By Justin Seward
Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds gave an update as to what the municipal impact has been like since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The City of Medicine Hat had recently announced that there will be a ‘comprehensive package’ for economic help be introduced at their first May council meeting and Reynolds was asked about if the town would be following a similar suit.
“Bow Island council has already announced the waiver of penalties on utility bills for 90 days,” said Reynolds
“There will be announcement (this week)about taxes as well.”
Council debated the property tax bylaw on Monday night, which included the mill rates and possible changes to the due dates and penalties.
“Council’s intention is to help ease the burden of pandemic on our businesses and residents who need the help,” said Reynolds.
“Any sort of deferment program may put pressure on the town’s cash flow somewhat and this will be monitored closely.”
Bow Island was fortunate as most of the local businesses were deemed essential and were allowed to stay open.
“Of course all businesses that are open must follow the precautions in the Public Health order,” said Reynolds.
“Some, like the furniture store for example, are allowed to operate but must limit walk-in traffic and are doing appointments and deliveries.”
However, for those businesses still open, business is down has resulted in layoffs.
Personal service businesses, such as hairdressers, estheticians, massage therapists have been forced to close while there were two restaurants that temporarily closed.
Reynolds is hopeful that businesses will take advantage of federal and provincial programs in the recovery process.
However, he would like feedback if those programs are not working.
“I would like to hear from business owners who feel those programs and additional assistance from the banks won’t help them, he said.
“Council will be working with Verge Economic Development and Community Futures to assess the needs of our business community and identify any gaps before formulating any sort of recovery plan.”
The town plans to hire seasonal staff and carrying out maintenance and repair work through out the summer.
‘”Some of those people may be doing some different things this year but our intention is to keep moving ahead with maintenance and upgrades as much as possible,” he said.