On April 15th, Colwood hosted the first in a series of virtual Business Roundtables with members of the local business and development community to help the City better understand the direct impact COVID-19 is having on Colwood businesses and share ideas about concrete actions to help Colwood move through this crisis and towards recovery. All Colwood businesses were also invited to provide input through a survey to further inform economic recovery efforts.
"We know the current uncertainty is creating enormous stress and that businesses need help now," said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin. "The roundtables and surveys are a way to connect the real needs of Colwood businesses with the relief efforts being developed. This unprecedented situation requires all of us to work together, find ways to adapt, and thoughtfully implement creative strategies to limit the impacts and set the stage for a vibrant recovery."
Colwood staff and Council are actively working with provincial and federal partners on business relief measures such as business tax deferrals and aligning commercial tax rates with the regional average. The City is also encouraging residents to support local Colwood businesses as much as possible.
Business Roundtable 1: April 23, 2020
Some of the roundtable discussion topics included:
- What impacts has COVID-19 had on your business?
- How can the City of Colwood help your business cope with the current challenges and prepare for recovery?
- Are there ways your business would like to contribute to the community’s overall recovery?
- What ideas do you have with respect to ways in which the City and the entire community can work towards recovery?
Working in collaboration with the South Island Prosperity Partnership, this first roundtable discussion targeted 11 local business and development organizations. Staff are working to schedule the second roundtable discussion now.
In addition, 68 survey responses were received representing 16 different business categories including construction, finance, health, food + accommodation, professional + technical services, education and others. Survey data is being compiled and analyzed. Watch for more information about findings and strategies as recovery efforts continue.
Business Roundtable 2: Invitation to businesses
The second Online Roundtable Discussion is scheduled for May 14, 2020. We welcome input and ideas from business owners about working together to ensure a strong economic recovery. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steps the City has taken so far
1. There will be no increase in Colwood's municipal tax rate for 2020. To bring the rate down from the proposed 3.5% to 0%, several new hires will be deferred until 2021, the 1% that is usually set aside for future sustainable infrastructure replacement will be held back this year and several transfers to reserves will be delayed until 2021.
2. No penalty for those who can't make the July 2 tax due date. For residential taxpayers, a 5% penalty will be applied August 1st and the remaining 5% on October 1st. For commercial properties, there will be no penalty applied until October 1, 2020.
3. Colwood commercial tax rates will adjusted over the next five years to ensure they align with the regional average.
4. Continue to provide the City services required to keep in-progress projects moving as much as possible: Royal Bay, Royal Beach, Olympic View, Allandale District and Colwood Corners among others.
5. The City will encourage people to support Colwood businesses by amplifying their promotional efforts wherever possible. Search the Colwood Business Directory.
6. More roundtable discussions are planned to come up with creative ways we can work together toward a strong recovery.
COVID-19 resources for businesses
The South Island Prosperity Partnership has an extensive list to help businesses access funding and supports at https://southislandprosperity.ca/covid-19-resources/
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Sandra Russell, Communications Manager