High River businesses fight to stay afloat waiting for recovery money
Relief under Disaster Recovery Program called frustrating and slow
Some business owners in High River are getting frustrated as they continue to wait for money promised by the province in the wake of last June’s flooding.
Linda Sojer, whose home décor store was hit hard by the disaster, said sales are still slow — partly because a lot of cheques still haven’t been issued by the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP).
“The hard part is the people of this town don't have what was promised,” she said.
Sojer said her own experience with the application process was frustrating.
“This photo copy wasn't done right, or this didn't have a date, or you hand wrote on this invoice. It was unbelievable what they made us go through,” she said.
David Mezzarus, with Tomorrow Financial Services Inc., said people are having a hard time staying afloat.
“The DRP has been an absolute struggle. There's no question,” he said.
“They’ve tapped out their lines of credit, they’ve tapped out their credit cards. They’ve gone to the edge and yet, the back support is not happening.”
Last month provincial officials said they intended to have paid 90 per cent of outstanding business and agricultural claims by June 30.
And the province said several initiatives were underway to enhance the efficiency of compensation, including a special team to help eliminate road blocks for business claims.
But Angela Groeneveld, the town’s business renewal officer, said continued delays are hampering people’s efforts to recover from the disaster.
“If these business owners knew how much money that they had available to them, they could be making some business decisions,” she said.
Meantime, some High River businesses are moving up to downtown Calgary on Monday to sell their wares along Stephen Avenue.
High River mini-market comes to Calgary
The mini-market is part of a project led by business students at Mount Royal University to help small businesses recover from the flood.
Students were paired with businesses over the winter, providing them with entrepreneurial coaching.
High River Chamber of Commerce board member Todd Williams said the students’ energy and insight has been an incredible boost.
“Their knowledge of social media, how to set up websites, how to market better ... how to use very limited resources to advance their case with the customer base. So that's really what these students have provided," he said.
The mini-market is on First Street and Stephen Avenue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. MT.