Community Futures, support for businesses during the pandemic

The Basin Business Advisors, a team of knowledgeable business advisors located throughout the Columbia Basin, are available forfree one-to-one business advice. Business owners can consult with an advisor and develop a plan specific to their business that will help them weather this pandemic.

Community Futures is facilitating aBusiness Community Weekly Roundtable on COVID-19. These Zoom video conferences are open to business owners, managers, and business service providers in the Kootenay region. An accompanying Facebook group, COVID-19 Support for Kootenay Businesses, is a platform for business owners to ask questions and find resources. To attend the roundtable, email or visit

More Information
Small Business Training Schedule
Social Distancing Training Opportunities
We are happy to report that our Small Business Training Centre has a full schedule for spring that we are excited to deliver via webinar. We invite you to practice social distancing and improve your business knowledge from home. 

Many businesses have had to shift very quickly to doing business online. This can be a steep learning curve and we are happy to offer several excellent workshops to help you establish yourself online:Build a website with one of our excellent workshops:March 30 & 31: Building Your Website with WordPress (2 days)April 20: Building Your Website with Weebly (1 day)Once you venture into the world of online selling, you quickly realize that there is more to it than posting something for sale. In Selling Your Products Online on April 9, learn about different platforms, shipping, and moreWant to communicate with your customers in a way that also drives sales? On April 15, check out Blog Like You Mean Business.Shopify is an excellent platform to create an online store. In this two-day workshop, learn how to set-up and manage your store: Building Your Website & Online Store with (April 21 & 22)

The Province, helping member markets move to an online model for Farmers’ Markets

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) is helping member markets move to an online model to continue providing consumers with locally grown and prepared food products.

“It’s important to support your community and each other during this time of uncertainty, and a virtual shopping trip to a farmers market is an easy way to get the groceries on your list and to Buy BC, while ensuring physical distancing measures are being followed,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Moving farmers markets online will help ensure the health and safety of vendors and consumers, while still providing the same fresh and local food that families all over the province count on.”

The 145 BCAFM member farmers markets operating in British Columbia play a key role in many communities’ food supply and support the livelihood of many farmers and their families. These markets are eligible to receive funding to help transition to an online market platform. This will enable them to continue selling their food products to customers in their communities.

“The critical importance and resiliency of local food and farmers has never been clearer than now, and B.C. farmers markets are an essential retail sales channel for British Columbians to access local food and sustain the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and food processors across our province,” said Heather O’Hara, executive director, BCAFM. “Our member farmers markets continue to modify their operations to ensure the health and safety of customers, vendors and market organizers alike, and in further response to COVID-19, our new BC Farmers’ Markets Online platform will offer a new shopping channel for the peak farmers market season this summer.”

British Columbians can find a farmers market near them and see which markets have launched online operations in the weeks and months ahead at:

The B.C. government is providing $55,000 to the BCAFM to cover fees for individual farmers markets to join the online platform and set up their digital market store presence. Each participating farmers market will create its own virtual market store to best serve its communities.

The funding is part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Buy BC program. Buy BC helps farmers, ranchers and producers market their products as locally grown, raised, harvested or produced, making it easy for British Columbians to Buy BC.

Learn More:

As they open, information about active BC Farmers’ Markets Online will be added to:
This website will also have up-to-date information on the markets operating in the community.

More about Buy BC:

Apply to be a member of the BCAFM:

For an example of an online farmers market, visit:

Update from Aimee Watson

If you missed it, the Province announced new orders under the Emergency Program Act yesterday. I have copied the specifics along with the press release below. 

While I spent the better part of the day on the phone learning what this will mean on the ground for us, I am still unsure. As I learn more, I will share it here and onto the respective community pages. Email me if you have questions and I will answer what I can.

A personal note, first to ensure you know to reach out to me with any concerns and I will direct or assist where I can. Second, I plead with you all to take the directives of self isolation seriously. Reach out to those who may need extra support to ensure they have what they need to stay home. 

The previous sites I posted are also updated daily, I will re-post with this note. There are daily announcements of new supports, please do check these sites.
Regional Business supports:
Provincial Supports:…/emerge…/covid-19-provincial-support…
Federal Supports:…/departm…/economic-response-plan.html

Provincial Declaration:

“On March 18, 2020, a provincial state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the provincial health officer and minister of health in the timely and effective provincial response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This declaration will make sure federal, provincial and local resources are delivered in a joint, co-ordinated effort to best protect British Columbians.

Under a provincial state of emergency, the minister of public safety and solicitor general has extraordinary powers under the EPA to take steps necessary to prevent, respond or alleviate the impacts of an emergency.

These powers, issued by ministerial order, include the means to secure critical supply chains, ensure people have access to essential goods and services to keep society running, and make sure critical infrastructure and materials are readily available to support COVID-19 response and public safety orders are enforced.

Ministerial orders using the extraordinary powers of the EPA support a government-wide approach to COVID-19 response and recovery throughout the state of emergency, and are guided by the Pandemic Provincial Coordination Plan.

Maintaining the supply chain for essential goods and services 
A new, Provincial Supply Chain Coordination Unit will co-ordinate goods and services distribution in partnership with industry.
– The Province will take a more active role in co-ordinating essential goods and services movement by land, air, marine and rail. 
– All air services required to transport essential goods, services or personnel shall be managed through establishing of a Coordinated Provincial Air Service.
– Any bylaws that restrict goods delivery at any time of day are suspended.
– The Province will identify and take control of warehouses and other facilities for gathering supplies and resources if required.

Protecting Consumers 
– The resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning products and other essential supplies is prohibited.
– The Province will work with retailers and industry to restrict quantities of certain items purchased at point of sale to make sure there is enough supply for those who need them.

Municipal bylaw officers are enabled to be re-deployed to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders and directives carrying fines of over $25,000 or jail, to be determined by the courts under the authority of the Public Health Act.

Direct passenger and car ferry operators, in consultation with the Province, will provide minimum service levels and priority access for residents, and essential goods and workers.

Protecting the most vulnerable
Regulatory and administrative barriers will be removed to make it easier to support critical services for vulnerable people, like food banks and shelters.

Evictions due to loss of income related to COVID-19 that would otherwise be allowed under the Residential Tenancy Act will be prevented or suspended.

Better emergency response and recovery co-ordination 
All orders issued under local states of emergency under COVID-19 will be suspended and local governments will activate their emergency plans.

The City of Vancouver’s state of emergency orders remain. Going forward, the city will require permission to issue further new orders under its state of emergency.

Public facilities, like community centres, will be identified to be used for pandemic response: self-isolation, testing, medical care, warehousing and distribution.

Mutual aid agreements will be put in place for first responders.
Local governments will be given the ability to hold more flexible meetings to expedite decisions.

Local governments will be directed to develop business continuity plans and advanced planning for other emergencies, such as freshet flooding and wildfires.

Additional measures
On the direction of the Province, a hotel operator or commercial lodging operator must provide accommodation services for the purposes of self-isolation, supporting essential workforces or for other purposes identified by the Province.
Ministerial orders issued under the Emergency Program Act can be found here:…

Updates and links from the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI), March 26 2020

Employment Income and COVID-19

The outbreak of a novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is affecting Canadians in unprecedented ways. With the Government of BC declaring both a public health emergency and a  provincial state of emergency [], our society and economy are experiencing dramatic shifts. As  businesses are reducing their services and closing their doors [] to help reduce the spread of the virus, many worker’s livelihoods are at risk.  Employment Insurance (EI) [] is one of the tools the federal government is using to  support workers affected by COVID-19 [].

Employment Insurance is an indicator tracked through the State of the Basin initiative to monitor well-being. When individuals lose their jobs through no fault of their own, such as a shortage of work or lay-offs, EI is one of the benefits available. The number of EI beneficiaries in a community or region can indicate differing economic opportunities and challenges. As there are a number of reasons a person may access income assistance programs, this indicator should not be viewed in isolation, but rather in consideration of other labour, economic, and social circumstances.  EI data [] is available from Statistics Canada at the regional district level on a monthly basis. The following analysis includes data over one year, from 2018 to 2019.

The general trend in the number of EI beneficiaries across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region is an overall decrease of 0.1% from 2018 to 2019. As illustrated in the graph below, the Regional Districts of East Kootenay, Kootenay Boundary, Columbia-Shuswap, and Fraser-Fort George all experienced decreases in EI beneficiaries during this time, with some of these decreases being very minor. Central Kootenay is the only Regional District to experience an increase in EI beneficiaries from 2018 to 2019 of 3.6%, or 640 people. The relative stability in the number of EI recipients in Kootenay regional districts between 2018 and 2019 reflects  the same stability seen in other labour market indicators [] such as total employment and the unemployment rate. Economists have observed that while certain industries have experienced sizeable shifts over the past two years, the overall Kootenay labour market held steady due to  the re-distribution of jobs among sectors [].

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau declared a  federal economic response plan [] to support Canadians impacted by COVID-19, including measures to streamline EI claim processes and increase availability of funds. This has been passed through parliament as the  new Canada Emergency Response Benefit [] that expands the eligibility of EI and will be available to Canadians in the coming days.

An unprecedented number of Canadians applied for EI last week. Examining local EI data again after the influence of COVID-19 will be one way to measure the pandemic’s impact on the Columbia Basin-Boundary region.

See the  State of the Basin website [] for more information on other indicators of regional well-being.

The team at the RDI wishes everyone good health during these unprecedented times.

RDCK taking further actions in response to COVID-19

RDCK taking further actions in response to COVID-19

March 20, 2020Nelson, BC: At its meeting on March 19, 2020, the Board of Directors of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) passed a number of resolutions to reduce overall RDCK taxation by more than $1.25 million. These changes are intended to assist residents and business owners who will be in the throes of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis when tax bills arrive.The RDCK is also taking further actions in an effort to protect the health and safety of employees and the public during the outbreak. These actions include the postponement of Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program and Affected Areas Program (CBT CIP/AAP) public engagement meetings, and the closure of administrative offices to the public, effective the end of business on Friday, March 20.BUDGET CHANGESThe budget resolutions include the deferral of capital projects representing a savings of $530,300; deferral of short-term loan payments of $121,200; a reduction of Director travel budgets for conferences and other travel in the amount of $121,000; the postponement of two planned new positions; and the deferral, reduction or postponement of a number of other projects and expenditures.CBT CIP/AAP PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT MEETINGS CANCELLEDEffective immediately, all Columbia Basin Trust Community Initiatives Program and Affected Areas Program (CBT CIP/AAP) public engagement meetings are cancelled. However, the grant process will move forward. Public engagement is an integral part of the CBT CIP/AAP process, and RDCK staff are working closely with the Columbia Basin Trust to explore an online engagement tool. More information will be available soon, and applicants will be notified by email. For the most up-to-date information, visit the website: OFFICES TO BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC All RDCK offices will be closed to the public as of end of day on Friday, March 20, until further notice. Many of our staff will work from home, however some will remain in the office to address public needs by phone. RDCK services will continue to operate to serve residents and businesses, including building inspection services and permit issuance. The application of health and safety protocols to effectively respond to COVID-19 may result in changes to our operations. Please visit the RDCK website: for up to date information regarding office hours and changes to our operations.QUOTES:Aimee Watson, Chair of the RDCK Board of Directors:

  • “The health and well-being of RDCK residents and the safety of our staff as they ensure continuity of essential services are our top priorities. We are also committed to doing what we can to reduce the taxation impact to our residents and businesses while keeping critical operations running during this difficult time.”
  • “The RDCK Board recognizes the importance of keeping CBT CIP/AAP grant funding flowing to organizations doing vital work in all of our communities, especially considering the economic uncertainty created by the COVID-19 situation. The RDCK will endeavor to award the grants with as little delay as possible while continuing to meet community expectations for input into the grant award process.”

Stuart Horn, Chief Administrative Officer, RDCK:

  • “On any given day, residents can count on RDCK staff to provide fire protection, accessible recreation opportunities, responsible community planning, emergency management, bylaw enforcement, drinking water, recycling facilities, and so much more. And during this crisis, they are responding with continued commitment, dedication, and care. My sincere thanks to the RDCK team—and to first responders, health-care professionals and everyone who is going above and beyond to protect their communities.”

Further updates will be shared as needed, and will be also posted on our website here: more resources relating to COVID-19, please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website: in 1965, the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) is a local government that serves 60,000 residents in 11 electoral areas and nine member municipalities. The RDCK provides more than 160 services, including community facilities, fire protection and emergency services, grants, planning and land use, regional parks, resource recovery and handling, transit, water services and much more. For more information about the RDCK, visit