Letters of support sent to regional governments

A letter of support has been sent to all local and regional governing bodies within the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce area to secure support for our local businesses.

The letter, by Chamber of Commerce President Julie Ziebart is outlined below, with consideration for each specific organization provided in the detailed links below.

 

Dear…

 

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the members of the Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce, I am writing to convey our members’ priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our community, particularly the small business sector, is facing significant challenges and economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses have already laid off numerous staff, while some have closed their doors completely. We believe that many more businesses will be required to take similar steps in the coming days and weeks.

 

In these unprecedented times, the Chamber is actively supporting the BC North Peace business community, and the residents they employ and serve, through this uncertainty.  The Chamber is advocating, including as part of the BC Chamber Network, to all orders of government in support of measures that can assist business owners and their employees.

 

The COVID-19 outbreak makes the need for action on fixed costs, including rent and property taxes, very urgent.  We have heard consistently that small businesses in our area are struggling with dramatic declines in revenue while having to still pay fixed costs, all the while trying to support their employees as best they can.

We were pleased to hear at the City’s April 6, 2020 Special Council Meeting, that Council directed staff to cancel the 2020 increase to Water Rates and remove late penalties on utilities bills. We are also appreciative that Council has requested staff bring back a report regarding Sewer Rates.

 

We are also encouraged by the decisions of the District of Tumbler Ridge and the Village of Pouce Coupe to lower property or business taxes in response to COVID-19.  We acknowledge that the City of Fort St. John has made difficult decisions to balance the current year budget but are also confident that the City is in a strong position financially to take measures that will help our businesses in the near-term.

To further support our business community, we respectfully request that City Council also consider the following measures:

  • Collaborating with UBCM to ask the Provincial Government to implement a property tax relief program, to relieve property owners of potential late payment fees from not being able to meet the new October 1, 2020 deadline;
  • Advocating for and helping to develop a COVID-19 Commercial Rent Strategy with the Provincial Government, including direct financial assistance from the province to landlords in order to defer rent for small and medium sized business tenants;
  • Advocating for the Provincial Government to expand the Property Tax Deferment Program to include business property owners;
  • Eliminating business licence fees for 2020; and
  • Postponing Fort St. John property tax rate increases for 2020, which are set to rise 1.25% this year.

We commend the City of Fort St. John for your coordination to help keep our residents safe.  Our businesses need considerable financial support in order to follow the directives set out to “flatten the curve” to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to be able to emerge from this crisis when our economy is ready to reopen.

 

Sincerely,

Julie Ziebart, B.Comm, CPA, CA

President and Chair

Fort St. John and District Chamber of Commerce

 

 

City of FSJ

District of Taylor

Hudsons Hope

PRRD