The Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force has releasing its list of “quick-start” priorities for the business community as it begins its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need for greater supports for commercial rent payments, a call for help to source and pay for PPE and safety equipment, and the importance of childcare and a return to school for the economy. These priorities are in addition to expanded patio space and more flexible use of public parks, streets, and plazas by businesses which the Task Force released last week.
“The Task Force has only met three times so far, but has quickly identified priorities for the business community’s recovery, including actions that support cash flow, assist with safe reopening, support employees’ return to work, and create new economic opportunities,” says Paul Holden, Chair of the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force.
The Task Force is currently developing a full strategy for economic recovery, and in the process is surveying the business community on its ongoing needs and consulting with subject matter experts on tactics to reinforce the local business community. Ahead of that full strategy, it is releasing the below initial priorities as “quick starts” it will continue to work to help get off the ground soon:
- Better Government Supports to Cover Commercial Rent Payments
- Despite the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance launching applications today, the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is calling on the provincial and federal governments to provide greater supports to businesses struggling to keep up with their rent payments by expanding the eligibility for that program and removing its reliance on landlords, and by increasing the amount of forgiveable loans currently being offered under other programs
- New Grants or WorkSafeBC Rebates to Pay for PPE and Safety Equipment
- To help business afford the newly required PPE and safety equipment, the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is calling on the provincial government to provide supports to businesses who may be struggling with these up-front costs through either a new direct grant or through rebates of WorkSafeBC premiums
- Re-launching the Burnaby PPE Supplier List
- To help business source PPE, the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is launching a COVID-19 Safety Equipment Supplier List with direct connections to local PPE suppliers and manufacturers and making it widely available as a free download at www.BBOT.ca/PPE
- The Importance of Childcare to a Returning Labour Force
- Childcare is a business issue. Without the planned June 1 return to school, and without after-school, summer camp, and childcare-like programming, many employees will struggle to return to pre-COVID employment. The Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is calling for initiatives that support the resumption of after-school, summer camp, and childcare-like programming, and encourages the prioritization of such programming when municipal recreation and leisure centres re-open and resume operations.
- Creating More Patios and Outdoor Dining Opportunities
- TheBurnaby Business Recovery Task Force is encouraging the City of Burnaby to continue its work on permitting and licensing changes to allow restaurants, breweries, caterers, and other food service businesses to quickly set up new, or expand existing, patios throughout the city to recoup the seating and capacity lost to COVID-19 restrictions
- Flexibility for More Business Uses in Public Spaces
- With many businesses, especially in retail settings, required to limit customers to maintain physical distancing, the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is encouraging the City of Burnaby to explore ways of allowing for more creative and flexible business uses of public areas such as laneways, sidewalks and green spaces
“These six ‘quick starts’ are just the initial priorities identified by the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force, while it continues working towards developing a full economic recoverystrategy for the Burnaby business community. We’ll keeping working on what’s needed to bring our business community back,” adds Holden.
The Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is an initiative of the Burnaby Board of Trade, the city’s chamber of commerce and economic development organization, and is facilitated by the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. The Task Force is comprised of senior representatives from local government, major employers, small business, non-profits, labour unions, and post-secondary education and will develop a strategy to help businesses cope with the ongoing crisis, plan their recovery once current COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and lifted, and ultimately rebuild the local economy for the long-term.