• Airdrie Chamber video advocates for local businesses to reopen safely

    The Airdrie Chamber of Commerce is working on a video campaign that will feature local business owners, in an attempt to grab the attention of the provincial government.

    The video will come shortly after Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced Jan. 22 that pandemic-related restrictions will remain in place for the time being.

    “We are fully aware that the government is obviously taking extreme precaution around health and safety,” said Marilyne Aalhus, executive director for the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s gotten to a point that we need businesses to have a plan. They need to know when they will be able to reopen their doors safely.”

    Aalhus said the main motivation of the chamber’s video campaign is to put human faces to the businesses that have been impacted by pandemic-related restrictions and closures.

    “We want people to see how significant the impact has been on businesses,” she said. “We appreciate the efforts the government has made in offering the relaunch grants. There are certain things that have been done, but for businesses that have taxes to pay, the subsidy does nothing.”

    According to Aalhus, the video campaign is accepting submissions from business owners who want to be in the video until Jan. 28. Businesses that haven’t necessarily been negatively affected can also apply, she added, as a show of support to the local business community.

    Once it’s completed, Aalhus said the video will be sent to a provincial government task force, as well as Airdrie’s political and federal government representatives.

    “We are going to try and keep the message alive,” she said. “We feel like we are making a difference.”

    Aalhus commended the government for its decision to allow personal-care services to reopen by appointment on Jan. 18, saying it was an important step. Now, she said it’s time to evaluate all business models to find out when still-closed sectors can reopen safely.

    “Subsidies won’t be going away,” she said. “We are hoping allowing 15 per cent capacity for businesses that are currently still shut down will allow them to remain open for the long term, otherwise, there will be closures. That is something that is unavoidable if the government doesn’t allow them to start creating their own revenue.”

    Aalhus said she is proud of Airdrie and the support not only the community has shown, but other businesses as well.

    “I think there has been a lot of resiliency and care for one another,” she said. “As much as it has been challenging and I have heard a lot of sad stories, I have heard so much positivity.”

    The video, according to Aalhus, should be released in early February.
    “At the very least, we just want to see the numbers and understand why these decisions have been made,” she said. “This [virus] isn’t going anywhere. These businesses are bleeding out and haven’t been given a band-aid. We need to have some answers."

    Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com