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BEPPLE – Some suggestions for mayor’s task force on economic recovery

THE ANNOUNCEMENT this week (Tuesday, March 28), that mayor of Kamloops Ken Christian has formed an economic recovery task force of 15 business leaders, businesses, and politicians is good news for the city and region.  The economic fallout of the COVID-19 lockdown has only just begun.  Any efforts to help businesses get back on their feet is welcome news.

With the announcement, it’s time to think of what could help the most.

First, the City could help contractors get to work faster. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve talked to many local contractors who have said their work has been slowed down or stopped because of labour issues or supply shortages. The construction season is already upon us, and contractors have lost valuable time.

Typically, as listed on the City of Kamloops’ website, it takes 3 to 6 weeks to get a permit for single family residential, tenant improvements or simple commercial construction, and even longer for larger projects.

One specific thing the City of Kamloops can do is spend money to speed up the permitting stage so that contractors can get to work faster.  It would be money well spent.

Second, the City could allow more temporary sidewalk restaurant patios. Getting a sidewalk patio in Kamloops requires fencing, proper size and location, and permits.  Restaurants have already been hammered hard.  Relaxing the City of Kamloops bylaws on sidewalk patios this summer would be a big help to restaurants who have been closed for weeks and weeks.

Allowing restaurants permission to put one or two tables and chairs on the sidewalk outside their restaurant could help them provide service while meeting restrictions on social distancing.

Third, the shortfall of funds going to Tourism Kamloops needs to be addressed. This organization is funded primarily by a 3% hotel room tax. This tax accounted for 75% of its revenue in recent years.  With hotel occupancy at a record low, Tourism Kamloops’ revenue has taken a huge hit.

We all benefit from a strong tourism sector.  The City of Kamloops, as well as the Thompson Nicola Regional District, need to provide added funds to Tourism Kamloops to help Tourism Kamloops get tourists back to Kamloops.

Finally, the economy is more than businesses.  Others need to be at the table.  There needs to be dialogues with Thompson Rivers University, which is bracing for possible losses of student numbers because of COVID-19. Organizations like the United Way, ASK Wellness, and the Kamloops Food Bank pick up the pieces that for-profit businesses can’t do.  Their voices need to be heard too.  Mayor Christian needs to include these players to his task force.

After weeks of lockdown, I think we’re all ready for things to start up again.  Here’s hoping that Kamloops’ economy gets rolling again soon.

Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

About Mel Rothenburger (7712 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on BEPPLE – Some suggestions for mayor’s task force on economic recovery

  1. Beverley DeSantis // April 29, 2020 at 1:05 PM // Reply

    Thank you Nancy for the acknowledgement of the tourism economy in Kamloops.
    Prior to Covid-19 we welcomed close to 2M visitors annually and contributed 1/2 billion dollars in economic benefit.
    The City of Kamloops is well positioned for first phase recovery. What will bode well is that we are a drive market with amazing outdoor attributes and a business community of tourism champions. Our natural resources support social distancing and no crowds. Many within the industry globally, feel markets such as ours, will see resurgence sooner than major cities and more common destinations. When it is safe and responsible to do so, we will begin to invite visitors back to our city and we as a destination will slowly begin to enjoy, once again, the benefits of a successful tourism economy.

  2. Beverley Campbell // April 29, 2020 at 9:22 AM // Reply

    Nancy, do you really think that tourism is going to continue to boom during these trying times? Once the hotels are filling up tourism Kamloops will again begin to receive it’s 3% occupancy tax but I can assure you that as of RIGHT NOW the Tourism business does not need to do a thing except lock their doors, no one is coming.

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