An update on where we’re at with the new Strathcona business district brand.
Last fall the Strathcona BIA set out to refresh the Strathcona business district brand.
We were thrilled when local Railtown agency, Will Creative, answered the call to help develop our new brand. They brought on Stormy Lake Consulting, experts in public consultation and facilitation, to deliver a one-of-a-kind engagement event in the early stages of our process.
We want our new brand to be embraced by all people who work, live, and play in Strathcona.
Strathcona is a truly unique neighbourhood, and so we turned to the community to help define, preserve, and amplify that uniqueness.
As we approach our brand launch, we’re taking a look back at the pivotal community engagement outcomes that helped build the foundation for our new commercial district brand.
Who did we engage?
We put a ton of effort in to get the word out about our November 4th Dinner and Dialogue event. We filled the room with over 55 people representing many diverse groups across Strathcona. This included business members in varying sectors, property owners, developers, partners from the arts community including Powell Street Festival, Vancouver Mural Festival, and Eastside Culture Crawl, community centres including RayCam and Vancouver Japanese Language School, community organizations including Embers Eastside Works, Exchange Inner City, and Coast Mental Health, Strathcona residents, and City of Vancouver planning staff.
Different groups were well spread out ensuring each table had a diverse mix of perspectives.
Over three hours, Stormy Lake Consulting led the table groups through a series of thought-provoking exercises and questions. Participants were offered a number of unique ways to engage ranging from writing, drawing, and storytelling.
What we heard
Community full of contrasts.
Strathcona reflects a deep and diverse history of cultures and people. It’s also a place brimming with extreme contrasts. Strathcona’s is a story of contrasts and tension between perspectives, identities, ideas, status, and districts.
What emerged is that the Strathcona BIA is in a unique position to build a bridge between these opposites, allowing each to maintain what makes them distinct while providing support for them to co-exist, grow, and thrive together. We can see these contrasts not as collisions but as opportunities for interconnection.
Strathcona is raw.
There is something evocative and visceral about Strathcona. Participants spoke about it being raw, unpolished, gritty, and rough around the edges- all of which bring forth a sense of tangible texture. This texture and tarnish is what makes Strathcona resilient, authentic, and human. It’s embraced by the community and it must stay.
Strathcona is hardworking.
This community is industrious, adaptive, and persevering. Strathcona is built on a foundation of sleeves rolled up and getting work done. People have always come here to build something, whether it’s their home, their rights, their business, or their community. Even as the neighbourhood evolves, there will always be a working class spirit that thrives here. If you’re here you’re living and working damn hard.
Strathcona embodies diversity.
Here, people are encouraged to be human, to expand their worldview, and challenge their preconceived notions. It’s why a major food distributor and a just-out-of-school maker can both feel they belong here. People from all backgrounds and walks of life are able to coexist. While this level of diversity is a source of tension and contrasts, our diversity is one of our biggest strengths. When we connect, combine, support and strengthen one another without sacrificing what makes us individually unique, this allows us to grow and thrive as a community.
Strathcona thinks differently.
Strathcona is home to those who don’t quite fit anywhere else. Strathcona is a complex, diverse, and challenging place that attracts those who are curious, inventive, non-conformist, and truly creative. Strathcona has always been and continues to be a centre for criticism of powerful institutions – a place of rebellion and resistance.
Strathcona is described as an attitude and way of being. It’s not “I’m from Strathcona”, it’s “I am Strathcona”.
What’s happened since then?
We took everything we heard from the community and got to work. Following our community engagement event, additional stakeholder interviews with SBIA members took place. Building on the sentiment and findings from all of the community engagement, the Strathcona BIA Board of Directors took part in a full-day Brand Definition workshop. From there, we worked with Will Creative to build out a brand strategy and an amazing new visual brand that we can’t wait to share soon.
Consultation with First Nations
The Strathcona BIA operates on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sə̓lílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Their cultures and economies have shaped the community since time immemorial and remain an integral part of the Strathcona community. As part of our district placemaking work, we are eager to explore opportunities for place-based Indigenous storytelling related this land and for bringing attention to Indigenous place names within Strathcona. To help guide us in this work, we sought the expertise of Khelsilem, a Squamish First Nation Councillor and resident of Strathcona. We are so grateful to Khelsilem for providing us with a clear road map on further engagement and relationship building that needs to take place with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, before the inclusion of Indigenous history, identity, and presence can be incorporated into placemaking opportunities stewarded by the Strathcona BIA. This is a crucial step in the start of our journey towards truth and reconciliation, and how we can play a part in bringing Indigenous histories and stories forward in the district of Strathcona.
We’re working on all the ways in which this new commercial district placebrand will come to life, in the streets, and across digital platforms. We’re getting close to being able to share it with our members, our community, and the world – and we are so excited. We can’t wait to engage our membership and wider community in brand activation opportunities. We can’t wait to bring Strathcona to the hearts and minds of people across the lower mainland and showcase our district. And we really can’t wait to replace our community banners with a look and feel all of Strathcona can get behind.
We acknowledge that this work of place branding and placemaking is never neutral. To the best of our ability we will try to center community-based sentiment and knowledge from the full diverse spectrum of Strathcona community members to drive our placemaking work for the Strathcona commercial district. If you want to connect with us to talk about this or about any of the engagement leading up to our brand launch, please be in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
We’re sharing a letter prepared by the Strathcona Residents Association, Strathcona Business Improvement Association, Produce Row Business Committee, Strathcona Community Safety Association, and Strathcona Community Policing Centre regarding the current homeless encampment at Strathcona Park. Jointly representing over 850 businesses and over 16,000 residents in Strathcona, these organizations have come together share our views with Municipal and Provincial Leaders.
June 25, 2020
Honourable John Horgan, Premier, Province of BC
Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Province of BC
Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Province of BC
Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Province of BC
Mayor Kennedy Stewart, City of Vancouver
Vancouver Park Board Comissioners, City of Vancouver
Vancouver City Councillors, City of Vancouver
Re: An Appeal for Immediate Action in Strathcona Park
On behalf of organizations representing the residents and businesses of Strathcona, we are asking for urgent support and attention from the BC Provincial Government, the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Park Board to immediately clear Strathcona Park of its current encampment and identify a permanent site for campers, therefore bringing the cycle of displacement to an end.
As representatives of over 850 businesses and 16,470 residents living in and operating across the district and community of Strathcona, we must work to strike a balance between the needs and safety of both the campers themselves and the community that surrounds them. Our organizations operate with sincere respect and compassion for our city’s current homeless situation and all those impacted by it, and with continuing mission commitments to serve the disadvantaged and underprivileged in our midst.
Strathcona Park is unambiguously the wrong place for government, through inaction, to seemingly encourage and endorse acceptance of this ad-hoc campground. Our collective community experiences from Oppenheimer Park show us that, with even the best intentions demonstrated by community organizers and the campers themselves, violence, sexual assault, and crime are inevitable outcomes of a community constantly facing displacement under the lagging attention of all levels of government. The businesses and residents who directly surround Oppenheimer Park carried the costly burden of these community impacts and our concern is that this cycle is set to repeat itself at Strathcona Park.
Strathcona has long been deeply underserved in greenspace compared to other districts and communities in Vancouver. With Oppenheimer Park still out of commission, and summer arriving amidst a global pandemic, the need for greenspace has never been greater. This will be all the more critical as we approach BC’s Phase 3 of pandemic reopening and the July 1st beginning of the city’s recreational sports programming. The current encampment will inevitably grow beyond the bounds of any partition within Strathcona Park, and beyond the capacity of any internal, external or collaborative effort to manage it safely for all concerned. This will cripple opportunities for residents, employees of local businesses, gardeners, dog walkers, sports teams, children’s daycamps and anyone seeking to enjoy the park space. Distancing guidelines mandated by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer underline the need to have large, accessible, local outdoor spaces available to community residents, employees, and visitors.
The issues are complex. So are the solutions – we acknowledge that safe, supportive housing is what’s ultimately required and will not be quickly found or created. But this cycle of displacement of temporary encampments in our public parks must and can end with a city-sanctioned site for campers, where resources and support can be directed and the surrounding community can be mobilized to ensure the best outcomes for all those involved.
The community of Strathcona, which is in many respects part of the Downtown Eastside, is under no illusions regarding its responsibility to our city’s most vulnerable citizens. We know we will be called upon to support our homeless community, time and again. We know that more housing is needed to support those who seek refuge in our city parks. We are asking our provincial and municipal government leaders not to shirk their formal responsibility in this matter. With appropriate will and resolve there are much better places to facilitate a stable, sustainable encampment until more enduring solutions can be implemented.
We await your response, as well as your action.
Strathcona Residents Association
Strathcona Business Improvement Association
Produce Row Business Committee
Strathcona Community Safety Association
Strathcona Community Policing Centre
Strathcona Business Improvement Association
BC’s Restart Plan: What you need to know
The BC Restart Plan outlines the careful reopening of the economy in a four-phased approach. We are currently in Phase 1, during which “essential services” have been able to operate.
If your business has been ordered to close by a provincial or regional health order you cannot open before the order is officially lifted. BC will enter into Phase 2 from mid-May onward, which allows industries including the retail sector, hair salons, art galleries, and restaurants and cafes (with sufficient distancing measures) to reopen, among others. At the bottom of this post we’ve listed which industries will be able to open during the different phases.
Once you are able to reopen, businesses will be required to develop a COVID Safe Plan. Businesses that have operated as essential services during Phase 1 of the pandemic may need to update their COVID Safe Plans to fit with updated guidelines and best practices. WorkSafeBC won’t be reviewing or approving individual plans, but businesses could be subject to a WorkSafeBC inspection where employers will be asked about the steps they have taken to protect their workers.
How to develop and communicate your COVID Safe Plan
Employers preparing to resume operations must develop plans to reopen safely, which includes assessing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your workplace, and developing measures to reduce these risks.
A guide developed by WorkSafeBC is a starting point for developing your COVID Safe Plan. It covers the following steps:
- Assess the risk at your workplace
- Implement measures to reduce the risk e.g. cleaning and hygiene, maintaining physical distance
- Develop policies e.g. who can be at the workplace, how to address illness that arises
- Develop communication plans and training
- Monitor your workplace and update your plans as needed
- Assess and address risks from resuming operations
In addition, WorkSafeBC is currently working with industry stakeholders to prepare industry-specific protocols that employers can use to help develop their individual plans.
- The British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association has built a set of best practices for the re-opening of in-restaurant dining: Blueprint For Reopening In-Restaurant Dining
- The Retail Council of Canada has prepared a document detailing best practices from retailers around the world on operating their business during the COVID-19 pandemic: Playbook on Customer Health and Safety – Retail Council of Canada
- Small Business BC has written on article with additional tips for earning customer trust: Earning the Trust of Customers As BC Reopens
Good News for the Restaurant Sector
- On May 13th the BC government announced B.C. restaurants will be able to purchase liquor at wholesale prices and get expedited provincial approval for expanded outdoor liquor service. This will help ensure restaurants that want to extend patios don’t face significant delays from the province.
- Also on May 13th, the City of Vancouver Council passed a motion for “Flexible, Innovative & Expedited Patio Permitting” in order to help move dining outside when restaurants reopen. More information will be available soon.
The Phases of BC’s Restart Plan
Phase 1 enabled industries designated as “essential services” to operate including:
- Essential health and health services
- Law enforcement, public safety, first responders and emergency response personnel
- Vulnerable population service providers
- Critical infrastructure
- Food and agriculture service providers
- Industry and manufacturing
- Communications and information technology
- Financial institutions
- Other non-health essential service providers
BC will enter into Phase 2 from mid-May onward. During Phase 2 the following industries are allowed to carefully reopen:
- Restoration of health services
- Re-scheduling of elective surgery
- Dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, and chiropractors
- Physical therapy, speech therapy, and similar services
- Retail sector
- Hair salons, barbers, and other personal service establishments
- In-person counselling
- Restaurants, cafes, and pubs (with sufficient distancing measures)
- Museums, art galleries, and libraries
- Office-based worksites
- Recreation and sports
- Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces
- Child care
Phase 3 takes a staggered approach to reopening. The following industries are set to reopen during this time:
- Hotels and Resorts (June 2020)
- Parks – broader reopening, including some overnight camping (June 2020)
- Film industry – beginning with domestic productions (June/July 2020)
- Select entertainment – movies and symphony, but not large concerts (July 2020)
- Post-secondary education – with mix of online and in-class (September 2020)
- K-12 education – with only a partial return this school year (September 2020)
The timeline for British Columbia’s Phase 4 is currently unknown.
As directed by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, our province can only move to Phase 4 when one of the following conditions is met:
- Widespread vaccination against COVID-19
- “Community” immunity
- Broad successful treatments
Activities/Industries Reopening under Phase 4
- Live audience professional sports
- International tourism
Our Safety Program now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To support our membership and the needs of the community, we have stepped up where we can when it comes to safety and security, and we’re doing it in partnership with other BIAs. The Patrol team can be reached at: 604-789-4143.
The program has transitioned to a single patroller operating the marked SBIA patrol vehicle. This is to ensure we are meeting provincial health guidelines to allow them to maintain a safe physical distance from others while working. Rigorous sanitation practices as directed by government health authorities are also in place.
A reminder of Patrol duties and how the team can help:
- Provide a safe presence in the area and vital eyes on the street.
- Conduct daily hot-spot checks and check on businesses that have temporarily closed.
- Report all activity witnessed during their shift, including debris, graffiti, illegal activity, and help report vehicle and property crime.
- Identify areas in need of additional SBIA, Police, or City resources.
- Respond to member calls for service, offering advice and support where needed and directing emergencies to the relevant services.
To inform the SBIA of your business closure or adjusted hours, please email email@example.com.
Things you can do to enhance safety at your business location:
Move items away from windows and put everything out of sight, or alternatively, remove any valuables from the space all together.
- Have working alarms and strong locks.
- If possible, install a security camera.
- Do not leave your front-door or alcove messy and remember to pick-up your mail.
- Leave no money behind on the premises.
- Leave your lights on. Greater visibility will deter crime and help our night patrol team do their job.
- Put shutters on windows to minimize damage.
- Some businesses have moved to board up their businesses as an additional precaution.
The Vancouver Police Department has shared a Security Audit Checklist to help prevent theft and after hours break-ins. Download and print the Security Audit Checklist here.
Finally, you are welcome to send us your emergency contact information (a cellphone number) so we may reach you if something happens at your business or property. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Crime Reporting
In the case you need to report a non-emergency crime, the VDP is encouraging online crime reporting. You can report the following non-emergency situations online if there is no element of violence:
- Something valued under $10,000 was stolen from you
- Your property and/or your vehicle is vandalized with the repair cost expected to be under $10,000
- Your car is broken into
- Your bank card/cheques are used without your permission and the total loss is less than $10,000
- For all other non-emergency crime reports, you can call the non-emergency line at 604-717-3321.
How does online crime reporting work?
The process works by submitting a report through an online questionnaire. Your report will be reviewed within 24 hours by VPD staff. The information will either be entered into their records management system or you will be contacted by an officer for follow-up. A Vancouver Police Incident number will be generated and sent within 48 hours of your submission that can be used for an insurance claim.
The types of questions you will be asked include the date and location of the incident, your contact information, any details required such as your vehicle’s license plate or value of items lost or stolen, and a summary of what happened.
If you are looking for more resources, visit the dedicated COVID-19 resources page on our blog that we update as information comes online.Read More
The Strathcona BIA is working to support our members across the district of Strathcona facing unprecedented impacts from COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us directly. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at email@example.com.On this page you’ll find relevant COVID-19 updates and resources we’ve gathered to help our members get through this challenging time. This page will continue to be updated as more resources come online.To learn about businesses still open in Strathcona offering take-out, delivery, or other services, visit this page.
Update on SBIA Programs and Advocacy
Strathcona Safety Patrol Program: To support our membership and the needs of the community, this program now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The program has transitioned to a single patroller operating the marked SBIA patrol vehicle to allow team members to keep safe social distance. They can be reached at 604-789-4143. We are monitoring business closures as best we can and alerting the Safety Patrol Team to keep an extra eye on vacant properties at this time. To inform the SBIA of your business closure or adjusted hours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Learn more about the transition to 24/7 safety patrol and ways to keep your business location safe.
Graffiti Removal Program: Goodbye Graffiti is implementing rigourous social distancing and sanitation measures. All employees work individually with their own vehicles. Graffiti removals through this program will continue as usual at this time. Graffiti on private property can be reported by calling 1-877-684-4747 or emailing email@example.com
Street Cleaning Program: Litter and debris continue to be collected through the Street Cleaning Program so long as employees are able to keep a safe social distance from others.
Staff and Board: Office staff are currently working from home but are still monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727. The SBIA Board of Directors and Executive Committee continue to convene for regular meetings via teleconference. Advocacy: The SBIA is joining with BIAs across Vancouver to work together to support our members and mitigate impacts where possible by seeking relief from all levels of Government.
Government COVID-19 Relief Measures
We are closely tracking Government Relief measure announcements for both individuals and businesses. Note that the eligibility requirements for some of the newly announced programs as well as the exact timing of when they will become available are still unknown. We will be monitoring this closely.
Federal Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
As of April 15th, here are the details for the key federal relief programs:
This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the online portal to apply.
You have not quit your job voluntarily
you earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources: employment income, self-employment income, or benefits related to maternity or paternity leave
Expanded access as of April 15th: Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of EI, along with people who make less than $1000 a month will now also qualify for the CERB
Program designed to encourage employers who already laid off workers to put them back on payroll. CEWS offers a 75% wage subsidy up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee to qualifying businesses. Employers will be able to apply through the CRA My Business Account or through a web-based application shortly. Note that if you receive a subsidized salary for the CEWS, you cannot apply for the CERB.Eligibility Requirements:Businesses that demonstrate a 15% drop in revenue in March 2020 and 30% for following months as a result of COVID-19Employers are allowed to calculate revenues under the accrual method or the cash method and will compare to the same month in 2019 or an average of January and February 2020 to demonstrate drop in revenueProgram is open to all sectors and business sizesThe program also applies to non-profits and charitiesAll employers would be expected to make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered
The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs. Business owners can apply for this relief measure through their banks or credit unions.Eligibility Requirements – expanded as of April 16thOrganizations need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019
This new program was announced April 16th and will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Learn more details about how it will work here.
The Canada Summer Jobs Program will now provide private and public sector employers with up to %100 of the minimum hourly wage for each employee. Employers are also now allowed to hire staff on a part-time basis.The Work-Sharing program will be extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.All businesses can defer, until after August 31, 2020, payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. More information here.All businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer until June 20, 2020 payments of GST/HST, as well as customs owing on their imports.Canada’s full COVID-19 Economic Response Plan can be found here.
Provincial Government COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
Announced April 16th 2020: Reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25% by further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial propertiesPostponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct.1st, 2020 to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.Announced April 9th, 2020:Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement. The program will provide $300 per month for elibible households and $500 per month for eligbile households with dependents.
Announced April 1st, 2020:BC Hydro will offer new, targeted bill relief to provide immediate help to those most in need. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, April to June 2020. Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills that does not have to be repaid.
Announced March 23rd, 2020. HighlightsA new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19. Applications will open on May 1st, 2020.Many Provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to Sept. 30, 2020Businesses and light and major property classes will see their school property tax cut in half for the 2020 tax year, providing 500 million in relief for businesses that own their property and for tenants on triple-net leases. Canada’s six largest banks have worked together to freeze mortgage payments for six months for those in need.
City of Vancouver Relief Measures
The City of Vancouver has launched a webpage for businesses where you can learn about available business support programs, what City services for businesses are up-and-running, and make suggestions to the City about business and the economy.
Additional MeasuresBrining forward a plan to delay the July property tax payments for up to 60 days. Parking enforcement is temporarily suspended for metered parking, rush-hour zones, residential permit-parking zones, and parking time limits. Building on-site inspections and development permits, applications, and inspections are continuing with enhanced safety precautions. The Vancouver Police Department has established a VPD liaison officer for the BIA Partnership to assist businesses with safety and security issues that may arise.
Other Relief Measures and Opportunities
Business Development Bank of Canada is offering a range of low interest loans.For more on financing options for businesses impacted by COVID-19, Small Business BC has written a helpful article.The Vancouver Foundation in partnership with Vancity Credit Union and others has announced a Community Response fund targeting community organizations and low-income populations. They are currently exploring how grants will be awarded and chanels to accept requests for funding. They aniticipate it going live by March 25th.
.Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses. Detail on how to apply will be released soon.
Daily Hive in partnership with West Coast Technology Innovation Foundation have launched a free platform to help bring small Canadian restuarants online called Adopt My Shop. The service will enable digital features like the ability to sell gift cards, accept orders, and create an oline sotre via Shopify or Square. Anyone who would like help moving all or part of their business operations online can contact the team directly thorugh Adopt My Shop.Small Business BC has launched a COVID-19 Support Service, connecting businesses with the resources, and guidance necessary to navigate challenges from COVID-19. They also have a Small Business Market Place helping to promote local small businesses still able to provide products and services during COVID-19.
Learn more here.
How to Apply for the Work-Sharing program
The work-sharing program is an adjustment program designed to help avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond an employer’s control. The Federal Government is doubling the length of time that employers and workers are elgible to use the Work Sharing program from 38 to 78 weeks. The employer and the employees must agree to participate in a Work-sharing agreement and must apply together. Learn about how to develop your application here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 27th
April 27th: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) opens for applications today, April 27th. This program will provide a 75% wage subsidy for employers impacted by COVID-19. The first payments are expected to be processed on May 7th.Employers can apply for the CEWS through My Business Account or through the CRA’s online application portal, and their representatives can apply through Represent a Client. Learn more about how to apply here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 20th
April 25th: The provincial government announced new measures to support people living in Oppenheimer Park to help curtail the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the DTES. The Province will be working with stakeholders to transition people living in Oppenheimer Park into safe, temporary accomodations with wrap-around supports. Learn more here.
April 24th: Further details were announced about the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program. The program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Details include:Small and medium sized businesses, as well as charities and non-profits, paying less than $50,000 in monthly rent will be eligible. Businesses need to have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues or temporarily ceased operations.The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of rent during April, May, and June. Loans will be forgiven if the property owner agrees to reduce rent for tenants by 75%. The tenant would be responsible for covering 25%, the property owner 25%, and the federal government and provinces would share the remaining 50%. The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the mortgage lender.The rent forgiveness agreement will need to include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place.It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.Read the federal annoucement about CECRA here.
April 23rd: Applications for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will open
May 1st. This one-time, $1000 payment is designed to support B.C. residents whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19. Learn more about the provincial benefit here.
April 22nd: The Prime Minister announced several additional supports for post-secondary students and recent graduates, including the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the Canada Student Service Grant. Learn more about the federal announcement here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 13th
April 17th: The Prime Minister announced several additional measures, including help for the energy sector, the cultural sector, and rural employers. Relevant highlights for small businesses include: $962 million announced for regional development agencies to help smaller employers in rural areas$270 million announced for Futurpreneur Canada and programs to support entrepreneurial and industrial research$500 million announced for Heritage Canada to support Canadians who work in the arts, culture, and sports sectors.Learn more about the annoucement in this CBC article.
April 16th: The B.C. Provincial government announced new relief measures for businesses including:Reducing most commercial property tax bills by an average of 25% by further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial propertiesPostponing the date that late paymenet penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct.1st, 2020 to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.Learn more about the provincial announcement here.
April 16th: The Prime Minister announced two important measures that will further support businesses:Introduction of a Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. More details to come soon.
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) free-interest $40,000 loan program is expanding to include businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.Learn more about the federal announcement here.
April 15th: The Prime Minister announced expanded access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program. Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of EI, along with people who make less than $1000 a month will now also qualify for the CERB. This will benefit the cultural sector, seasonal and tourism employees, and those working in the gig economy. Read the government announcement here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of April 6th
April 9th: Canada Emergency Business Account applications opened. Interested parties are invited to apply through their own financial institution.Learn more in this article from Small Business BC.
April 9th: Applications for BC Temporary Rental Supplement opened. Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province’s new temporary rental supplement. The program will provide $300 per month for elibible households and $500 per month for eligbile households with dependents. Learn more and apply here.
April 8th: The federal government annouced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsity to allow more businesses to qualify for the support.Read the government announcement here.
April 6th: Applications opened for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply for the CERB here.
Relevant News Updates: Week of March 30th
April 1st: Province of BC and BC Hydro announced relief on power bills during COVID-19. Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months, April to June 2020. Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work due to COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills that does not have to be repaid.Read the announcement from the Provincial Government here.Apply for the relief here.
March 30th: Prime Minister’s office provided further details on the 75% Wage Subsidy for businesses. Details of the announcement are as follows:Businesses qualify for the subsidy if revenues have dropped 30% or more as a result of COVID-19Number of employees is not a factor. Benefit also applies to non-profits and charities. Benefit cover up to 75% on the first $58,000 earned per yearA maximum of $847 per week. Benefit will be backdated to March 15th. Tommorrow, the Minister of Finance and Minister of Small Business are expected to provide more details on how businesses can apply.
Relevant News Updates: Week of March 23rd
March 27th: Prime Minister’s office annouced several huge measures to keep employees on the payroll. Here are the four key points:Increasing wage subsidy for qualifying small and medium-sized businesses from 10% to 75% and will be backdated to March 15th.A Canada Emergency Business Account has been created that will provide small businesses loans up to $40,000 interest free for a year. The first $10,000 could be forgiven if certain conditions are met (unspecified as of now).GST and HTS and custom duty payments are deferred until June.Additional $12.5 billion to flow through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada to assist businesses with operational cash flow requirements.As more information comes available over the coming days, we’ll be sure to keep you informed.You can learn more about some of the additional measures here.
March 26th: The Province posted the list of essential services in BC. Essential services should and are encouraged to remain open so long as they are following the orders and guidance of the Provincial Health Orders (PHO) to ensure safe operations and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Any business or service that has not been ordered to close and is also not identified on the essential service list may stay open if they can adapt their services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the PHO.
March 25th: The Province announced support for renters and landlords, with the key highlights being: temporary rent supplement of up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords for up to four months for those in need.Eviction moratorium until the crisis has passedFreezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.Read the Provincial annoucement here
March 23rd: The Province of BC announced two significant changes to the Employment Standards Act:The first change will allow workers immediately to take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19. This means workers who are ill, need to self-isolate, need to care for their child or other dependents, or whose employer is concerned that the employee may expose others to risk, will be able to take leave without putting their job at risk.To better support workers on an ongoing basis, the changes also provide up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury.Read the announcement here.
March 23rd: City of Vancouver Council added further social distancing enforcement bylaw measures that:Allow the City to fine businesses up to $50,000 if customers aren’t kept at least two metres apart. Enable bylaw officers to issue tickets to individuals for non-compliance (up to $1,000)Read the announcement here.
Additional COVID-19 Resources
Here are some additional business resources that you might find helpful:Business Continuity Checklist: Key Considerations for Small Business. Available in multiple languages.Calling All Suppliers: Help Canada Fight Covid-19. The Canadian Government is seeking businesses that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19.Managing and Pivoting during a time of crisis. Small Business BC provides practical ideas and inspiration to help manage your business in this uniquely challenging time.For up to date information on the current state of the COVID-19 virus, see the following resources:BC Centre for Disease Control UpdateGovernment of Canada Virus UpdateWorld Health Organization Update
Checking for SymptomsIf you’re worried about COVID-19 symptoms, you can help save healthcare capacity by using this self-assessment tool first: https://covid19.thrive.health/The BC Government also launched theBC COVID-19 SUPPORT app that you can download at the App Store or Google Play.
Experiencing symptomsIf you think you have symptoms of COVID-19 (for example, dry cough or fever), please stay home, and self-isolate for 14 days. COVID-19 presents as a mild illness in the majority of patients; testing is not recommended for those who have mild respiratory symptoms. If respiratory symptoms worsen, please call 8-1-1 or your health care provider.Read More
We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 announcements and disseminate what we feel is directly relevant to our members.
Earlier today the Prime Minister announced an $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies, and tax deferrals.
The first signs of financial relief to businesses are optimistic.
There are reassurances that people without paid sick leave as well as people who don’t typically qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) will be eligible for benefits. Two different programs are being created:
- An Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This includes those who are self-employed, sick or quarantined, and those who are staying home to look after others and children who are not in school. The measure could disburse up to $10 billion.
- An Emergency Support Benefit from the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment as a result of COVID’s impact.
The Government is introducing more flexibility for taxpayers and businesses experiencing hardships during COVID-19:
- The tax filing deadline for individuals will be extended to June 1, 2020.
- They are allowing taxpayers and businesses to defer until after Aug. 31, 2020 the payment of any income tax amounts that are due after today and before September without penalty.
The Government is proposing a temporary wage subsidy program for small businesses:
- Eligible small businesses would qualify for a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer to encourage employers to keep their workers on the payroll
Additional relief measures were also announced around Child Benefit payments, the Reaching Home homeless care program, homeowner mortgage payments, student loan payments, and Indigenous community support.
Approvals: Some of these new measures will still require legislative adoption by Parliament.
Timing: Two-three weeks (early April) is the optimistic timing for some of the new programs, like the Emergency Care Benefit or the Emergency Support Benefit, to actually get up and running.
Only Step One: This is only the first phase of economic support and the approach is meant to be elastic and designed to expand depending on need.
Here’s what the Strathcona BIA will be watching for in the coming days:
- Eligibility requirements for the different measures
- How to actually access these supports
- Timing of when they become available
- Other assistance measures being made available by other levels of government
The SBIA is joining efforts with all 22 BIAs across Vancouver to use all tools available to advocate for promised relief to reach small businesses impacted across our communities.
March 18th update from Mayor Stewart
In Vancouver this afternoon, the Mayor announced new measures the City is taking to help limit the spread of COVID-19. He has decided to declare a state of emergency in Vancouver in order to give the City the tools it needs to move faster and keep businesses and residents safe. All public-serving businesses are to close to assembly service and can only remain open to provide take-out or delivery. Read the full letter from the Mayor here.
We’ve already seen Strathcona BIA members demonstrate incredible bravery, resourcefulness, resilience, and sacrifice while nagivating through this vulnerable and uncertain time. Learn more about what’s going in the district as of this March 17th blog post.
As we continue to work to support our business members across the district of Strathcona during this unprecedented time, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be well, stay safe, and let’s stay connected.Read More
We want to take a moment among all the other COVID-19 related communications you are inundated with right now to say: we see you. In the last few days we’ve seen Strathcona BIA members demonstrate incredible bravery, resourcefulness, resilience, and sacrifice while navigating through this vulnerable and uncertain time. Several Strathcona businesses and organizations have heavily altered or temporarily ceased operations in a valiant effort to slow the advancement of the COVID-19 virus. These are extremely difficult decisions to be making, all while weighing the impacts to your businesses, your personal lives, the lives of your staff, and our community members. Know we are holding this close as we try to aid in resources and advocacy as the situation unfolds.
Here are just a few examples of Strathcona members we know about that have altered operations that we want to acknowledge:
- Belgard Kitchen is closing their doors until further notice.
- Fazakas Gallery will be closed to the public this week.
- Luppolo Brewing and Container Brewing have decided to close their tasting rooms for the time-being, but are still open for beer to-go purchases.
- Mackenzie Room has temporarily shut it’s doors, but they are putting together a new menu of 500ml meals ranging from $5-$10 that you can purchase for pick-up fresh to eat or freeze starting Wednesday. Find out more here.
- Dosanko Restaurant will be open for take-out only with an abbreviated menu from 11:30am-7pm.
- Agro Roasters is now open for takeout only.
- The Garden Strathcona is implementing a number of measures including encouraging phone-in orders for take out.
- les amis du Fromage is also implementing several measures with safety of customers and staff in mind.
- UGM is implementing a Pandemic Plan and helping to ensure information sharing, care, and proper measures are taken to support their guests and community.
- Enterprising Women Making Art have cancelled all workshops until further notice, but are still operating regular business hours.
- Railtown PR firm, We Are Reformation, has created a crisis communications planning guide and are offering 100% free public relations, social media, and communications consultations to small businesses right now.
|How are you pivoting? Has your restaurant moved to online orders and deliveries? Are you hosting online tutorials and want help to get the word out? If you have specific changes in operations that we can help promote, get in touch with us. Email email@example.com. Or message us on instagram @MadeInStrathcona.|
|Update on SBIA Programs Our Safety Patrol team continues to operate in the neighbourhood, while taking measures to keep safe social distance. They are keeping vital extra eyes on the street and continue their regular duties of reporting activity and debris and offering support where needed. They can be reached at 604-789-4143. If you decide to close your business temporarily, please inform the SBIA, and we will alert the Safety Patrol team to keep an extra eye on the property during their regular district patrols. At this time, our Graffiti Removal program and majority of our Street Cleaning programs will continue so long as employees are able to keep safe social distance from others.|
|Additional Resources and Information There are lot of COVID-19 Business Resource lists in circulation. If you are looking for a comprehensive jumping off point, Vancouver Economic Commission has developed a helpful webpage. The Government of Canada has also launched a webpage for Canadian businesses that addresses key considerations for businesses at this time. Note that the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. Employment and Social Development Canada is doubling the length of time that employers and workers are eligible to use the Work Sharing program from 38 to 76 weeks. This is an adjustment program designed to help avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond an employer’s control. We know that not everyone affected by this crisis will necessarily be eligible for current government programs. The Federal Minister of Finance has also announced a $10 billion stimulus package through the Business Development Bank of Canada, which will support businesses impacted by this crisis. More details are to be shared in the coming days and we are following this closely. The SBIA is joining efforts with all 22 BIAs across Vancouver to pull together all levers and tools available to advocate to all levels of government for policy supports and for promised relief to reach small businesses impacted across our communities. As we continue to work to support our business members across the district of Strathcona during this unprecedented time, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us. We are closely monitoring all calls that come through at 604-258-2727 as well as emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be well and let’s stay connected. |
Executive Director, Strathcona BIA
Note from Theodora Lamb, SBIA Executive Director
Dear SBIA Members,
The notice of your latest property assessment arrived on January 2nd, 2020. For tenants who have not seen a copy you can reach out to your property owner or manager or look up your assessment at bcassessment.ca. The SBIA has created a toolkit for members to help guide you through your property assessment decision and navigate the appeal process if that’s a step you choose to take.
We know that rising property tax has been one of the greatest challenges facing local businesses in Strathcona. Last year, the SBIA introduced the Strathcona Tax Empowerment Program (STEP). As part of STEP, every member of the SBIA benefited from a commercial tax agent’s opinion on their 2019 commercial property assessment. Approximately 14% of members chose to engage the agent, and nine of those properties were successful in their appeals. They achieved a combined tax savings of $195,000 and an overall reduction in property assessment value of $15,237,395.
For 2020 we want to equip you with the tools to investigate the appeal process. Working with a tax agent is also an option for those wanting professional support. Tax agents give you the option to pay a pre-determined rate or work on a contingency basis. Please reach out to the SBIA office at 604-258-2727 or email email@example.com if you would like an agent recommendation.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the SBIA with any questions you have regarding the property assessment appeal process.
Executive Director, Strathcona BIARead More
The following letter was sent by the Strathcona BIA to Mayor Stewart, Vancouver City Councillors, Parks Board Commissioners and the office of the Vancouver City Manager on January 6th, 2020.
Businesses operating in and around Oppenheimer Park are no longer in a position to safely support staff and customers coming into the community. The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) is calling upon City and Parks Board Officials for the immediate housing of park residents and a detailed timeline on when the housing will occur.
In August 2019, the SBIA surveyed its members regarding activity in Oppenheimer Park. 83% of SBIA members surveyed agreed efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose as a green, recreation and social space. The Strathcona BIA committed, on behalf of its members, to closely watch how the city and parks board proceed in addressing the concerns raised by local businesses in the survey results.
Unfortunately, over the last six months, the Strathcona BIA has only seen conditions worsen for both park residents and business members operating next to or near the park. The recent death that occurred in the park on January 1, 2020, is a tragic tipping point and the Strathcona BIA feels a responsibility to raise its concerns on behalf of its members with city and parks board officials, calling for support to prioritize housing immediately.
The Strathcona Safety team works to support over 800 SBIA members. This includes operating a two-person safety team 7 days a week, 8 hours a day who monitor 44 city square blocks across seven sub-districts and respond to business member needs and safety concerns.
From July 2019 to January 2020, the Strathcona BIA safety team reported that 46.9% of their time was spent in the Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District (DEOD) which includes Oppenheimer Park, resulting in 2,704 unique reports. That is 2.8 times more than any other sub-district the Strathcona BIA monitors and a 5% jump from the first half of 2019 when the initial survey results were reported out.
Our safety team members take every precaution to ensure their own safety is prioritized so they can address the needs and concerns of Strathcona BIA members. Given the recent activity in Oppenheimer, the Strathcona BIA can no longer direct its safety team to walk through or even along the perimeter of the park, leaving businesses surrounding the park more vulnerable.
The SBIA has also noted a significant increase in trash and debris along the perimeter of the park. Micro-cleaners from Strathcona-based Mission Possible, a social enterprise that employs individuals who face barriers to traditional employment, spend up to 16 hours each week cleaning the Oppenheimer area. From in and around the park, on average, Mission Possible picks up 7.7 needles per hour and fills 12 large garbage bags of debris each week. . After the release of our report last summer, the Strathcona BIA increased street cleaning around the park in response to members citing “Health & Cleanliness” as one of their primary park concerns. From late September to early December, the SBIA implemented an additional eight street cleaning hours in the DEOD per week.
Frustration is growing among business members who continue to feel the impact of park activity on their staff, sales, and connection with the community. Given the role businesses serve in and around Oppenheimer Park in contributing to the local economy and further supporting community connections, we request the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Parks Board provide Strathcona BIA members with an immediate response regarding next steps.
Executive Director, Strathcona BIARead More