Central Okanagan politicians join with business to plot course for post COVID-19 economic recovery - InfoNews

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Central Okanagan politicians join with business to plot course for post COVID-19 economic recovery

An empty parking lot at a normally busy Capri Mall in Kelowna is seen at around noon on April 7, 2020.
April 15, 2020 - 2:59 PM

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and regional district chair Gail Given will head a task force to lead business to a regional economic recovery, when the time is right.

All Central Okanagan mayors and Westbank First Nations Chief Chris Derickson participated in a virtual news conference today, April 15, to announce the new task force.

While the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is already active in helping business cope with the impacts of COVID-19, the task force will add the weight of local politicians to things like lobbying for federal and provincial government assistance, Given said.

The idea is to have the 45 board members of the commission work with commission and Kelowna staff to find ways to bring businesses back to life in the middle and longer (four to 18 months) term after some social distancing rules are expected to be relaxed somewhat.

While no specific examples were given on what actions will be taken, officials pointed to Tourism Kelowna already having a three-point plan in place to, first of all, preserve businesses in that sector as much as possible, slowly open up the industry when possible and then promote the region, particularly to B.C. and Alberta travellers.

Called the Regional Mayors and Westbank First Nations Chief’s Economic Recovery Task Force it will develop a recovery plan that “will leverage the broad industry expertise and be geared to re-energize the Central Okanagan economy, retain the business base and support employers and workers in getting people back to work as soon as possible,” stated a news release.

But Chief Derickson pointed out that it won’t be this task force that leads the way to recovery.

“Looking forward, we have a very resilient business community,” he said. “I think we’re one of the most entrepreneurial areas in Canada. It is not necessary this task force – it will help – but it will be those entrepreneurs and those people already out there taking these risks to start those businesses.”

The mayors stressed the need to follow safe-distancing and other measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 because, without the easing of restrictions, there won’t be an economic recovery.

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