Our issues: Your business can benefit when you stay involved with your city
By Mike WoodFeatures Business Intelligence equipment rental event rental labour
This past summer was the first full-summer season the rental industry did not face government restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID. I want to first say that I hope that the past few months have been incredibly successful for you. I’ve spoken to many small businesses over the past six months and many used the analogy of trying to drink water out of a fire hose.
While I believe the impacts of COVID will be felt for a while, you should be incredibly proud of all the things you have achieved over the past two and half years. According to Statistics Canada, in June 2021, there were 1,291,424 employer businesses in Canada. The Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada published a report stating that in 2018, small businesses contributed 37.5 percent to the gross domestic product. Surely these numbers have changed since the onset of the global pandemic, however, this highlights the importance that you and your small businesses have to the overall economy.
Looking ahead, we require governments and educational institutions to develop programs encouraging people seeking careers to consider more than just event planning. Courses on logistics, security, building codes and tent raising and more will be imperative to the success of our sector.
Most municipalities have or should have a Community Involvement Plan that involves small businesses. Community Involvement Plans will need to focus and provide additional support and opportunities for our small businesses to recover.
Government support needs to provide multi-sector assistance. For example, I live in Ottawa and the city has continued waiving fees for all patio and cafe permits for the 2022 summer right-of-way patio season. Ottawa has moved to make the Temporary Zoning By-law Amendment for patios on private property permanent. This not only allowed restaurants to seat more people but gave event rental companies customers that perhaps they did not have before. Tents were required for weather purposes and the rental of patio seating and tables became new revenue for many.
In Toronto, mayor John Tory helped launch a campaign that would educate people on small business support programs. I believe all municipalities should be equipped with staff that can provide information on all municipal, provincial and federal programs that small businesses could benefit from. These sessions were developed to provide training, information on grants, incentives, advisory services and enhanced access to space. Many municipalities have also created tax sub-classes to help assist small businesses with property taxes.
With the current global labour crisis we are facing, things have been quite challenging for many to stay on top of their business as a whole. Items such as financial awareness, bookkeeping, and traditional and digital marketing among other internal moving parts of owning and operating a business are being put on hold. It would be valuable to so many small business owners if municipalities were able to provide coaching services and labour directories that small businesses could draw upon for help.
I truly hope that this pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for all small business owners. For those that may not be aware, I did own a large event rental company in Ottawa that I sold in 2021. The mental health impacts were large and I managed to seek the assistance I needed as March of 2020 took hold. I wish you all nothing but health and happiness moving forward and please never hesitate to reach out should you require the same assistance. The country as a whole needs to see the continued success of your business that provides local employment and continues to shine in your respective city.
Michael Wood is a former owner of an event rental company, a college professor in Ottawa and a principal at Ottawa Consultants. Wood recently announced his bid to run for city council in Ottawa. ottawaconsultants.com
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