The City of Belleville has been moving quickly to help reduce stress for residents and businesses as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19. In addition to the action taken by City Council to ensure the continued operations of the City of Belleville, businesses that employ residents have also been consulted with.
On Thursday and Friday of last week, City officials and staff, which included Mayor Mitch Panciuk, City Councillors Sean Kelly and Ryan Williams, CAO Rod Bovay and Economic & Strategic Initiatives Manager Karen Poste, held conference calls with two local business sectors which employ thousands of residents – manufacturing and hospitality. This initiative was conducted to determine what the City can do to continue supporting these businesses during these challenging times.
Thursday – Manufacturing Sector:
It is clear that some manufacturers are busier than ever, for some it is business as usual and for others a significant slow-down has already started. As a sector they are well prepared and have a number of contingency plans in place. Of particular concern and interest to this group was the continuation of transit service. They were assured transit is considered a top priority and will be continued. Mayor Panciuk advised them of the steps the City would be taking to defer tax due dates, eliminating interest and penalty charges and ensuring no water or hydro services would be disconnected. The call participants were grateful for the reassurance and the information. There are opportunities in this sector for hiring new positions.
Friday – Hospitality Sector:
This call included representatives of the hospitality sector such as hoteliers, entertainment venue operators and restauranteurs. For these businesses, the impact of COVID-19 has been immediate and dramatic. They are optimistic recovery will happen but unsure of the timing. They are all working creatively to service their clients and customers and employing the talents of their staff to help them get through this difficult time. The Mayor provided this sector with the same assurances regarding continued service delivery and deferred payments.
In addition, the Mayor advised the Hospitality group, “The City will immediately release additional funds from the Municipal Accommodation Tax to the Bay of Quinte Regional Marketing Board so revised plans can be made to ensure Belleville becomes a destination of choice for visitors from near and far once the COVID-19 crisis has eased. We will also continue to promote our area for staycations and buying locally and an additional $142,000 will go a long way to allow them to pay for production and purchase advertising time. When this situation passes we want our businesses to get right back into the swing of things and hire back their employees."
Mayor Panciuk concluded, "The City of Belleville is here for residents and businesses. We will continue to reach out to gain a clear understanding of their concerns and provide support in whatever ways possible in these unprecedented times. "