Ian Locke, left, and Amber Vance of the DDBIA discuss the COVID-19 crisis with Jeff Downie, owner of The Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Business notes: Cowichan business community reacting to COVID-19 challenges

With COVID-19 changing the world, it should not be surprising that the Cowichan Valley is feeling the effects of this pandemic.

With COVID-19 changing the world, it should not be surprising that the Cowichan Valley is feeling the effects of this pandemic.

Businesses are feeling the pain in a variety of ways and the inevitable coping strategies are threatening jobs and the ability of many people to pay the bills and carry on with anything resembling a normal lifestyle.

Earlier this week, Ian Locke, executive director of the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Association, accompanied by the DBIA’s projects manager Amber Vance, made the rounds of the downtown core, checking on their members.

“The social responsibilities of managing the spread of this virus will have a significant economic impact on our community, including both business owners and employees,” Locke said.

“Our goal is always to support our local businesses and we are looking at ways we can continue to do so while also following provincial and federal health guidelines.

“After speaking with as many business owners and employees as possible the last couple of days, the Downtown Duncan BIA is continuing to work closely with city council, the City of Duncan, and our member businesses to gather more information about how our community can best respond to the ongoing situation regarding the COVID-19 virus in accordance with provincial and federal guidelines,” Locke said.

Locke says some early information about financial relief for small businesses and their employees can be found at: www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html

“Some businesses have closed, but others remain open and there are still ways to support the local economy while maintaining social distance,” Locke added.

“Through these challenging times, it is very important to do what we can to support local businesses by choosing to order food, supplies, and items by delivery or pick-up from our restaurants and retailers.

“We are monitoring the situation as it develops and will continue to provide updates on resources as they become available.”

• • •

Dave Devana, the former chief administrative officer of the Municipality of North Cowichan, has been appointed CEO of the Nanaimo Airport Commission.

Devana will replace Mike Hooper who is set to retire in June.

In a news release, the Commission said Devana has “extensive experience with negotiations, bargaining, communications, land use, leasing, governmental relations and funding, financial management, strategic planning, human resources and labour relations, information technology, innovation and most importantly leadership.”

“Mr. Devana brings a solid knowledge of complex administrative structures and a working knowledge of local government, which will assist in the airport’s collaboration with communities on the Island,” Wendy Clifford, chair of the Commission said in the release.

Devana left North Cowichan in March of 2017 under mysterious circumstances.

The municipality has never revealed the reasons for Devana’s departure, which is believed to have been accompanied by a large severance package, the details of which have also been closely guarded.

Then-mayor Jon Lefebure said Devana left by “mutual agreement” but refused to discuss what he termed a personnel matter.

Most recently Devana has been CAO for the Town of Cochrane, Alberta, a job he landed in October 2017.

Devana announced his resignation in late February, a move that appears to have caught the mayor and council of Cochrane, a community on the outskirts of Calgary by surprise.

Local media said Devana, who earned almost $242,000 in salary and benefits in 2018 as Cochrane’s CAO, shocked council with his resignation.

“All of council was taken aback by the resignation letter that we received Monday, but we’re going to move forward,” said Mayor Genung. “We’ve just got to put our heads down and get back to work.

“He didn’t give us a lot of details,” said Genung, “Other than that he was looking to get out of the public service life and move into possibly the private sector,” the Cochrane Times reported.

A week later, the Nanaimo Airport Commission, a not-for-profit authority under the Canada Corporations Act, announced it had hired Devana.

The Airport Commission is governed by a board of directors who are responsible for its corporate mandate, overall function of the airport, and the strategic direction for airport developments.

The current board is comprised of nine directors. Five members of these nine are nominated by entities and appointed by the board: City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, The Town of Ladysmith, CVRD and RDN. The remaining four directors are appointed by the board to represent the communities at large.

• • •

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to keep members informed as the COVID-19 crisis intensifies.

All social events, including the Black Tie Awards in April, have been postponed and operations at the Visitor Information Centre have been curtailed.

“In recent days we’ve all been consumed with news on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it’s affecting our health, our families and our businesses,” executive director Sonja Nagel noted.

“During this time, it’s critical to understand the economic impacts businesses anticipate in the weeks and months ahead, and how the government can support your business to ensure you stay viable.”

Nagel says the BC Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Small Business BC, Community Futures and the BC Economic Development Association to create a short survey for small and large businesses alike.

“Your feedback is critical and will be presented to different levels of government and will help them shape their response to this crisis,” Nagel said.

Visit the BC Chamber of Commerce website to complete the survey.

“As the Chamber continues to monitor the situation and follow recommendations of provincial and local health authorities, we will do our best to keep our members informed. In the interim, our Chamber eNews will only be circulated when we have updated information to share.

“Our small Chamber team will continue to work behind the scenes, while taking precautions to ensure a safe workplace and implementing social distancing measures. This may involve reduced office hours and team members working from home. It might also necessitate the temporary closure of the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre,” Nagel said.

“Please keep an eye on your inboxes and be sure to follow our social media pages for continued updates. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out at 250-748-1111.”

Cowichan Valley Citizen

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