewar noted that within the modern era it is hard to analyze COVID-19 strictly from a local lens but that local solutions can still fit into a more global solution.

“More than ever before in the history of humankind has cause and effect been able to ripple so rapidly and intensely across jurisdictions,” said Dewar. “I believe we have to look for local solutions that reasonably fit into the global context in order to effectively support Kitimat’s businesses and economy.”

The task force is encourages all local businesses, regardless of size, to complete the survey. They say the more and wider range of responses they get, the more effective they can be in galvanizing and connecting effective supports for local businesses.

Canada has already begun to see extreme economic impacts from COVID-19’s spread across the globe. Employment has soared to approximately 13 per cent, according to Statistics Canada, while job losses from the virus within the country recently surpassed three million.

Recently the Province announced its four-stage plan for reopening B.C. up. The second stage, set to begin after the May long weekend, will see workers like dentists and physiotherapists heading back into the office. The retail sector, including hair salons, restaurants and pubs (but not bars) are also set to reopen at the time.

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