Business start-ups that only recently opened their doors could soon be eligible for COVID-19 financial relief programs from the province for the first time.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring told council at its meeting on May 5 that the issue came up in a recent conference call he and CAO Ted Swabey had with Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne and other municipal leaders on Vancouver Island regarding communication issues.
Siebring said he told Osborne that it had recently become apparent that businesses in B.C. that started in late 2019 or early 2020 and don’t have a full year’s income record, in terms of tax filing, for 2019 are not eligible for COVID-19 financial assistance in any form from either the province or Ottawa.
“Putting that in a local context, I’d use the example of the new Chemainus Public Market located in the old Chemainus Foods building,” he said. “This business, which is actually a conglomerate of a bunch of smaller businesses operating from one spot, has the real potential of adding vibrancy to the downtown core in Chemainus. But their reality is that the renovations in the building started in late 2019 and the tenants moved in in early 2020, opened their doors and then COVID-19 happened. Most are new start-ups who don’t have tax records from 2019 because they didn’t exist in 2019 so they are not eligible for help with rent or wage subsidies, or anything else.”
Siebring said Osborne indicated that she has the same issues with some start-ups in her constituency and that she’d flag the matter for the minister responsible for the file.
“At the end of the call, Minister Osborne circled back specifically to this issue and promised that she’d get back to us on it,” Siebring said.
“So we know that it’s definitely on the province’s radar.”