New West is taking action to keep the local economy afloat through COVID-19

The City of New Westminster and the New West business community are joining forces to help keep the local economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the special working groups set up by the city to address the COVID-19 crisis is one aimed at business and the local economy.

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The group includes city staff, along with representatives from the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce and neighbourhood business associations, along with Tourism New Westminster, the Arts Council of New Westminster and the Massey Theatre Society. It’s chaired by Blair Fryer, the city’s manager of communications and economic development, who made a presentation to council at a special meeting held Monday (March 23) to discuss the city’s pandemic response plans.

So far, Fryer says, there’s been one consistent message from local business owners.

"The thing that we heard loud and clear is that the most pressing issue for local businesses is cash flow," he told council.

Fryer noted there’s not a lot the city can do to put cash immediately into business owners’ pockets, but it can advocate to senior governments for changes that can help around such issues as taxation.

Coun. Chinu Das questioned what the city is doing to ensure that it also hears from businesses, such as those on 12th Street, that aren’t represented by the larger business associations.

Fryer said smaller business associations, such as the Sapperton and West End business associations, are also included in the working group, although he conceded they’re much less well-funded than those areas with formal business improvement associations, such as the Uptown and Downtown groups.

He said part of the group’s work will be to figure out how to reach out to business owners in those areas.

Right now, Fryer said, the working group is looking at ways to support businesses in those neighbourhoods that are now seeing fewer “eyes on the street” thanks to business closures and the fact that more residents are staying at home. They’ve already talked to police about having more patrols in areas that need those eyes.

The working group is also developing a “Support Local” campaign; it started as a “Shop Local” campaign but, in light of the evolving COVID-19 protocols, the focus is now on “support” instead. That campaign will offer up suggestions to customers such as buying gift cards from local businesses, shopping online or by phone, ordering takeout and delivery from local eateries, sharing positive reviews online, amplifying local businesses’ social media posts and rebooking appointments with local service providers rather than cancelling them.

For business owners and operators, the city has also set up a COVID-19 business resources page that provides links to a host of related resources, including city services, financial assistance, sector-specific information (such as public health guidelines for food establishments), support for small business owners, business continuity planning and more.

It’s all accessible from the City of New Westminster’s homepage at https://www.newwestcity.ca/covid19business

City councillors also brought forward a few further suggestions for Fryer.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr suggested business-related information should be made available in languages other than English, while Coun. Nadine Nakagawa suggested it would be a good idea to have labour union representation on the working group.

Fryer agreed with both suggestions and said the working group will remain open to all suggestions and ideas.

“No idea is bad at this point,” he said. “Let’s get all the ideas we can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coun. Chinu Das questioned what the city is doing to ensure that it also hears from businesses, such as those on 12th Street, that aren’t represented by the larger business associations.

Fryer said smaller business associations, such as the Sapperton and West End business associations, are also included in the working group, although he conceded they’re much less well-funded than those areas with formal business improvement associations, such as the Uptown and Downtown groups.

He said part of the group’s work will be to figure out how to reach out to business owners in those areas.

Coun. Chinu Das questioned what the city is doing to ensure that it also hears from businesses, such as those on 12th Street, that aren’t represented by the larger business associations.

Fryer said smaller business associations, such as the Sapperton and West End business associations, are also included in the working group, although he conceded they’re much less well-funded than those areas with formal business improvement associations, such as the Uptown and Downtown groups.

He said part of the group’s work will be to figure out how to reach out to business owners in those areas.

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