The recent flooding disaster affected not only residents but businesses as well. It’s a month on and a number of downtown businesses are still evacuated from their premises. Some will be able to return sometime during the summer once restoration work is done but others have a tougher and longer wait – with the worry that some of these buildings might have to be destroyed.
This creates a lot of anxiety and hardship because most businesses cannot go 3 months of interruption and still survive. So what can the business owners expect to happen? And what can the community do to help prevent losses and facilitate recovery?
It turns out that people here in Grand Forks have connections that lead to people who were part of the team that got High River, and its business community, back from its historic flood disaster 5 years ago. In their case over a thousand businesses had to be evacuated among the myriad of other issues facing them. But they persevered and as a result High River has been able to recover and be stronger (and better protected) than before.
Two of those people mentioned above happened to be attending something nearby in Kelowna. These are Angela Groeneveld and Todd Williams. From Angela’s bio:
Angela also has extensive experience in Business and Economic Disaster Recovery. She was on the ground through all phases of recovery experience combined with professional education to assist local businesses to recover and rebuild after natural or manmade disasters. Some of her projects include; building Canada’s first temporary business park to house businesses that lost their storefronts to the 2013 flood; transitioning the businesses through the phases of recovery. She was then called to share her expertise in partnership with EDA and Red cross to assist in the initial stages of business recovery during the Fort McMurray fire. Angela is a facilitator for the International Economic Development “restore your economy” training. Angela currently is working with the Puerto Rico Economic Development Director on business recovery and contracts to the Town of High River on the last phase of recovery.
Todd Williams was the Project Manager for all these projects and grants related to rebuilding and renewing the business community of High River.
They were able to change their schedule to visit Grand Forks and see for themselves the situation. They talked with some of the people in affected businesses, made connections with the local government and business support groups.
The Boundary country Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted this Open House for business owners so they could hear what Angela and Todd had to say and ask questions.
(please excuse the audio issues at the beginning of the meeting – it gets better)
In the afternoon City Council met with representatives from the Boundary Regional Chamber of Commerce to discuss the Board election held at the recent Annual General Meeting of the BCRCC. The Mayor, and some on Council, wanted some assurance that they weren’t giving taxpayer money to an organization that doesn’t follow its own rules.
The meeting followed a rather long and torturous path of discovery during which it appeared that the Bylaws the city was expecting they should have followed weren’t theirs at all. They might have been those from the previous Grand Forks Chamber. The city had looked on the Federal records but BCRCC board / executive people both current and previous mentioned they were following Provincial rules. At times it almost seemed like they were talking about different things. And at one point it strayed off into personal things and relationships and got a bit heated.
While I’d love to be able to explain it all in a clear and concise manner that isn’t really possible – as you will learn if you sit and listen to all 2 hours of the discussion.
Unlike other council meetings there is no pie – there was only one topic of discussion.
The City’s agenda can be found in the link to their website.
The BCRCC came with an information package which you can read below the video.
Enjoy – or not.
Some may have wondered if council had turned over a new leaf considering the brevity of the last few meetings. May 15th has shown they haven’t.
The Committee Of The Whole meeting was the longest I’ve attended and, at 5 hours, likely the longest so far. The reasons for this can be found in the discussions flowing from the delegations and topics: water rates, money, marijuana and recording inCamera meetings.
At one point emotions ran so high that two councilors left the room leaving only the Mayor and two other councilors in the chamber – not enough for a quorum.
The Regular Meeting
The main part of the meeting went relatively smoothly. It was the Late Items that carried the heated discussions from the COTW into the evening meeting. On of the main results of this is: The funding that the city provides to the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce has been put in abeyance. For a non-profit with a new board and a large part of its remit to support tourism this is extra bad timing: tourism season is about to commence and they have to hire a new Executive Director. All with a gap in funding.