It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Tracy Holmes file photo)

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Tracy Holmes file photo)

White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

Tuesday’s provincial budget offers little for small business in the long-term, and fails to answer questions about when help might arrive for those in the struggling tourism industry, say city and business officials on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

In a brief statement Tuesday afternoon, South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Ritu Khanna said she couldn’t yet comment extensively on local implications of the budget, but that in general, measures that were announced “feels more like a placeholder to get us through this resiliency phase of the pandemic.”

“It’s not long-term thinking nor a long-term vision in this budget,” she said. “But we’re digging into it a little bit more.”

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson on Tuesday laid out the NDP government’s three-year budget, calling for $19 billion in borrowing – on top of the current COVID-19-driven deficit of $8.1 billion – to build up the health care system and carry on support programs for individuals and businesses.

READ MORE: B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Robinson said contingency plans are in place to extend support for businesses who found out last week that travel, dining and indoor fitness are restricted for another five weeks, until after the May long weekend.

A “circuit breaker” grant was announced after the initial restrictions were put in place last month. It offered grants of up to $10,000 each to assist 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres.

“We are continuing to identify how to best meet the needs of those particular businesses, and there will be more to say in the days ahead around that,” Robinson told reporters April 20.

In Monday’s federal budget, meanwhile, officials extended Ottawa’s COVID-19 “lifeline” for workers and struggling businesses for another few months, as part of more than $100 billion in new spending over the next three years that’s also targeting seniors, caregivers and parents.

“This budget is about finishing the fight against COVID,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her budget-day speech. “It’s about healing the economic wounds left by the COVID recession. And it’s about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days and decades to come.”

Freeland said her plan focuses on some of the hardest-hit sectors, including tourism, as well as low-wage workers, small- and medium-sized businesses, women and young people.

READ MORE: Federal Budget 2021: Liberals extend COVID-19 aid with election top of mind

Help in the tourism sector was a key budget hope for White Rock, the city’s recreation and culture director said, given that tourism is the city’s “number-one biggest industry.”

But while Eric Stepura said any announcement at the federal or provincial level of financial assistance targeting the industry is “a very good thing,” the concern with promises shared this week – including that of $100 million over three years to support tourism recovery, plus another $20 million for community destination development grants – is “will it be soon enough for some of the businesses that are really struggling?”

“As COVID continues to go on, there’s no real sort of end in sight,” Stepura said Wednesday. “Everybody’s hopeful that things will be better by the summer or the fall, but the sooner that they can get funding in the hands of the local industries – like I say, the attractions and restaurants that are really suffering due to the various restrictions on gatherings and the numbers of people that are allowed in restaurants and things like that – the better.”

White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Alex Nixon said while there was some optimism out of the federal budget for business overall, he didn’t see anything “groundbreaking” from the provincial side.

With regard to tourism funding, Nixon said it remains to be seen how those dollars will be allocated, who will be eligible to apply for them and how they will support tourism recovery.

“White Rock’s a tourist economy, we’re a very small town that’s part of a very large region. We’ve been heavily impacted by COVID, and how those dollars are allocated, and how they can be accessed and by whom can they be accessed will be really crucial… because that can really impact how much those dollars go to the people that need it and the businesses that need it.”

– with files from Canadian Press and Tom Fletcher

2021 B.C. Budget2021 Federal BudgetBusinessCity of White Rock

 

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Aaron Hinks file photo)

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Aaron Hinks file photo)

Just Posted

Surrey council on May 10, 2021 approved the Darts Hill Neighbourhood Concept Plan. (surrey.ca screenshot)
‘Desperately needed’ NCP for South Surrey’s Darts Hill neighbourhood approved

‘Potential housing for 10,000 people’ in 130-hectare space, says mayor

Trucks line up for food during a drive-thru event on the PNE grounds last May. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)
Drive-thru food truck fest coming to North Surrey Secondary lot

School a ‘great location – high traffic, very visible, and a very large parking lot’

Volunteers unload 1,000 meal kits at the Cloverdale Community Kitchen May 12. CCK was gifted the meals from Goodfood and distributed the entire truckload to the needy in less than 24 hours. (Photo: Submitted)
Cloverdale Community Kitchen distributes 1,000 meals in less than 24 hours

Meal kits went to charities in Surrey, Langley, White Rock

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Inaugural Surrey run/walk/roll starts virtually with ‘wherever you can’ message

‘Registration has gone very well, and we’re happy with where it’s going,’ race co-ordinator says

A COVID-19 warning sign on the Surrey-Langley border. As cases rise, but deaths fall lower, is it time to rethink our pandemic response? (Photo: Malin Jordan)
RETHINK: Are we following the right tack with our COVID response?

Cases are up, deaths are down; are renewed restrictions justified, or is it time to ease up?

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Lorna Seip touches up the mural on the wall at MRSS, working with students from the Rainbow Club. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Rainbow club puts message of inclusion at Maple Ridge School’s main entrance

Maple Ridge secondary grad says SOGI symbols are powerful

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Todd Richard sings “Green and Blue” as HHSES students get ready to belt out the chorus during the school’s Music Monday on May 3. He is currently in the running for a top 100 spot in the 2021 Toyota Searchlight competition. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Harrison Hot Springs musician Todd Richard vies for Toyota Searchlight prize

First round ends on May 20, votes can be submitted every day

Most Read