'Some of them might fail': entrepreneurs get help during B.C. wildfires
Hotline aims to help B.C. businesses through emergency and get owners back on their feet
Some people displaced by wildfires aren't just worried about their homes; entrepreneurs are worried about the fate of the businesses they've left behind.
The B.C. Economic Development Association is hoping to help those businesspeople with a toll-free hotline to give them advice and direction on how to get back on their feet.
"There's a lot of fear, a lot of concern about if they are going to be able to continue, are they going to be able to start up," CEO Dale Wheeldon told Radio West host Alya Ramadan.
"We're talking a lot of small businesses that are in these communities that really depend on this time of year to support their businesses.
"Some businesses might not succeed. Some of them might fail."
He said businesses are losing money while accruing operating expenses but have little information about what kind of financial assistance is available to them.
The BCEDA's hotline will connect these business owners with information about resources for starting up again, including resupplying, dealing with governments and even just getting the word out that they are back.
Help with supplies, customers, employees
Wheeldon said the goal isn't just to help businesses in evacuated communities: they want to help the ones that have experienced isolation due to the wildfires and are cut off from supplies or customers but may not be eligible for business interruption insurance payouts.
"Tourists that have made reservations at hotels and lodges and resorts, many of them are cancelling now right through until September," he said.
"People have gone from having 100 percent reservations throughout the summer to having zero."
And then there's concerns about their employees who may be displaced as well.
"They bring in extra help during the summer: what kind of assistance is out there for them?"
Wheeldon said most businesses speaking to the BCEDA do not have disaster plans and that's a big problem. They are encouraging those businesses to develop a plan for next time.
The B.C. Economic Development Association hotline for businesses affected by the B.C. wildfires is 1-877-422-3377.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West