Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force Releases Final Report, Identifies 13 Actions for Economic Stabilization and Recovery


July 16, 2020 —  The Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force is releasing its final action plan and recommending 13 initiatives to help businesses cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, plan for recovery, and ultimately rebuild the local economy in the months ahead.  The 13 recommendations include a variety of initiatives from connecting workers with childcare and streamlining regulations, to promoting consumer confidence and helping businesses adopt technology.  The action plan will now be implemented by the Burnaby Board of Trade over the coming weeks and months with support from local businesses, government and community partners.

Central to the Task Force’s action plan is the development of a Centre for Business Recovery and Resilience which will house the majority of the Task Force’s other recommended initiatives and will be located virtually and physically at the Burnaby Board of Trade.  This Centre while provide a destination for businesses seeking targeted supports, guidance and assistance through the current COVID response and recovery period, and will ultimately transition into a longer-term program consistent with the Task Force’s vision for an economic future that promotes equity and sustainability, attracts employers, creates jobs, and generates pride in local, independent, and community-involved businesses.

“The Task Force has created a forward-thinking action plan to support our local economy, and I’m proud of the leadership it has displayed,” says Paul Holden, Chair of the Task Force and President & CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade. “By bringing together business, government, non-profit, post-secondary education, and labour, it is a model for how communities should work collaboratively to recover and rebuild from COVID-19,” added Holden.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, a member of the Task Force, commented: “The final report published by the Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force represents a community-wide effort to help Burnaby businesses get back on their feet. I am confident that the recommendations proposed in this final report will help local businesses navigate this moment and lead to greater prosperity in the future.”

The Burnaby Business Recovery Task Force met ten times over the past two and a half months to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, identify the concerns and needs of the local business community, and determine ways to support Burnaby’s recovery.  Armed with survey data from local businesses and presentations by subject matter experts, the Task Force developed 6 “quick starts” which it began advancing immediately, and 7 additional initiatives which will be now be developed and implemented to support Burnaby businesses.

The final report can be downloaded here, and include 13 actions covering both ‘quick starts’ that have already been started and longer-term initiatives:

  • Create a “Centre for Business Recovery and Resilience”
    • This combined virtual and physical Centre would house a number of initiatives, resources and supports for businesses of all types, sectors and sizes, initially to assist through the current COVID response and recovery period, but potentially transitioning into a longer-term program
    • Examples of potential services could include training and skills development opportunities, access to technical advice and coaching, and support in adapting business models to the new economy
  • Advocate for New Grants or WorkSafeBC Rebates to Pay for PPE and Safety Equipment (Quick Start)
    • According to a Task Force survey of Burnaby businesses, 34% of organizations spent more than $1000 in the first month of re-opening on PPE and safety equipment
    • To help businesses afford this new equipment, the Task Force will call on the provincial government for either a direct grant or a rebate on WorkSafeBC premiums
  • Launch a Burnaby PPE Supplier List (Quick Start)
    • To help businesses source PPE, the Task Force should create a PPE and COVID-19 Safety Equipment Supplier List with direct connections to local suppliers and manufacturers
  • Create More Opportunities for Patios and Outdoor Dining (Quick Start)
    • Advocate for and support government permitting and licensing changes to allow restaurants, breweries, caterers, and other food service businesses to quickly set up new, or expand existing, patios throughout the city
  • Enable Business Uses of Public Property Beyond the Sale of Food and Beverage (Quick Start)
    • Work with the City of Burnaby to streamline and communicate opportunities for businesses to use designated areas in Burnaby parks for classes and small events while observing safety protocols
    • Work with the City of Burnaby to provide extended hours and more easily-accessible parking in high traffic areas such as Hastings, Kingsway and the North Road area
  • Work with the Childcare Sector and Employers to Support Parents Returning to Work (Quick Start)
    • Work with the Burnaby childcare community to inventory summer childcare/camp opportunities and communicate this to its networks,
    • Explore opportunities to work with the business community and the City on childcare space creation
    • Engage employers about flexible workplace policies to support families with childcare needs, and explore opportunities for employers to repurpose workspace into childcare space
    • Advocate to the provincial and federal government to continue to provide financial supports that enable employees to work and to review childcare regulations to provide flexibility in order to create temporary childcare spaces.
  • Launch a “Recovery Policy Working Group” to Advocate to Senior Government for Additional Financial Supports (Quick Start)
    • Create a dedicated, local working group to focus solely on providing feedback and recommendations on government policies around COVID-19 business support and recovery to ensure supports are sufficient to support Burnaby businesses
  • Develop a “Business Digital Development Support Program”
    • A made-in-Burnaby program should be implemented to assist local companies in bolstering their digital presence and furthering the adoption of technology in their operations
    • Leveraging the availability of skilled students of BCIT and SFU the program would provide direct, hands-on support to small to medium businesses
  • Explore the Potential to Pilot a “Digital Main Street” Initiative in Burnaby
    • Investigate the potential to pilot with Digital Main Street to roll-out an initiative to provide businesses in Burnaby access to e-commerce sites quickly and at reasonable costs
  • Expand Communications Efforts to Connect Businesses with Existing Economic Recovery Information & Resources
    • Ensure all Burnaby businesses have access to information on programs, supports and resources related to COVID-19 response and recovery and work to widely distribute this information in our diverse business community
  • Engage with & Advocate to Financial Institutions on Ways to Unlock Capital for Business Loans
    • Convene leaders of local financial institutions to find new ways of supporting small businesses
  • Create Incentives and Supports to Position Burnaby as a Hub For New Businesses and Entrepreneurs

    • Implement a program of supports and incentives to make it as easy as possible to start a new business in Burnaby
    • Explore advocating for reduced fees and streamlined application processes
    • Develop entrepreneur supports such as mentorship programs with established businesses, pop-up stores to test proof of concept, and one-on-one new business coaching and guidance
  • Expand the “#BuyLocalBuyBurnaby” Program
    • Develop a local procurement challenge whereby major Burnaby employers and institutions are encouraged to increase the percentage of purchasing that is done locally
    • Expand the existing Burnaby Board of Trade’s ‘Open for Business’ directory and continue promotion
    • Execute ongoing “buy local” and “consumer confidence” marketing and social campaigns

Read the full report here