The City of Prince Rupert is waiving $350 fees for restaurants so outdoor, sidewalk patio seating can assist with business recovery from COVID-19 economic loss. Seen here is the sidewalk patio at Odika Restaurant in Chemarius BC.

Task force to kick-start business recovery

Waiving licence fees and outdoor seating are some first tasks

Expanded restaurant seating to outdoor patios and sidewalk tables may soon been a boon for the Prince Rupert economy however, one city councillor suggests the idea of sales and service could be expanded to various businesses in the downtown.

Mayor Lee Brain announced at the regular City Council meeting on May 11 that the city’s economic development office has joined in a collaborative effort with Tourism Prince Rupert and the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce to create the Small Business Recovery Task Force.

The goal of the task force is to advocate for relief and find solutions to support local stakeholders and business who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force is looking at a lot of different angles, Brain said and the three groups are working together to spark business recovery for the community.

“Some of the immediate actions that have been taken here from the city’s end … is we’re waving the $350 fee for restaurants to open up sidewalk patios,” Brain said. “Economic Development Officer, Paul Venditelli is putting a program in place for restaurants to be able to open up patios, proceeding, and so we’re waiving the fee for them.”

“The City understands that now more than ever we need to work with local partners to support our small business community through these challenging times. The pandemic has taught us that we are stronger together, which is why we are combining efforts with the Chamber, and Tourism Prince Rupert to listen and address small business concerns,” Venditelli said.

City Councillor, Barry Cunningham, said he thinks the outdoor patio service “is a great idea”.

“When you start doing restrictive seating inside a building, you’re taking away revenue from a restaurant or any other type of business,” Cunningham said, “It’s going to enhance the downtown, where somebody can sit, have a coffee, once people walk by on a nice day.”

Cunningham suggested to council other businesses may consider setting up sales in front of their stores.

“I would have no problem with that. I just think that it’s something the city can help with to kick-start some of these businesses, and really, really help them make up for some lost revenue,” Cunningham said. “You can only have so many people in your store, but you might be able to have two more shopping outside your store.”

READ MORE: Volunteer closures devastating to bottom line

Another immediate endeavour being actioned, to assist with some business struggles, the Mayor said is the refunding of business licence fees to seasonal fishing charters, who have elected to not operate this year.

“So, for those who are saying they’re not going to operate, we’re going to refund their business licences for them. So we’re [joint task force] working together on things like that, to start to help small businesses in the community.”

“The three agencies are working together. I think it’s gonna be positive to have a central kind of focus and coordination for all the businesses in the community,” Brain said. “So far it is really working out.”


 
K-J Millar | Journalist 
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