I wanted to start by saying Happy New Year to our business community.
Your partnership with the Chamber, your commitment to your community and each other is exactly what the world needs more of when times get tough. And 2020 was beyond even my own definition of tough.
My own work leader reminded us this week that January 18th is the toughest day of any year, and it probably didn’t help that it fell on a Monday! This is because the 18th is the farthest point either side of Christmas and the next long weekend (February), and as we all know in Prince Rupert, smack in the middle of winter storm season. I thank you all for continuing the journey with us as we transition from the tumultuous year that was 2020 and towards the hopeful rebuilding of 2021.
In my local shopping excursions over the past month, I have had conversations with business owners to see how their year, and season, was going. The prevailing consensus was that the year was better than expected what with a pandemic, and the holiday season was shaping up to be quite positive. Eddie’s News, Maverick Foods and Harris & Wick all felt the uptick of local shopping, perhaps due in part to people have some excess cash saved from not travelling and in making a more concerted effort to spend their money locally. Still other business were feeling hopeful heading into 2021 even though they had more financial challenges than others, some directly related to ever changing health orders and social recommendations. I also thank our local consumers for being more thoughtful in their purchases of products and services and in sharing the messages of our local businesses during the holiday season.
The Chamber congratulations to Taylor Bachrach , NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkey Valley, who has just been appointed as his party’s Transportation Critic. This is timely when we consider the air service suspension in Prince Rupert that we are talking about today. Taylor was an early partner in this conversation between Government officials, the Chamber and the YPR Airport. This is a priority item for your Chamber, and we appreciate those who have taken the time to respond to our quick survey on the topic. We will keep you updated on conversations and information as we move through this issue.
Thank you for Rick Leach for joining our Chamber luncheon this week to give us some background information.
As well, I will mention the latest Prince Rupert Port news which highlighted the economic impacts & stability that essential port operations provided the region in 2020. Port operations provided the foundation for $1.5 billion of economic activity, over 6,200 direct and indirect jobs related to moving trade through the northern BC corridor, and contributed nearly $12 million to local municipal government tax revenue. These facts for our port City plays a major part of our argument for the reinstatement and better provision of airport service.
And finally, I would be remiss to not acknowledge that after many, many months of keeping COVID 19 at bay in our communities, we are now in the thick of the pandemic fight from a health perspective with numerous outbreaks. I encourage everyone to continue to be vigilant, respectful and patient. Businesses, workers and consumers are doing the best they can. We must continue to make the best of items that arise that are outside of our control – because they are just that.
I wish you all well as we move into our new year, together.
Michelle Boomars-MacNeill, President
You Chamber. Past. Present. Future.