Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)

Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Applications are coming in and grants going out at a steadier pace in B.C.’s troubled COVID-19 relief fund for tourism small business, B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon says.

The $300 million pandemic assistance fund, approved by the legislature almost a year ago and launched in the midst of the surprise election campaign last October, has approved $50 million in assistance as of Tuesday, Kahlon told reporters at the B.C. legislature. Kahlon’s first task after being named the minister late last year was to overhaul the program to ease restrictions that left many businesses unable to apply.

“We continue to see applications coming in week over week,” Kahlon said March 2. “Sixty per cent of the applications are coming from tourism operators, which get a higher amount, $45,000. So over the next week or two, we’re going to continue to watch that trend, and then we’ll have more to say.”

The $300 million program expires at the end of the fiscal year March 31, and due to provincial accounting rules, any surplus goes to pay down the province’s ballooning debt. The B.C. NDP government has delayed its next budget from February to April, after running up an expected deficit of nearly $13 billion for 2020-21.

Kahlon said the turnaround time for a grant application varies, depending on whether a business has the accounting paperwork and a post-pandemic recovery plan done. In addition to grants of up to $30,000 for qualified small businesses, with an extra $15,000 for eligible tourism businesses, the program offers up to $2,000 for professional services.

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone accused the government Monday of spending more on administration than they have on grants, which Kahlon said is “completely false” and contradicted by the document Stone cited. That $31 million is part of the $300 million fund, but goes to professional services for creating a recovery plan, including language services for applying.

RELATED: B.C. eases rules for small business, tourism relief

RELATED: B.C. tourism calls for ‘bridge’ relief from pandemic

Small businesses can qualify for grants up to $30,000 by showing 30 per cent loss of income at the time they apply, rather than 50 per cent in every month of the pandemic, Kahlon announced Dec. 21. Newer businesses in operation for 18 months can now qualify, rather than the original program opened during the October election campaign that restricted assistance to businesses in operation for at least three years.

The application form is posted at a government website, bcbusinessrecoverygrant.com.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off midway down the runway at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Jan. 13, 2021 during a series of training flights. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
New plan recognizes industrial strengths of Alberni Valley airport

Strategic plan identifies AVRA as Vancouver Island’s premier industrial airport

A piece of artwork from Port Alberni artist Jim Sears. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist shares watercolour images of the coast

Rollin Art Centre holding a garden clean-up on April 18

The Alberni Golf Club is located on Cherry Creek Road. FILE PHOTO
ALBERNI GOLF: Parhar picks up win in Partner with a Pro

Next Sunday, April 18 is a two man best ball

Two of the heritage buildings from McLean Mill National Historic Site that have been restored at the Port Alberni tourist attraction. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

Process just another ‘misstep’ by city, says critic

Coulson Aviation’s newest Chinook helicopter, N43CU, takes to the air above the Alberni Valley Regional Airport following a complete airframe conversion into a helitanker, April 8, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY BILL MCLEOD)
Coulson Aviation’s newest helitanker takes flight

Converted Chinook helitanker off to U.S. for new paint job

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read