The City of Delta is asking the province for further measures to help small businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter this week to Premier John Horgan, Mayor George Harvie and council note that the city’s Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team, comprising the City of Delta, Delta Chamber of Commerce, Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association, Ladner Business Association, North Delta Business Association and Tourism Delta, has been working collectively to support businesses at the local level.
Despite the efforts, the pandemic continues to result in severe economic hardship and small business is particularly fragile with owners are struggling to generate enough revenue to cover expenses.
The letter notes that some small business owners are reporting proposed rent increases up to 30 per cent, as well as lengthy term commitments, as they try to negotiate lease extensions with landlords in Delta.
Council is urging the province to implement measures to restrict commercial rent increases in 2021, similar to measures introduced for the residential rental market.
In addition, the city is requesting that the provincial moratorium on commercial evictions be extended through to June 2021.
The letter also notes the city is actively working on extending its patio program and considering enclosures to allow for continued expanded capacity, but is asking the province to extend its program for expanded licensed service areas for food primary, liquor primary and manufacturer licensees indefinitely.
The province government on Friday announced it is extending temporary measures to support the restaurant and hospitality sector.
The extensions allow for expanded service areas, such as patios, and for the sale and delivery of unopened liquor products with the purchase of a meal by food- and-liquor-primary licensees.
The City of Delta says businesses should not be worrying about eviction
Delta is also asking the government to reconsider the split assessment recommendation proposed by the Intergovernmental Working Group to address property tax issues faced by small businesses and arts, culture and non-profit sectors for the 2021 property tax year, and that the interim property tax relief program be extended through to June 2021.
While the province introduced interim property tax relief measures in 2020, many small business owners were unable to realize a benefit, having largely paid their property taxes as part of a triple net lease in advance, the letter notes.
The letter adds the province also introduced a program to address inequities created by property assessment practices based on "highest and best use", but implementation was extremely challenging due to a number of issues, including lack of public consultation, unintended consequences and inadequate data.
“It is important for all of us to work together to ensure that we emerge from this pandemic even stronger; the viability of our small business community depends on it. We now need your support and look forward to working alongside the Province as we rebuild a robust B.C. economy.”
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said it is concerned about the lack of short-term initiatives to help small and medium-sized businesses after reviewing the B.C. Government’s Economic Recovery Plan this week.
The majority of programs focus on a medium to long-term picture for businesses, centered around growth instead of recovery, the CFIB states, adding that restrictive thresholds to a new loan program will exclude many businesses who need help.