Leaders worried about Code Red business impact

November 18, 2020, 3:37 pm
Victor van der Merwe

Clayton Canart

Municipal leaders in Western Manitoba say that while they understand the provincial government’s move to take the entire province to code red, they are worried about the impact on businesses.
Mark Humphries, owner of Westwood Ranch and Garden Centre, and a councillor of the 2nd Ward of the RM of Wallace-Woodworth, understands that the lockdown is needed at this time.
“Obviously, we totally support the decision. I think it is a decision that has not been taken lightly by the provincial government, because obviously the numbers are rising,” said Humphries.
“In this area, when we were put onto the last code orange, our numbers in Prairie Mountain Health dropped considerably. Masks where brought in and restricted numbers were adhered to, but as soon as that got lifted, you could see the numbers rise again, because people want to ignore the protocols,” said Humphries.
With winter coming, he is worried about the effect on small-town businesses.
“This is putting our local economy and small town stores at risk, because we are under the same wide net as the guys in Winnipeg or the bigger metropolises. It is soul destroying for the small trader, because we can’t survive without that business through put. It is extremely hard on them, but necessary because of the neglect and stupidity of others,” said Humphries.
For now, all Humphries and others like him can do is look for new and innovative ways to keep going through the winter.
“We still run courses, usually through winter. Whether it is a training course on planting, (in the case of this year) we were doing a Christmas activity in building gnome decorations. Now we have to totally rethink that, maybe even put that online or send out kits, but it stopped us basically with our Christmas trade so it will affect us greatly as a business, and it will affect so many others. Now we have to start thinking out of the box again and try to find an innovative way to carry on, because we got some customers that have been loyal to us and pre-bought a training session, so now we have to start replanning that,” said Humphries.
Clayton Canart, the Reeve of the RM of Wallace-Woodworth, understands the call for stricter protocols.
“I think the province is trying to do the best they possibly can do with the way the cases are going and with the information they have. It is certainly going to make it difficult, though, for small businesses and for people trying to run a business during the red response,” said Canart.
“I really hope that they will be able to review how they have their guidelines set up for small businesses. Maybe instead of closing down small businesses, look at options to maybe put the onus on (the business owner) to follow the guidelines and allow them to have their doors open to one or two customers in the store at one time, and then monitor how they are following guidelines. This is the time where businesses make a lot of their income for the year with Christmas season coming. They have ordered their inventory and stock for the season and a shut down is extremely difficult to go through for a second time in one year,” said Canart.
He hopes that the residents of the area will heed the warnings from the provincial government and support local businesses.
“We need everybody to be in this together and to follow protocols and guidelines. It is difficult to change your lifestyle, but from the information that the government has been given and the main goal of every government is citizen safety. That is the way they are looking at this, to try and keep everybody safe and try to minimize the impact on the healthcare system. We just have to try and stick together and remember what your local business means to your communities and organizations. Make sure to make a conscious effort to try and support them before looking online or going outside the community,” said Canart.