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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Strathcona BIA Special Report
August 13 2019, xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) unceded territories/Vancouver, BC — When it comes to Oppenheimer Park and the recent surge in camping activity, a majority of businesses in the neighbourhood agree that the park should be allowed to be a park once again. A new survey by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association found that 83% of business respondents operating in and around Oppenheimer Park agree efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose as a green and social space. 83% of business respondents agreed efforts should be made to return the park to its original purpose The survey comes roughly a year after campers occupied the park. Today it’s estimated that there are close to 130 campers living in Oppenheimer. The Strathcona BIA serves over 850 business members in Vancouver’s Eastside community, including many directly surrounding the park. It was time to hear from them directly on how park activity has impacted their ability to participate in the community and the local economy.
Survey Themes and Business Impacts
Strathcona BIA members surveyed revealed responses from the role park space plays in the community to what the city could do to address and support campers living in the park. According to Strathcona BIA Executive Director, Theo Lamb, the results were mixed with a few specific themes and messages emerging. One thing that is clear is that businesses in and around Oppenheimer Park feel strongly that action needs to occur.
What that action looks like and how to arrive at it varied from respondent to respondent. In the survey, 88% of all respondents agreed that the Strathcona BIA has a role to play in advocacy regarding park activity.
Most concerning were reports directly from the businesses who cited loss of customers, an inability to retain staff due to feelings around lack of safety and, in one case, the closure of a business’s community serving retail location. One business in the immediate vicinity noted “the number of violent incidents has spiked in the time since it has become a tent city” and that “the number of times we have had to call 911 has risen beyond a point of reasonable expectation.” Themes of empathy and care for the campers emerged with several respondents recognizing the challenging task ahead of housing folks facing multiple barriers. One business responded that “we can’t just kick those campers out, they need somewhere to go” and another noting “I have empathy for the campers/homeless people in the park.” Several respondents indicated a preference to work to find appropriate housing alternatives first. Not surprising is the call for more support from the city in the form of:
- clean water
- more access to social services
- additional garbage bins
More bathroom access would go a long way to provide basic, humane services for campers, and in helping businesses in the area who are often left with clean up and sanitation issues in the front streets and back alleys. We only recently were able to arrange city lane flushing down the alleyways in and around Oppenheimer Park, but it’s not enough. Campers and community members need access to washrooms that stretch from day into night. While the SBIA did ask businesses if they supported a city-sanctioned tent city, an idea raised in the media recently, only 17% of business respondents reported being open to the concept. Of those respondents, several people indicated emergency housing should be dispersed throughout the City, while others felt it shouldn’t be in a city park at all. 17% of businesses open to the concept of a city-sanctioned tent city As the City of Vancouver considers its next steps, Lamb says the Strathcona BIA will continue to do its part through micro-cleaning services and the Strathcona BIA Community Safety Patrol team that responds to business member calls.
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 area. On average, Mission Possible picks up 7.7 needles per hour and fills 12 large garbage bags of debris in and around the park each week over two 8 hour shifts. Over the last seven months (January to July 2019), the Strathcona BIA safety team has reported that 42 percent of their time has been spent in the DEOD (Downtown Eastside Oppenheimer District) in and around Oppenheimer Park. That is 2.63 times more than any other sub-district the Strathcona BIA monitors and almost a quarter increase from the year before.
Lamb reflects that the Strathcona BIA intends to watch closely how the city proceeds with addressing park activity and, in the meantime, will continue to respond to the more immediate safety and sanitation needs of businesses working to keep open doors and open minds to issues that, ultimately, are the responsibility of an entire city.
Results from the survey represent Strathcona Business Improvement Association members surveyed online July 31st, 2019 through to August 8th, 2019. 59 unique members responded. Respondents were invited to answer 3 questions that included the opportunity to provide an open-ended response of which 45 respondents completed. The Strathcona BIA respects the privacy of its over 850 business members and hence quotations, while pulled directly from the survey, remain anonymous. Members in good standing with the Strathcona BIA are businesses and community-serving organizations within the SBIA catchment with valid business licenses.
About the Strathcona BIA
The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA) operates on the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. It extends from Clark Drive in the east, Gore Avenue in the west, Venables Street in the south and Railway Street in the north. The SBIA employs staff and is governed by an elected Board of Directors made up of business members from across the community. Our vision is for Strathcona members to thrive in a mixed-use, inclusive, resilient and prosperous local economy. Our mission is to promote a strong local economy through advocacy, cultivating relationships, supporting business participation in the community, delivering innovative programs and fostering community leaders.
For More Information/Media Contact:
Theo Lamb, Executive Director, Strathcona BIA
T: 778-773-3811Read More