Plan to reopen province in phases solid, says Kimberley Chamber president

Brian Sondergaard of the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce said that the recently unveiled four-phase plan to gradually reopen the province of B.C. is “solid,” and commends the efforts of Kimberley and the province at large throughout the difficult times caused by COVID-19.

“I think Kimberley in general has done a great job, people are finding a nice balance,” Sondergaard said, “but there’s still obviously a lot of pain out there.”

He said that over the past month, he’s seen local businesses starting to get creative and looking at different ways of maintaining some level of profitability, while still respecting the measures in place to limit the spread of the virus.

“We’ve had some success in B.C. and we need to keep that going because ultimately that will bring back normalcy sooner than later,” he said. “But there is also a time to look at what we specifically have going on here and adapt to that. And we don’t have thankfully, we don’t have any big issues right now and there’s definitely business owners have taken it upon themselves to be creative which I think they should be very proud of.”

Some outdoor recreation activities are included in the first wave of the plan, set for mid-May. Sondergaard said he’s pleased with this as opening up the outdoors a little bit will help reduce the stress of our community.

However, he did say that one of our specific challenges going forward is that a big component of Kimberley’s economy is centred around tourism.

“We’re just not going to see the international travel and a lot of the tourism that we’re used to, so once again, as locals we’re really going to need to stick together and create our own local tourism and support those businesses as best we can.

“You’re going to see dentists and various retail opening up, those are no brainers because they suit more to the locals, but it’s really, how do we get our tourism at least functioning partially.”

As businesses continue to navigate these uncertain times, Sondergaard said he “just hopes people know that we’re there.”

“The thing is is, our hands are a little bit tied right now, I mean I’d love to advocate getting out and pounding the ground and doing this and that but we have to respect the timelines of the powers above us so we just don’t control that.”

He said the mission of the Chamber is to make sure they understand all services and opportunities available for businesses and make it as easy as possible for them to utilize those benefits.

“We’d love to see all the businesses come through this, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now is just trying to make it as easy as possible and utilize the resources that are available to businesses.

“But I think the plan’s encouraging, so let’s just keep doing what we’re doing and I think B.C. should be very proud of themselves.”

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