Startups

COVID-19: Startups fall through gaps in governments’ aid programs

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Andrew Coffey, owner of The Hive Climbing and Fitness in Port Coquitlam. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The Hive Climbing & Fitness, a small chain of indoor rock-climbing gyms, is another, said its owner, Andrew Coffey.

Hive was in the middle of planning and designing two new facilities, one in Port Coquitlam and one in Winnipeg, each costing between $1.5 million and $2 million in mostly borrowed money, when the pandemic hit.

In Port Coquitlam in particular, “by March, when everything was being closed, we had taken possession, we had keys, we didn’t have the ability to really back out,” Coffey said.

Coffey did open both locations in October, but the Winnipeg on is now closed due to health orders in that province and Port Coquitlam is limited to a fraction of its expected capacity.

“We’re not eligible in either of those locations for either the rent subsidy or wage subsidy or the CEBA loan.”

“What would be beneficial is if we were able to compare the revenue at our existing businesses as a benchmark,” Coffey said.

The programs have succeeded in helping a lot of small businesses, said Muriel Protzer, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in B.C., particularly the rent relief and wage subsidies.

“But, as we’re talking about here, there are still others who are falling through the cracks, like newer businesses,” Protzer said. “In every meeting with government, CFIB is bringing that up, because this is a huge shortfall.”

Muriel Protzer, senior policy analyst, Canadian Federation of Independent Business for B.C and the north.



Credit: Handout, CFIB



For Derrick Penner story, Province, Dec. 13, 2020.
Muriel Protzer, senior policy analyst, Canadian Federation of Independent Business for B.C and the north. Photo by CFIB

Protzer said CFIB has heard from a lot of businesses in the same bind. They’ve invested startup costs that they can’t afford to walk away from, but now run into strict requirements for aid that they cannot meet.

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