Small Businesses Optimistic For New Year, Still Not Out Of The Woods

The majority of local small businesses believe they’ve survived the worse from the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath of last year’s flood.

That’s according to the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce which recently conducted a survey to see how businesses were feeling heading into 2021.

Executive Director Dianna De Sousa tells Mix News over 60 per cent of respondents noted they were confident they wouldn’t be closing their doors anytime soon.

“There will probably be a small amount that’s possibly going to struggle, but I do see brighter skies coming.”

In 2020, the community lost between 15 and 20 per cent of local businesses.

For some, the pandemic was too much to overcome, however, De Sousa says the Spring Flood was the final straw for most.

This due to many not having flood insurance and struggling to receive financial support through different avenues like the province’s $100 million disaster relief program.

“I think the COVID impact, we’ll see after the subsidies and programs have gone away,” added De Sousa.

Despite many believing they’ll survive, the next couple of months will be very important.

The provincial government currently has several mandatory COVID-19 measures in place and hasn’t given a timeline on when these restrictions could be lifted.

Surekha Kanzig, Owner of Surekha’s on the Snye, says these measures may be a big hurdle, but the last one some will face.

“I’m hoping we can all hang on for the next few months and make it through this time. I’m really optimistic and I’m counting on people coming together in the community and supporting each other.”

One business heavily impacted by the latest restrictions is STACS Fine Food.

Co-Owners Cathy and Steve Niehaus made the tough decision to temporarily close their doors.

“It’s kind of stressful going to work every day and not knowing what’s going to happen,” added Cathy.

They don’t have plans to permanently close, however, like many others, have struggled to stay afloat.

They’re remaining optimistic that once the restrictions are lifted, businesses can adapt to a new normal.

“Hopefully [2021] brings lot of a relief for people.”

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