Chilliwack restaurants, bars, breweries, gyms and fitness centres will be receiving a financial boost through the just-announced Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant.
According to a news release put out Thursday by the provincial government’s Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, a one-time payment of $10,000 will “help with expenses like rent, insurance, employee wages, maintenance and utilities. The grant can also help cover unexpected costs that resulted from the restrictions, such as the purchase of perishable goods.”
The news of the funding was welcomed Friday morning by Gord Atti at Shandhar Hut.
“That’s great news and we definitely need that,” he said. “We are thankful for the government’s efforts to help us lessen the burden of the restrictions.”
Because Shandhar Hut is so firmly established in Chilliwack, and Atti’s crew is so good at what they do (Chilliwack Progress A-List winners for Indian Cuisine and Best Takeout), they’ve been able to weather the COVID storm better than others, shifting to a delivery/takeout model.
But it hasn’t been easy at all, and Atti said their situation has been complicated by bad timing. Work on a long-awaited second location at Promontory Road/Chilliwack River Road began in early 2020, just as the pandemic started. While they’ve been paying property insurance/tax and construction costs at the second location, they’ve also been covering the usual costs of business at the first location.
“Then there’s getting inventory and staffing people at the first location and it’s like a juggling act. It really is. We still have to operate at a capacity where we can still give people efficient service and meet the demand, so that means maintaining appropriate staffing levels. But we’re still chugging along and this funding will definitely help us with our staff wages.
While $10,000 sounds like a lot of money, it actually won’t go super far.
“Divide it up over the course of a month and it’s a little over $300 a day, which probably lasts us about two months if things aren’t stabilizing within that period,” Atti calculated. “But the fact that they’re bringing in the restrictions but also backing up businesses by bringing in relief, that’s what counts.”
The Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant is open to eligible businesses of any size that have been in operation since Feb. 1, 2021. There is a streamlined application process to ensure affected businesses can access the funds quickly, and that is expected to open the week of April 12.
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon said she is extremely happy her government is able to support businesses and she is grateful to business owners who are working hard every day to adapt, take care of their staff, and contribute to keeping the community healthy and safe.
“The restrictions that were put in place were necessarily sudden and disruptive, but this relief grant will help ease the impact,” she said. “I encourage everyone in Chilliwack and Kent to continue supporting our local businesses, and I am offering a chance to win one of three $50 gift certificates to local restaurants as part of a social media effort to highlight our local eateries.
“Folks can learn how to participate by checking out our Facebook page @PaddonMLA.”
Anyone with questions about the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant can contact Paddon’s office by phone at 604-858-5299 or by email at Kelli.Paddon.MLA@leg.bc.ca.