The main block of Willow Street already has vacancies. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Small businesses hit hard by crisis

Chemainus residents can help shape the future with local support

There’s obviously never a good time for a pandemic, especially one of the severity of COVID-19 that’s hitting so hard worldwide.

But the timing of this crisis is especially terrible for the small businesses of Chemainus. This was shaping up to be a great tourist year for the local economy after the opening of the new library downtown, the Chemainus Public Market set to open, the improvements being made along Chemainus Road and more to mark a resurgence.

That all came to a screeching halt with COVID in mid-March, just one week after a celebratory grand opening of the library had all the townsfolk in a hopeful and excited mood for the new facility and all the festivals and events to come.

Now, the build-up has not only taken a huge step backward, there’s no doubt things might never be the same around town again. Some of the businesses in town will surely be unable to ride out the storm. If so many in larger centres on the Lower Mainland aren’t expected to make it, the outlook certainly can’t be considered too bright for small town Canada depending on how long this virtual shutdown of the economy lasts.

There is always hope, of course, and keeping a positive attitude is surely the right direction to take. But we also have to be realistic that there will be plenty of negatives from this crisis to undoubtedly weigh heavily on us for the foreseeable future.

A tourist town like Chemainus will definitely have a bumpy road ahead. People are going to be less likely to travel after the pandemic panic subsides simply because borders will be restricted for international travel and paranoia is sure to linger for a long time, keeping folks at home.

On the other hand, Chemainus could benefit from more ‘staycations’ with people only venturing shorter distances and enjoying amenities and communities closer to home.

Aside from the tourist industry, it’s going to be incumbent on the residents of Chemainus to support local business more than ever before after the pandemic subsides. Big business can absorb huge hits and still rebound, but it’s not so easy for small business and that local support will go a long way toward keeping them going.

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