Burlington, Ont. — Jan. 26, 2021 — On Jan. 11, 2021, Burlington City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Provincial and Federal government to make changes to extend and expand funding for the Digital Main Street program to support local business.
The resolution was passed, in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, calling on the provincial and federal governments to:
- renew and expand funding to the Digital Main Street program as soon as possible to help our businesses to survive the provincial lockdown and reopening of the economy in the future;
- renew the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and Digital Service Squad support;
- expand the Digital Main Street Transformation Grant to be available to main street businesses that are located outside of BIAs as the initial program restricted applicants to BIA member businesses only; and
- commit to a minimum 2 year funding extension to the Digital Main Street program.
“I thank the Mayor and our City Council for supporting BERN’s efforts in advocating for the expansion and extension of the Digital Main Street program. We all know the impact of this pandemic will not end anytime soon and will likely carry forward into 2022. Every effort has to be made to keep our small businesses alive, and this program is critical to helping us do that.” — Randall Smallbone, Chair of the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN)
The resolution was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas – Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN.
“As this pandemic continues into its second year, we need to provide all the assistance that we can to our local business community that are suffering. The extension of the Digital Main Street funding will continue to help businesses outside of BIA areas with opening up additional streams of revenue from online offers.” — Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, City of Burlington
The BERN chair Randall Smallbone and Mayor Meed Ward co-signed a letter to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages the Honorable Mélanie Joly and the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade the Honourable Victor Fedeli. The letter includes a copy of the resolution and reinforces the critical support to local main street businesses during COVID-19.
The Digital Main Street Program has been a critical support to local main street businesses during COVID-19 that Team Burlington has implemented based on business concerns raised by the Burlington Economic Recovery Network. As part of the program Burlington has benefitted from hiring two Digital Service Squad members who have had over 1,000 touchpoints with businesses and supported over 130 businesses to date in growing their digital presence and tools. In addition, qualifying businesses have been able to access a $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant to implement digital tools within their business.
When the province of Ontario went into lockdown December 26th, 2020 online and digital channels became the primary method for main street businesses to interact with customers and generate revenues. Many businesses reached out to Burlington’s Digital Service Squad team for support in how to engage with customers, update their website and use social channels to promote curb side pickup and takeaway, in line with provincial lockdown restrictions placed on business. As of December 31st, 2020 applications for both the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and new applications for Digital Service Squad support have been closed to new applications awaiting renewal of funding.
On Jan. 20, 2021, a similar resolution was brought forward to Halton Regional Council by Mayor Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and was unanimously endorsed. Multiple members of Burlington City Council are also members of the local business community, with Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna both being longtime business owners in Burlington. Councillor Bentivegna also has a long history in the hospitality industry.
“This is a great opportunity for small business here in the City of Burlington. We are thankful to the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) for their advocacy work on behalf of small business. The expansion of the Digital Main Street program will help local retail and restaurants to look for alternate methods to increase sales and support the needed training and technical advice. Small businesses will be able to introduce new technology into their portfolio that typically they may not be able to create or afford. This program will add needed innovative technology to many local businesses. I am pleased to see the expansion of this program, not only to increase online customer base but also as a potential tool to expand this program after this pandemic. The positive message here, during this pandemic, is that Burlington has supported small business entrepreneurs and will continue to in the future.” — Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna, City of Burlington
The City of Burlington’s fundamental priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect the health and safety of Burlington residents, employers and employees, and support our business community to survive the economic impacts of COVID-19 public health measures.
MAYOR MEED WARD’S TAKE:
The Digital Main Street Program is a critical lifeline for many of our businesses. Now more than ever, our businesses need help to go digital to ride out the continued shutdown. Extending this program, and expanding it to businesses outside of BIA areas, will go a long way to help ensure our small businesses will be there for us on the other side of COVID-19.
- Halton Regional Council Motion on Federal & Provincial Government Extension of Funding & Expansion of the Digital Main Street Program
- Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) Letter to Province 2021
- BERN Resolution to Burlington Council
PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.
A consolidated page for information and updates on the work of the provincial Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force is available at bit.ly/COVIDVaccineUpdates.
Halton Region has also created a dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for up to date information on the status of our COVID19 vaccination program.
A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.
To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:
- Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 905-335-7777, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online.
- Halton Region has created a Reopening Schools resource webpage for parents, students and teachers at halton.ca/covid19.
- For further COVID-19 information, including where to get tested, please visit Halton Region Public Health halton.ca/coronavirus
- Residents can stay informed at burlington.ca/coronavirus as well as on our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter and facebook.com/cityburlington
- Questions about the cancellation of Recreation programs can be directed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-335-7738
- City of Burlington: www.burlington.ca/coronavirus
- Resources for Residents & Non-Profit Organizations: www.burlington.ca/covid19resources.
- Halton Region: www.halton.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- Provincial Emergency Orders: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200052
- Government of Canada: www.canada.ca/coronavirus
- World Health Organization: www.who.int
- Joseph Brant Hospital: josephbranthospital.ca/covid-19
- Team Burlington Business Supports: burlingtonchamber.com/team-burl-supporting-burl-business-during-covid-19/
- Burlington Food Bank: call 905-637-CARE (2273), or visit burlingtonfoodbank.ca
- Food for Life: call 905-635-1106 and press 7, or visit foodforlife.ca
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Branch: call 289-291-5396, or visit halton.cmha.ca
*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist