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Mandates and lockdowns killing gyms

Mandates and lockdowns killing gyms

Good afternoon Alistair and Sonia,

I’m writing this on behalf of the gym owners in the Cowichan Valley to shine a spotlight on the destructive nature of the ongoing mandates to businesses and especially fitness businesses located here. As one of the owners of CrossFit Anchored Athletics, I have experienced the full brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic effects on my small business.

A little about myself: I’m a retired Master Corporal Canadian Armed Forces veteran with combat service in Afghanistan and decided in my retirement from the forces to move to the Cowichan Valley to open a fitness/coaching business in order to help your constituents with their physical and mental health. Fitness saved my life when I returned from Afghanistan I experienced severe trauma and PTSD while serving and was almost killed on multiple occasions most notably when a rocket exploded within five meters of myself and wounded three others. I received the commanders in chiefs unit commendation, the sacrifice medal, and the general campaign star for my service. I have served Canada and love this country deeply.

SEE RELATED: Cloverdale veteran recalls his time in Afghanistan

In the last two years, the following fitness business has closed due to restrictions and financial hardships associated with government mandates and lockdowns.

1. Misfits gym – Chemainus – Closed permanently

2. Monkey bar gym – Duncan – The owner closed his location due to financial stress and I have rented part of my facility to him to keep him from going bankrupt

3. Black box MMA- Duncan – Closed permanently

4. South Island BJJ -Mill Bay- Closed main location permanently

5. Viana Hot Yoga – Duncan – Closed permanently

6. foundry martial arts -Duncan – Closed permanently

7. Fit your way – Duncan – Closed permanently

8. Skillz – Duncan – Closed permanently

9. Valley Yoga Centre – Closed permanently

10. Island Fitness – Mill Bay – Closed permanently

11. Pilates Plus – Mill Bay – Physical Location Closed – online only

These are the businesses I know of I believe I’m missing a few from the list but as they took down their websites it was hard to locate their information.

This past week I went to a Yoga class with a friend in Victoria and asked them how they were doing and the owner told me 50% of the yoga studios are now closed permanently.

My staff and I all got vaccinated with some boosted, I ended up getting Covid over the holidays as did most of my staff while the gym was locked down by the Government of BC.

We all happily complied with the government’s request to get vaccinated, we did our part and yet we still live under these punitive restrictions.

Blaming unvaccinated people for the continuation of restrictions doesn’t fly with me when Canada has some of the highest vaccination rates in the western world. If Vaccination is key then we have met the requirement with approximately 90% of adults are vaccinated. I know Canada has its own unique challenges with regards to managing the pandemic and I encourage you to look at what other countries have done in order to lift restrictions.

If the hospitals can’t handle the influx we need to take a real hard look at how we fund health care treat it like a real business and not a money black hole. I have a friend who is a nurse and she told me that Island health has so many middle managers that do nothing that nothing gets done. They take nurses who are really good at their jobs and throw them into management jobs that don’t align with the reason they got into nursing in the first place and make them miserable. This makes no sense to me as a business owner, if you’re going to have middle management don’t poach from your competent nursing staff in the hopes of making a competent manager when they are completely different skillsets and personality types. The other issues she highlighted were the lack of mentorship for those who need to fill the management roles as well as loss of seniority from their current position if they take a manager position. This creates a situation where once they choose to be a manager if it’s not a good fit they have no choice but to stay a manager as they will be punished if they go back to nursing. Find solutions to this problem! Would it make more sense to hire more medical staff and reduce the number of middle management? I can’t imagine those positions’ salaries are cheap.

With regards to the support offered to small businesses, I have had discussions with many of the now-closed business owners and the majority of them did not meet the criteria to receive them.

Some had only recently opened their businesses prior to the pandemic.

Others are owner-operated so did not have the required number of staff to get support. Gyms have extremely tight margins and people who run them don’t do it to get rich they do it because they want to help others. I know of a few gyms where the owners were working second jobs in order to make the money to live off of and when they had to show payroll for income support they had none.

The couple that own CrossFit Ladysmith a gym just north of me didn’t qualify for the majority of the income supports – Braiden and Tylor have been struggling this entire time. Braiden takes the ferry to Vancouver multiple times a week in order to teach dance classes to kids in order to pay their bills their gym has been limping along as they were living off his employment income and trying to build their relatively new business.

My business start-up costs were nearly paid off when the pandemic started and we added $90,000 in debt just to stay afloat due to running at a loss for 1/2 of the pandemic. I was privileged as I had been open for 5 years prior to the pandemic starting and also benefit from having a medical pension through veterans affairs which have allowed me to go without a paycheck for two years from my business.

I want to know the concrete plans that both Alistair and Sonia have to push the federal and provincial governments to make an attainable strategy to move out of pandemic restrictions?

It’s time to look at the reality of the situation and stop bankrupting hardworking people that have sacrificed enough over the last two years.

Alistair with regards to the federal NDP as an opposition party, I don’t see them holding the government to account, I thought the NDP cared about the little guy? Well, the little guy is starving to death and it seems that they prefer to focus on name-calling blue-collar Canadians. Show some backbone and leadership, please.

Sonia as a member of the BC Green party and opposition to the provincial NDP what concrete steps will you be taking to hold the provincial government to account? They announce that they want to help small businesses but in practice the devil is in the details and the details are excluding most businesses affected by the restrictions.

If you break all the small businesses then you own the problem and the problem is only getting worse.

Please do something and I expect a thought-out reply answering my legitimate questions.

Mitchel Claypool

Cowichan

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