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Helping promote struggling Delta businesses during COVID-19

Delta's CRERST members focus their efforts in specific recovery areas
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Many businesses were shut down for a time last year during the COVID-19 pandemic but after reopening they are still having a tough time. CRERST has been working since last April on a number of initiatives to promote local business.

It’s been a tough year for local businesses since COVID-19, but a collaborative Delta effort is trying to help ease the journey through the pandemic.

As public health orders evolve and vaccinations are now on the horizon, Delta city council recently agreed to enter into a one-year service agreement of up to $70,000 for the Delta Chamber of Commerce to continue to provide COVID-19 resource support to businesses and community organizations and to operate Delta's Visitor Centre.

Tourism Delta will receive $103,000 to continue to manage the We Love Delta initiative on behalf of the Community Resilience and Economic Recovery Support Team (CRERST)

The city also plans to provide grants of $15,000 each to support the Ladner Business Association, North Delta Business Association and Tsawwassen Business Improvement Association for initiatives.

When things went into shutdown mode last spring, city council in April directed staff to coordinate Delta’s efforts with those organizations through the new CRERST collaborative, bringing together the networks and resources of each organization during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has created economic hardship for many small-and medium-sized businesses in Delta. Business owners are struggling to stay afloat while trying to keep up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information (e.g., financial assistance opportunities or safety plan requirements), develop new marketing tactics to retain their customer base, and respond to Provincial Health Officer Orders. In addition, Delta's community organizations continue to work to create and implement new ways to operate and respond to client needs, while residents crave connection and opportunities for safe activity,” a report to council notes.

“CRERST has been working diligently over the last eleven months to implement community resilience and economic recovery actions that support Delta businesses, community organizations and the residents of Delta. To avoid duplication, CRERST members focus their efforts in specific recovery areas: DCOC focuses on business advocacy and resource supports through its COVID-19 Resource Hub and one-on-one consultations; Tourism Delta focuses on marketing and connecting Delta residents with local businesses across the City; and LBA, TBIA, and NDBA focus on marketing Delta's individual commercial districts through placemaking, social media promotion, and marketing campaigns,” the report adds.

CRERST came up with a number of initiatives including promoting a shop local message involving, among other things, a Gift Local in Delta campaign.

The report also notes that with a second COVID-19 wave and variant concerns impacting community recovery efforts, Delta's businesses, community organization and residents will continue to need support.

Among the initiatives for 2021 is Delta staff establishing an internal working group focused on finding creative ways to activate Delta's commercial districts and community spaces with seasonal street furniture, urban play infrastructure and pop-up parks.

The other initiatives include Tourism Delta, which proposes to expand the We Love Delta campaign, developing and launching at least four other campaigns in 2021, each focusing on different assets and areas of Delta.

Delta Chamber of Commerce executive director Garry Shearer told the Optimist he believes the business community is tentatively optimistic with the roll-out of vaccines, fewer restrictions on the horizon and easier access to main street businesses in the coming months.

“The key will be the consumer confidence to come back to the small retailers and restaurants when restrictions are lifted. That's why it's important for Delta to know our daily COVID numbers, per Mayor Harvie's continued requests, so we can, hopefully, assure our community that the cases are trending down and it will be safe to come back to our main street businesses,” he said.